Co-operative Funeralcare completed their stranglehold of all the major domestic Scottish titles with an impressive victory at the West Lothian Festival of Brass entertainment contest in Livingston.
Directed by Allan Ramsay, they completed the Scottish Open, Scottish Championship, Land O’ Burns and West Lothian ‘Grand Slam’ thanks to a commanding performance at the Howden Park Centre that saw them beat off the challenge of reigning champion Whitburn, with Kingdom Brass in third.
With the contest utilizing the ‘Brass in Concert’ points allocation method, Co-op’s slickly presented set gained maximum points for both music and entertainment, with third place for programme content.
MD Allan Ramsay was delighted that the clear four point margin of victory now gave the band the rare opportunity to display the silverware from the quartet of major Scottish contests at forthcoming high profile events.
"This was the latest victory based on hard work and commitment," he told 4BR. "I feel the band is really developing into a high class outfit, with cool heads giving us a confident stage presence.
We have a settled line up of players and a real desire to keep building on the impressive results of the last couple of years, especially at the major championships."
Allan added: "With some high profile concerts to enjoy over the next couple of months before the British Open it will be good to show off the rewards for all that hard work."
Co-op opened their programme with the choreographed ‘Semper Fidelis’ march before segueing into the Latin beat of ‘Los Hermanos de Bop’.
A stunning new Adrian Drover arrangement of ‘You Needed Me’ featuring trombone soloist Paul Kiernan gained the ‘Best New Composition/Arrangement’ prize, whilst the ‘Best Section’ cornet feature of Allan’s own arrangement of ‘There’s Great Day Coming’ contrasted with Howard Snell’s lovely treatment of the negro spiritual ‘Steal Away’, enhanced by subtle choreography and multi-media imagery.
The band rounded off its programme with a powerful rendition of ‘Turris Fortissima’ by Stephen Ponsford.
Adjudicators Alan Fernie, Archie Hutchison and Alan Fernie were left in little doubt over the ultimate destination of title, which returned to Co-operative Funeralcare for the third time in four years and the sixth time in total. It was also Allan Ramsay’s fifth win at the event since it started in 2002.
Not all cylinders
There was to be no debut victory for the new combination of Lee Skipsey and Whitburn, as the defending champion couldn’t quite fire on all cylinders, despite taking the award for the best performance of a compulsory Howard Snell work, with the sparkling arrangement of the overture to ‘Candide’ to open their set.
However, they couldn’t quite maintain the quality of that impressive opening statement of intent, despite some fine playing on show with the following, ‘Caoineadh Cù Chulainn’ flugel and soprano duet, ‘Cats Tales’, ‘Sleep’ and ‘Horizons’ by Paul Lovatt-Cooper to close.
Return to form
Meanwhile, there was a welcome return to form for third placed Kingdom Brass, under the baton of Eoin Tonner, with Chris Mansfield taking the ‘Best Soloist’ award for his excellent rendition of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s ‘As If We Never Said Goodbye’.
Their eclectic set also included a new arrangement by the MD of ‘Happy’, ‘The Witch of the Westmerlands’, ‘Concertino Catalonia’, ‘The Sorcerer's Apprentice’ and ‘You'll Never Walk Alone’.
I feel the band is really developing into a high class outfit, with cool heads giving us a confident stage presenceMD, Allan Ramsay
Adjudicators: Stan Lippeatt (music), Archie Hutchison (Entertainment), Alan Fernie (Programme content)
Music/Entertainment/Programme Content = Total
1. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay): 100/60/36 = 196
2. Whitburn (Lee Skipsey): 95/57/40 = 192
3. Kingdom Brass (Eoin Tonner): 90/54/34 = 178
4. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass (Charles Keenan): 85/51/38 = 174
5. Clackmannan District Brass (Paul McKelvie): 80/48/32 = 160
Most Entertaining Performance: Co-operative Funeralcare
Best New Composition/Arrangement: Co-operative Funeralcare
You Needed Me (Randy Goodrum arr. Adrian Drover)
Best Section/Ensemble: Co-operative Funeralcare
There's A Great Day Coming (Will Thompson arr. Terry Everson / Allan Ramsay)
Best Soloist: Chris Mansfield (trombone) — Kingdom Brass
As If We Never Said Goodbye (Andrew Lloyd Webber arr. Bill Geldard)
Best Performance of a Howard Snell Composition/Arrangement: Whitburn
Candide Overture (Leonard Bernstein arr. Howard Snell)