Wingates gave themselves a huge boost of Pre-North West Area confidence as they took the top section honours at a vibrant Brass at the Guild contest in Preston on Sunday.
Directed by Paul Andrews, a well set out rendition of ‘The Torchbearer’ saw them claim the Stanley Winter Trophy and the £400 first prize, as they now set their sights on securing their first Albert Hall qualification since 2004 in Blackpool on March 1st.
Speaking to 4BR this morning, the winning MD put the latest success for Wingates down to a desire to keep making realistic progress in every aspect of the way the band performs and is run.
“That’s been key,” Paul Andrews said. “There has been a real change in the work ethic, desire and attitude over the last 18 months — and not just from the players who take to the stage.
Their commitment to the Wingates cause is first rate, as has been seen with this success. We have a great mix of youth and experience now — but everyone has the same attitude and desire to succeed — regardless of their age or position in the band.
He added: “It’s also been desire to improve things off stage that has given us greater confidence too.
People such as Vice Chairman Tony Smith have really helped to turn things around — increasing the quantity and quality of our concert work and making sure that the backroom input is every bit as important as that we now produce on stage.
We are realistic about where we stand competitively at present but the confidence is building on each outing — and Blackpool and the Area contest can’t come soon enough.”
Area run outs
With each of the eleven competitors choosing to showcase their preparations on the Area set work, instead of the recent Butlins Mineworkers test piece, ‘Facets of the Heart’, there was much for adjudicator David Horsfield to compare and contrast.
Rainford showed that they will also be a band to watch out for at the Winter Gardens in a few weeks time as they came runner-up under the baton of Gareth Brindle, with a solid Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel making the trip over the Pennines to claim the final podium slot directed by Stig Maersk.
The individual awards were shared between the top three finishers, with Wingate’s flugel player Beth Dilworth taking the ‘Best Soloist’ award, Rainford’s tuba team taking the ‘Best Basses’ and Adrian Nurney of Yorkshire Imps claiming the ‘Best Euphonium’ trophy.
Although they could only manage seventh place overall, there was also plenty to cheer for Blidworth Welfare, as the Midlanders secured their place at the Spring Festival.
It was also a full house of Area set works in the First Section for Adrian Morris to judge, as each of the five contenders opted to air ‘A London Overture’ instead of ‘Three English Folk Songs’.
A confident Haslingden & Helmshore under the baton of Davis Holland left Preston clutching the Carol Baker Trophy and £400 first prize, as they beat off the strong challenge of fellow Blackpool Area rivals Longridge and Pouton le Fylde.
Once again the solo awards were evenly distributed between the top three finishers.
A well worked reprise of David Holling’s exciting Skegness test piece, ‘Phoenix’ saw recent Butlins runner-up, Haydock secure the James Ogden Trophy and £400 first prize in the Second Section.
With the in-form North West band also claiming the ‘Best Soloist’ and ‘Best Basses’ awards, they secured a deserved victory over rivals Tyldesley, with Farnworth & Walkden in third — both of who opted for a pre-Area run out of ‘Variations on Maccabeus’.
Michael Fowles had seven well directed, but varied performances of Philip Sparke’s demanding ‘Evolution — Five States of Change’ to compare and contrast in the Third Section — with each of the competitors finding it a work that will need further hard graft and preparation time if they are to qualify for the National Finals in Cheltenham later in the year.
In the end though it was Blackpool Brass under John Pearson who claimed the Alan Mason Trophy and £400 first prize, as well as four of the five individual awards on offer thanks to their boldly portrayed rendition.
Blackpool Area rivals, Rivington & Adlington was second with Lostock Hall Memorial in third.
There was plenty of confident music making to enjoy in the Fourth Section, where Skelmersdale delivered a cracking reprise of their recent successful Butlins podium finishing ‘Five French Masters’ set work to claim the Pamela Baxendale Trophy and the £400 first prize.
They were the only band on the day to go with the Skegness option — and understandably so, given the quality of their performance, although they were pushed all the way to the finishing line by excellent renditions of ‘An English Pastorale’ by Tarleton and Blackley.
The individual awards were shared between Blackley (Best Soloist), Oughtibridge (Best Euphonium), and Tarleton (Best Basses) with the Youngest Player Award going to Audley Brass.
British Open Youth:
There was a real treat in store for listeners at the British Open Youth Festival contest, where Youth Brass 2000 put behind them the disappointment of not retaining their Butlins Mineworkers Championship title, by claiming the Stanley Wainwright Trophy and £400 in superb fashion under the baton of Chris Jeans.
Their 20 minute own choice programme and an excellent rendition of the set work, ‘Three Miniatures’ by Adam Taylor were slickly delivered, with principal cornet Thomas Fountain taking the ‘Best Soloist’ award.
Youth Brass 2000 opened their winning set with the high tempo choreographed ‘Valero’, followed by ‘Idyll on an Irish Folk Hymn’ featuring their prize winning soloist Thomas Fountain. The set work, ‘Monteverdi — Three Miniatures’, was contrasted with the famous old Foden’s march, ‘The Cossack’, and the lyrical ‘Abide with Me’, before they rounded things off with ‘Breakout’ from ‘Cry of the Celts’.
Another major title
MD Chris Jeans told 4BR that he was delighted to be able to claim yet another major title: “I’m so proud of all the members of Youth Brass 2000 in achieving a hat-trick of wins at the British Open Youth Festival. I’m also thrilled that Thomas Fountain won the ‘Best Soloist’ award and that we also claimed the ‘Best Performance of the Set Work’ prize.
Everyone associated with the band has worked so hard over the last three weeks to prepare for two major contests and a gala contest at Butlins. Now it starts all over again with the Action Research Youth Entertainment Competition next weekend and with our CD recording later in the month.
All that and we then can look forward to the defence of our National Youth Championship followed by our trip to the Europeans!”
There were also excellent performances from runner-up, Stockport Schools conducted by Tim Dines, and third placed Pemberton Old Wigan DW Youth to enjoy as well.
We are realistic about where we stand competitively at present but the confidence is building on each outing — and Blackpool and the Area contest can’t come soon enoughWingates MD, Paul Andrews
The Guild Hall
Test Pieces: Facets of the Heart (Tom Davoren) or Symphonic Variations on a Theme by Eric Ball — The Torchbearer (Peter Graham)
Adjudicator: David Horsfield
1. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
2. Rainford (Gareth Brindle)
3. Yorkshire Imperial Urquart Travel (Stig Maersk)
4. Blackburn & Darwen (Huw Thomas)
5. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)
6. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Stig Maersk)
7. Blidworth Welfare (Martin Heartfield)
8. South Yorkshire Police (Leigh Baker)
9. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
10. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Hall)
11. Drighlington (Jim Davies)
Best Soloist: Beth Dilworth (flugel, Wingates)
Best Basses: Rainford
Best Euphonium: Yorkshire Imperial Urquart Travel
Spring Festival Invitation: Blidworth Welfare
The Guild Hall
Test Pieces: Three English Folk Songs (Andrew Boysen Jnr arr. Mike Kilmartin) or A London Overture (Philip Sparke)
Adjudicator: Adrian Morris
1. Haslingden and Helmshore (David Holland)
2. Longridge (Mark Peacock)
3. Poulton-le-Fylde (Dave Collins)
4. Hade Edge (Jonathan Beatty)
5. Lindley (Jessica Tredrea)
Best Soloist: Poulton-le-Fylde
Best Soprano: Longridge
Best Basses: Lindley
The Guild Hall
Test Pieces: Phoenix (David Holling) or Variations of Maccabeus (Kevin Norbury)
Adjudicator: Dave Lea
1. Haydock (Mark Quinn)
2. Tyldesley (Robert Taylor)
3. Farnworth & Walkden (Peter Ashley)
4. Dunaskin Doon (Garry Williams)
5. Besses Boys (James Holt)
6. Uppermill (Alan Widdop)
7. Pemberton Old Wigan ‘B’ (Peter Ashley)
Best Soloist: Haydock
Best Basses: Haydock
The Charter Theatre
Test Pieces: Woodland Pictures (Percy Fletcher arr. Nigel Hall) or Evolution—Five States of Change (Philip Sparke)
Adjudicator: Michael Fowles
1. Blackpool Brass (John Pearson)
2. Rivington & Adlington (Malcolm Wilson)
3. Lostock Hall Memorial (Brian Harper)
4. Pilling Jubilee Silver (Len Charnock)
5. Greenalls (Philip Boardman)
6. Littleborough Brass (Adrian Woodhead)
7. Eagley (Matthew Ryan)
Best Soloist: Euphonium — Blackpool Brass
Best Percussion: Lostock Hall Memorial
Best Horn: Blackpool Brass
Best Trombone: Blackpool Brass
Best Basses: Blackpool Brass
Test Pieces: Five French Masters (Chris North) or An English Pastorale (Dean Jones)
Adjudicator: Michael Fowles
1. Skelmersdale (David Chapman)
2. Tarleton (Gillian Bould)
3. Blackley (Daniel Price)
4. Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
5. Oughtibridge Brass (Gavin Somerset)
6. Audley Brass (Tom Hancock)
Best Soloist: Cornet — Blackley
Best Euphonium: Oughtibridge
Best Basses: Tarleton
Youngest Player: Audley Brass
The 2015 British Open Youth at the Guild Festival:
Test Piece: Monteverdi — Three Miniatures (Adam Taylor) and own choice programme
Adjudicators: Dave Lea & Adam Taylor
1. Youth Brass 2000 (Chris Jeans)
2. Stockport Schools (Tim Dines)
3. Pemberton Old Wigan DW Youth (Jon Don-Duncan)
Soloist: Thomas Fountain (cornet) Youth Brass 2000
Tenor Horn: Stockport Schools
Youngest Player: Pemberton Old Wigan DW Youth
Best Performance of Test Piece: Youth Brass 2000