Report & Results: 2019 Butlins Mineworkers Championships: First, Second, Third, Fourth Sections

4BR Editor Iwan Fox looks back at the Butlins victories for Boarshurst Silver, Shirland Welfare, Raunds Temperance & Tewit Silver as the first contesting silverware of 2019 was decided in Skegness.

  It's been the day of some golden oldie overtures but some brilliant modern celebrations

Saturday's action at Skegness saw four titles decided.

Stan Lippeatt's decision to pick arrangements of orchestral overtures certainly proved demanding for the competitors, but also popular with listeners, who in large numbers chose to give other Butlins attractions a miss to hear them tackle classic tests of contesting ambition.

Broad smiles

Little wonder the former Grimethorpe flugel star was greeted by broad smiles where ever he went on the day — and not just from people wishing him a happy birthday.

From 'The Force of Destiny' to 'A Saddleworth Overture', 'Academic Festival' to 'Egmont', these were works demanding of a form of musical understanding that has almost become something of a lost art.

And speaking to some of the judges before the announcement of the results, all were of the opinion that they were short, sharp tests that were long overdue.

First Section:

The action in the Reds venue saw 17 bands faced by the imposing tests of Verdi and Berlioz expertly arranged for the brass band medium by Frank Wright and Geoffrey Brand.

At its conclusion contesting 'destiny' shone on Boarshurst Silver conducted by James Garlick as they claimed the £2,000 first prize.

Their detailed 'La Forza del Destino', boldly paced to show clarity and style was a clear winner; the MD fully deserving of the accolades that will surely come his way from his delighted players and supporters.

Here, their collective poise marked them out in the opinion of the judges Alan Morrison and Dave Lea in a manner that also suggests they will be one of the favorites to add to their contest CV at the North West Area at the end of February.

Comparing performances of two markedly diverse 'overtures' was always going to be a tricky task, but balancing the merits of Verdi's operatic passion and lyricism against the florid excitement and dramatic crescendos of Berlioz's swashbuckling 'Le Corsaire' was clear enough for the men in the box from the word go.

Off the number 1 draw, Sandhurst Silver led by an effervescent David Johnson, warmed up the slightly chilly room temperature with a pacey account of the Berlioz that held its compactness and precision to come runner-up.

Just behind the top two came rivals that on this form will push them on the qualification road to Cheltenham; Stevenage bound Milton Keynes delivering a measured 'Force of Destiny' to end third, with Blackpool contenders Haydock showing that they had confidently made the step up in class (they won the Second Section here in 2018) with a spirited 'Corsair'.

Behind them however came increasingly variable accounts — some that found favour in the hall with their approach, and others that ticked the boxes only in the tent.

Those were the ones that counted of course — with Jackfield's engaging 'Force of Destiny' coming fifth and Stannington's more robust effort in sixth, whilst others such as Fulham, Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel and Eccles Borough only managing to end 7th, 11th, 13th respectively.

Elsewhere it was concerning to hear so many bands resort to bluff and volume to try and crash their way through music that required a lightness of touch and clarity of thought — elements that two experienced campaigners in the box certainly picked up upon.

Second Section:

The Butlins Championships combine the seriousness of competition with the fun of enjoying the Skegness weekend experience.

That was certainly the case with Shirland Welfare Band whose victory celebrations following a seriously good performance of 'Academic Festival' were led by a rookery of penguins that waddled onto the stage to claim the Second Section Trophy and the £2,000 first prize in their flippers.

Not far behind were sumo wrestlers, cats, sharks, panda bears and bees.

It was the type of joyful team approach that has been a hallmark of the Shirland organisation for many years, and one that on this playing evidence could see them looking for regional fancy dress shops in Bedford in a few weeks time after MD Lynden Cooper brought a fine sense of style to their well-structured account of Brahms' student celebration.

There were also celebrations to enjoy for runner-up Colchester, as on their return to the Second Section they produced a compact, warmly balanced 'Academic' account under Victoria Steinitz that suggested that they will be confident of a potential Cheltenham qualification in Stevenage in a few months time.

Just behind them, third place went to Ibstock Brick Brass, as Simon Willis used his experience to control any potential student 'Academic' excess with his cultured interpretation, whilst it was left to Gresley Colliery in fourth to uphold the honour of Granville Bantock's 'Frogs of Aristophanes' with a spirited account under Craig Stevens.

It was a surprise that only two of the 14 contenders opted for the Bantock, although faced by its more complex rhythmic structures and sense of dark atmosphere, the more straight-forward, uplifting challenges of the Brahms was perhaps the better option.

It certainly suited the majority that tackled it (and the packed Royal Arthur Suite showed how popular the pieces were), although there were occasions when overblowing and poor intonation robbed the sense of composed grandeur, whilst the judges Sheona White and Kevin Wadsworth were close enough to the action to hear all the necessary detail.

There were plenty of pretty good efforts though; Hade Edge kicking things off with a substantive marker that many felt may have ended higher than fifth, whilst City of Coventry's stylish intent saw them end sixth.

Behind them it was the usual contesting tales of unforced errors, intonation, tempo and balance problems, although each of the competitors will have left better bands for the experience of performing two testing, musically engaging pieces.

Third Section:

Much like the current Brexit debate in the UK, there were persuasive, differently informed and even some slightly incomprehensible takes to be heard on the musical understanding of European heroism and British sovereignty.

The experienced adjudicators David Ashworth and Mike Kilroy were certainly of the opinion that the overall standard was below what they had been expecting, especially they felt, to the amount of misunderstanding from conductors to the appreciation of style and dynamic balance required on both 'Egmont' and 'Rule Britannia'.

The most persuasive argument for them on the Beethoven (played by 11 of the 13 bands) certainly came from Raunds Temperance, who they later told 4BR was a 'clear winner' at the head of a top-six who all opted for Eric Ball's cultured arrangement.

Jonathan Pippen's considered approach to tempos and especially dynamics marked them out in the tent on a day when contest nerves allied to misplaced robustness robbed the music of its poise and precision from many rivals.

It wasn't totally error free, but the effort to allow time for the music find a clear, sustained pulse and the quality of the main lead lines meant it was going to be increasingly hard to beat as the contest unfolded.

The early marker had been set by defending champion Hoover (Bolton) whose solid 'Egmont' under Craig Mann from the number 3 draw eventually finished runner-up, whilst two hard working efforts from Epping Forest (drawn 2) and a little later from Whitworth Vale & Healey claimed the remaining prizes.

Pleasley Colliery and Ellington Colliery filled the top-six, with the two 'Rule Britannia' efforts coming in 8th and 11th.

On reflection 'Egmont' was perhaps at the top end of the difficulty scale at this level, although it was still surprising (to the judges especially) that the problems arose from the very first bar — which proved to be a knee-trembler of diminuendo nervousness.

Thereafter individual errors in exposed parts and rather heavy handed approaches to the style, right through to the Allegro con brio, put paid to chances of success.

William Rimmer's dated structure of 'Rule Britannia' may not have looked as a potentially successful choice on first rehearsal glance, but it perhaps held greater prize winning potential for bands that would have felt more secure in its less exposed sections of writing.

Not such problems though for Raunds Temperance, who will surely have celebrated their title win with a persuasive argument to deliberately misunderstand of the exact meaning of their name.

Fourth Section:

A dozen well matched and well led bands made for an excellent Fourth Section contest. The contrasting challenges of Goff Richards' and Eric Hughes' 'overtures' provided each of the contenders with ample opportunity to present a strong case for prize-winning consideration with adjudicators Mark Wilkinson and John Doyle.

In the end it was a thoroughly impressive Tewit Silver that claimed the honours and the hefty £2,000 top prize, with a performance that was fully deserving of the accolade of being crowned Butlins Mineworkers Champion.

Despite being a little short on numbers Martin Hall engineered a vibrant, balanced account of 'A Saddleworth Festival Overture' that crackled with energy and colourful style, especially with a touch Aussie brio to bring out its youthful characteristics.

Each little snapshot postcard element was so clearly defined (even the surprising few bars that sounded like 'Bread of Heaven' and a bit from the film 'Love Actually'). It really was a ripper as they say in the south Australian Saddleworth area of Adelaide. They are a band and an organisation to watch out.

Close on their heels came the slightly more mature appreciation of Maltby Miners.

Theirs was a performance earmarked by a great deal of common sense stamped on its Saddleworth imagery by MD Terry Clifford's neatly structured approach, as the long term supporters of this event claimed the Highest Placed Mining Band prize and their best ever finish.

Two late draw contenders for the title came with the bold Yorkshire endeavor of Dodworth Colliery MW and the more delicate textures of Cottenham Brass, as conductors Eliot Darwin and Peter Mackley brought a great deal of character out of the music to claim the final prize-money places.

Earlier, the contest kicked off with a splendid Banovallum Brass setting a confident marker off the number 1 draw that on another occasion may have ended a bit higher, whilst Great Yarmouth also gave a fine account of themselves to end sixth.

And whilst Goff Richards' work proved the more popular choice on the day, it was good to hear Eric Hughes' rarely heard 'Overture to Youth' given some well thought out accounts from Sale Brass and Sherwood Forest Brass alongside performances of considerable merit and enjoyment from the rest of the contenders.

Iwan Fox

From 'The Force of Destiny' to 'A Saddleworth Overture', 'Academic Festival' to 'Egmont', these were works demanding of a form of musical understanding that has almost become something of a lost art4BR


First Section:

Test Piece:
Own Choice: La Forza del Destino (Berlioz arr. Frank Wright) or Le Corsaire (Berlioz arr. Geoffrey Brand)
Adjudicators: Dave Lea and Alan Morrison

1. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
2. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
3. Milton Keynes Brass (Jonathan Mott)
4. Haydock Band (Mark Quinn)
5. Jackfield (David Maplestone)
6. Stannington (Derek Renshaw)
7. Fulham Brass (John Ward)
8. Hucknall & Linby (Paul Whyley)
9. Enderby (Ryan Richards)
10. Soham Comrades (Mark Ager)
11. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Simon Gresswell)
12. Ware Brass (Craig Patterson)
13. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
14. Harborough (Brad Turnbull)
15. City of Cambridge (Philip Fisher)
16. Knottinglley Silver (Kevin Belcher)

Highest Placed Mining Band: Haydock

Second Section:

Test Piece:
Own Choice: Academic Festival Overture (Brahms arr. Denis Wright) or The Frogs of Aristophanes (Bantock arr. Frank Wright)
Adjudicators: Kevin Wadsworth and Sheona White

1. Shirland Welfare (Lynden Cooper)
2. Colchester Band (Victoria Steinitz)
3. Ibstock Brick Brass (Simon Willis)
4. Gresley Colliery (Craig Stevens)
5. Hade Edge (Jonathon Beatty)
6. City of Coventry Brass (Stephen Cooper)
7. Waterbeach Brass (Andrew Kershaw)
8. NASUWT Concert (Andrew Hall)
9. Besses Boys (James Holt)
10. Horsham Borough (Mark McLaughlin)
11. Dunstan Silver (Aiden Hodgson)
12. Hatherleigh Silver (Matt Green)
13. Bedford Town (Martin Hurrell)
14. Dronfield Genquip CMW (Damien Wileman)

Highest Placed Mining Band: Shirland Welfare

Third Section:

Test Piece:
Own Choice: Egmont Overture (Beethoven arr. Eric Ball) or Rule Britannia (William Rimmer)
Adjudicators: David Ashworth and Mike Kilroy

1. Raunds Temperance (Jonathan Pippen)
2. Hoover (Bolton) (Craig Mann)
3. Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)
4. Whitworth Vale & Healey (Christopher Binns)
5. Pleasley Colliery Welfare (Geof Benson)
6. Ellington Colliery (Clare Winter)
7. East Coast Brass (Paul Speed)
8. Littleborough (Adrian Woodhead)
9. Crystal Palace (Michael Gray)
10. Brighton & Hove City (Matthew Hackett)
11. Cubbington Silver (Mark Phillips)
12. Amington (Alan Gifford)
13. Stamford Brass (Julian Bright)

Highest Placed Mining Band: Pleasley Colliery Welfare

Fourth Section:

Test Piece:
Own Choice: Overture to Youth (Eric Hughes) or A Saddleworth Festival (Goff Richards)
Adjudicators: John Doyle and Mark Wilkinson

1. Tewit Silver (Martin Hall)
2. Maltby Miners Welfare (Terry Clifford)
3. Dodworth Colliery MW (Eliot Darwin)
4. Cottenham Brass (P.B Mackley)
5. Banovallum Brass (Horncastle) (Steve Ingham)
6. Great Yarmouth Brass (Colin Swaep)
7. Sale Brass (John Anderson)
8. Whitwell Brass (Ryan Stacey)
9. Norfolk Wherry Brass (Eddie Baker)
10. Royston Town (Steve Earley)
11. Thurcroft Welfare (Matthew Wright)
12. Sherwood Forest Brass (Christine Lippeatt)

Highest Placed Mining Band: Maltby Miners Welfare

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