A packed day of brass band entertainment was enjoyed in Evesham by performers, supporters and even pyrotechnic fans alike, as the popular Wychavon Festival of Brass celebrated its 30th anniversary.
As always it was the playing that took centre stage (although it's not often a contest is stopped to enjoy a fireworks display) with Fishburn Band led by Duncan Beckley shinning brightest with adjudicator Stephen Roberts to claim the £1,250 first prize and Evesham Town Cup.
The visitors from the north of England also secured the battle to gain the qualification place at the 2020 Spring Festival Senior Trophy (13 of the 20 bands) whilst their 'prize winning' baritones starred in a set that opened with the up-tempo sounds of Buddy Rich's 'Swinging that Bugle Call'.
Their excellent horn player Michael Franey was featured in 'One Day in Your Life' before the blistering march, 'The Waltonian' lead into the quirky 'Money Makes the World Go Round' and the powerful finishing section of 'Turris Fortissima' to close.
Kidlington Concert Brass led by Duncan Wilson was runner-up, with euph player Benjamin Abbot giving an outstanding rendition of 'La Belle Americaine' to win the 'Best Soloist' award, whilst their talented percussion team picked up the Ev-entz Percussion Trophy. Meanwhile, Wantage utilising a number of works by guest conductor Jonathan Bates, was third.
The remaining top-six places in a contest that had plenty of musical variance on offer went to City of Cardiff (Melingriffith), defending champion Filton Concert Brass and Enderby.
Understandably Fishburn was delighted with the result — one that marked their first contest appearance under Duncan Beckley (who was presented with the Evesham Town Plate as the winning conductor).
Band spokesperson Paul Brickle told 4BR: "The programme was chosen with advice from Duncan who wanted to show off our strengths across various styles. We've really been enjoying his approach as well as newly appointed resident conductor John Pearson.
It's given us a huge boost as we now prepare for the Scottish Open and then to 2020 and our return to the Spring Festival."
There was close battle between 18 well-matched contenders in the First Section, where adjudicator Sheona White was presented with the difficult task of picking a winner of the £900 first prize.
In the end it was Blackburn & Darwen that got their hands on the Festival Cup trophy with MD Daniel Thomas and their baritone section picking up the 'Winning Conductor' and 'Best Baritones' accolades respectively.
The north west band opened with 'Chicken Run' followed by the tender euphonium sounds of 'The Green Hill' played by Jan Waluriewcz. 'Drums of Thunder' from 'Windows of the World' offered contrast before they closed with 'Vitae Aeternam'.
Just a point behind came welcome German visitors Brass Band Regensburg led by Dave Lea, with Enderby Band conducted by Ryan Richards in third.
The 'Best Soloist' award went to Lianne Rees of Tylorstown for her lyrical rendition of 'By Trevone Bay', whilst the entertainment prize was picked up by fourth placed Manger Old Stars who made the trip to the event from Norway.
The remaining top-six places went to Tylorstown and Longridge.
Manger Old Stars certainly enjoyed their trip to the event — not only taking fourth place in the First Section, but winning the Second Section by a clear three point margin under MD, Margaret Antrobus.
They took home with them the Wychavon Trophy plus £600 first prize (worth around 7000 Krone) as well as the awards for the winning conductor, 'Best Baritones' and 'Best Percussion' as they led home rivals, LGB Brass and Avonbank Brass.
The 'Best Soloist' award went to Taff Vale's principal cornet Duncan Broadley for his cracking rendition of 'Hungarian Dance' (he also won the award in the Third Section) as they came fourth ahead of Weston Brass and Cinderford.
Hawk Green Band successfully defended their Wychavon Third Section title to once again return home to the north west with the Elmley Foundation Cup and £500 to their name.
Conductor Neil Hewson also retained the 'Winning Conductor' plate with the band also adding an extra £100 to the coffers by taking the WFB Entertainment Trophy.
The band opened with 'Soaring the Skies' before 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic', 'Stardust' featuring trombonist Peter Williams, 'Marching through Georgia' and the finale of 'All Night Long' concluded their title winning set.
Just a point behind came Ocean Brass with a jungle set that started with a warm welcome and ended with red hot 'Roar!' (helped by their prize winning baritones), whilst Regent Community Brass was third with a set also inspired by animals (and a great prize winning perc team) as diverse as a dove and a tiger.
The remaining top-six places were claimed by Taff Vale Brass, Emley Brass and Blackley.
There was a wonderful first contesting success for Putney & Wimbledon Band conducted by Sam Topp in the Fourth Section.
Formed in 2017 they thoroughly enjoyed their trip to Evesham, celebrating with the Fleece Inn Trophy, 'Winning Conductor', 'Best Baritones' and 'Best Soloist' awards as they waved their band banner in triumph following their clear three point victory.
The band opened with 'P.W.B.B.' written specially for them by Derek Broadbent, followed by Ben Johnson's prize winning flugel solo 'Emerald Skies', the third movement from 'A Wessex Suite' and the bold finisher and rather appropriately named, 'Trailblaze'.
Defending champion Wem Jubilee was second, taking the 'Best Percussion' award with a neatly delivered set that closed with Alan Fernie's 'Prismatic Light', with Blackley Band in third, taking the entertainment prize for a great 1980's pop set.
The remaining top-six places in a hugely enjoyable battle went to Bretforton Silver ahead of Pangbourne & District and Great Western Youth, whose 10 year player Rob Logan was presented with the Tracy Sollis Memorial Trophy as the youngest player.
With the weekend also including a highly successful gala concert featuring European visitors Manger Old Stars and Brass Band Regensburg alongside local favourites Avonbank and Bretforton and a fireworks display accompanied by the sounds of the specially commissioned 'Wychavon Sketches' work by Dan Price, the organisers will have been delighted by the success of the event in its special 30th anniversary year.
It's given us a huge boost as we now prepare for the Scottish Open and then to 2020 and our return to the Spring FestivalFishburn Band spokesperson Paul Brickle
Adjudicator: Stephen Roberts
1. Fishburn (Duncan Beckley) — 196
2. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson) — 194
3. Wantage Band (Jonathan Bates) — 193
4. City of Cardiff Melingriffith (M1) (Christopher Bond) — 192
5. Filton Concert Brass (Lewis Wilkinson) — 191
6. Enderby Band (Ryan Richards) — 190
7. Hitchin Band (Nicholas Garman) — 189
8. Wardle Anderson Brass (Brad McCulloch) — 187
9. Langley Band (Cliff Parker) — 186
10. Brass Band Regensburg (Dave Lea) — 185
11. Verwood Concert Brass (Kevin Smith) — 184
12. Stannington Brass (Derek Renshaw) — 183
13. Longridge (Mark Peacock) — 182
14. Tylorstown (Gary Davies) — 181
15. Middleton (Kevin Gibbs) — 180
16. Lanner & District (Aaron Harvey) — 179
17. Aveley & Newham (Nigel Taken) — 178
18. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson) — 177
19. Sandhurst Silver (Russell Young) — 176
20. Foresters Brass (John Davis) — 175
2020 Spring Festival Qualification: Fishburn
Winning Conductor Award: Duncan Beckley (Fishburn)
WFB Entertainment Trophy: Wantage Band
Best Soloist: Benjamin Abbott (euphonium) — Kidlington Concert Brass
Best Baritone Section: Fishburn
Ev-entz Best Percussion: Kidlington Concert
Adjudicator: Sheona Wade
1. Blackburn & Darwen (Daniel Thomas) — 198
2. Brass Band Regensburg (Dave Lea) — 197
3. Enderby Band (Ryan Richards) — 196
4. Manger Old Stars Brass (Margaret Antrobus) — 194
5. Tylorstown (Gary Davies) — 192
6. Longridge (Mark Peacock) — 191
7. Sandhurst Silver (Russell Young) — 190
8. Bedworth Brass (Wayne Ruston) — 189
9. Stannington (Derek Renshaw) — 188
10. Haydock Band (Mark Quinn) — 187
11. Shirley Band (Tom Stoneman) — 186
12. Milton Keynes Brass (Nathan Waterman) — 185
13. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson) — 184
14= Brunel Brass (Daniel Hall) — 181
14= Medway Town (Nigel Taken) — 181
16. Staffordshire Band (Craig Williams) — 180
17. Mount Charles (Jeremy Taylor) — 179
18. Middleton (Kevin Gibbs) — 178
Winning Conductor Award: Daniel Thomas
WFB Entertainment Trophy: Manger Old Stars
Best Soloist: Lianne Rees (flugel) — Tylorstown
Best Baritone Section: Blackburn & Darwen
Ev-entz Best Percussion: Brass Band Regensburg
Adjudicator: Paul Andrews
1. Manger Old Stars Brass (Margaret Antrobus) — 190
2. LGB Brass (Ian Stewart) — 187
3. Avonbank Brass (Colin Herbert) — 186
4. Taff Vale Brass (Gareth Ritter) — 185
5. Weston Brass (Kevin Robbins) — 183
6. Cinderford (Chris Howley) — 182
7. Stourport-on-Severn Brass (Oliver Weston) — 181
Winning Conductor Award: Margaret Antrobus
WFB Entertainment Trophy: Stourport-on-Severn Brass
Best Soloist: Duncan Broadley (cornet) — Taff Vale Brass
Best Baritone Section: Manger Old Brass
Ev-entz Best Percussion: Manger Old Brass
Adjudicator: Dan Price
1. Hawk Green Band (Neil Hewson) — 180
2. Ocean Brass (Martin Humphries) — 179
3. Regent Community Brass (Chris Bearman) — 178
4. Taff Vale Brass (Gareth Ritter)
5. Emley Brass (Garry Hallas)
6. Blackley Band (Adrian Smith)
7. City of Cardiff Melingriffith (M2) (Martyn Ford)
8. Wem Jubilee (Cathy Rutherford)
9. Welwyn Garden City (Duncan Wilson)
10. Ynyshir (Gary Davies)
Points awarded for podium finishers only
Winning Conductor Award: Neil Hewson
WFB Entertainment Trophy: Hawk Green Band
Best Soloist: Duncan Broadley (cornet) — City of Cardiff Melingriffith (M2)
Best Baritone Section: Ocean Brass
Ev-entz Best Percussion: Regent Community Brass
Dave Hodgetts Memorial Trophy: Martyn Ford
Adjudicator: Jack Capstaff
1. Putney & Wimbledon (Sam Topp) — 194
2. Wem Jubilee (Cathy Rutherford) — 191
3. Blackley Band (Adrian Smith) — 189
4. Bretforton Silver (John Wood) — 187
5. Pangbourne & District (Stewart Lewins) — 186
6. Great Western Youth (Ben Halstead) — 184
7. Shaftesbury Town (Martin Hill) — 182
8. Ledbury Community (Jacob Ashworth) — 179
Winning Conductor Award: Sam Topp
WFB Entertainment Trophy: Blackley Band
Best Soloist: Ben Johnson (flugel) — Putney & Wimbledon
Best Baritone Section: Putney & Wimbledon
Ev-entz Best Percussion: Wem Jubilee
Tracey Sollis Memorial Cup to Youngest Player: Rob Logan (Great Western Youth)
Dave Morris Memorial Plate for Best Euphomium: John Roberts (Wem Jubilee)