With a spiteful squall from Storm Dennis lashing the promenade in front of the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl, Filton Concert swept to a hat-trick of Welsh Open titles victories under the baton of conductor Lewis Wilkinson.
In what proved to be a close-run entertainment battle for the CISWO Challenge Trophy and £1,000 first prize, Filton secured victory with a programme that encompassed music by Mnozil Brass to Henry Mancini — finishing in the most appropriate manner given the weather conditions, with 'Ocean of Storms' by Dan Price.
Just a point behind the Bristol based band was City of Cardiff (Melingriffith), with Enderby, who claimed the qualification place to the 2020 British Open Spring Festival, in third.
"The top three bands were really close, and no-one really stole the show,"adjudicator Paul Holland told the audience before the announcement of the prizes.
"They were three excellent bands with great soloists. The winners though had slightly more quality."
That was certainly the case with Filton's outstanding euphonium player Anthony Smith, who claimed the 'Best Soloist' award with a superb rendition of 'Blue Heart' from Philip Sparke's 'Diamond Concerto'.
That was the centre-piece of a set that opened with 'Blue' by Thomas Gansch, alongside Ben Hollings' 'Lake of Tenderness', 'Moon River Cha, Cha' arranged by Philip Harper and the tempestuous finale.
The overall solidity of the ensemble and lead line playing proved to be good enough to secure Filton their fourth win at the event in the last five years, with conductor Lewis Wilkinson delighted that he was able to secure his first victory since taking the baton.
"Given the band's record here over the last few years the pressure was on,"he said.
"I'm thrilled at the way the players performed — so confident and composed. I'm really enjoying conducting the band and I'm glad I've made my mark with them. It's given everyone a great boost ahead of the Area contest in Torquay next month."
Filton set their stall out from the number 3 draw, although it wasn't until later in the day when City of Cardiff was followed onto the stage by Enderby that their grasp on the trophy came under serious threat.
Christopher Bond led Cardiff in an inventive set inspired by the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale. His arrangement of 'Journey to the Past' was followed by the Puccini inspired baritone solo 'Vissi d'Arte' played by Rose Hancock, 'Armenian Fire Dance', the tender 'Nightingale Waltz' and the all guns blazing 'Nightingale Dances' to close.
Not only did the band pick up the Tower Colliery Trophy and £500 as runner-up, they also took home an extra £300 for providing the 'Most Entertaining Stage Presentation' awarded separately by adjudicator David Francis and the 'Best Horn' Section award.
Spring Festival qualification
There was delight for Midland challengers Enderby as they headed home with £300 and the crucial invitation to compete at the Senior Trophy in May, as conductor Ryan Richards led a set inspired by 'Strictly Come Dancing' — even down to a ghostly image of Bruce Forsyth appearing on the multi-media screen behind them at the end.
Matthew Hall's popular 'Nightingale Dances' (played three times on the day) rounded off repertoire that was cleverly linked by the BBC programme's theme music between Irvin Berlin's 'Let's Face the Music and Dance', the 'Zebekikos' dance from the Philip Wilby 'Euphonium Concerto' played by Andy Mayell, 'Moon River, Cha, Cha,' and 'Ivory Ghosts' by Gavin Higgins.
Paul Holland was impressed not only by the diversity of the music on show throughout the day, but by the standard of the playing, stating that the bands that came seventh to ninth should "not be disappointed by their placing" as they all produced "interesting performances with plenty to offer in their different ways".
Although not competing at the forthcoming Welsh Area contest, the youthful Goodwick Band once again showed that they are building yet another generation of players to be proud of.
They eventually finished fourth, with Paul giving a special mention to the trumpet playing skills of 16 year old principal cornet Rhys Evans, in their 'Windows of the World' set which was built on a cracking 'Best Percussion' foundation.
There was also praise for the powerful artistic approach of fifth placed Brunel Brass with a programme inspired by the battle for emancipation, and later civil rights, in the United States.
Under Daniel Hall, they brought together excellent graphics, a rap singer and an outstanding 'Best Soprano' solo contribution from Ben Halsted on 'Let Freedom Ring', on a set that held a strong connection to the Porthcawl venue itself, which over 60 years ago welcomed the great American singer and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.
Jackfield's neatly packaged 'War & Peace' programme eventually gained the final top-six place ahead of BTM who opened the contest with their brightly sourced set. 13 year old Elliott Harrington was presented with the 'Youngest Player' trophy.
Meanwhile, Tylorstown secured the £300 on offer as the highest placed First Section band not in the main prizes, with stalwart Kevin Jones showcasing his qualities in deservedly taking the 'Best Principal Cornet' accolade. The hard working Lewis Merthyr Band was ninth.
Despite the inclement weather the Welsh Open once again attracted a large audience, entertained not just by the bands but by David Hayward's excellent compering skills. The organisers also expressed their gratitude to Philip and Tony Morris who sponsored the first prize of £1,000 in memory of their mother Wyn Morris, as well as the other sponsors and support of the CISWO organisation.
They were three excellent bands with great soloists. The winners though had slightly more qualityAdjudicator, Paul Holland
Adjudicator: Paul Holland
1. Filton Concert (Lewis Wilkinson) — 188
2. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Christopher Bond) — 187
3. Enderby (Ryan Richards) — 186
4. Goodwick Brass (Gareth Ritter) — 184
5. Brunel Brass (Daniel Hall) -183
6. Jackfield (David Maplestone) — 182
7. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson) -181
8. Tylorstown (Gary Davies) -180
9. Lewis Merthyr (Craig Roberts) -179
Most Entertaining Stage Presentation: City of Cardiff (M1)
Highest Placed Section 1 Band not in the Prizes: Tylorstown
Best Soloist: Anthony Smith (euphonium) — Filton Concert
Best Cornet Player: Kevin Jones (Tylorstown)
Best Soprano Player: Ben Halstead (Brunel Brass)
To the Best Horn Section: City of Cardiff (Melingriffth)
Best Percussion Section: Goodwick Brass
Youngest Instrumentalist: Elliott Harrington (BTM Band)
2020 Spring Festival invitation: Enderby