The Canterbury Provincial Brass Band Association hosted its annual festival at the Charles Luney Auditorium and St. Margaret's College in Christchurch — believed to be the first 'live' brass band contest held anywhere in the world since early April.
The event was in doubt with New Zealand society still in a Level-2 Covid-19 response status which limited public gatherings to 100 and making the festival impossible to run.
Relief therefore greeted the government announcement that the South Island would move back to Level-1 enabling the contest to go ahead.
The 11 starters underlined just how robust the movement remains at present with an increasing number of young (and not so young) now players taking up brass instruments.
Uplifting examples were shown by the likes of the Woolston Brass organisation 'Academy' and the embryonic Nor'west Brass team and its 'Development Programme' which saw them both enter three bands.
Chief Adjudicator Andrew Snell summed up the mood by saying that it was "great to have a band contest"whilst thanking the CPBBA for "having the guts to stick with it"during the months of uncertainty leading up to the weekend.
He added that he was sure people all around the world were "incredibly jealous"of what was taking place.
Andrew also saluted the competitors for their stamina in delivering a triptych of major work, sacred item and entertainment programme in one visit to the stage.
The CPBBA's hard working President Helen Lee (who was warmly thanked for her efforts) also paid tribute to the bands and volunteers for their endeavours in putting on the event and acknowledged the funding support from CERT (The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Trust) who contributed $5,000 covering venue hire and other contest related expenses.
She also thanked Woolston Brass for supplying and the set-up of percussion equipment.
Led by Tyme Marsters, Woolston Brass dominated the A Grade contest as they finished ahead of determined rivals, Leopard Coachlines Canterbury Brass.
Woolston gave a scintillating rendition of their major work, 'Bipolar' by Stij Aertgeerts to earn a remarkable 148 points out of a possible 150.
Their programme also included Philip Sparke's 'Sanctuary', Arthur Pryor's 'Starlight' (which earned trombonist Luke Christiansen the solo award), Tom Davoren's 'Valaisia Variants' and the energetic 'Balkan Dance' to close.
Woolston ensured a clean sweep with Tony Bunting giving an eloquent and informative narrative to claim the 'Best Compere' award. Leopard Coachlines also gave a well delivered rendition of Edward Gregson's 'Of Distant Memories' as their major work.
Addington Brass led by Adrian Dalton claimed the B Grade title, narrowly edging out Alpine Energy Timaru Brass in what has become a keenly fought battle over recent years.
A powerful rendition of 'Renaissance' by Peter Graham was the cornerstone of an entertaining set featuring Barry Manilow's 'Copacabana' and concluding with Gershwin's 'An American in Paris'.
Addington didn't have things all their own way though, with Timaru's lyrical reading of 'Manchester' earning them the award for best 'Sacred item' under young conductor Paul Black.
Nor'west Brass retained their C Grade title. New Zealand's newest brass band, formed just six years ago, continued its rise with an assured performance directed by Matt Toomata.
Their major work, 'A British Isles Suite' by Jonathan Bates, found favour from the box as did the Christina Aguilera take on the Andrews Sisters hit 'Candyman' (jive dancers and all). Woolston Concert Brass had success in winning the 'Sacred' item award for their performance of Herbert Howells' setting of 'Michael'.
Rangiora Brass conducted by Dwayne Bloomfield showed the value of experience in a D Grade contest which was encouragingly filled with many youngsters.
They gave an exciting performance of their test piece 'Inspiration' by Jan de Haan and continued to display their youthful talent by winning the 'Sacred' and 'Stage March' categories with Alan Fernie's arrangement of 'Lloyd' and John Carr's 'Bramwyn'.
The youngsters of Nor'west Zephyrs showed the old guard a thing or two taking the D Grade Entertainments contest for the second consecutive year.
Mature musicianship was shown in performing Philip Sparke's 'A Stroll in the Park', before an engaging close saw MD Matt Harris turn crooner in singing Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' — complete with the witty but pertinent lyric changes of "Hands, wash your hands, not reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you"!
The following day it was the turn of the soloists and ensembles, as around 100 musicians returning for another day's competition.
Performances ranged from the virtuosity of A Grade stars such as Kevin Hickman (flugel) and stunning young talents Hazel Wilson (horn), Keina Rollinson (percussion) and Luca Cable (cornet) who were joined by many adult learners showing it's never too late to take up a new hobby.
It rounded off a wonderfully uplifting weekend of competitive brass band music making that everyone involved hoped would soon be replicated across the globe.
Andrew Snell (Sacred Item, Major Work, Entertainment Performance)
Scott Taitoko (Entertainments)
*Sacred/Major Work/Entertainment Performance/Entertainments = Total
*(Major Work Selection)
1. Woolston Brass (Tyme Marsters): 45/148/56/40 = 289
2. Leopard Coachlines Canterbury Brass (Nathaniel Griffiths): 44/144/52/30 = 274
1. Addington Brass (Adrian Dalton): 40/142/50/35 = 267
2. Alpine Energy Timaru Brass (Paul Black): 41/141/49/34 = 265
1. Nor'west Brass (Matt Toomata): 37/139/46/38 = 260
2. Woolston Concert Brass (Nick Johnson): 38/137/43/36 = 254
*Sacred/Major Work/Stage March = Total
1. Rangiora Brass (Dwayne Bloomfield): 36/135/35 = 206
2. Nor'west Zephyrs (Matt Harris): 34/133/32 = 199
3. New Brighton Silver (Craig Williamson): 33/130/33 = 196
4. Woolston Junior Band (Sarah Hickman): 31/129/30 = 190
D Grade Entertainments:
*Performance/Entertainments = Total
1. Nor'west Zephyrs: 41/35 = 76
2. Rangiora Brass: 38/32 = 70
3. Woolston Junior: 35/30 = 65
4. Nor'west Cyclones (Alannah Vail): 34/28 = 62
5. New Brighton Silver: 34/26= 60
Best Soloist: Luke Christiansen (Woolston Brass)
Best Compere: Tony Bunting (Woolston Brass)
Solo and Ensemble:
Andrew Snell, Nathaniel Griffiths, Phil Johnston, Bill Vail, Cameron Burnett.
Championship Solo Champion: Kevin Hickman (Woolston Brass)
Open Solo Champion: Julia Mallett (Woolston Brass)
Veterans Champion Soloist: Leigh Martin (Alpine Energy Timaru Brass)
Veterans Slow Melody: Kevin McMorran (Leopard Coachlines Canterbury Brass)
C and D Grade Champion Soloist: Kate Sanders (Woolston Concert Brass)
Junior Champion Soloist: Hazel Wilson (Woolston Concert Brass)
Under 19 Champion Soloist: James Paget (Nor'west Brass) & Benjamin Walker (Alpine Energy Timaru Brass) *Tied
Under 17 Champion Soloist: Hazel Wilson (Woolston Concert Brass)
Under 15 Champion Soloist: Katia Ashmore (Nor'west Brass)
Under 13 Champion Soloist: Luca Cable (Woolston Concert Brass)
Open Percussion Ensemble Champions: Nor'west Brass Percusskies
Junior Percussion Ensemble Champions: Woolston Brass Academy Team
Under 19 Percussion Solo Champion: Jacob Hickman (Woolston Concert Brass)
Under 15 Percussion Solo Champion: Keina Rollinson (Nor'west Zephyrs)
Open Ensemble Champions: Addington 'Selwyn Express'
Open Duet Champions: Steve Griffin & Tala Natapu (Rangiora Brass)
Junior Brass Ensemble Champions: Woolston Junior Band 'Maroon' Team