Report & Result: 2021 Band Supplies Scottish Challenge Shield

Kingdom Brass claims a triple crown of major titles with an impressive Metropolis inspired victory in Perth.

Perth Concert Hall
  An enjoyable Sunday has been had by all in the Scottish Challenge Shield

Kingdom Brass now holds the 'Triple Crown' of National, Scottish and Band Supplies Scottish Challenge titles following their victory in Perth on the weekend.

The success rounded off a memorable 2021 (the 2020 Scottish title is still in their grasp due to the Covid-19 hiatus), as led by Paul Drury they gave an impressive performance of Peter Graham's 'Metropolis 1927' to claim the historic Challenge Shield trophy by a three-point margin from podium rivals Bathgate with Coalburn Silver in third.

The Fife band will now head into 2022 confident of making a significant mark in the top section at the Scottish Championship after a performance inspired by their MDs informed direction built on a high quality foundation of ensemble security, balanced by classy solo leads.

Class above

The written remarks of adjudicators Paul Holland Steven Mead certainly showed that: "A thoroughly enjoyable performance — a class above so far today,"Paul wrote, whilst Steven endorsed his findings by writing; "This has been a really first class performance. Brilliantly led and executed by the whole team."

It was hard to find substantive fault, despite a few moments of smoke and mirror delivery in the more technical aspects of the score.

The MDs approach gave space to explore the essential Fritz Lang film-noir character; the darker, mechanical tonal qualities driven by excellent percussion, the lyrical interludes of the Maschinenmensch transformation love story played with tenderness — especially from the prize-winning horn section and their 'Best Soloist' euph player Grant Charleston.

Add in a neat pinch of absurdist jazz and a finish that had real cinematic flourish and the title was theirs with more than a little something to spare.

Ample evidence

Although well beaten on the day, there was ample evidence of the growing foundation base of quality that is now flourishing in Scottish banding (with lots of young players in the majority of bands).

Bathgate and Coalburn are two organisations who certainly benefit from that, with Craig Anderson and Gareth Bowman leading ensembles that played with rigour and eagerness — the former on a well- judged, respectful rendition of 'Pageantry', the latter with a bold, colourful imagining of 'The Saga of Haakon the Good'.

The judges also spoke of their delight at hearing well chosen test-pieces from all the bands, and of the way in which the conductors brought a great deal of musical commons sense to their approach even on ambitious repertoire.

"That was good — and it made for a very enjoyable few hours in the box,"Steven said. "The positives were there in every performance. It was good to hear."

Paul added: "Time had obviously been spent in lockdown looking at basics as well as the trickier elements. We were aware that bands had to sit 1 meter apart so the efforts in stage from the players was even more admirable. Every band brought us something of merit as well as areas they could work on, but overall, we were impressed."

Solid virtues

The solid virtues and precise direction of MD Mark Good combined to draw a well worked rendition of 'Trittico' from Johnstone Band to end fourth, whilst Granite City Brass under Bruce Wallace gave a bold account of 'The Land of the Long White Cloud' to come fifth.

On a day when there wasn't a single 'repeat' performance, the final top-six place went to welcome London Area visitors Regent Brass, who provided one of the musical highlights with their ambitious choice of 'Refrains & Cadenzas' by Thomas Wilson.

Plenty to enjoy

Behind them the results fell into a section order of merit with Lochgelly in seventh courtesy of a considered appreciation of 'Journey into Freedom' ahead of Broxburn & Livingston's more exotically textured, 'Sword, Jewel and Mirror'.

There was also plenty to enjoy with the exuberant vibrancy of Perthshire Brass with 'The Mermaid of Zennor', Dysart Colliery's wonderfully uplifting 'Music for a Festival' and the atmospheric excitement of 'The Dark Side of the Moon' from Kilmarnock Concert Brass.

Although the ever present concerns over Covid-19 saw two bands having to withdraw, SBBA will have been delighted by the response from the competitors — and especially the quality of the music making.

Clear purpose

The support of main sponsor Band Supplies has given the event a clear purpose, and with a light handed touch from SBBA (and excellent Perth Hall staff) to further encourage inclusion, growing links to the education programmes of the Scottish government and funding streams, (the championships opened on the Saturday with two cracking little mini-concerts from the Coalburn Bronze Band and the National Children's Band of Scotland), the Scottish Festival of Brass has an encouraging future ahead.

And if the playing on Sunday was a indicator of the progress already having been made, so does Scottish banding too.

Iwan Fox

This has been a really first class performance. Brilliantly led and executed by the whole teamAdjudicator, Steven Mead


Adjudicators: Paul Holland & Steven Mead
Test Piece: Own choice

1. Kingdom Brass (Paul Drury) — 190
2. Bathgate (Craig Anderson) — 187
3. Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman) — 186
4. Johnstone Band (Mark Good) — 185
5. Granite City Brass (Bruce Wallace) — 184
6. Regent Brass (Alan Duguid) — 183
7. Lochgelly (Paul McKelvie) — 182
8. Broxburn & Livingston (Alistair Gibson) — 181
9. Perthshire Brass (George D Annan) — 180
10. Dysart Colliery Silver (Kenneth Letham) — 179
11. Kilmarnock Concert Brass (Scott Walker) — 178

Highest Placed 1st Section Band: Kingdom Brass
Highest Placed 2nd Section Band: Lochgelly Brass
Highest Placed 3rd Section Band: Dysart Colliery
Highest Placed 4th Section Band: Kilmarnock Concert Brass

Best Horn Section: Kingdom Brass
4BR Best Soloist: Grant Charleston (euphonium) — Kingdom Brass

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