There was a fine day of competitive action at the Leicestershire BBA Open held at Loughborough Foundation Schools on the weekend.
Adjudicators Alan Morrison, Nicholas Garman, Martin Heartfield and Sam Fisher (together with trainees Rob Burnett and Stuart Gray) were presented with a wide variety of own-choice works in each of the five sections, with keenly fought battles for the prizes in each.
In the Championship Section there was delight for Brunel Brass and MD Daniel Hall as their exciting performance of Peter Graham's 'Essence of Time', aided by the 'Best Instrumentalist' contribution of soprano star Ben Halstead saw them deny defending champion Ratby Co-operative the opportunity of making it a hat-trick of victories.
The Royal Albert Hall National finalist had certainly shown their ambition by choosing Herman Pallhuber's former British Open set-work, 'Titan's Progress', whilst Enderby continued their recent run of fine form with a spirited 'Paganini Variations' to end third.
Speaking about their win on their Facebook page, Brunel Brass said: "A fantastic day today at the contest in taking home the first prize. Huge thanks and congratulations to our amazing MD."
Elsewhere, the remaining bands also showed ambition, with Unite the Union ('Music of the Spheres'), Kidlington Concert (who gave the long overdue UK premiere of Philip Lawrence's 'Gregoritas'), Wantage ('The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea') and Hucknall & Linby ('Tallis Variations').
There was both ambition and quality on show in the First Section — especially from the defending champion Sandhurst Silver, as they produced a fine account of Edward Gregson's 'Of Distant Memories' to retain the title.
Their star euphonium player John Storey added yet another prize to his collection by taking the 'Best Instrumentalist' award.
The Chalford Band carried on the good form shown at the recent Torquay contest as they reprised 'Sinfonietta No 3' to come runner-up, with Foss Dyke's 'Purcell Variations' in third.
There was an excellent victory for Diggle Band in the Second Section — their first under the baton of MD Sean Conway. Their neatly constructed account of 'Purcell Variations' took the honours from Waterbeach Beach (who also played the Downie work), with Cheltenham National finalist Stamford Brass in third with their reprise of 'Ghosts, Goblins, Witches & Wizards'.
Diggle's excellent soprano player took the 'Best Instrumentalist' award, whilst the band also took the time to thank a fellow player from Waterbeach Band assisted one of their stalwart players who fell ill before they took to the stage.
"And we won!"was the simple response of Raunds Temperance on their Facebook page as they reflected on taking the honours in the Third Section. Although there were only three entrants, the overall standard was encouraging for adjudicator Sam Fisher.
Raunds delivered a well worked account of Philip Sparke's popular 'Music for a Festival' under the experienced John Hudson, and which was enhanced by the excellent contribution of 'Best Instrumentalist' Russell Booker on euphonium.
There were also encouraging performances from Littleport ('Rhapsody in Brass') and Ireland Colliery Chesterfield ('Dark Side of the Moon').
It was certainly encouraging to see 10 bands take to the stage in the Fourth Section, with a host of well managed performances.
The best came from Stalybridge Old as the rejuvenated north west Area band, led by the experienced Martyn Evans gave a splendid rendition of Peter Yorke's classic 'The Shipbuilders' suite. Their young soprano player also took a deserved 'Best Instrumentalist' prize.
There was also another highly encouraging performance to note from Thrapston Town, as the former GUS horn player Nathan Waterman continues to develop an impressive ensemble under his command. Their neatly constructed 'A Malvern Suite' saw them come runner -up to end just ahead of third placed Matlock Band, who performed the same work.
There was also a great deal to enjoy from the remaining top-six performances from Croft Silver ('St Andrews Variations'), Corby Silver (Divertimento for Brass') and Abbey Brass ('New Beginnings') as well as the other well led competitors.
Adjudicator: Alan Morrison
1. Brunel Brass (Daniel Hall)
2. Ratby Co-operative (Mareika Gray)
3. Enderby Band (Stephen Phillips)
4. Unite the Union (Jonathan Beatty)
5. Kidlington Concert (Duncan Wilson)
6. Wantage Band (Jonathan Pippen)
7. Hucknall & Linby (Paul Whyley)
Best Instrumentalist: Ben Halstead (soprano) — Brunel Brass
Best Trombones: Ratby Co-operative
Best Tenor Horn: Unite the Union
Adjudicator: Nicholas Garman
1. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
2. Chalford Band (Steve Tubb)
3. Foss Dyke Band (Gareth Westwood)
4. Kibworth Band (Brendon Caddy)
5. AW Parker (Drybrook) (Joshua Ruck)
6. Soham Comrades (Jayne Murrill)
7. Hathern Band (David Newman)
8. Oddfellows Band (Ben Smith)
Best Instrumentalist: John Storey (euphonium) — Sandhurst Silver
Adjudicator: Martin Heartfield
1. Diggle Band (Sean Conway)
2. Waterbeach Brass (David Minchin)
3. Stamford Brass (Julian Bright)
4. City of Coventry (David Nicholson)
5. Harborough Band (Brad Turnbull)
6. Leicestershire Co-op (Luke Pallister)
7. City of Cambridge (Phillip Fisher)
8. Bedford Town (Craig Patterson)
9. Wigston Band (Ian Needham)
10. Ibstock Brick Brass (Chris Banks)
Best Instrumentalist: (soprano) — Diggle Band
Adjudicator: Sam Fisher
1. Raunds Temperance (John Hudson)
2. Littleport Brass (Ian Johnson)
3. Ireland Colliery Chesterfield (Sam Johnston)
Best Instrumentalist: Russell Booker (euphonium) — Raunds Temperance
Adjudicator: Sam Fisher
1. Stalybridge Old Band (Martyn Evans)
2. Thrapston Town (Nathan Waterman)
3. Matlock Band (Chris Banks)
4. Croft Silver (Henry Dunger)
5. Corby Silver (Andy Mayell)
6. Abbey Brass (Rob Tompkins)
7. Syston Band (Colin Jones)
8. Brunel Brass Academy (Daniel Hall)
9. University of Warwick (Tom Stoneman)
10. Royston Town Band (Steve Earley)
Best Instrumentalist: soprano (Stalybridge Old Band)
Best Trombones: Thrapston Town