The 2014 Regional Championships of Great Britain kicked off in compelling fashion in Bradford, as Brighouse & Rastrick under the inspirational baton of Professor David King reclaimed the Yorkshire Area title for the first time since 2011 with a blistering account of Kenneth Downie’s ‘St Magnus’.
Out of this world
It had to be, as adjudicators David Read MBE and Stephen Roberts told the packed audience (which included a thrilled composer and his wife) at St George’s Hall that they had been privileged to judge a number of performances on Sunday evening which they described as ‘out of this world’.
Not only did they certainly believe that was the case with the winners, but it was also their opinion of runner-up Grimethorpe Colliery, Carlton Main and Black Dyke — all of who will represent the region at the Albert Hall in October.
“The top four were superb, and fifth and sixth very, very good,” David later told 4BR. “We first said we were hearing the ‘best in the world’ at times, but had to change that to ‘out of this world’ by the end — especially with the clear winners.”
Victory gave Brighouse & Rastrick their 19th Yorkshire title success to draw level with great rivals Black Dyke, whilst Professor King became the first recipient of the Dr Roy Newsome Memorial Trophy as the winning MD.
“I’m thrilled and delighted for the band,” he told 4BR early on Monday morning, as he prepared for his long haul flight back to Australia a few hours later.
“It was an outstanding performance. I’m also very honoured to be the first recipient of Muriel Newsome’s award in memory of her wonderful husband. I’m sure many other conductors will be equally as honoured as I am to receive it over coming years. It made this a very special victory on the weekend.”
The temperature at St George’s Hall — hot at the best of times on an Area contest Sunday evening -soon started to bubble on the musical thermometer after Rothwell Temperance opened proceedings with cracking account off the number 1 draw to eventually end fifth.
Although that was soon topped by Black Dyke, who set a stratospheric altitude marker with a performance of immense power and detail under Dr Nicholas Childs, Brighouse then seemingly defied gravity with a rendition full of technical colour and musical flow to grasp the famous People Challenge Cup, aided by the outstanding ‘Best Principal Cornet’ contribution of Stuart Lingard.
With Marsden delivering a ‘St Magnus’ that certainly sent a jolt of electricity through the post comfort break audience to come sixth, the contest was rounded off by a brace of stunning accounts from Grimethorpe Colliery and reigning champion Carlton Main.
Dr Robert Childs couldn’t have been happier as he left the stage following his band’s breathlessly exciting rendition that saw soprano player Kevin Crockford take the ‘Best Instrumentalist’ Award and Michael Dodd, the ‘Best Soloist’ Prize.
The judges later revealed that just a few too many little blemishes perhaps cost Grimethorpe the chance to claim a first victory under their MDs direction.
Meanwhile, Carlton Main could have done no more in defence of their title under Phillip McCann, who expertly constructed his ‘St Magnus’ around a wonderful central variation of sublime beauty.
In the end though there was to be no denying the overall quality of Brighouse & Rastrick, even against rivals whose performances sent the packed audience into lift off mode. For the judges, theirs was the one that was simply in a different orbit.
The remarkable contesting rise of City of Bradford continued on their home patch as they took the First Section Area title under Lee Skipsey.
The band planted its flag on the summit of Howard Lorriman’s ‘Cry of the Mountain’ in commanding fashion, to head to Cheltenham as one of the short priced favourites after a performance that wouldn’t have been out of place in the company of Yorkshire best on Sunday evening.
They will be joined by Hatfield, who provided judges David Read MBE and Mike Kilroy with a classy early marker that was only eventually beaten by Bradford as the penultimate band of a high quality contest.
“We had some problems separating first from second and third from fourth,” David later revealed.
“The top two were a little way ahead though, with their quality of sound and the MDs ability to shape the music so well. The piece was a good challenge.”
Mike agreed. “It’s thematic, descriptive music that met the mark it was intended for. The best bands were able to bring colour, texture and shape out of the score — real top section attributes. The overall quality was very good, but the top two were just a little bit ahead of the rest.”
Lee Skipsey, who was the first recipient of the Graham O’Connor Memorial Trophy, was delighted that his band would once again Cheltenham bound.
“It was a fabulous performance — one the players have worked so hard towards. I’m also very honoured to receive the Graham O’Connor Award — and I hope he would have been happy with our efforts, as I know he used to work his bands just as hard to win contests.”
That point was certainly true in respect to Graham’s old band Hatfield, conducted by his great friend Stan Lippeatt, as they took the all important second qualification place.
Stan later told 4BR: “I do miss him a great deal, but I’m sure he’s smiling about the result!”
Hatfield’s outstanding euphonium Andy Kennedy claimed the ‘Best Soloist’ Award — and was also keen to pay tribute to his former mentor. “Graham did such a great deal for me as a player, so to win this award and help the band get to the finals is a great way for all of us at Hatfield to remember him.”
Two quality performances from South Yorkshire Police and Meltham & Meltham Mills eventually saw them end third and fourth, with the remaining top six places filled by Strata and Clifton & Lightcliffe.
Unfortunately, Wakefield Metropolitan was later disqualified as it was announced that Registration Rule 9a, which concerns the contest registration date for players (7 days before the Friday of the contest weekend) had not been met.
Michael Ball’s descriptive ‘Chaucer’s Tunes’ provided an enjoyable test for the Second Section bands, with Elland Silver returning to the finals for a third successive year after stylishly claiming the title under young conductor Danny Brooks.
In a quality contest that certainly impressed the audience and adjudicators thanks to well directed accounts full of warmth, wit and character from all 11 competitors, the all important second qualification place went to Knottingley Silver conducted by Dr Owen Wedgewood.
Can’t believe it
“I can’t quite believe it,” an emotional winning MD later told 4BR. “The band has worked so hard for this. They are a great bunch — more like a family, so to be able to direct them to the title makes this victory pretty special.”
Principal cornet Sam Harrison, who also won the ‘Best Soloist’ award for her outstanding contribution, agreed. “There is such a great atmosphere in the band—and Danny does so much to encourage us to keep improving. Now we have another trip to Cheltenham to look forward.”
Judges, David Horsfield and Dennis Wilby were equally impressed: “This was a very good test for the bands,” Dennis said. “There were 11 good performances and some fine individual playing too, with the qualifiers in particular very good indeed.”
David agreed: “It was nice to hear that the art of lyrical playing isn’t dead. This is a gem of a piece, and although some bands did have difficulties, all produced performances rich in character — and the best were excellent.”
A delighted Emley produced a vibrant account under Garry Hallas to eventually end third, with the remaining top six places taken by well directed accounts from Lindley, Kippax and Chapeltown.
Dinnington Colliery will be sending home a postcard or two from Cheltenham later this year after conductor Jonathan Beatty led his band to a fine victory on Philip Wilby’s nostalgic ‘Partita’ set work.
The audience was left in no doubt about what both adjudicators required from the 11 well matched contenders after Alan Morrison gave a detailed critique of the challenges both he and Stan Lippeatt were looking to be met on the day.
Joining Dinnington will be Wetherby & District, who produced a cultured rendition under the elegant baton of Keiron Anderson to come runner up, with a colourfully textured account from Worsbrough Brass in third.
The remaining top six places went to Stanley Newmarket Colliery, Crofton Silver and Armthorpe Elmfield.
“It’s a typical Wilby piece — with four movements of real contrast,” Alan Morrison told an appreciative audience before the announcement of the results.
“We could have different winners at times by the way they played separate movements — but it was the band that produced outstanding quality and consistency throughout that eventually won through.
The band that came runner-up was close behind, whilst all the competitors had something to offer. However, there was one band just a bit better than the rest.”
Alan’s forensic analysis left Stan with little to add (although typically he managed it splendidly with a touch of well directed humour), although he also made sure he paid tribute to the quality of the solo playing on show — making special mention of ‘Best Soloist’ winner, trombonist Jamie Holling of Dinnington.
“There was a clear winner today and a close fight between second and third. All the soloists played so well, but the solo prize winner was superb.”
The aperitif before the main course of the top flight action on Sunday evening was provided by eight tasty courses of Spanish tapas provided by the bands in the Fourth Section.
With its clever mix of brooding darkness, flitting romance and runabout energy, it certainly brought the best out of each of competitors, with John Clay using his years of experience (and the odd holiday trip) to bring an authentic flavour of the Iberian Peninsula to Bradford with winner’s Clifton & Lightcliffe.
“I really enjoyed the piece,” he later told 4BR. “With such a great mix of players — both young and old, a piece like this is great to work on, as it’s always interesting and fun.”
That was certainly an aspect both judges, Alan Morrison and Anne Crookston picked up on, with Anne pinpointing its challenges to the audience before the announcement of the results.
“It shows up all the basic requirement of good band playing,” she said. “Getting the rhythms right, the musical lines well shaped and the ensemble balanced will have improved all the bands here — and especially younger players.”
Clifton’s ‘Youngest Player’ award winner 9 year old Emma Ainlee certainly agreed, as she held onto her trophy accompanied by the best beaming smile of the weekend. “I really liked it. It was fun to play and always interesting to play in rehearsal.”
Alan later added that the winners had really captured the musical character of ‘Three Spanish Impressions’ to a tee. “It was an excellent performance — full of detail and consistency.”
Joining Clifton in Cheltenham will be Rockingham, who also produced ‘impressions’ full of colourful character (especially the second movement as Alan later told 4BR) under Rob Straw to end runner-up, whilst the final podium place was claimed by a neatly portrayed performance by Maltby Miners.
The remaining top six places went to well managed renditions from Oughtibridge, Thurcroft Welfare and Gawthorpe Brass ’85.
With the Yorkshire Regional Committee once again organising a superb event (run almost to the minute on time), with Peggy Tomlinson and her team welcoming visitors from all over the banding world, the rest of the Areas will have a hard act to follow in terms of musical quality and contesting drama.
I’m also very honoured to be the first recipient of Muriel Newsome’s award in memory of her wonderful husband. I’m sure many other conductors will be equally as honoured as I am to receive it over coming yearsProf David King.
Test Piece: 'St Magnus' — Kenneth Downie
Adjudicators: David Read MBE & Stephen Roberts
1. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)**
2. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr. Robert Childs)*
3. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Phillip McCann)**
4. Black Dyke (Dr Nicholas J Childs)*
5. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
6. Marsden Silver Prize (Glyn Williams)
7. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
8. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Hall)
9. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Stig Maersk)
10. Hepworth (Michael Fowles)
11. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) (David Hirst)
12. Drighlington (Jim Davies)
13. Hebden Bridge (Sean Conway)
**Pre-Qualified for National Final
* Qualified for National Final
Best Principal Cornet: Stuart Lingard (Brighouse & Rastrick)
Best Instrumentalist: Kevin Crockford (soprano) Grimethorpe Colliery
Best Soloist: Michael Dodd (Euphonium) Grimethorpe Colliery
Youngest Player: Adam Nield (aged 13)of Hepworth
Test Piece: 'Cry of the Mountain' — Howard Lorriman
Adjudicators: David Read MBE & Mike Kilroy
1. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)*
2. Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt)*
3. South Yorkshire Police (Leigh Baker)
4. Meltham & Meltham Mills (Norman Law)
5. Strata Brass (David Holling)
6. Clifton & Lightcliffe (John Clay)
7. Cornerstone (Damian Wileman)
8. Stannington (Kevin Wadsworth)
9. Barnsley Brass (William Rushworth)
10. Hade Edge (Jonathan Beatty)
11. Frickley/South Elmsall (John Morahan))
Wakefield Metropolitan (Michael Howley) (disqualified under registration rule 9a)
Best Soloist: Andrew Kennedy (euphonium) — Hatfield
Youngest Player: Georgina Green (aged 13) of South Yorkshire Police
*Top 2 qualify for National Final
Test Piece: 'Chaucer's Tunes' — Dr Michael Ball
Adjudicators: David Horsfield and Dennis Wilby
1. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)*
2. Knottingley Silver (Dr. Owen Wedgwood)*
3. Emley (Garry Hallas)
4. Lindley (Chris Lewis)
5. Kippax (David Lancaster)
6. Chapeltown (Andrew Dennis)
7. Old Silkstone (Simon Kerwin)
8. Dodworth Colliery M.W. (Eliot J Darwin)
9. Dronfield Genquip (John Davis)
10. Skelmanthorpe Prospect (Philip Garlick)
11. Horbury Victoria (Duncan Beckley)
Best Soloist: Samantha Harrison (cornet) Elland Silver
Youngest Player: Bronte Wilkinson (aged 13) of Kippax
*Top 2 qualify for National Final
Test Piece: 'Partita for Band' (Postcards from Home) — Professor Philip Wilby
Adjudicators: Stan Lippeatt & Alan Morrison
1. Dinnington Colliery (Jonathan Beatty)*
2. Wetherby & District Silver (Keiron Anderson)*
3. Worsbrough Brass (John Roberts)
4. Slaithwaite (Rob Westacott)
5. Crofton Silver (Kevin Belcher)
6. Armthorpe Elmfield (Haydn Griffiths MBE)
7. Barnsley Metropolitan (Alex Francis)
8. Stanley Newmarket Colliery (Steven Bailey)
9. Linthwaite (Tony Jaeger-Fozard)
10. Lofthouse 2000 (Kevin Holdgate)
11. Garforth (Mark Wildie)
Best Soloist: Jamie Hollings (trombone) — Dinnington Colliery
Youngest Player: Jake Robbins (aged 11) of Barnsley Metropolitan
*Top 2 qualify for National Final
Test Piece: 'Three Spanish Impressions for Brass Band' — Alan Fernie
Adjudicators: Anne Crookston and Alan Morrison
1. Clifton & Lightcliffe ‘B’(John Clay)*
2. Rockingham (Rob Straw)*
3. Maltby Miners (Terry Clifford)
4. Oughtibridge (Gavin Somerset)
5. Thurcroft Welfare (Garry Hallas)
6. Gawthorpe Brass ‘85’ (John Edward)
7. Huddersfield & Ripponden (Michael Cox)
8. Deepcar (Lindon Bolt)
Withdrawn: Golcar (Joseph Whelan)
Best Soloist: Panette Harrison (cornet) — Clifton & Lightcliffe 'B'
Best Percussion Section: Clifton & Lightcliffe 'B'
Youngest Player: Emma Ainlee (aged 9) of Clifton & Lightcliffe 'B'
*Top 2 qualify for National Final