You suspect the only thing the players and supporters of Rothwell Temperance didn’t do in Blackpool on Saturday night was to celebrate their Grand Shield victory in quite the way their historic contesting name may have suggested.
No surprise really after MD Dave Roberts led the Yorkshire band to a fine victory with a rendition of ‘Arabian Nights’ described by the composer Stephen Roberts in his written adjudication remarks as, ‘…a fantastic performance, scintillatingly shaped and virtuosically delivered’, whilst fellow judge Rob Wiffen added that it was ‘…a very strong performance throughout’, ‘well shaped by the conductor’.
Symphony Hall return
Victory — the band’s second since 2009, will see them return to the British Open for the first time since 2012 where they can now look forward to tackling another Stephen Roberts work, ‘Reflections on Swan Lake’.
They will be joined at Symphony Hall, by Woodfalls, after they claimed their first Open appearance in almost 30 years under the baton of Dr Robert Childs, helped in no small measure by the stunning ‘Best Soloist’ contribution of star trombonist Brett Baker.
Hard to escape
Both bands will have celebrated long into the Blackpool night after the contest once again lived up to its reputation as being the most difficult of all to escape from.
The fancied Scottish challenger Whitburn was left to rue the cruelest of contesting fates as they finished third for the second year in a row under the direction of Prof Nicholas Childs, whilst Midlands Area champion Virtuosi GUS couldn’t quite make an immediate return to Birmingham as they ended fourth.
Reg Vardy will hope to make it third time lucky in 2016 after they could only claim fifth, with Marsden showing that they are getting closer to a future British Open appearance with their sixth placed finish.
Behind them came a host of bands left to contemplate booking into Golden Mile Bed & Breakfast for another year, with Northop, Camborne, Hepworth and EYMS filling the remaining top 10 places ahead of the midfield finishers of Tongwynlais, Mount Charles, Pemberton, Burry Port, Wingates and Aldbourne.
Bursting with pride
No such worries for the Rothwell Band Manager though, and after such a closely fought battle to reclaim their prized British Open status, no wonder their usually reserved MD Dave Roberts was bursting with emotion as he held the Grand Shield aloft for the second time in six years.
“Even though we were drawn early on the day (number 4), I told my players I knew we could win the contest,” he said.
“As we have shown over the years, we are a very good band — and after the disappointment of just missing out on qualification for the National Finals I was determined the same thing wouldn’t happen here.”
He added: “I couldn’t have asked for anything more from every single player. We have played well this year but this was at a different level altogether. I came off stage knowing we couldn’t have done anything better — and I’m so pleased that such a superb performance was rewarded by the judges in this way.”
Secret of success
David also revealed that part of the secret to the success lay in retelling the tale of ‘Scheherazade’ in the same way he did when leading Kirkintilloch to seventh place at the British Open on the piece in 2013.
“I always refer back to adjudicator’s notes and taking the educated guess that Stephen and Rob would be back in the box I made sure I looked at them again. They really enjoyed what I did then with tempos, dynamics and bringing out the character in the music — so I thought there was no real need to try and do something different. I’m glad I guessed right!”
He certainly did, with the judges later telling 4BR that in what was a close battle at the top end of the results table, Rothwell’s ability to bring out the musical character of the richly coloured score was the key to their ‘clear victory’.
Stephen Roberts had earlier told the audience waiting for the results in the Winter Gardens that both he and Rob Wiffen had been ‘really impressed’ by the standard of the 20 competitors, and especially by the quality of the solo playing.
The destination of the title he said had ‘boiled down to bringing out good musical characterisation from the score’, as well as overcoming the ‘deliberately difficult technical challenges’ whilst still maintaining stamina, especially in the quiet section towards the end of the piece.
That was certainly their opinion of the winners, who produced the stand out marker in a high quality first half of the contest to repel the strong challenge of later rivals and claim the title off the earliest draw number since 1998.
With Whitburn looking set to end their five year Blackpool stay under the baton of Prof Nicholas Childs with a supremely confident account at the midway point, the Symphony Hall qualification places looked to be settled until Woodfalls produced a stunning rendition as the penultimate contender to deny them.
With the West of England band boosted by recent signings, Dr Robert Childs detailed interpretation brought he best out of his hard working ensemble, led by Brett Baker and principal cornet Jan Boler, as they pipped their Scottish rivals to secure their first British Open appearance since 1986.
At the other end of the results table there was to be further disappointment for Scotland as Kingdom Brass fell through the relegation trap door to the Senior Cup, joined by Thoresby Colliery, Redbridge and Unite the Union (City of Sheffield).
Back at British Open
However, for one of the hardest working, non-sponsored community based top flight bands in the UK, there was only celebrations and a few alcoholic beverages to enjoy as Rothwell Temperance once again claimed their place back at Symphony Hall.
And as David Roberts added before being swamped by celebrating supporters: “That’s what makes this victory all the more special.
We all worked our socks off this win — and I’ll still come back to our next rehearsal to see all our own players sat there determined to make a mark at the British Open.”
We have played well this year but this was at a different level altogether. I came off stage knowing we couldn’t have done anything better — and I’m so pleased that such a superb performance was rewarded by the judges in this wayMD, David Roberts
The Grand Shield:
Test Piece: Arabian Nights — Fantasy on Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade for Brass Band (Stephen Roberts)
Adjudicators: Stephen Roberts & Rob Wiffen
1. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)*
2. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)*
3. Whitburn (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
4. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
5. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
6. Marsden Silver Prize (Glyn Williams)
7. Northop Silver (Thomas Wyss)
8. Camborne Town (John Berryman)
9. Hepworth (Mark Peacock)
10. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Alan Morrison)
11. Tongwynlais Temperance (Christopher Bond)
12. Mount Charles (David Stowell)
13. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Kevin Gibbs)
14. Burry Port Town (Nigel Seaman)
15. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
16. Aldbourne (Jonathan Pippen)
17. Unite the Union (City of Sheffield) (David Hirst)**
18. Redbridge (Alan Duguid)**
19. Thoresby Colliery (Brian Grant)**
20. Kingdom Brass (Eoin Tonner)**
Best Instrumentalist: Brett Baker, (trombone) — Woodfalls
*Promoted to British Open
**Relegated to Senior Cup