The Doctor Martin Wainstone Cup continues to provide a very lucrative and successful contesting coda to the traditional British Open Championship weekend.
Building on the success of the 2016 event, the Princess Alexandra Auditorium at Yarm School attracted eight bands, including the homeward bound defending champion Co-operative Funeralcare fresh from the appearance at the Symphony Hall 24 hours earlier.
Keeping it in the diary
With a first prize of £4,000 to the winner from a prize pot of £8,000, excellent facilities and organisation, it is also an event with a secure long term future (thanks of course the good Doctor's bequeathed generosity) and an audience that is slowly but surely adding it to their contest calendar of attractions.
One band that will certainly be keeping it in their diary, even if they hopefully return to the British Open, is Reg Vardy, who won the event for a fifth time.
Under the direction of Russell Gray, their performance of this year's set-work 'Fraternity' was certainly a show of future ambition — especially with the National Finals looming on the Albert Hall horizon.
Their comprehensive victory saw them pick up the prizes for the 'Best March', for rousing rendition of 'The President', with solo euphonium Andrew Hedley taking the 'Best Soloist' accolade for his superb account of 'Brillante'. They left for home with their hands full of silverware and pockets bursting with £4,500 in cash.
It was also an exhausting day for trombonist Andy Enzor, who earlier ran the Great North Run (just beaten he told 4BR with a wry smile, by Sir Mo Farrah). His celebratory post-contest tipple will have tasted particularly refreshing.
That would have also been the case for an impressive winning band, as Russell Gray continues to mould a top-flight outfit that combines confidence and ambition with rich musicality — something he said that led him to choose 'Fraternity' as their own-choice work.
"I knew we had to do the same as last year and play the same piece as Co-op," he said. "'Fraternity' is a great piece that shows off our ambition to return to the British Open, so it meant the players also had a taste of just what it takes to perform at that level as well this weekend."
A compelling rendition laced with evocative atmosphere helped Reg Vardy make it a clean-sweep of all three disciplines of the contest to end four points clear of the Scottish defending champion.
Might have been
For Co-op it was a case of 'what might have been' after the disappointment of the previous day in Birmingham — especially with their own satisfying account of Thierry Deleruyelle's superb work that was balanced by Calum Tonner's expressive rendition of 'Body and Soul' and bold 'Knight Templar' march (interestingly played without percussion).
"We didn't play as well as we knew we could at the Open, but here it was a different story," MD, Allan Ramsay told 4BR. "We are a band building with long term objectives, so this weekend is another step along that way." £2,000 in prize money will also help.
Another band making solid progress ended third. East Yorkshire Motor Services claimed the £1,000 on offer under Stig Maersk with a solidly portrayed 'Spiriti' as their test-piece choice, balanced by 'Knight Templar' and a wonderfully lyrical account of 'Rusalka's Song to the Moon' by principal cornet Neil Day.
Well matched rivals
Behind the podium finishes came a group of well-matched rivals. They were led by a solid sounding Fishburn, who opted for 'Pageantry' as their main work, with Elland in fifth, displaying a great deal of maturity especially in their take on 'The Torchbearer'.
Meanwhile, both Hammonds Saltaire and Thoresby will have taken a fair amount of satisfaction from their performances of 'Gallery' (if not the overall result) ahead of their Royal Albert Hall appearances in a few weeks time.
Easington Colliery, although coming last, will have been buoyed by another good outing under Ian Robinson, and in performing a little later in the day with the renowned rock musician Dave Stewart in a sell-out gig in Sunderland.
For the Cockerton Band organisers, the latest Doctor Martin Wainstone Cup was a fine success — and further evidence that the event has now become a significant contest in the autumn calendar, with plans in place to attract more high quality competitors.
One of those though will surely be Reg Vardy, as they enjoyed their annual Doctor's check-up that has left them in fine contesting health.
Under the direction of Russell Gray, their performance of this year's set-work 'Fraternity' was certainly a show of future ambition — especially with the National Finals looming on the Albert Hall horizon4BR
Adjudicator: Dr Robert Childs
March/Solo/Test-Piece = Total
1. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray): 24/24/141 = 189
2. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay): 22/23/140 = 185
3. East Yorkshire Motor Servcies (Stig Maersk): 21/22/135 = 178
4. Fishburn (Michael Franey): 20/19/132 = 171
5. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks): 21/21/128 = 170
6. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths) 23/20/117 = 160
7. Thoresby Colliery (Dave Holling): 21/18/120 = 159
8. Easington Colliery (Ian Robinson): 20/18/114 = 152
Best March: Reg Vardy (The President)
Best Soloist: Andrew Hedley (Reg Vardy)