The impressive contesting resurgence of the Flowers Band continued in Torquay as they reclaimed the West of England Regional title under David Childs.
Their seventh victory since 2010 came after a closely fought family battle with defending champion Woodfalls, led by Dr Robert Childs, as the heavyweight performers (they have won the last nine Area titles between them) secured their places at the Royal Albert Hall following a thoroughly absorbing contest.
Happy if relieved
The stage celebrations were left to the happy, if somewhat relieved Flowers players (a couple revealing that they felt they had 'left the door open'), as the two conductors had already headed back to Wales for a Mother's Day get-together; Bob, having to buy a couple of extra bottles of celebratory bubbly on the way home to mark the first top-flight Area success of his offspring.
You suspect though that he and Lorraine won't mind having to do it more times in the future, as on this form, it could be the first of many. After their success at Butlins, Flowers are getting close to being back to their very best once more.
Behind them, all the top-six finishers showed persuasive qualification, if not title winning credentials. A purposeful Camborne Town led by Kevin Mackenzie eventually came third, with St Dennis adding further weight to their increasingly impressive credentials in fourth with a brace of solidly delivered accounts from Aldbourne and Filton Concert Brass ending fifth and sixth.
Adjudicator Alan Morrison was spot on the money when he said both he and David Roberts had enjoyed themselves comparing "good performances" on what was a "terrific piece that proved itself very accessible" to all the bands.
His clever piece of misdirection ("Adjudication can be stressful when you expect a higher level of performance", he said to open, before pausing just long enough to gain a murmur of disappointment before delivering the punch line, "…although today was completely different.") was both witty and accurate, as each of the contenders tackled Kevin Norbury's set-work with a level of inherent technical confidence, even if tempo choices and dynamic levels were sometimes misplaced.
Both men knew what they were looking for in the box and were admirably consistent, clear and concise in explaining their reasons why — especially with the winning band.
"Not entirely convincing early one, but the back half of the piece was worth listening to. Thank You!" Alan Morrison wrote in his remarks for Flowers, whilst David Roberts also added the final paragraph to his of; "A good performance not without moments mentioned above but plenty of quality. The second half of the piece shone."
Work to do
It certainly showed that the relief of the Flowers players on finally hearing their name declared as 2018 champion was not entirely misplaced. They know that there is more hard work to come if they are to return to challenging for the major honours, as star soprano player Paul Richards later told 4BR.
"We are delighted to reclaim the title," he said. "David has brought such a great attitude and work ethnic back to the band that the victory belongs to him more than anyone else. We know we have some way to go, but the desire is there in every player as was shown at Butlins. There is further work to do, but this has given us a huge boost of confidence."
Before the announcement of the result, Alan said that the duo were, "… were comparing good performances", as he pinpointed the need to allow "well-organised" flow to the central lyrical section (congratulating the solo cornet players for their efforts), but also highlighted the problems caused when the faster tempos were "pushed" too far.
Meanwhile, David Roberts praised the overall standard, which he said was "very good", whilst also giving a pertinent insight into tempo choices and congratulating the MDs, who, in some cases, "got bands a higher place" with their considered approach that brought out the inner detail, especially at a speed that at times topped 168 or more.
It was Woodfalls who produced the substantive early contest marker following a confident opening brace from Verwood Concert Brass and St Austell. Trademark Bob Childs elements of detail and effect were balanced by a free flowing musicality in what was a high quality performance just occasionally pitted by minor errors.
A couple of hit and miss renditions followed; a musical Lydbrook and a more forceful St Austell losing points through an accumulation of annoying infractions, before Flowers took to the stage to produce an imposing, subtly structured account that although certainly not without moments of unease was splendidly rich in tonal depth and texture.
It was thoroughly deserving of the title — and reinforced the opinion of an increasingly cohesive musical combination that has once again found top quality competitiveness under an MD who continues to impress at the highest level.
Camborne's fine effort, treading a carefully plotted path line eventually claimed the final podium slot, whilst a trio of engaging but significantly contrasting accounts came from St Dennis (delicate and tempered), Filton Concert Brass (bold but pockmarked by minor errors) and Aldbourne (a mix of both the considered and vibrant ) all had considerable merit and qualification potential.
None though could top the best Flowers a mother could wish to hope for from a son, as David Childs gave his mam a title winning bouquet on Sunday not even his proud father could better.
Both men knew what they were looking for in the box and were admirably consistent, clear and concise in explaining their reasons why — especially with the winning band4BR
Test Piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)
Adjudicators: Alan Morrison & David Roberts
1. Flowers (David Childs)*
2. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)*
3. Camborne Town (Kevin Mackenzie)
4. St Dennis (Darren Hawken)
5. Aldbourne (Dr David Thornton)
6. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
7. Lydbrook (Glyn Williams)
8. Verwood Concert Brass (Kevin Smith)
9. St. Austell (David Nicholson)
10. Hyde (Jonathan Lush-Camps)
11. Brunel Brass (Neil Skipper)
12. Lanner & District (Andrew Berryman)
*Qualify for National Final at Royal Albert Hall