2018 is already turning into a year to remember for Stamford Brass from Lincolnshire, as the Butlins Champion added the Fourth Section Area title to their CV with a fine victory under MD Julian Bright.
There was little doubt their super performance was going to feature in the prize-winning consultations of adjudicators Major Paul Norley and Richard Marshall, after their rendition of Rodney Newton's 'World Tour' was brought to stylistic life with a level of confidence no other came close matching on what was a good quality contest.
Clear cut margin
It gave a clear cut margin of victory over rivals City of Birmingham, who had earlier produced a cracking account under Ben Hewlett-Davies off the number 1 draw to deservedly gain their qualification alongside third placed Croft Silver led by Ian Needham.
In a contest that enjoyed a host of performances that brought wit (with plenty of authentic sounding bass trombone playing on show in the ragtime) and contrast to the mini-musical postcards from Liverpool Docks and Chicago, to the Hawaiian Islands and the sun baked vistas of Australia, well directed performances from Syston, Melton and Moulton 77 filled the remaining top-six places.
The judges clearly felt that the piece had done its job, and the positive remarks from Paul and Richard were not out of place for bands at both ends of the results — with every competitor emerging with a great deal of credit, despite the more obvious troubles the third movement, 'Pacific Paradise' at times caused.
After their victory at Skegness earlier this year Stamford was one of the pre-contest favourites at the Nicholas Chamberlain College, and they certainly played to that form to claim their first National Final appearance since 2004 in fine style.
On this evidence they will head to Cheltenham as one of the bookie's picks there too, whilst also worth an each-way bet will be City of Birmingham, as they secured a first appearance in a quarter of a century.
The early draw didn't seem to faze them either as their website later revealed; "... having less time to think about it maybe helped to quell any nerves and the band played confidently," they said. They were not wrong.
Meanwhile, Ian Needham used his experience to fine effect with Croft Silver as they pushed through against strong opposition to claim the all-important third qualification place and secure their first National Final appearance in a decade.
It also enabled them to beat off the early challenge of a persuasive Syston and the late surges of endeavour and enthusiasm from Melton and Moulton 77 in a contest that held the attention of a supportive audience all the way to the last note being played by 22 well led bands.
After their victory at Skegness earlier this year Stamford was one of the pre-contest favourites at the Nicholas Chamberlain College, and they certainly played to that form to claim their first National Final appearance since 2004 in fine style4BR
Test Piece: World Tour (Rodney Newton)
Adjudicators: Richard Marshall & Major Paul Norley
1. Stamford Brass (Julian Bright)*
2. City of Birmingham (Ben Hewlett-Davies)*
3. Croft Silver (Ian Needham)*
4. Syston (Gary Smallwood)
5. Melton (Graham Sutton)
6. Moulton '77 (Colin Jones)
7. Shipston Town (Howard Gibbs)
8. Kirkby Colliery Welfare (Neville Buxton)
9. Porthywaen Silver (Dougie Graham)
10. Ratby Co-operative Mid (David Purkiss)
11. University of Warwick (Simon Hogg)
12. Fairfield (Buxton) (Charles Kitchen)
13. Skegness Silver (Steve Walker)
14. Malvern Hills District (Chris License)
15. Wem Jubilee (tbc)
16. Whitwell Brass (Ryan Stacey)
17. Dunchurch (Paul Whitmore)
18. Sherwood Forest Brass (Christine Lippeatt)
19. Bilton Silver (Evolution) (Jack Fisher)
20. Coventry Festival (Allan Wheelhouse)
21. Ilkeston Brass (Geoff Hawley)
22. Newark Town (Rupert Trippett)
*Qualify for National Final