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Report & Result: 2018 New Zealand Champion of Champions

The talented Jamie Rolfe of Brisbane Excelsior Band becomes the first soprano player since 1992 to win the prestigious solo title.

  Jamie Rolfe becomes the latest winner of the prestigious Errol Mason Trophy

Jamie Rolfe of Brisbane Excelsior Band has won the Blue Riband 'Champion of Champions' solo title at the New Zealand National Championships.

The soprano player's outstanding performance of 'Variations on a Welsh Theme' by Peter Kneale saw her deservedly claim the prestigious Errol Mason trophy against a high-class field of rivals — many of who were past winners themselves.

Horn player Murray Borthwick from North Shore Brass was runner-up, with former champion Tyme Marters of Woolston Brass in third. Another former winner, Mike Ford of Nelson City Brass, was highly commended.

Sat back and admired

An appreciative audience at the ASB Theatre in Blenheim thoroughly enjoyed all 13 renditions from the winners of the various solo categories, as did Chief Adjudicator Russell Gray and fellow judges David Chaulk and Marieka Gray.

Mindful of his duties the following day, Russell made a short pre-results summary, congratulated all the competitors who he said had enjoyed "…a good day at the office" — stating that the trio had "sat back and admired" the performances on show.

High bar

Earlier, it was 'Masters' category winner Mike Ford on horn who raised an already high bar with an ebullient rendition of 'Masquerade' by Philip Sparke, whilst flugel champion Tyme Marsters soon upped it a few notches with a vivid take on Sparke's 'Moon Song, Sun Dance'.

The competition was rounded off with a second, excellent 'Masquerade' performance by tenor horn champion Murray Borthwick, who rolled back the years (he's recently retired) to give the judges plenty to think about in reaching their ultimate decision.

However, in their opinion none was better than Jamie Rolfe, as the popular Australian delivered a wonderfully controlled account of Kneale's cleverly realised variations on the Welsh folk song, 'Watching the Wheat', combining strident bravura with subtle lyricism, and tuneful musicality to steely technique.

It also enabled her to add the New Zealand 'Champion of Champions' title to the Australian version she won 2015, and become the first soprano cornet player to win the title since Peter Roberts in 19924BR

Champion double

It also enabled her to add the New Zealand 'Champion of Champions' title to the Australian version she won 2015, and become the first soprano cornet player to win the title since Peter Roberts in 1992.

Speaking to 4BR after the results, Jamie said: "I'm delighted to have won the New Zealand Championship in such a sentimental year.

Winning in memory of our friend Riki McDonnell in a field of such high quality musicians is such an honour."


The contest which was first held in 1927 was the culmination of two days of solo competition — with some individual categories having a history that stretches back to 1889.

Jamie (who is guesting for top section Leopard Coachlines Canterbury Brass at the contest) now adds her name to a list of winners that includes many of the 'greats' of the southern hemisphere brass band movement in the most commanding manner.


1. Jamie Rolfe (Brisbane Excelsior)
2. Murray Borthwick (North Shore Brass)
3. Tyme Marsters (Woolston Brass)

Highly Commended: Mike Ford (Nelson City Brass)


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