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Report & Result: 2019 New Zealand Champion of Champions

A new name appears on the famous Errol Mason Memorial Trophy as Toby Pringle of Wellington Brass becomes the 2019 Champion of Champions in Hamilton.

  The prize winners line up with the adjudicators

The first major title of the 2019 New Zealand National Championships has been decided, with cornet player Toby Pringle of Wellington Brass claiming the prestigious Champion of Champions accolade, sponsored by the New Zealand Army Band.


His flamboyant rendition of Pablo de Sarasante's famous 'Zigeunerwisen', was described as creating "a most special musical performance" according to chief adjudicator Luc Vertommen (joined by Brisbane XLCR MD, Howard Taylor and NZ Army Band Staff Seargent and former winner, Phil Johnstone).

It saw him claim the Errol Mason Memorial Trophy, named in honour of the former multiple winner, and which was first competed for in 1927.


In a contest where the judges were certainly looking for displays of musicality and artistry ahead of impressive shows of clinical technique, flugel player Kevin Hickman of Woolston Brass was runner-up with his evocative rendition of Philip Sparke's 'Moon Song, Sun Dance', with trombonist Dale Vail of Wellington Brass in third with a robust rendition of Peter Maunder's 'Sonata for Trombone'.

According to the judges there was "four outstanding performances" from the twelve finalists, although each was "a winner in their own right" according to Luc Vertommen after claiming their hard fought individual titles earlier in the day.

Defending champion, soprano player Jamie Rolfe of Brisbane XLCR was fourth with her highly commended performance of Robert Eaves' 'Rhapsody for Soprano".


"It was an honour to listen to such accomplished performances," Luc Vertommen said in his generous address to the audience. "It was a very difficult task sorting out all those champions. Some created special musical moments. There were some real artists."

There was a great deal of accomplished playing on show from each of the finalists — with the likes of experienced baritone and horn champions Steven Booth and Mike Ford and former champion and percussion champion Rachel Thomas making their mark with many in the auditorium.

His flamboyant rendition of Pablo de Sarasante's famous 'Zigeunerwisen', was described as creating "a most special musical performance" according to chief adjudicator Luc Vertommen4BR

Great potential

And whilst Luc Vertommen went on to say that there were noticeable mistakes and issues with tuning, he felt that the winner also showed "great potential for the future."

Bass trombonist Liam Bewley was presented with the Pat Cole Medal as the youngest winner of a senior individual solo category, whilst Rachel Thomas and Jamie Rolfe shared award for gaining the highest score of female competitors on their categories.

Earlier in the day the Junior Champion of Champions title was claimed by the excellent young cornet star Liam Wright from North Shore Brass, whilst the Invitation Slow Melody went to Chris Lawrence of Eastern Bay of Plenty Brass.


Champion of Champions:

1. Toby Pringle (Wellington Brass)
2. Kevin Hickman (Woolston Brass)
3. Dale Vail (Wellington Brass)

Highly Commended: Jamie Rolfe (Brisbane XLCR and Leopard Coachlines Canterbury Brass)

Junior Champion of Champions:

1. Liam Wright (North Shore Brass)
2. Eleanor Grigg (Marlborough District Brass)
3. Jonty Zydenbos (Marlborough District Brass)

Brass Direct Invitation Slow Melody:

1. Chris Lawrence (Eastern Bay of Plenty Brass)
2. Steven Booth (Waitakere Auckland Brass)
3. Kevin Hickman (Woolston Brass)

Highly Commended: Byron Newton (Wellington Brass)

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Brett Baker

BSc (Hons), ARCM, PG Dip
Rath clinician, conductor, teacher, adjudicator, editor