A delighted Howard Snell took time before setting back to his home on the Isle of Man to speak to 4BarsRest about his first North West Area Championship victory since 1989, and his first with his new association with Williams Fairey.
“Absolutely delighted not just for myself, but especially for the band who have worked so hard and played so well on what I think is a tremendous piece of music. Winning an Area Championship is a very tough assignment at the best of times, but with bands of the calibre of Fodens Courtois and Leyland ready and able to produce outstanding performances, this one was something special.”
Asked if he had used his famed powers of interpretation to bear on the music, Howard Snell quite definitely said no. “I have the greatest of respect for Philip Wilby’s music and the way in which he sets out very precisely his musical intentions. I therefore had no need to expand in any way from what he had written, other than ensuring that the band took care and spent time and attention on the different styles of playing in each of the movements. Luckily Fairey’s have a group of very talented soloists as well as band members and they were able to interpret exactly what both Philip Wilby wrote and I conducted.”
He felt that the music was a great challenge to all bands. “If it was orthodox brass band writing then a conductors interpretation would have come more into play. However, Jazz is something completely different and so technically demanding that it would have been foolish to try and move to far away from the composers intentions.”
Asked if he enjoyed the winning experience again, Howard Snell was modestly delighted. “Great for the band and great for some very talented players—I’m thoroughly enjoying myself here at Fairey”.
Band Manager Andy Gillooly couldn’t praise Howard Snell enough when he spoke to 4BarsRest after picking up the trophy off the stage. “Howard has been quite inspirational to the band. His musicianship and ability to make even the most complex things clear has meant we came here better prepared than ever before. The win is absolutely down to the way in which he made sense of one of the most technical pieces we have ever had to play. The emphasis was on the style of the playing throughout, and it was this that stood out in the comments of the adjudicator Malcolm Brownbill who commended us on the clarity of the reading of the score and the way in which the band captured the styles of each of the pieces movements.”
Meanwhile in Scotland, Nicholas Childs also expressed delight at the way in which CWS Glasgow met the challenge of Jazz to retain their title as Area Champions of Scotland.
“What seemed to be a day of disasters turned into a day of triumph for the band. Losing the percussion equipment was bad enough and would have upset many bands into giving a poor performance. Not CWS though! I was delighted by the way in which they concentrated their thoughts to the contest performance, especially as Whitburn had really given a top class show before us.”
Asked if this was as good as his win at Bradford at the Yorkshire Area a week before, Nicholas Childs gave a laugh and explained. “Any win is a great win—and this one was done in the most trying of circumstances. I can’t praise the band high enough for the way in which they went about things in such a professional manner. Headley on solo cornet was superb and thoroughly deserved his special prize and the band showed that it is capable of giving superb performances. I can’t wait for the Europeans!”