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CD Review: The Nationals 2017

Highlights of the National Championships of Great Britain
Featuring: Brighouse & Rastrick, Pemberton Old Wigan DW, Boarshurst Silver, BD1 Brass, Newmains & District, Tubular Brass
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD379


There was a time when the Kapitol Music Panel used to rely on a wing and prayer with their choice of test-pieces for the National Finals. Not anymore. 

The last couple of years has seen a welcome transfusion of informed imagination pepper the selections; the results of which have not only made for much more engaging contesting at both Cheltenham and London, but have also been of lasting benefit to UK banding. 

Take a bow

So take a bow Brian Buckley, John Maines, Paul Holland, Michael Fowles and Richard Evans for a quintet every bit as worthy as Brighouse & Rastrick, Pemberton Old Wigan DW, Boarshurst Silver, BD1 Brass and Newmains & District - the 2017 Champion Bands.   

Expertly recorded and engineered by Daniel Lock and Richard Scott (especially given acoustics that make Palanga Concert Hall sound like the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam) this release is reminder of fine music very well played.

Sumptious Brighouse

Brighouse lead with their sumptuous account of Snell’s elegiac ‘Gallery’; a superb work that amply rewarded technical inspiration and interpretive insight - with none better than Prof David King and his charges. It was like following the loquacious Andrew Graham-Dixon around the Tate Modern for 20 minutes.

There was a Vermeer like quality to Eric Ball’s ‘Tournament for Brass’ - a chamber piece of exquisite detail and delicacy that wrecked havoc on those with primitive contest winning intentions in Cheltenham. 

Not so Pemberton Old - aided by a sympathetic reading by Ben Dixon and matched by players (especially the sublime Joanne Johnson on principal cornet) who responded in kind.

There was a Vermeer like quality to Eric Ball’s ‘Tournament for Brass’ - a chamber piece of exquisite detail and delicacy that wrecked havoc on those with primitive contest winning intentions in Cheltenham.  

Heart warming

Boarshurst Silver’s heart-warming success on the challenging ‘Music of a Legacy’ was a fine example of a conductor in James Garlick allowing the score to speak for itself instead of mimicking artifice, whilst BD1 Brass and Lee Skipsey brought the evocative story of ‘Hinemoa’ to life with a truly wonderful sense narrative colour and excitement.

All that and Newmains & District’s success marked a welcome, if overdue return to winning ways at National level for Scottish banding, thanks to a performance of ‘Petite Suite de Ballet’ that would even have had Eric Ball celebrating with a tipple of a single malt.

It’s a pity the release finishes with a reminder of the usually excellent Tubular Brass trying to find their musical way through the smoke and general disinterest of the pre-results audience at the Albert Hall. 

Like the bad old ‘hit and miss’ days of the Kapitol Music Panel, the musical intentions never quite lived up to expectations.  

Iwan Fox



Play List:

1. Gallery (Howard Snell) - (17.17)
Brighouse & Rastrick 
Conductor: Prof David King

2. Tournament for Brass (Eric Ball) - (12.48)
Pemberton Old Wigan DW
Conductor: Ben Dixon

3. Music for a Legacy (Stephen Ponsford) - (9.40)
Boarshurst Silver
Conductor: James Garlick

4. Hinemoa (Greth Wood) - (11.27)
BD1 Brass 
Conductor: Lee Skipsey

5. Petite Suite de Ballet (Eric Ball) - (8.43)
Newmains & District
Conductor: Michael Marzella

6. Tubular Bells: Part 1 (Mike Oldfield arr. Sandy Smith) - (7.59)
Conductor: Sandy Smith
i) Introduction
ii) Fast Guitars
iii) Basses

Kettering Citadel S A Band -

Tuesday 17 July • 66, Rockingham Road,. Kettering,. NN16 8JU

Roberts Bakery Band - Bluedot Festival

Saturday 21 July • Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. . The University of Manchester. . Macclesfield, Cheshire SK11 9DL

Medway Band - Higham Church Annual Prom

Saturday 21 July • St. Marys Church. 1 Abbey Farm Cottages . Church Street. Higham. Rochester . ME3 7LS

Lofthouse Brass Band - Oxenhope Railway Station

Sunday 22 July • Oxenhope Railway Station, The Railway Station, Station Road, Haworth BD22 8NJ BD22 8NJ

Tendring Brass - Opening Night Concert of the Frinton Mission 2018

Saturday 28 July • Greensward,. Frinton on Sea,. Essex CO13 9DN

Worthing Silver Band

July 17 • Worthing Silver Band are a lively band looking to increase their numbers. We are looking for back row cornets, 2nd horn, 2nd baritone, Eb + Bb bass. We perform a selection of concerts and we are the organisers of Brassbandathon. Look us up for more info.

Witney Town Band

July 17 • A friendly 4th section band based in West Oxfordshire require Front row cornet, percussion and second Horn. We rehearse from 7:30 - 9.30pm every Tuesday at Witney Methodist Church, High Street, Witney, Oxfordshire, OX28 6HG. . .

West Somerset Brass Band

July 17 • We have vacancies for a 1st baritone player and front row cornet although we would be delighted to hear from any brass player or those wishing to learn an instrument. We are based in Watchet, West Somerset but players come from a wide radius to us

Alan Widdop

Conductor, Brass teacher, Adjudicator (ABBA)