Issue 5970

Egon Virtuosi Brass - An inside story

The Owen Farr Seminar - the first in a monthly series of brass masterclasses by the tenor horn virtuoso

Besses Boys' Band - Celebrating 75 years

Grimethorpe Youth Band feature

LIVE - Welsh Regional Championships - 4th Section

Sunday 19 March, 2017

Adjudicators: Stan Lippeatt and John Maines

Test-piece: St. Andrews Variations (Alan Fernie)


1. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)


2. Seindorf Arian yr Oakeley (John Glyn Jones)

3. Gwaun-cae-Gurwen (J. Hutcherson)

4. Upper Rhondda (J. Thomas)

5. Cwmtawe Youth (Wayne Pedrick)

6. Vale of Glamorgan


In the BB Frame*

1. Upper Rhondda (J. Thomas)

2. Cwmtawe Youth (Wayne Pedrick)

3. Seindorf Arian yr Oakeley (John Glyn Jones)

4. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)

 5. Vale of Glamorgan

6.Buckley (S. Pugh-Jones)

 *NOT the official result!  

An excellent contest today - very tight at the top i would say, but for me the tone and range of Upper Rhondda and the youthful energy of  Cwmtawe Youth provided greatest enjoyment.


1. Gwaun-cae-Gurwen (J. Hutcherson)
2. Vale of Glamorgan (D. Short)
3. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)
4. Seindorf Arian yr Oakeley (John Glyn Jones)
5. Oakdale Silver (Kerry Bowden)
6. Upper Rhondda (J. Thomas)
7. Buckley (S. Pugh-Jones)
8. Cwmtawe Youth (Wayne Pedrick)


Good morning form a rather cold and damp Swansea. The Brangwyn hall is as every looking like a picture - literally with the walls feststooned with its Gaugin inspired paintings. Yesterday's 1st and 3rd Section were very competitive, as ever in Wales, with some fine playing from many bands, not just those at the top. The 2nd section was disappointing - Rhapsody in Brass beat everybody! This morning's 4th Section is small, just 8 bands but I'm hoping for some well-prepared offerings.

8. Cwmtawe Youth (Wayne Pedrick)

Unlike the previous band, the muted section in the theme projects well here. A vigorous march, full of youthful energy, strong percussion. The waltz is definitely one-in-a-bar. Horns could come across more, but the cornet line is well balanced and controlled. The breadth of phrasing in the first slow melody catches the ear, as goes the control in the crescendo. Side drum is crisp in the second march, in which cornet are bright. The euphonium solo is a little plain in delivery, but the music is really being played – perhaps a with a touch too much exuberance in the cornet sound. The band is certainly going for maximum variety. The first fugato (scherzo) is light and controlled at the start and builds a terrific head of steam by the end. A well- controlled hymn section follows, perhaps could have been a bit more generous in sound second time round. An agile start to the finale is maintained, but could have been a little more firmly seated in its pulse. A full-on close concludes a terrific contest. This band’s percussion is very good by the way

7. Buckley (S. Pugh-Jones)

The theme sounds well, but the muted section in the middle doesn’t sit as well as some. The first march is bright and lively, but the waltz doesn’t flow in a lilting one-in-a-bar. The slow melody is also a bit quick and could be shapes more expressively – nicely played however. The articulation in the second march is firm and clean. For once in his section the trombone soloist outshines the euphonium in the slow variation. The ‘backing’ details to the fugato aren’t always accurate or secure, but the pulse is firm. The hymn tune sound is quiet, but a little under-nourished compared to some, but second time through is shines a little more – nicely done soprano cornet! The finale isn’t settled at the start, but improves as we reach the coda. The Pictures at an Exhibition chords well. Percussion dominates too much right at the end but a spirited showing overall.


6. Upper Rhondda (J. Thomas)

The opening from Jayne Thomas’s band sits well – strong sound with firm foundations in the bass. The tricky opening was smoothly negotiated with plenty of momentum =that was maintained throughout. The textural clarity is excellent and the soloists stylish – I like the gentle vibrato in the solo horn. In the first slow variation, the integration of tone is well considered, crescendos sustained on the breath and the range of articulation subtle and varied. The music flows naturally. Solo trombone isn’t as comfortable as some, but the solo cornet projects well – sound is just right.
The first fugato is a bit ‘pecky’ in articulation, but clean and clearly voiced. The quality of the hymn tune playing is impressive in this company today – depth of tone and balance, with a gloss from soprano ) not too much!). Finale – rhythmical and lively. The final Alleluia balances he opening in a reading which joins up all the elements into a convincing overall shape. Stylish effort.


5. Oakdale Silver (Kerry Bowden)

Oakdale is restrained in approach – contained sounds and some attention to styles, but there are some details going a miss and it’s not the tightest performance we’ve heard this morning. The euphoniums are having a great time milking the slow melody for all it’s worth – Oakdale’s principal is really going for it – bravo! The tuning at the end of the variation isn’t that great, but solo trombone does well in his moment. Overall we could do with a little more dynamic/tonal  variety and tempo contrasts to project the music more strongly. The first fugato is a slow and a little ‘pecky’ in articulation and the conductor could have taken a little more time to prepare the hymn. The finale begins in heavier articulation. It is cautious in speed for the players to get the technical corners bits fitted in. ‘Steady as she goes’ to the end.

4. Seindorf Arian yr Oakeley (John Glyn Jones)

A lovely light sound this band has at the start. The hymn tune “Alleluia” theme engages the ear, and the waltz flows along with elegance and some poised turns of phrase. That controlled weight of sound is heard in the slow variations – lovely this – and the second march is , as marked, a bit slower and not so loud as the first. The Euphonium sets a nostalgic tone for the melodic variation which opens out beautifully – great sounds in the countermelody from trombone and horns. The final chord is spot on for tuning. The Solo trombone drops a few, pity that, but the solo cornet soon sets us back on track with a neat and tidy solo. The first fugato is light on its feet, like a Christmas piece- everyone is on the same page in terms of style and rhythm.
The hymn variations flows naturally – you could sing along to this one – solemn and full of nostalgia. Great hear this in tune and the end. The second fugato is catching a few out this morning – in articulation – this is the cleanest so far, and a great tempo. The conductor pulls out a broad finish and maintains the sound right to the end.

3. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)

Rather appealing start, nicely in tune and with suitable ‘antique’ flavour. Bands need to reflect Alab Fernie’s pastiche style and be flexible in switching quickly. The contrasts show up well here, especially in the lilt and flow of the waltz variations – the best so far. The first slow variation is really slow, but it works here, to contrast with the Scotland the Brave march  variation. The ‘musicals’ one which follows is really heart-warming compared to that we’ve heard so far, and the solo cornet offers a nice slice of Elgarian nostalgia and elegance in her little solo. Well done trombones too – this is nice controlled stuff and it’s balanced and in tune. The mood is soon broken by the first fugato, which isn’t as efficient in tonguing – a bit fluffy!! The flugel shows the solo cornets how to do it.
The ‘Deep Harmony’ hymn is mighty slow, but the band sustains the tone – just!
A bit of a messy start to the finale, which is lively and bright once it gets going. Nice to see contest controller Philip Morris on second man. Fine finish; stylish, contrasted effort all round.

2. Vale of Glamorgan (D.Short)

A few tuning gremlins in the opening hymn theme, but a spirited march follows. The waltz could have been more one in a bar feel, but it’s well played but the full band. A like the delicacy of Variation 3 and it opens out well. Alan Fernie introduces little quotes from Scotland, England and also Wales – All through the Night – which will go down well here. The solo cornet’s tone is elegantly delivered, trombone too.
A spirited fugato is firm in rhythm and well played, but as with band no. 1 there are some slight tuning problems in the hymn. It’s well balanced though. The euphoniums are strong in the opening of the finale and this is bright and rhythmically pretty sharp. The performance ends well, but a few blips along the way.

1. Gwaun-cae-Gurwen (J. Hutcherson)

A warm opening and lovely full sound form this band to start the morning. The tempi are well judged and band and conductor deliver stylish miniature marches and waltzes. The playing is neat and tidy, dynamically with some range. We can hear a few intonation issues in the backrow cornets, but the first lyrical variation is well-balanced and blended – nice long lines from the soloists, with expression. The second march variation is not quite so polished. But the euphonium soloist in the following variations excels – well projected lines. In variations 5 & 6 the tuning wavers in the cornets, especially on the final chords. The first fugato Variation (7) rushes a little, even though the pulse is well accented on the first of every 4! The hymn variation is suitably reverential – a few minor tuning issues crop up again though. The neatness of the start returns in the finale, and spirited finish