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 - London and Southern Counties Regional Championships - 2nd Section

Saturday 18 March, 2017

Adjudicators: Steve Sykes and Roger Webster

Test-piece: Rhapsody in Brass (Dean Goffin)

Kenny Crookston reporting


1. Grimsdyke (Sharon Broughall)

2. Amersham (Paul Fisher)

3. Milton Keynes Brass (Paul Fensom)

4. Soham Comrades (Jayne Murrill)

5. Yiewsley and West Drayton (Chris Cole)

6. LGB Brass (Ian Stewart)  

7. Wantage Silver ‘B’ (Danny Dullforce)

8. Waterbeach (Andrew Kershaw)

9. BAE Systems (Melvin White)

10. Tilbury (Ben Jones)

11. Chinnor Silver (David Pegram)

12. Hungerford Town (Tim Crouter)

13. St. Sebastian Wokingham (Nigel Howard)

14. Littleport Brass (Nicholas Garman) 

15. Welwyn Garden City (Graham Chambers)

16. Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)


A tough day at the office for quite a few of the 16 contenders here in Stevenage today. We liked quite a few of the early competitors, especially the opening one from Soham, but don't be surprised to see any of a number of bands high in the prizes, such has been the inconsistency on show in Rhapsody in Brass.

In the BB Frame*

1. Soham Comrades (Jayne Murrill)

2. Waterbeach (Andrew Kershaw)

3. Amersham (Paul Fisher)

4. Milton Keynes Brass (Paul Fensom)

5. Chinnor Silver (David Pegram)

6. Grimsdyke (Sharon Broughall)

*NOT the official result!  



1. Soham Comrades (Jayne Murrill)

2. Milton Keynes Brass (Paul Fensom)

3. St. Sebastian Wokingham (Nigel Howard)

4. Chinnor Silver (David Pegram)

5. Welwyn Garden City (Graham Chambers)

6. Littleport Brass (Nicholas Garman) 

7. Yiewsley and West Drayton (Chris Cole)

8. Grimsdyke (Sharon Broughall)

9. LGB Brass (Ian Stewart) 

10. BAE Systems (Melvin White)

11. Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)

12. Tilbury (Ben Jones)

13. Hungerford Town (Tim Crouter)

14. Wantage Silver ‘B’ (Danny Dullforce)

15. Waterbeach (Andrew Kershaw)

16. Amersham (Paul Fisher)


16. Amersham (Paul Fisher)

Another good opening to end a challenging day here in Stevenage. Some real authority in the band’s sound and quality of ensemble, and it remains tidy all the way through the opening movement.

Well done horns at the start of the slow movement and we love the bass-led band sound. Nice feel to the allegretto and the following euphonium solo has poise. Just loses its authority towards the end with a lapse in intonation.

Not the same level of quality in the opening section of the last movement but we liked the dark majesty of the meno mosso. Some great playing here, but the opening of the final movement may just have cost the band a place or two.


15. Waterbeach (Andrew Kershaw)

Bold opening is clean and tidy all round, with a full band sound that is robust and well-balanced. Minor flaws fail to detract from the overall picture as it progresses and we hear tidy work around the band to the end.

High quality continues in the second movement and we like the lightness of touch in the allegretto. Excellent euphonium solo and the conductor manages to create some real energy at the right moments. Nice finish too.

Cleverly-handled opening to the final movement and the overall impression is one of quality. Meno mosso doesn’t hang around enough to capture the majesty that some have and there is just a brief drop in tightness of ensemble when it’s back in tempo. A lot of energy in the finale and it’s all there to be heard. A real contender.



14. Wantage Silver ‘B’ (Danny Dullforce)

One of the cleanest openings we’ve heard and there’s detail coming through all the way. Some questions over intonation but it is well-measured and with only the slightest signs of rushing, which has been the downfall of many today.

Good start to the middle movement and the allegretto is delivered with some style, as is the euphonium solo. Just a pity about the drop in quality in the closing bars.

Good start to the final movement but again there are untidy moments in the solo lines when it gets technical. A fine reading overall with fewer flaws than many have had today.


13. Hungerford Town (Tim Crouter) 

Quite an understated opening, but also one with a lot of slips around the band and loose ensemble.

Horns show a lot of quality in the opening to the second movement. Allegretto is less tidy though, and the animated section finds the cornets right on edge.

Steady approach to the last movement is a wise choice for a band that has found ‘Rhapsody’ a tough test. There are good individual contributions and we especially liked the bold and enthusiastic percussion section. A fine overall effort.


12. Tilbury (Ben Jones)

Tidy opening isn’t hanging around by comparison to many today, but it’s also tidier than most. One or two blips, but this has dynamism and colour that few have achieved today.

Some untidiness in the opening of the second movement, along with some moments of poorer intonation. Allegretto has energy and we like the euphonium solo a lot. Nicely managed close.

Fast out of the blocks in the final movement but possibly just too fast for all the detail to cut through and there’s a general rushed feeling. We could have perhaps had more drama in the Meno mosso and more control over the tempo to finish but we liked a lot about this performance.


11. Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)

Another performance that opens well but is afflicted by untidiness early on. Possibly just too fast for the band to maintain consistent ensemble, but there are a few individual errors too.

Horn does well in the opening of the section (although there is some unusual phrasing…) and we like the overall shape here. Again it gets untidy around the allegretto and that continues through to the closing bars.

Terrific job by the horn (again!) to open the last movement but much of the technical work feels rushed around the band. Some good musical ideas in this one but much of the technical work was just too untidy to place it highly today.


10. BAE Systems (Melvin White)

Tight and dynamic opening, and the opening movement remains well shaped. There are occasional slips but the conductor has the ensemble well controlled all the way.

Excellent opening to the middle movement and it’s full marks to the horns. Allegretto shifts along but it’s all in place, leading to an excellent euphonium solo and a well-controlled close.

Very good opening with the horn again showing plenty of class. The conductor has to fight to keep the tempo steady and not everyone is with him before the meno mosso, which also gets off to an untidy start. Two very fine movements followed by one less accomplished but this well-directed show could still be in the mix.


9. LGB Brass (Ian Stewart)  

Excellent overall sound but there is some conflict in the ensemble during the opening bars. Good work in the cornet solo and the well-chosen tempo helps the band find its way. Untidy cornets close the movement.

Good opening from the horns and the solo is among the best we’ve heard. Nice style in the allegretto and we hear the band at its best around here. Nice euphonium playing but again the ensemble becomes detached in the closing section.

Nice and steady to open the final movement and the well-chosen is rewarded with some tidy playing. Meno mosso has a nice feel stylistically and the final section is again all under control. Overall this was a well-directed show that never got out of control.


8. Grimsdyke (Sharon Broughall)

Well-directed opening movement and the ensemble remains in shape. There are one or two clips en route but this has been one of the better opening movements.

Nice horn opening to the middle movement and it all goes well until the allegretto, following which there are some insecure moments. Some lovely soprano playing to close.

Final movement sets off apace and it’s just too fast for the comfort of some. Some notation issues too, but again the soprano is outstanding in the intricate solo. A well-directed show overall but one that just suffered from too many untidy moments for us.


7. Yiewsley and West Drayton (Chris Cole)

Bold opening and the band has a big and balanced sound. Unfortunately it is scrappy in places, with some rhythmic conflicts detracting further. Possibly the strongest sounds we’ve heard so far but the lack of clarity may be costly.

Well done horn at the start of the middle movement and the allegretto is well measured and delivered. Untidiness returns and intonation issues in the middle band sounds detract further.

The band experiences similar issues in a third movement that just needs more of the detail to come through. This one had Y&WD right on its limits but it was a good effort with some excellent solo contributions.


6. Littleport Brass (Nicholas Garman) 

Understated opening is tidy and the full band sound is robust and well-balanced when we first hear it. Excellent solo cornet, but we do hear a number slips and untidy technical passages around the band as it progresses.

Excellent horns to open and the solo is played with style. Allegretto appears too fast for comfort for some sections and the ending, although tidy, is rather loud.

More untidiness at the start of the final movement, while poor tuning also detracts. Meno mosso is quite mechanical in style and could use more majesty. More loose ensemble follows but it holds its shape to the end of a quite frustrating performance from a band with plenty of potential.


5. Welwyn Garden City (Graham Chambers)

Quite a lot of untidiness both in ensemble and solo lines in the opening section and unfortunately it continues throughout the movement.

Better start to the second movement and the allegretto is well played, leading to an excellent euphonium solo. Some frailties towards the end of the movement.

Untidy start to the last movement and again it continues most of the way. A lot of rushed semiquavers really do detract from the music-making. Not the cleanest of performances overall from a band with a sound that suggests that it has plenty to offer.


4. Chinnor Silver (David Pegram)

Steady opening is well played and the full band sound well balanced and with careful attention to note lengths. Not all the solo lines are 100% precise but there is a good feeling of style in the overall ensemble.

Mission accomplished from the horns at the start of the middle movement and we like the allegretto style. It remains apposite in style through to the well-controlled ending.

Third movement is tight and dynamic to open, but there are a few lapses in the melodic solos. Meno Mosso is well played (especially well done trombones) and the quality continues through to the end with only minor untidiness in semiquavers.


3. St. Sebastian Wokingham (Nigel Howard)

Less tidy opening than the two previous ones and the detail is quite untidy at times. Well-read to the end of the movement but the ensemble is quite loose.

Well done horns at the start of the middle movement but again the allegretto is untidy. Excellent euphonium and the end of the movement is secure if bold in places.

Steady tempo and the horn is right on the opening solo. There are moments later in the movement where it becomes rather muddy and rushed, however. Overall a good effort from a band pushed right to its limits on this one.



2. Milton Keynes Brass (Paul Fensom)

Very tidy opening and it’s all contained with a very well-chosen tempo. We hear every note of the testing cornet solo and there some thoughtful musical touches. Occasional untidiness but a very good opening movement.

Slight uncertainty in the horns gets the middle movement underway but again it is well read and delivered overall. Lovely euphonium solo but there is some poor intonation in the middle of the band at times. End is secure if a little safe for dynamics.

Steady-as-you-go in the final movement but it works well when it is tight and rhythmic. A rogue percussion sound detracts and the conductor has to fight to keep the tempo steady before Meno Mosso. Some untidy cutting and pasting when it is back in tempo but it continues well to the end of another good show overall.


1. Soham Comrades (Jayne Murrill)

Not the tidiest of starts from the cornets but its soon back in step at a well-managed tempo. Good work from the solo cornet is followed by tidy ensemble with only the occasional clip along the way.

Nice start to the second movement from the horns and the music is nicely shaped, but with the odd frailty in the melodic line. Closing bars are well played if slightly ‘healthy’ dynamically.

Well-measured opening to the final movement and the solo horn is a star. Good ensemble continues and the soprano knocks the intricate solo out with gusto. Excellent lower band sounds at Meno Mosso and there’s an air of majesty about the ensemble in general. Well-controlled to the end of a fine opening performance.