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 - Championship Section

Sunday 19 March, 2017

Adjudicators: David Hirst and Steve Sykes

Test-piece: Pageantry (Herbert Howells)

Kenny Crookston reporting


1. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

2. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise)

3. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)  

4. Haverhill Silver (Mark Ager)

5. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

6. Aveley and Newham (Robert Nunnery)

7. Thundersley Brass (Nigel Taken) 

8. Medway (Melvin White)

9. Wantage Silver ‘A’ (Craig Patterson)

10. Northfleet Brass (Melvin White)

11. Staines Brass (Dan Floyd) 

12. East of England Co-op (Nigel Cooper)


An interesting evening's contesting here in Stevenage, where the general standard has been higher than many may have expected.  We think Friary Guildford has carried the day yet again but there is quite a battle for the other RAH place. Our money is on Haverhill after its excellent early performance, but any one of four could easily find its way in there.


In the BB Frame*

1. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

2. Haverhill Silver (Mark Ager)

3. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise) 

4. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

5. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

6. Aveley and Newham (Robert Nunnery)

*NOT the official result!  



1. Medway (Melvin White)

2. Wantage Silver ‘A’ (Craig Patterson)

3. Haverhill Silver (Mark Ager)

4. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward) 

5. Thundersley Brass (Nigel Taken)

6. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

7. Aveley and Newham (Robert Nunnery)

8. Staines Brass (Dan Floyd) 

9. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

10. East of England Co-op (Nigel Cooper)

11. Northfleet Brass (Melvin White)

12. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise)


12. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise) 

Very well played opening and there is real authority in the music making. We loved the euphonium’s approach but couldn’t miss the confusion in the intricate cornet part. Basses seemed uncertain too. Overall - some terrific playing but it had its insecurities.

Quite a tentative approach to the opening of Cortege but we like the way it develops towards 4. Was there a rogue sound in the middle of the band though? Fine ending (despite the dropped drumstick!).

Jousts fanfare feels uncertain and the band picks up tempo early in the movement and there is quite a bit of rushing in semiquavers. Individuals continue to their quality and the overall sound is impressive to the end, but we fear that there have just been too many uncertain moments tonight for Redbridge to regain the title.


11. Northfleet Brass (Melvin White)

Insecure start and a lot of untidy moments affect the big picture in the first movement. Detail is very difficult to distinguish at times, despite the textbook reading.

Opening of Cortege is more secure than many and the solo contributions are excellent. Again the ensemble lacks precision and the good work earlier in the movement is undone.

Cornet sets a good pace in Jousts but again the ensemble suffers a few issues. Not one that came off today from a band that has clearly found a few challenges in Pageantry.



10. East of England Co-op (Nigel Cooper)

Opening is lighter in style than many but generally tidy. It knocks along at quite a speed, though, and some of the cornet detail is difficult to pick out. This affects the whole ensemble as it progresses.

Good start to Cortege and the horn plays with style and confidence. We like the risk-taking approach to dynamics but it isn’t entirely successful in execution. Intonation becomes an issue in the middle of the band and there is some insecurity towards the end (not in the excellent soprano though!).

Nice style and tempo to start Jousts and again the soprano is effortlessly impressive. Momentum appears to gather as the movement progresses but the ensemble remains robust to the end of an accomplished reading that only suffered from occasional insecurity and lack of clarity.



9. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

Impressive sounds in the opening and it’s all clean and precise. Filigree cornet detail not entirely clear, but that is a minor criticism in comparison to all that is good here. Excellent dynamics throughout the movement create a real sense of drama. Wrong note in the bass end noted!

Euphonium and baritone opening not completely successful, but we liked the horn contribution. Not entirely secure as it progresses towards the chorale at 4, despite the ‘safe’ dynamics. Well-controlled ending.

Very direct approach to the Jousts fanfare but it sets the ensemble up well in the following section, which is as precise as we’ve heard today. Continues in the same vein to the finale of a very fine show that suffered only minor mishaps. Could surprise a few!


8. Staines Brass (Dan Floyd) 

Opening works well but there are some fairly basic ensemble flaws early in the movement. We hear some excellent dynamic effects but the nature of the errors could have a major impact in the box.

Better start to Cortege from baritones and horn. All is not clear in the cornets as the movement progresses, however, and there is some uncertainty before 4. End is very insecure.

The air of uncertainty continues in Jousts, with much of the ensemble being quite untidy. We loved the euphonium work, though. A band with plenty of potential that could clearly handle much of Pageantry quite well but fell short too many times tonight.


7. Aveley and Newham (Robert Nunnery)

Another excellent opening section and the reading is by the book. There are one or two areas where the detail is less clear, but the overall impression is a musical one.

Secure opening to Cortege and the music has a nice flow. It loses clarity in the basses and the percussion is overbearing at times, but we liked the well-balanced climax at 6.

Great start to Jousts and apart from a few individual clips it continues in similar vein. A well-read and delivered performance overall which should more than hold its own for newly-promoter Aveley and Newham.


6. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

Steady opening is clean, well-balanced and dynamic - remains so throughout the movement!

Not entirely clean to open Cortege but we like the risk-taking approach in playing the printed dynamics. Lovely clear sounds in the cornets add to an excellent overall picture and we hear real quality at 4, building well to a further climax at 6. Ending is nearly perfect.

Excellent fanfare sets Jousts off in style and it retains the quality all the way to the majestic finale. A performance that would have done well in any area this listener has attended this year.


5. Thundersley Brass (Nigel Taken) 

Opening is robust but also the cleanest we’ve heard tonight. Conductor takes by the book and the dynamic contrasts are striking. Very committed opening.

Mixing and matching with euphonium and baritone doesn’t really come off but the horn does well. Further minor insecurity affects the overall picture and intonation isn’t always perfect, but there is still much to praise in the Cortege.

Straight into Jousts and the ensemble is right on song, with percussion a subtle enhancement. Good dynamics add to the excitement and this is the band at its best (we especially like the euphonium sound…). An excellent finale to a fine reading that may make a mark tonight.


4. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)  

Opens with authority and there are quality sounds all round. We do hear a rogue entry in the cornets and some of the ensemble is detached in style. Real individual quality underpins the opening movement, though.

Opening of Cortege isn’t completely together and we do find some of the dynamics rather ‘safe’, especially in the upper cornets. That said, there is still a general air of quality about the performance. The closing bars are more ‘robust’ than we are used to.

Jousts fanfare is steady and direct and again we hear some quite forceful sounds coming through the band. Overall there has been great playing at times from an excellent band and conductor, but we wonder if this one just needed another rehearsal or two to tighten up some sections.


3. Haverhill Silver (Mark Ager)

Tight but understated opening and the reading from the conductor is right by the book. Some minor slips but this has been a terrific opening movement.

Nice baritones to open Cortege and the horn plays with style and commitment. One or two unbalanced sounds emerge and there are minor inconsistencies in the closing bars, but another very good movement.

Terrific cornet fanfare opens Jousts and again the reading is by the book, delivered with aplomb by the band. A truly excellent performance from all concerned.


2. Wantage Silver ‘A’ (Craig Patterson)

More robust to open and it’s clean too. Great style from euphonium and all other solo lines follow accordingly. Security of sound and ensemble is very good all the way through the opening movement, but we do question the penultimate bass note.

Opening of Cortege suffers from lack of confidence and it takes some for the movement to settle. Lovely soprano playing!

Jousts opens well and the band sounds more comfortable again. More great work from euphonium and but for a few scratches the ensemble remains strong. A performance that offered a lot musically but just missed the target in the middle movement.


1. Medway (Melvin White)

Underpowered opening doesn’t speak clearly. We love the euphonium sound, and the soprano and filigree cornets are excellent. Robust to the end of the opening movement.

Baritones not together to open but Belgian import Tim De Maeseneer is outstanding on horn. Quality continues through to chorale at 4, although the balance isn’t always great. Small lapses in production as Cortege closes but this has been well played overall.

Jousts fanfare is right on the money and the conductor’s reading is textbook. Perhaps lacking in the dynamic contrast needed to create real excitement but this has been a very good opener from Medway.