A TALE OF PERSEVERANCE - Mareika Gray - the story of an unlikely musical journey

Issue 6006

ON THE BEAT - The first in a new series by Gavin Pritchard discussing all things percussion

PRODUCING A RECORDING - Adam Goldsmith reveals the secrets to a successful recording

2017 Senior Cup

Friday 12 May, 2017

The Senior Cup

Venue: Pavilion Theatre

Draws: 9.30am and 1.00pm, commences: 10.30am

Test-piece: Fragile Oasis (Dr. Peter Meechan)

Adjudicators: John Doyle & Paul Holland

Alex Parker reporting



1. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)*
2. Friary Guildford (Chris King)*
3. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)*
4. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Nigel Seaman)*
5. St. Dennis (Darren Hawken)
6. Ratby Co-operative (Howard Evans)
7. Goodwick Brass (Matthew Jenkins)
8. Co-operative Funeralcare North West (Jeff Sparkes)
9. Skelmanthorpe (Jim Davies)
10. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)
11. Blackburn and Darwen (Neil Samuel)
12. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan)
13. Kingdom Brass (Paul Drury)
14. Staffordshire (Steven Walsh)
15. Jackfield (Elcock Reisen) (Simon Platford)
16. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Dr David Thornton)
17. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise) **
18. Derwent Brass (Keith Leonard) **
19. Marsden Silver (Alan Widdop) **
20. Fishburn (David Hirst) **

Best Soloist: Gary Curtin, euphonium, Co-operative Funeralcare North West

*denotes qualification for 2018 Grand Shield
**relegated to 2018 Senior Trophy


In the BB Frame

1. East Yorkshire Motor Services

2. Friary Guildford

3. Filton

4. Oldham

5. St. Dennis

6. Derwent




1. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)

2. Fishburn (David Hirst)

3. Blackburn and Darwen (Neil Samuel)

4. Marsden Silver (Alan Widdop)

5. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)

6. Goodwick Brass (Matthew Jenkins)

7. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)

8. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan)

9. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Dewi Griffiths) 

10. Staffordshire (Steven Walsh)

11. St. Dennis (Darren Hawken)

12. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)

13. Ratby Co-operative (Howard Evans)

14. Skelmanthorpe (Jim Davies)

15. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

16. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Dr. David Thornton)

17. Co-operative Funeralcare (North West) (Jeff Sparkes)

18. Derwent Brass (Keith Leonard)

19. Kingdom Brass (Paul Drury)

20. Jackfield (Elcock Reisen) (Simon Platford)


20. Jackfield (Elcock Reisen) (Simon Platford)

Last band of the day Jackfield. Hopefully they haven’t been to the bar already during the long wait. A few crushed notes in the opening cornet lines and suspect percussion errors. Sop goes with a bit more panache than others which is nice just be careful not to force at the top and go #/b. Euph goes for the solo with great gusto but again watch the tuning. Build into the second movement works very well. Well done MD for controlling the last fp. Second movement opens well but slows very fast after the opening cornet statement. Slows down again in the 1st cornet duet. Very indulgent flugel cadenza means player running out of puff. Good work off stage tam tam cornets nice and close the tam tam makes it ring and stops you blasting the head off the nearest audience members. Into the slow movement starts well but as we go on tuning becomes progressively more of a problem. Great final cornet cadenza and sop just adds the magic on top nice! Final movement sounds like a bomb went off somewhere in the trombone section. I think a 2% tempo cut would have helped here. We get there in the end after a bit of stagger in the swagger but a good end none the less. Thankyou Jackfield and everyone else who played today for a great contest and good luck in the results!

19. Kingdom Brass (Paul Drury)

Penultimate band kingdom to give us their version of a fragile oasis now. Start is good and gives the sop space. The Euph brings a new idea as it comes in lifting the tempo slightly which works nicely. MD seems to have a good connection to the band who respond to his instruction. Fast movement goes off like a rocket that slowly runs out of fuel imperceptibly slowing all the way through. Cornets stood out the front play well but 1 is pointing out 1 is not. This makes a bizarre dynamic contrast that doesn’t quite sound right. Tam Tam cornets are stood so far off stage I can’t see them round the box, yet their still far too loud that kills the tuning. As the euphonium duet begins there’s a differing opinion on tuning between them and the cornets but the duet is good and balanced within itself. Unison cornet carillon suffers from poor tuning closing down the echo effect as it’s just not crisp enough. Cornet Cadenza is excellent and the band feed into the sound wonderfully. Great final Eb bass cadenza giving our last moment of calm before all hell breaks loose in the final segment. I fear a long wait today meant the band we keen to get to the end and thus the bar (all bar the drummer who was loving it!)!

18. Derwent Brass (Keith Leonard)

Derwent begin faster than some have today but they have a good sound and the feel is right. Drum kit might be trying to get the swagger going a bit early but I love the enthusiasm. Pauses at F have been well thought through and it’s the first time today a band has really played the linking semi-quaver as a semi-quaver which gives an interesting moment of pace amongst the slow stuff. Derwent are also the first band to delay the crescendo to give a real wham as the second movement kicks off. Tempo doesn’t sound rushed at all but there’s maybe a touch of ragged playing individually. Cornets all move to their respected positions together in sync which is a nice touch for the audience even if it doesn’t matter to the men in the box. Flugel cadenza comes across strong, safe and confident. The Cornets playing into the tam tam are playing at the front this time and it comes across too loud and out of tune. I think I’ve decided tam tam at the back is the way bands should go for this effect. The finale has the twinkle that only a few bands have got today which is made of a combination of sound tempo and a band that seems to really be enjoying themselves. Derwent may just squeak into the top 6 today but if not I think they can be proud of the performance.

17. Co-operative Funeralcare (North West) (Jeff Sparkes)

Almost on the edge of a false start the dynamic is good and the opening sop solo is right on top of everything without having to push. Some early bass trombone coming through the ensemble too much to soon. You’ll have your moment. Is that Garry Curtin co-opting in today (previously of Black Dyke and now Fodens) I see on principal Euph? There’s one for the post event podcast discussion. While he’s at it the first Euph solo gets well and truly milked for all its worth. The fast stuff goes at a pace that’s a bit too fast for some in the band in the cornet duet particularly. As we move to the next section Flugel gives a second indulgent cadenza. The slow section displays an excellent full band sound with some individually good solos going on. Final solo cornet cadenza could again be a bit much for mr Doyle in the box today but we’ll have to see. The Storms hits very fast and after a bit tongues begin to sound tired. In the end it’s all a bit too loud for the swagger to kick in at the end. Co-operative are another that I don’t think will make today’s top 6 but I’m fairly sure the band enjoyed playing this piece today! 

16. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Dr. David Thornton)

Some great extra colour being added into the opening but a few entries are not spot on together. Sop sounds like a few nerves might take over if they’re not got on top of. Great opening Euphonium cadenza filling the hall with rich warm sounds. Dynamics early are not over done leaving way from the incoming crescendo. Which, is then expertly led by the good Dr. into the second movement. Afew tempo rocks in the opening section, usually as a new section joing the texture. Stabs are generally good but a few lose ones go awry. Another good interpretation of the instructions to play into a tam-tam. This time positioned right at the back with the tam tam parallel to the audience meaning it blocks the loudest sounds out. This makes for a good balance to the band. Freya to me goes down to a nice tempo but with John Doyle in the box is it too slow. Flugle solo leads nicely into the next section. Trombones find the opening a challenge but the tempo doesn’t drop and the sound from the point the rest of the band join is good. The swagger is there with some very good work with the leading kicks on the drum kit. Excelent rall into the finish. I think the band will be pleased with the performance but it might suffer from being too “safe” in the final ranking.


15. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

Friary get started with one of the safest and best sounding sop solos of the day. The sound is will supported in the basses and everything seems to sit well on top of this. The tempo in the crescendo feels very safe with a good link between the MD and the kit. The second movement has a really stylish feel to it and going at quite a pace too. Stabs are excellent and the ensemble leads into a very secure cornet duet from the 2 players out front on either side of the band. Flugel really carries well and the balance to the off stage cornets is just right. The pulsating effect in Freya is present but the Euph duet really comes across well. The echo effects at BB really come across as sign of a well-balanced section and the cornet cadenza carries on seamlessly from here. Eb base cadenza is sonorous and then well carried on in the horns. The finale has all the swagger it can take and gives a really stylish ending. Friary could be a winner here today it’s going to be close between Friary and EYMS going into the last 5 with all to play for.


14. Skelmanthorpe (Jim Davies)

Beginning with a lovely quiet opening when the horns and flugle come in we see a new colour emerge. Sop plays very well simply floating above the band. The build to the end of the opening section is very well measured and the MD lets the band have a go towards the end. Second movement gets off to a flying start but as it progresses errors start to creep in. Some of the rhythms also sound a bit suspect! Flugle has nice sound linking into the next section. No choreography on show here and does it sound different? Or does it leave the band feeling confident and playing better? Thats probably going to come down to the men in the box and if they feel cheated out of a TAM Tam echo! Cornet cadenza comes of well, but a few tuning issues on long notes going flat (were the flat notes played by the sop?).  In the storm we hit some tempo waves with a few more suspect rhythms arriving as a result. In fact I would go as far as to call them guilty rhythms now!. I wonder if the MD could have given a bit more leadership here. Not one to place a bet on today, but I think the band will be rightly happy with that performance.   

13. Ratby Co-operative

A shaky opening both in tempo and parts almost sounding like some of the cornet parts are missing against other louder lines. For the first time today the sop feels hidden during the first solo. Band could help with a more sympathetic accompaniment. I second and third cornet out of balance. Before we begin the second movement the crescendo feels a little underwhelming a quieter start might help here. The second movement is under the fingers but all feels a little on the rough edge. The stab chords however are very well done. Basses lead a very good run into V giving the standing cornets the confidence to play. Off stage cornets are defining far too loud for me.  Freya starts to reveal a few tuning issues around the band particularly ensemble Cornets and Euph/Bari. At the start of the storm this feels less secure than early. By comparison to some bands today the ending felt slightly underwhelming. A performance for Ratby to be proud of today. Whilst it seemed technically safe it seemed to lack the sparkle and magic that brings this work to life.

12. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)

With Tom Davoren’s usual charismatic style the band start very differently bringing out some of the different colours hidden in the texture of the opening before the sop gets to stretch their legs. The band make the most of the pauses at F showing great ensemble control in making sure everything is placed just so. The second movement doesn’t sound rushed and we can hear some of the muted cornet slow melody lines that have been hidden in most other performances. Stab chords really show how capable this band is with each one falling together and at a good pace. The off stage cornet effects are well executed with just the right space given to hear the echoes ring through the pavilion theatre. When we get to Freya there’s a pulsating tempo although again the Euph duet could be more pronounced. Crescendo from the cornet cadenza into EE works very well and a new tempo is established very securely. Brilliant Eb bass cadenza at GG but horns need a bit more support to their sound. Trombone at HH gives it a bit too much welly for f but when the band join in another good kit drummer display adds that final swagger back in. The band finish with probably the longest pause of the day on the drum roll before the last chord. That is until they play the last note which seems to last an eternity. The Filton rocket clearly takes longer to launch than the others!

11. St. Dennis (Darren Hawken)

As we start todays second half St. Dennis take the stage. They begin with a wonderful quiet sustained sound. After the sop solo the band gets going with a great sense of style. The opening section finishes with one of the most controlled crescendos we’ve seen today and the sound at the end is deafening but doesn’t feel overblown. As the 2nd movement takes over the MD clearly has a great connection with the band with none of the tempo rocks that have plagued many of the others today. Cornet solos at V are very confident and probably one of the fastest interpretations of that section today. I think I liked it though! Solos between X and Z all very good another great Eb and baritone section. The space given to the cornet cascades at Z leaves the room with some silence and allows the ear to process a bit more. According to my metronome this is the first performance to get slow enough to meet the tempo marking in the score and it’s excruciatingly slow but that just adds to the suspense! In the next section we’re back upto speed without a hitch with the middle of the band bring the melody out at all the right moments. Another good finish on show here with MD showing exquisite control and discipline over the band. This was a great performance although a few unforced errors might keep it out of the top 6 if it comes down to interpretation and restraint I’d give St. Dennis the win now!

10. Staffordshire (Steven Walsh)

Staffs start with a brighter sound than some. It may however be a bit loud requiring a bit too much effort from the sop. As a result a few ugly sounds arrive from both the Sop and Euph a more sympathetic accompaniment would help here. A good ensemble sound into E but as with others today E could be quieter to give the crescendo more room to grow. The second movement ticks along with just a few moments between band and percussion. Pause before V sits nicely giving a breather before the cornets race off. The off stage elements are nicely executed and there’s a lovely moment between baritone and Eb Bass bravo both. Freya has a nice throbbing undertone led by cornets and vibes but once the Euph duet starts I’d like less from both. DD Cornet cadenza sounds safe and secure and band join sympathetically giving a push into the next section. Some fruity sounds coming from the Bass Trom into GG. Someone had 3 Shrieddies this morning. The finish builds to a satisfying conclusion if quieter than some bands today. That’s something that’s going to be down to personal preference to the men in the box today. A good outing from Staffordshire today but they might have played it a bit too safe to do well!

9. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith)

With an unprogrammed appearance of Nigel Seaman in the MDs spot Cardiff are of like a rocket building well throughout the opening section. There’s also a great effort on sop from a player I’m reliably informed used to play Bb bass! Good effort there. The fast middle movement moves along nicely and it feels like the band can really play this without being on the edge of their seats. The cornet effects out the front come off very well with lots of space being given to the ringing of the tam tam. It’s probably the most satisfying interpretation of that section yet. Freya sits nicely with some really great solo work going on. From EE the back row and Troms stand up! Sitting again at GG. I’m not convinced the lift in sound was needed but it’s great to see a band have thought about how the ensemble comes together. At MM I’d like the sound to lift a little more but the band sound confident and the Tempo is spot on in the final section. As the music draws to its conclusion the rall. is very measured and that reflects in how the band are very together giving a natural crescendo as it all comes together.


8. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan)

 A little rocky opening in the cornets rushing through the lines but the lower band coming with a wall of non-overbearing sound. Sop enters a little loud but otherwise is very stylish in the solo delivery even with a blip. To loud before for f but good sub. p at E its self. The crescendo might be a bit too loud to early and sounds overblown at the end. Sop very good in movement 2 but must be balanced with the rest of the back row. Also the middle of the band need a beer after for some heroic work tying the upper and lower band in the middle on the 2nd movement. Percussion it helps in the stabs to watch the MD he’s trying to keep you with the band. Good cornets out front at V but did the nerves get in the way (I wonder if you have played out the front to an audience before on this piece?). Cornets start Freya with a pulsating feeling but it starts to go of course once Euph arrives and starts to feel laboured. As the slow melody arrives the ensemble is good but some of the soloists want a different rubato to the rest! Cornet cadenza great with a hint of swing in rise to top B! I’m not sure if a bit of the energy is missing at EE from earlier or are you holding something back for the end? HH on I would like a bit more of a kick from the kit to prepare the rocket at the end. The sop however is doing that job on his own. The band catch up for the final chord and we’re home. A young looking Newtown Grange have some real promise but a few nerves might have limited the ultimate big sound you want on this piece.


7. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)

Oldham get the character from the start I can imagine a space craft soaring over the busy world. Sop comes in a little strong but caries on well but sounds overblown right at the end of the phrase.  E a bit loud given the Crescendo to come but the band shows good discipline in gauging the build, but don’t rush. Having said that this I probably the first band to hit the second movement at 144+ and carry it off without it sounding untidy. The stab chords are also the most together of the day with the whole band bang together with a very good sounding percussion section. As we move into Freya the cornets are up and out in the wings. I think this band have cracked how the effect should sound without being too loud and who move into a really hearing the echo effect. The cornets return to their seats without any distraction to the band who support a very balanced Euph duet. In the ensemble section the echoes within the cornets and then into the Euphs really comes through. After a solid if slightly ridged cornet cadenza the new tempo really kicks in will. Good work Timps very disciplined keeping band in check.  A bit rock at the start of the storm but the MD recovers the link to the percussion before they drift to far from the band and the swagger clicks in ready for a superb finale from the almighty sounding percussion. One of the most characterful performances yet and a fantastic percussion section who were certainly willing to hit it.    

6. Goodwick Brass (Matthew Jenkins)

A tough ask for Goodwick to follow that performance from EYMS but the band sound relaxed in the opening not giving away too much of what’s to come early on. There’s also a nice amount of space in the breaths that gives the sop space but at the top when the band gets to its loudest the sop sounds pushed. Nice work baritones at C. The crescendo is good but starts to speed up as you get louder there’s some fast stuff coming give yourselves a chance. And like that the second movement begins like you hit the atmosphere on entry and slowed down and again once the lower end of the band catch up. W is a bit fast for me but Flagel has nice sound, the cornets don’t spoil it either! Cornets in Freya make sure you finish the cascading triplets together. Percussion make a nice job of holding the tempo during the Euph duet which has nice rubato. Good Cornet cadenza but a few nervous blips band build nicely underneath towards very clean runs at EE. Solo horn at GG stands out well but Trombone at HH might be giving it a bit too much closely followed by some suspect bass trombone kicking a hole in the rest of the band sound. Lower band are fantastic at PP and give the band a real platform to build their rocket on towards the end. A good show from Goodwick today, I hope the fact they follow EYMS doesn’t push you down the rankings though.


5. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)

With Stig at the wheel with EYMS today I was expecting a fast start but this is bang on the mark. Probably the best balance we’ve had so far with the vibes and marimba. Band are really supporting another excellent sop opening but this is the best yet for me. During the cadenzas at F (which we all excellent) the band sound is a real stand out effort to place the semiquavers between pauses. MD doing wonderful work hear in the crescendo keeping a lid on things until just the right moment before the fast stuff. Movement 2 opens with the cleanest semiquaver work yet which allows the real interest of the slower line to come through. A few rocks in the stabs before R but really I’m being picky. Cornets are back behind the Tam-Tam and for me whilst it is marked ff this is just too much and sounds overblown the triple f’s come later!  The ensemble sound in Freya is gorgeous allowing the soloists to drift over the top.  Cornet solo at DD is the best of the day yet and band only add to the magic at the end. The final section really has some shape to it lifting up from the low notes really helps the melody through the semiquaver texture. HH has a very clean opening from Troms. As the band enter just watch you don’t rush to fit in the demi-semi’s. Another performance that gets the swagger at the end and the band really lunches that rocket at the end!  A fine performance one that will take some beating going on!

4. Marsden Silver

Marsden begin a touch slower than we have seen so far but the sound produced seems to be better for it. Sop plays well but you don’t need to force you will be heard! A few blips in the sustained chords just before the crescendo begins maybe trying a tad too hard on high and quiet. In the crescendo the tempo rocks badly between different sections. Unfortunately this continues into movement making the detail very hard to come across. The disagreement seems to be over the time signature changes, try to keep the pulse throughout. Stabs however are more together than some bands today to finish the movement. In the slow movement we see our best attempt yet at the choreography unfortunately I think aiming for the effect has resulted in it sounding overblown and jarring with the rest of the band. Euphonium duet is lovely it’s a shame the cornets aren’t listening to it! Ah finally in the ensemble section we have a great ensemble sound keep up the support soloists after though. The nice sounds continue into EE some good work here but sop don’t over blow you’re the highest person I can hear it. We haven’t quite got the tempo into the storm but it sounds like its rocking again which is testing the poor percussion to keep with the band. QQ should be slower it’s the finish enjoy it don’t rush to get there. I’m afraid this piece challenged the band today but there were moments of good sound to be pleased about and hopefully the band learned something along the way today.

3. Blackburn and Darwen (Neil Samuel)

A very good start from the lower end of the band lovely rich warm sound. Excellent Sop well in tune with a good supportive sound from the band not making his job too difficult. As we begin the extended Crescendo the percussion take the lead well from the MD and drive the it all the way to the start of movement 2. The second movement comes across with good clean playing in the technical passages. A few ensemble moments creep in in the stabs between the band and percussion. The MD has clearly focused on the pauses as key moments of calm and the band sounds well balanced and powerful at these points. The cornet cascades broadly come off well although a few nerves distract from what the MD is aiming for but great work from the Eb Bass at Y. Another great sop moment just before DD. Nervous cornet cadenza but the band lift the sound up a notch at EE with just the right amount of twinkle. Again great Bass Cadenza setting up the sound for the “storm”. The final section has a fab swagger at the end led from the percussion that the band seem to enjoy. Sound keep building and building getting richer towards the end. Thank you Blackburn, so far for me you go top but a few wrong entries could cost in the final results.


2. Fishburn (David Hirst)

An understated start leaves room for the sound to grow through the solos into the bands entry. But does the sound peak too soon before the second movement? As the second movement continues the fast stuff is well executed but feels like there’s a discrepancy between band and percussion. P the nerves come in with some individual rushing but it holds together. In the slow section we have our first choreography (written in the score) performed with a good efforts from the cornets. Euphonium duet is very nice well balanced and together. Final cornet solo showing signs of fatigue that seems to be replicated after by the band particularly at the start of movement 4. After a final test of the fingers where tongues are perhaps struggling to keep up the finale finishes with a great ffpp and saving the best sound and sparkle for the last chord. A good if nervous performance, well done Fishburn.


1. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)

Nice confident opening solo from the cornet, filling the hall nicely. Good balance between the first Euphonium cadenza and the band.  The crescendo from I is building very nicely with super control before letting rip into the second movement. As we get into the fast second movement some tuning blips creeping in. The ensemble suffers a little in the stab chords before the end but with a great sound. Confident playing in the cadenzas. Some balance is lost in the cornets around the start of movement 3 but conductor does a good job keeping the band moving together through the rubato section. Well balanced Timp at DD allowing the principal to soar. For my taste the gaps between solo cornet 1/2 and 3/4 at EE are too pronounced as the parts take over from each other. Perhaps running out of steam just before the final movement but recovers well again good tempo control from the MD and a nice finish with the pause just long enough. A good account to start the day from Redbridge with only a few unforced errors. It looks like Fragile Oasis will be a good challenge for the bands today.