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 Trophy

Friday 12 May, 2017

The Senior Trophy

Venue: Spanish Hall

Draws: 10.15am and 1.20pm, commences: 11.15am

Test-piece: Salute to Youth (Gilbert Vinter)

Adjudicators: Tom Hutchinson and Ian Porthouse

Paul Hindmarsh reporting



1. Dalmellington (Richard Evans) *
2. Aveley and Newham (Alan Duguid) *
3. Lydbrook (Glyn Williams) *
4. Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt) *
5. Drighlington (Duncan Beckley)
6. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)
7. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
8. Laganvale (Metal Technology) (Stephen Crooks)
9. SPAL Sovereign Brass (Trevor Jones)
10. Roberts Bakery (Mark Wilkinson)
11. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)
12. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)
13. Downshire Brass (Professor Michael Alcorn)
14. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson)
15. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)**
16. Medway (Melvin White)**
17. Newstead Brass (John Davis)**
18. Bo'ness and Carriden (Thomas Wyss)**
19. Longridge (Mark Peacock)**

Best Instrumentalist: Rebecca Wilson, cornet, Dalmellington

*denotes qualification for 2018 Senior Cup
**relegated from British Open process in 2018


In the BB Frame

I've gone for the bands that, for me, got closest to the spirit of the music whilst playing it in the most technically able fashion. I wonder how the judges heard it?

1. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

2. Roberts Bakery (Mark Wilkinson)

3. Lydbrook (Glyn Williams)

4. Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt)

5. Dalmellington (Richard Evans)

6. Downshire Brass (Professor Michael Alcorn)




1. Dalmellington (Richard Evans)

2. Laganvale (Metal Technology) (Stephen Crooks)

3. Longridge (Mark Peacock)

4. Newstead Brass (John Davis)

5. SPAL Sovereign Brass (Trevor Jones)

6. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

7. Downshire Brass (Professor Michael Alcorn)

8. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)

9. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson)

10. Aveley and Newham (Alan Duguid)

11. Lydbrook (Glyn Williams)

12. Roberts Bakery (Mark Wilkinson)

13. Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt)

14. Drighlington (Duncan Beckley)

15. Medway (Melvin White)

16. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)

17. Bo’ness and Carriden (Thomas Wyss)

18. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)

19. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)


Composed 56 years ago, Gilbert Vinter's suite Salute To Youth remains a stern challenge for any band, especially in the details of articulation, dynamic control and style. Finding the right speed for the finals movement - Relaxation - will be key, while the fanfare opening- Resilience - can sound disjointed if not approached with care especially the rhythmic details. Vinter's first work for brass band is a classic piece of British light music that set a new benchmark for brass bands in terms of colour and vibrancy.


19. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)
Resilience: The only band to give us the full value of note lengths in the opening fanfares – well done! Thereafter there were tuning issues and some smudges, but what a start! Gary Davies has to be applauded for this approach, and although it is very loud, the music is heroic not just noisy.
Romance: The tuning worries through band are more pronounced here, at a generally robust volume. The solo contributions are expressive.

Relaxation: once again it’s very loud. The stately speed means that everything is in place but it is very leaden in effect, rather than playful as intended. Not exactly light on its feet this one. The Andante is the emotional high point of this performance- quite intense.

18. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)

Resilience: Determination was the key to this reading almost to the point of anger. For me, it was a little to forceful and aggressive, lacking the precision and care of some other bands today. A slightly lower dynamic level would have helped.
Romance: This began will but clips and bumps soon crept in to distract the ear from some lyrical lines. The broad sweep of the second half caught the ear.

Relaxation: Fast, and light for a few bars before the volume level rose once again. It was pretty loud, uncomfortably so at times, so the Andante Cantabile came at the right time and it was nicely played. But the volume of the ending was far too much for the hall and for the music, in my view.

17. Bo’ness and Carriden (Thomas Wyss)
Resilience: Trumpet like start from front row, with well-contrasted timbres thereafter. Lovely horn triads – perfectly tuned. The crucial soprano/solo cornet duet fanfare wasn’t quite there, and there were some splashes later on, but this was an imposing effort.

Romance: The first half contains some lovely moments, but the bass line is a touch heavy and static through to the reprise, which Thomas keeps moving right to the end.

Relaxation: I was hoping that more bands would approach this in a playful spirit and less aggressively, but this has not been the case. This is another full-on ‘in-your-face’ approach, whereas the title and character would suggest something lighter in style. The euphonium soloist has a nervous day.

16. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
Resilience: Neat and efficient opening, lacking a little impact in the double forte accented fanfares, especially the trombone entry at bar 37. The soprano and solo cornet duet is unsettled. The long final section is probably a little too fast for complete clarity.
Romance: This flows elegantly and in a natural and unforced way (unlike some). It’s not completely secure however. The band is at full stretch here. The sostenuto chorale works well but the Maestoso is rather swift.
Relaxation: A sensible tempo for the band to be able to cope technically and convey something of the playful spirit of the music. Eccles is at its best here. There are some balance issues in the Andante cantabile between soloists, countermelodies and the accompaniments. A spirited ending.

15. Medway (Melvin White)
Resilience: The rhythmic clarity here among the best we’ve heard. Bags of character at a comfortable dynamic, but the majority of bands are handling this well enough.
Romance: The competition is probably down to which band delivers the best sounding and expressive second movement, which could take Medway out of contention – tuning issues, insecure entries, and rather too robust in dynamic and character throughout.
Relaxation:  Pulse isn’t ‘nailed’ at the beginning resulting in a rather fuzzy effect and the character is a little to emphatic and heavy footed. Lovely euphonium solo tone, but it does sound hurried.

14. Drighlington (Duncan Beckley)

Resilience: Suitably heraldic at the start, but I’m convinced that all the triplet/semiquaver combinations are accurate at the start. The tricky soprano.solo cornet fanfare duet comes across really well.
Romance: One of the faster offerings of this movement. It is a little over-pressured in tone compared to some, and there are some small intonation issues in the accompaniment and in the final chord.
Relaxation: A comfortable tempo is chosen by Duncan Beckley and the band sticks to it. It’s a bit po-faced in character perhaps. Others have made the music smile more! This playtime is rather serious. The solo cornet plays the Andante cantabile melody very well.

13. Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt)
Resilience: Dynamic and also poised – some lovely, rich sounds coaxed form Hatfield by Stan Lippeatt – rather old-fashioned in a good way – solid and confident. Not every note is in place however, and that could prove costly, given then improvement in the quality during the day. Super sonorities to finish.
Romance: A measured tempo allows the soloists to squeeze all the emotion they can out of their melodies. This is the most heart-felt reading we’ve heard so far, but it’s not overdone and the line is maintained even at the slow speed. The chorale bass line moves well and the line is sustained through to an expansive ending with the loudest note the final one.
Relaxation: This trips along, but slows a touch after a couple of bars. The dynamic range is exemplary. Character and energy is sustained well. The Andante is a little sticky in places, losing a bit of flow and security. For me a touch too robust at the end for the context, but this was another strong performance.


12. Roberts Bakery (Mark Wilkinson)

Resilience: Mark Wilkinson brings many subtleties to this movement, little things like how to end a diminuendo together, make a difference. The layering of dynamic and textural details is impressive, as is the band sound in this company. It doesn’t end quite as well as it began.
Romance: A few uncertain starts of phrases, especially the cornet soloist, but the expressive qualities here are in no doubt. Few bands have managed the dynamic range achieved by this band. Top marks to the soprano cornet. The movement builds with confidence and authority. The surge of tone in the final bars sets the pulses racing.
Relaxation: Noe this is how the movement goes – not over pressed for speed, but with bags of life and a lightness of tone. I’m loving the inner detail here – so clear. Then the Andante is really recessed in dynamics leaving the euphonium and cornet in the limelight. This is a tender moment when the romance of the second movement is recalled. The coda is so precise. Should be right in the mix.

11. Lydbrook (Glyn Williams)
Resilience: Crisp, clean, full of intent and contrast. The horn triad section is one of the best we’ve heard and the sharpness of the articulation really cuts through. A slight wobble on the soprano and cornet duet fanfare disturbs the flow for a moment, other wise this is a fine contest performance showing precision, sound and character.

Romance: Lovely opening to the love song, which opens out in appealing fashion, lovely limpid solo cornet and euphonium, to which the other solo lines respond beautifully. Glyn and he band are only the second ones so far to make the chorale with moving bass work properly and not get stuck. A few minor mishaps take the gloss off a lovely movement.
Relaxation: Great start for speed, clarity and character. Everything seems under control with its place in the music presented with time and space. Once again a few tiny issues could make a difference, but this band make the best sound of the day so far. The euphonium solo in the Andante is gorgeous – lovely subtle touches here and in the cornet solo following. There is a slight loss of projection in the cornets towards the end, but this will be right up there today, I reckon.

10. Aveley and Newham (Alan Duguid)
Resilience: A bit of a hit or miss start but soprano and cornet solos settle things down. Some tuning worries in the middle of the band are audible. Musically, this is stylish and convincing but the delivery needs tightening up.
Romance: This is a bit too fast for a love song, I think. Just needs a bit more time and much more attention to fine details and security. The sonorous ending reveals a strong tutti sound.
Relaxation: This is bright and playful, music with a smile.  Overall musical impression is strong – the cantabile section is among the best we’ve heard -  and this is a very able band. Are there perhaps too many small lapses for a really high finish?

9.BTM (Jeff Hutcherson)
Resilience: Nice long notes in the opening fanfare and there is a natural flow to the music, although it isn’t 100% clean articulation and towards the end got a bit scruffy.
Romance: Not the most confident opening we’ve heard today or the softest.For this listener the approach is a little to direct and forceful for a romantic interlude. The last chord went off the scale.
Relaxation: This was fast to start with and then started to gather pace. The brakes need to be applied, It’s not a gallop but a dance essentially. Conversely, the Andante seemed to lack forward flow. The coda galloped on to the end.

8. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)
Resilience: Strong but a touch scruffy at the start. A big sound this one and full of heraldic character, if a bit approximate in the more exposed details. Needs a touch more precision and control.
Romance: This too lacks a little polish and precision. It’s definitely a heart-on-sleeve account, but for this listener a bit over the top dynamically for the context.
Relaxation: This is fast and not that relaxed, but the band copes pretty well. The soloists are fully stretched in the Andante, which probably needs to be a bit calmer in intention.

 7. Downshire Brass (Professor Michael Alcorn)
Resilience: not quite as much impact but clean and musical at the start from the Northern Ireland band. A few mishaps but this is lively and a good listen. Percussion is rather strong at the end.
Romance: once again some excellent musical intentions are compromised by some errors and intonation lapses. The expressive flow is efficiently negotiated.
Relaxation: Lively and playful as it should be. Some of the band’s best playing here Could be a bit crisper in articulation perhaps. Prof. Alcorn doesn’t hang around in the Andante – to the advantage of the overall musical impression and the comfort of the two soloists. Terrific finish to a strong musical performance.

6. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
Resilience: Forthright fanfares by the Londoners and a fabulous bottom end sound. Jayne keeps the music moving and it packs a proper orchestral punch – terrific intent and delivery in this company.
This is vibrant. I’m liking the rhythmic clarity, energy and quality of tone. Different class so far!
Romance: Yieldingly quiet at the start. Once again the music flows and its wistful quality comes through in subtle dynamic shadings. The chorale section doesn’t get sticky like some but moves us to the reprise which is full toned and exultant –lovely long lines and a heroic finish - this is more like it!
Relaxation: Clear as a bell in the textures, light and lively, as it should be. The textural interplay through the band is genuinely playful for the first time today. The band is enjoying this and so are we.
Clean and crisp full of detail and huge dynamic range. Style and substance at one. Sets the feet tapping. The andante is gorgeous from the two soloists but also the accompaniment – everything has its place and laughter and joy in the coda really comes across – terrific job all round.

 5.SPAL Sovereign Brass (Trevor Jones)
Resilience: Spirited and clean in the opening fanfares. Nicely done soprano cornet and trombones. Each fanfare is well-characterised and plenty of power and determination. Excellent dueling between soprano and solo cornet too. We can trace the fanfare detailing through the band and the musical journey too. Nice one!
Romance: The band is not so confident in the expressive cantabile at the start but once the beautiful flugel one is heard things pick up. All bands are having trouble with intonation in the solo lines before the reprise. The best sounding finish yet – not too much cymbal!
Relaxation: The speed for the start is just right – not too fast, but light on its feet, allowing the detail through. There’s no suggestion of rushing. Euphonium and cornet soloists phrase expressively, although some of the accompaniment is a tad sharp. What a pity about the extra drum beat at the end spoilt a very exciting finish!

4. Newstead Brass (John Davis)
Resilience: Heroic as marked with plenty of accel and contrast between horn and trombone sounds. Solo and soprano cornet project with style. Soprano and solo cornet are not so clean in the duet fanfare however.
Romance: Bands so far are finding this tough. Decent effort by Newstead but the music needs to flow more naturally with longer lines from phrase to phrase.A fine finish however.
Relaxation: Once again a touch heavy in style, but after a an unsteady start the music settles down. It’s not the most precise we’ve heard however. Euphonium and cornet soloists are the best so far for accuracy and expressive line. Strong finish.

3. Longridge (Mark Peacock)
Resilience: A controlled and precise opening promises much from the Lancashire band. Heroic and enigmatic by turns. Lovely non-vib horn sounds. All the fanfare details are sitting well with clean articulation and the music knits together.
Romance: This the first band to give us a genuine ‘love song without words’ feel, although there are some intonation concerns in the inner parts. Dynamic build up to the reprise is well handled. The Walton style ending fills the hall.
Relaxation: Steady tempo, a bit heavy legged and a tad messy at the start. What a contrast to band 2. The solo cornet is well done in the Andante, but the slip count is rising elsewhere. Cymbal is rather too loud for the band at time.
A ‘curate’s egg’ performance from Longridge today.

2. Laganvale (Metal Technology) (Stephen Crooks)
Resilience: Fast and dynamic, pretty accurate too until the piu mosso, which was messy. I like the give and take here in the moments. Nicely done form horns. The episodes all join into a coherent whole, although fast semiquavers are not always precise.

Romance: The dynamic range here is appealing. Some fragility in the solo lines however is audible. I’m enjoying the quality of the tone in the Molto Sostenuto and the controlled cresc. towards the finish.

Relaxation: Why the conductor needs to beat four in a bar I do not know, because we lose the dancing lilt. It all sounds too frenetic. The cantabile soloists are more relaxed however, although a more generous flowing line could have been attempted.

1. Dalmellington (Richard Evans)Resilience: Emphatic start, not 100% clean but full of purpose. Horns are not completely in tune in their ‘whole tone’ moment, but the tutti band blazes away with bold character.

 Romance: Richard Evans keeps this flowing – and brings out some lovely yearning sounds from the players. There are some smudges here and there however. The little solos are nicely blended in terms of style. Resounding finish!

Relaxation: the one thing the band must not be is relaxed, even though the music needs to sounds like the best sunshine or seaside holiday. Richard takes it at a lick – plenty of life and style. It was not error free, but bottom end of the band was especially spirited. Solo cornet sounds well in the cantabile section. Spirits were kept up through to the end.