Gearing up for the big occasion

Issue 5957

BB looks forward to major band events at Birmingham and Cheltenham

High-profile responses open up collaboration debate

Getting the university band back together!

British Open - LIVE!

Saturday 9 September, 2017

Live coverage of the 165th British Open Brass Band Championships

Testy-piece: Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

Adjudicators: Paul Cosh, Ray Farr and Stephen Roberts

 

Results:

1. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
2. Whitburn (Florent Didier)
3. Cory (Philip Harper)
4. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
6. Grimethorpe Colliery (Allan Withington)
7. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Janssen)
8. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
9. Desford Colliery (Leicestershire Miners Trust Fund) (Michael Fowles)
10. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
11. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
12. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
13. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
14. Flowers (David Childs)
15. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)* 
16. Co-op Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)
17. Black Dyke (Professor Nicholas J. Childs)
18. Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea)*

Best Instrumentalist: Roger Webster (Grimethorpe Colliery) 

Best Soprano: Connor Lennon (Carlton Main Frickley Colliery)

Best Euphonium: Steve Walsh (Desford Colliery)

*Denotes relegation to 2018 Grand Shield  

 

In the BB Frame:

1. Cory (Philip Harper)

2. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

3. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)

4. Flowers (David Childs)

5. Whitburn (Florent Didier)

6. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)

 

Paul Hindmarsh’s current top six:

1. Cory (Philip Harper)

2. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)

3. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

4. Whitburn (Florent Didier)

5. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

6. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)

 

David Kinross’s current top six:

1. Cory (Philip Harper)

2. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

3. Whitburn (Florent Didier)

4. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)

5. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

6. Grimethorpe Colliery (Allan Withington)

 

Kenny Crookston reporting

A truly electrifying day’s contesting here at Symphony Hall and there’s no doubt that the test-piece has been popular with bands and audience. It could be tight at the top between Cory and Valaisia, with the battle for top six places equally fascinating. A lot of fine performances also means divided opinion around the hall, and even within the BB team!

 

18. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)

Final band of the day, which is looking for a first victory since 1978. Atmospheric opening surrounds the terrific euphonium solo and it’s detail all the way through the huge chords of The Towering Colliery. Horn cadenza is of the highest quality and cornet follows suit right until the final bars.

Extracting the Coal is transparent, with every detail laid out before us. An unorthodox explosion into Firedamp and, again, we’re unconvinced by the effect. Percussion volume challenges the bass end but they are up to the job. It’s just too fast for all the solo entries to speak clearly, but there are some great moments.

Fine trombones as they bring out the dead and the cornet ‘Firebird’ entry oozes class. Great sounds in the finale to a terrific show from B&R. Won’t be far away.

 

17. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Janssen)

Penultimate band of the day and it needs to be a good one if Frickley wants to avoid the drop to Blackpool. Some lively noises in the percussion accompaniment as it opens but the euphonium is excellent. Not all moving together in The Towering Colliery and some of the interjections are loose. Good horn and cornet cadenzas, although the quality tails off as it progress towards to Extracting the Coal.

Slightly ‘muddy’ to open the animated section and there seems to be some uncertainty in the lower end. Firedamp explodes into action but the percussion is overpowering at times. There is some great technical work here though and the cornets are right on top of it.

A slightly different, less flowing approach to Bringing Out the Dead Miners but it works well and Kirsty Abbotts is her usual sublime self in the Fraternity Prayer. A bit of an odd performance with quite a few imperfections in the first half but it really came to life and held its quality, almost right to the end.

 

16. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

Effective opening and the euphonium solo is as good as we’ve heard today. The Towering Colliery is also robust but full of colourful sounds. An excellent start and the horn keeps the quality high. Cornet is nearly obscured by the timpani at times but remains very good. Baritone and flugel are committed to it and the energy levels are still high into Extracting the Coal.

Perhaps a notch up dynamically but the ensemble is generally good. Some terrific work around the stand but especially in the cornets (bravo back row!). Effective Firedamp opening and it’s shooting along like a bolt of lightning and nearly all being played! It is hard to keep the precision with so much energy abounding though.

Bringing Out the Dead Miners is very well led and the delivery is still robust. Fraternity Prayer has the merest hint of intonation at times and the odd clip, but this is the best we’ve heard Leyland for some time. Excellent!

 

15. Grimethorpe Colliery (Allan Withington)

Not the tidiest of openings from the basses and it gets much worse before it gets better. After that calamitous opening The Towering Colliery introduces us to the real Grimethorpe. Horn and cornet cadenzas among the best of the day, while the excellent baritone and flugel also deliver with ease.

Extracting the Coal is brimming with detail and the dynamic contrasts finish this vivid. Terrific explosion into Firedamp and we can virtually feel the urgency as the music develops. Not all the entries are 100% accurate but this is as vivid a picture as has been painted here today.

Great effects too in Bringing Out the Dead Miners, although the trombones felt unbalanced from our seat. Fraternity Prayer given the perfect treatment by the solo cornet, while the soprano and flugel are in perfect sympathy. Some really sublime playing here, but such was the damage done in the opening of the piece that the situation was verging upon being unrecoverable. Might have been in the lead otherwise!

 

14. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

Secure opening from the Grand Shield runner-up as it returns to the Open after 18 years in the cold. The Towering Colliery is also strong and well balanced. We liked the sweet horn sound and the veteran Andy MacDonald shows his permanent class in his cadenza.

Not perhaps fully detailed in Extracting the Coal but again this well shaped and delivered with some style. The slightly smaller cornet section (they have five basses and only eight cornets and a soprano) does struggle to speak loudly at times, but then so do the basses when the percussion is on full power in Firedamp.

Bringing Out the Dead Miners is better handled than many, especially the trombones and the cornet statement in Fraternity Prayer is tasteful indeed. A very good performance from Wingates that, with a following wind from the judges, could have laid the foundations for a nice long stay in Birmingham.

 

13. Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea)

Needing a good performance to avoid the Blackpool trap door, Jaguar gets the short straw and follows the brilliant Swiss. Quite a robust opening is followed by a dark Towering Colliery that has plenty of power. Some of the solo lines go a bit astray as it progresses, but they all dig deep into their resources to get over the finishing line.

Extracting the Coal finds the band in more comfortable territory and we hear some solid ensemble with good attention to dynamics. Firedamp is a bit of a damp squib to open and the basses are swamped by the percussion. One or two bars go somewhat awry and the fast detail is difficult to pick out at times.

Bringing Out the Dead Miners is well controlled and the Fraternity Prayer sees only occasional clips as it develops. The band stays strong to the end of a show that, with the best will in the world, will likely see it return to Blackpool in 2018, but that’s a measure of the quality of the British Open these days.

 

12. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

The Swiss contender is introduced with pleasure by David Hayward and immediately we hear an ensemble of quality. Possible question over euphonium intonation but The Towering Colliery is titanic, with the conductor drawing every bit of drama from each bar. Stunning! Nice horn leads into the standing Vincent Bearpark, whose cadenza is a masterclass in poise. Baritone slightly flawed in the duet with flugel.

Opening of Extracting the Coal is wonderfully subdued, but when the shackles are off the full impact is there, enhanced by the terrific standing back row cornets! Firedamp percussion almost drowns the sound of the five basses, but the quality in the following ensemble section is perhaps unmatched today (the soprano playing is simply wonderful…).

Trombones show their class in Bringing Out the Dead Miners, but the absolute quality isn’t always there in Fraternity Prayer, with quite a few clipped entries as the finale looms. That finale almost takes the breath away though. This won’t be far away but we still have Cory ahead.

 

11. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)

Black Land basses don’t speak clearly to open. Fine euphonium follows and The Towering Colliery has the trademark ‘Co-op’ broad sounds with excellent solo interjections. Horn solo nicely handled and the cornet is in full control. Baritone and flugel duet also works very well.

The ensemble in Extracting the Coal isn’t quite at the same level. Dynamics are less effective than some and it is difficult to hear the detail at times. Firedamp balance works very well and most of the solo lines are well delivered – just on the edge for some though.

Bringing Out the Dead Miners starts well, with a real subdued feeling emphasised by the distant trombones. Some intonation issues in Fraternity Prayer and one or two notes go astray as it proceeds to the end of a performance that had much to credit it, even if the error count is higher than most today.

 

10. Desford Colliery (Leicestershire Miners Trust Fund) (Michael Fowles)

Back after a short break but, unfortunately for Desford, a lot of the audience are still on it… Despite that the band opens with security and confidence. Desford was clearly a Towering Colliery when it produced coal – broad sounds are perfectly balanced here. Horn is confident and solo cornet digs deep to knock out the cadenza.

Extracting the Coal is steady and dynamic – very effective overall with great detailed contributions from the cornet section. Balance in Firedamp is better than most, with all the solo entries easily heard, despite the pace.

Quality continues in Bringing Out the Dead Miners, although there are isolated moments where the ensemble isn’t entirely together (trombones). A few clips and moments of poor intonation near the opening of Fraternity Prayer. The band sound is glorious though. Another really fine show from Desford and Mike Fowles, perhaps just with too many clips to make it to the top.

 

9. Cory (Philip Harper)

Characteristic opening from the defending champion and the sound in The Towering Colliery block chords is simply awesome. Horn and cornet cadenzas are played with aplomb, followed by an assured baritone and flugel duet.

They really go for the quiet dynamics in Extracting the Coal, making the louder ones even more effective… This is brass band ensemble playing at its best, with an unmatched ease of delivery. Firedamp explosion is typically individual but extremely effective. Percussion is brilliant, but the band is obliterated by it at times. The rest is breathtaking.

Every risk taken and rewarded in Bringing Out the Dead Miners, although the trombones show the tiniest of flaws as it merges into Fraternity Prayer. Beautiful cornet introduces the melody and only small clips detract from the atmospheric conclusion to a simply brilliant performance. A clear leader for us.

 

8. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

Atmospheric opening and only the merest of clips detracts. The Towering Colliery is robust, but balance suffers at times. Excellent delivery from the horn and cornet of the challenging cadenzas. Baritone and flugel are among the best we’ve heard.

Bass end detail isn’t clear as Extracting the Coal opens. The full band impresses but the clip count is rising. Full commitment from the back row cornets then it’s the best explosion of the day into Firedamp. No safety net here – the band is really going for and, one or two entries aside, it comes off – real drama.

A good picture painted in Bringing Out the Dead Miners, but again there are individual errors. Trombones very good into Fraternity Prayer. Lone cornet right on the style and it all remains well controlled through to the end. Great moments from Tredegar at times, but a bit less consistent than they might have liked.

 

7. Whitburn (Florent Didier)

Confident and well-measured opening from the Grand Shield winner, with excellent euphonium solo taking it into The Towering Colliery, which is similarly clean with all lines heard clearly. Horn and terrific cornet solos are a match for any we’ve heard, although there is slight uncertainty in the baritone and flugel duet.

Extracting the Coal is understated to open, but the dynamic interjections are very effective. Very tidy ensemble too and the Firedamp explosion may be the most dramatic yet. Good balance between basses and percussion, and it knocks along apace with nearly every entry handling the technicalities.

Bringing Out the Dead Miners is suitably cold in style, with the trombones almost timing it perfectly as it leads into Fraternity Prayer. Cornet delivers the moment of the day so far in his sublime ‘Firebird’ entry and, despite minor ensemble inaccuracies it builds to a thrilling conclusion. This ‘auld alliance’ of Scotland and France could surprise a few today!

 

6. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

Black Land opens comfortably but there’s a hint of poor intonation as it reaches The Towering Colliery. Great block chords here, although there are some strained sounds as it progresses. Horn and cornet deliver their solos with ease, followed by flugel and baritones with the merest imperfections.

All the lines are heard clearly in Extracting the Coal, which is very well measured all round. Not the most effective Firedamp explosion, but the balance between percussion and band works better than most we’ve heard, and the overall sense of drama is persuasive.

We like the trombones in Bringing Out the Dead Miners and the Fraternity Prayer entry from the cornet is excellent, although many have given it more space early today. Minor splits detract in the final section, but this has been a very good show overall from Fairey.

 

5. Black Dyke (Professor Nicholas J. Childs)

Straight in without an announcement and the opening is very confident from the euphonium. Towering sounds at the Colliery and the filigree entries are the cleanest we’ve heard. Following solos ooze quality, especially the baritone and flugel duet, which has proved tricky for others.

Extracting the Coal is relatively understated in style top open, but the contrast is there when the full band is unleashed. A unique approach to the Firedamp explosion (and we’re not sure it really came off…). Percussion is well-measured and we can hear the basses! Some entries are just on the technical limits though.

Trombones go for an elongated approach in Bringing Out the Dead Miners and the lead into Fraternity Prayer has quality. Not completely clean or in tune as it builds towards a glorious finale. One or two points dropped along the way for Dyke today may just prove crucial though. 

 

4. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)

A band needing a good show after last year’s disappointing one, Foden’s opens well with a slightly more extravagant euphonium than we’ve heard so far. Not completely secure as it leads into The Towering Colliery and again there are slips as it progresses. The overall quality shines through! Confident horn cadenza, then Mark Wilkinson is at his brilliant best in the cornet solo. Again there are slips in the solo lines that follow.

Foden’s extracts the cleanest and most dynamic coal we’ve heard so far, with every entry delivered appropriately. Firedamp has a real sense of urgency, but again the percussion dominates, perhaps just too much, and it is possibly faster than some can deliver comfortably at times.

Excellent trombones in Bringing Out the Dead Miners, and the long delay before Fraternity Prayer is well worth the wait, despite the slips! A lot of clarity and sonority in this performance, but the error count could be a factor in the end. Not one we expect to see heading to Blackpool though!

 

3. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

Excellent euphonium sits on top of a well-controlled bass end in the opening and the chords in The Towering Colliery are huge. Some of the filigree detail goes slightly astray but it remains strong through to From Light to Dark. Fine efforts in the cadenzas and they nearly all come off.

Extracting the Coal is tight and dynamic, with only the occasional imperfection in some of the entries. Firedamp opens effectively, although the percussion is a tad loud for the band at times. There is a real sense of drama here though – terrific stuff

Excellent dynamic control as the trombones bring out the dead miners and the cornet ‘Firebird’ entry has a touch of class in Fraternity Prayer. Intonation and security not 100% as it begins to build to the climax. Another good one overall, but just a minor flaw or two more than the previous bands.

 

2. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)

Opening is secure and the euphonium plays with comfort. The Towering Colliery has power and balance, as well as plenty of space. Excellent horn starts the cadenza section and cornet part is delivered with aplomb.

Detail perhaps a bit cloudy in Extracting the Coal and it could possibly use more dynamic contrast. Bravo to the back row cornets though! A lot of the fast detail is difficult to hear clearly in Firedamp but again the overall picture remains strong.

Bringing Out the Dead Miners is well-conceived and delivered, with excellent control all round. Fraternity Prayer just has the odd clip and safe dynamic to detract slightly from what has been yet another good show by Milnrow at the Open.

 

1. Flowers (David Childs)

Classy sounds in the National Anthem then it’s straight in with a good opening, especially the stylish euphonium. The quality continues through The Towering Colliery with great sounds in the block chords. Some minor slips in the cadenza section but the picture remains robust.

Style and detail pervade the Extracting the Coal section – really nips along apace but it is all heard. Similarly in Firedamp, although the percussion does overpower the bass sounds from our vantage point. Brilliant ensemble through here and dynamic effects are well measured.

Trombones perhaps a bit generous with the dynamics in Bringing Out the Dead Miners but it leads beautifully into the Fraternity Prayer, where Lode Violet plays very tastefully, and so do all the tight-rope-walking soloists. Terrific ending to a cracking opening performance!

 

 

Draw

1. Flowers (David Childs)

2. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)

3. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

4. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)

5. Black Dyke (Professor Nicholas J. Childs)

6. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

7. Whitburn (Florent Didier)

8. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

9. Cory (Philip Harper)

10. Desford Colliery (Leicestershire Miners Trust Fund) (Michael Fowles)

11. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)

12. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

13. Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea)

14. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

15. Grimethorpe Colliery (Allan Withington)

16. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

17. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Janssen)

18. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)