TAKING ON THE TUBA - BB meets rising star, Sarah Billard

Issue 6066

CULTURE RECOVERY - Black Dyke receives £76,000 funding boost

DEAFENING SILENCE - Liv Appleton imagines a life without the arts

National Finals - 1st Section - LIVE!

Sunday 17 September, 2017

Test-piece: Tournament for Brass (Eric Ball)

Adjudicators: Paul Holland and Michael Fowles

Kenny Crookston reporting

Pictures: John Stirzaker



1. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) North West

2. Bathgate (Anne Crookston) Scotland

3. Kidlington Concert (Duncan Wilson) London & SC

4. Regent (Paul Archibald) London & SC

5. Unite the Union (John Roberts) Yorkshire

6. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) Scotland

7. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) North West

8. Bournemouth Concert (Melvin White) West

9. Parc and Dare (Jonathan Pippen) Wales

10. Rushden Town (Adele Hudson) Midland

11. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton) North

12. SW Comms (Chris Spreadbury) West

13. Marsden Silver (Alan Widdop) Yorkshire

14. Hitchin (Graham Chambers) London & SC

15. Foresters 2000 (John Davis) Midlands

16. Llanrug (Keith Jones) Wales

17. Westoe (Callum Harrison) North

Best Soloist: Joanne Johnstone, cornet, Pemberton



In the BB Frame

1. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) North West

2. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) Scotland

3. Parc and Dare (Jonathan Pippen) Wales

4. Unite the Union (John Roberts) Yorkshire

5. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) North West

6. Bathgate (Anne Crookston) Scotland


A very difficult contest to call with no band really nailing its colours firmly enough to the mast to claim a clear victory. Flaws were many and varied, with every performance suffering from insecurity in some respect. If the judges’ treatment of the various flaws in each performance is similar to ours it will be a minor miracle, so look out for a few surprises as this one is announced!


17. Hitchin (Graham Chambers) London & SC

Trios and Duets: Last band of the weekend and poor tuning mars an otherwise well-conceived opening. The error count is very high though.

Solos: Safe opening and the solos do well (again the horn C natural - it’s a C#!). Fine show from the principal cornet and the coda works very well.

Rondo: Messy opening and the tempo doesn’t hold entirely steady as it gets excited within some bars. Not a bad show overall, but one that just had too many slips to figure highly.


16. Regent (Paul Archibald) London & SC


Trios and Duets: Quite a few splits in the opening. We like the tempo and overall style but the error count is high. Ensemble as a whole is very good - well-balanced and never over the top.

Solos: Opening is very good indeed and the cornet is understated but none the worse for it. Horn is given plenty of space and plays beautifully (except the C natural (C#)). Euphonium right on the limits but he gets there. Likewise the cornet but it ends well.

Rondo: We like the laid-back approach and the delivery is excellent all round. Excellent flugel as it reignites after misterioso and the quality remains despite some more blips. Might not be far away from the frame.


15. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) Scotland

Trios and Duets: Nice approach to open but the intonation isn’t consistent. There is a nice transparency to it but the errors start to creep in as it moves along.

Solos: Opening is well conceived and delivered. Solo cornet delivers with real style and horn follows suit. Great euphonium (shame about the last note!) and the cornet’s true class shows through in the laid-back solo. Top notch!

Rondo: Starts well and we like the dancing style. Flaws are there but are of the minor variety to begin but there are some tangled bars later too. Could be close - the second movement was the best of the day by some distance.


14. Unite the Union (John Roberts) Yorkshire

Trios and Duets: Compact and solid to open, but it’s another one in which the errors creep in fairly regularly.

Solos: Well shaped to open and the cornet and horn solos are secure. Euphonium has style and we enjoy the languid cornet. Some intonation issues in the coda. Excellent BBb bass though!

Rondo: Not entirely rhythmic as we hear rushing in the opening section. Once it settles into the tempo it is secure and the flugel and euphonium contribute very well. More quality towards the end of a performance that could well figure today.


13. SW Comms (Chris Spreadbury) West

Trios and Duets: Quite untidy in the opening bars but well conceived overall. One or two clicks along the way but nothing outrageous.

Solos: Good start, and cornet and horn solos are right on the money. Good solo work continues and the coda is almost as good as any today.

Rondo: Tempo well set to open and stylistically it is just right for us. Flugel keeps the quality high and the following ensemble passage is very good. Safety in the solo passages and this could go a long way today. A good show overall in the context of this contest.


12. Marsden Silver (Alan Widdop) Yorkshire

Trios and Duets: Solid opening. Some interjections not 100% precise and the cornet wrong note was prominent. Otherwise it was fairly robust with only occasional clipped notes.

Solos: Safe opening and it’s mission accomplished for the cornet. Nice horn but the accompaniment felt disjointed. Quite a few notes feel thrown into the mix rather than placed and the overall picture is worse for it.

Rondo: Rushing in the opening and it takes a while to settle, even becoming unrhythmic at times. Some phrase endings feel thrown away too. Strong to finish but this has been a disappointing one from Marsden.


11. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) North West

Trios and Duets: Compact opening sounds. We feel it rushing a bit at times but there are some nice contributions. Semiquaver detail is untidy once or twice too often which, allied with the high split count, could cost.

Solos: One of the best openings we’ve heard so far. Lovely playing from the cornet soloist. Some beautiful sounds from the horn too. Perfunctory style doesn’t serve the band well later in the movement.

Rondo: Excellent start and the lilting style feels about right. More detail goes astray at misterioso. Brilliant cornet playing follows and we liked a lot about the end - except the missing bass drum. A bit of an odd performance overall - lots of really high quality moments but a few noticeable lapses.


10. Westoe (Callum Harrison) North

Trios and Duets: An untidy opening with tuning and ensemble problems appearing regularly. Lacks rhythmic poise too.

Solos: More shape to the opening than in the first movement and the cornet is secure if a little hurried. Horn knocks it out and the euphonium dances along nicely. Cornet delivers again and the coda is secure if again rather perfunctory in nature.

Rondo: Eric Ball’s well-laid traps have been catching a few bands out today and none more so than Westoe. This is better in style to open than earlier but again it gets messy as it proceeds. Not one we expect to see near the top.


9. Parc and Dare (Jonathan Pippen) Wales

Trios and Duets: Nice compact sound to open and it flows very well. Some noticeable tangles in the ensemble. The overall sound and approach is very good though.

Solos: Excellent cornet and we loved the horn (except for the C natural (c#)). Euphonium owns the stage in his solo and the cornet delivers yet again.

Rondo: Lovely flow to this and the conductor pulls the best playing of the contest so far from the band at this point in the piece. Very nice flugel. Cornet and trombone follow appropriately. Occasional clips but a very good closing movement to move right into contention.


8. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) North West

Trios and Duets: Light in style to open. It is a level above what we’ve heard for sound and tidiness but it does rock along a bit. End didn’t feel together between percussion and band.

Solos: Well controlled opening and the cornet feels effortless in delivery. Horn nearly nails it but there is a feeling of untunefulness about the accompaniment. Euphonium is very good if in a bit of a rush at times. Closing cornet solo is a pleasure to listen to and the bass’s last note is perfect.

Rondo: Light to open again and it feels like it’s in the band’s comfort zone. That said, there are still minor flaws (intonation and clips) that keep appearing regularly. Flugel, cornet and trombone all excel and it leads to a strong finale. Some of the best playing we’re likely to hear today but the door is still firmly ajar.


7. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton) North

Trios and Duets: Solid opening but the scratches begin to appear fairly regularly as it progresses. Perhaps lacking in dynamics too.

Solos: Well-controlled opening and the cornet plays beautifully. Horn does well until the very end. There are some flaws in the accompaniment but we loved the euphonium solo and the cornet is in complete control.

Rondo: Good approach here - well delivered too as it lilts along. Goes well to Misterioso, then it is perhaps just missing confidence in delivery. Some individual touches from the conductor as it nears the end of a performance that had a lot to credit it.


6. Rushden Town (Adele Hudson) Midland

Trios and Duets: Quite a ‘clippy’ opening movement. Well shaped though and the sound is well balanced. Perhaps a bit rushed in some of the semiquavers near the close.

Solos: A bit faster than we’ve heard so far. The cornet solo has plenty of space though and the playing is lovely. Bravo horn and we like the euphonium solo - just a shame about the last bar! Cornet shows how it is done and the coda is nearly clean.

Rondo: Some untidiness in the opening, which lilts along well otherwise. Quite light on its feet and flugel and cornet deliver very well. It feels like it is gathering momentum as it nears the end. A pretty good show overall.


5. Kidlington Concert (Duncan Wilson) London & SC

Trios and Duets: Very nice approach and it is pretty secure to open. Nice full band sound too and the melodic is carried consistently throughout.

Solos: Nice opening and the cornet is right on it. Horn nearly gets there and the euphonium has style. Excellent closing solo from the cornet too. Nice control to finish.

Rondo: Tidy opening and but for some very minor clips it skips along very well indeed. Just a slight lack of confidence from soloists as it proceeds but the end is strong if in a bit of a rush. A good reading and the band nearly delivered as requested.


4. Bathgate (Anne Crookston) Scotland


Trios and Duets: More robust to open and it’s mainly tidy and dynamic. A hint of poor intonation in the lower band but overall it is in good shape. Small clips in some lines may cost a point or two as it reaches the conclusion.

Solos: Very nicely controlled opening and the cornet plays with style. Good contributions from horn and euphonium although not quite perfect. Cornet delivers with style again and the closing bars are well controlled indeed.

Rondo: Some minor clips in the opening statement. There is a lot of quality in the ensemble though, and it moves well to the misterioso section. Some background clips but the flugel solo is excellent and the cornet is again classy. Builds to the end with purpose. Another with a few clips but a very good show overall.


3. Bournemouth Concert (Melvin White) West

Trios and Duets: Not all together in the opening but it proceeds in good style at a well-managed tempo. Solo lines all go in safely. It sometimes feels rushed within the bar though.

Solos: A few splits in the opening then we hear a very nicely shaped cornet solo. Horn hits top form at the right time and the euphonium follows accordingly. Bravo also to the cornet to close. The coda is messy though.

Rondo: Not together to open Again it’s well-paced but the minor error count continues to rise alarmingly quickly. Terrific flugel solo and we enjoyed the trombone’s contribution. Ends strongly, but there have been a few clips in this one.


2. Llanrug (Keith Jones) Wales

Trios and Duets: Quite a few clips mar an otherwise well-shaped opening. Some stylish solo playing bit the error count continues to rise as it develops.

Solos: Flows along apace and the lovely cornet sound doesn’t really get a chance to express itself. Following solos don’t really come off as they would have planned, but again the lack of musical space could be a factor. Cornet produces a lovely sound to close and we hear real quality at last.

Rondo: Nicely paced and the band seems to have settled a bit. A question over some articulations in the solo lines though. Cornet excels again but there have been a few accidents along the way around the band. Some fine moments but not one that came off today.


1. Foresters 2000 (John Davis) Midlands

Trios and Duets: Quite brisk to open and the solo lines all go in safely. The tempo sets them a challenge though and one or two notes go slightly astray. The overall shape is very good and the opening movement closes securely.

Solos: Nice sedate opening. Cornet does well and the horn solo is delivered with aplomb. There are one or two flaws in the background though. A bit of style from the euphonium with only the tiniest of clips - very nice. Languid cornet solo is again very well played.

Rondo: Some scrappiness in the opening but again we like the overall shape. Flugel and cornet perform well. Sound and balance excellent too. A good show overall but one that perhaps had one or two mistakes too many to remain in the judges’ minds for the rest of the day.




1. Foresters 2000 (John Davis) Midlands

2. Llanrug (Keith Jones) Wales

3. Bournemouth Concert (Melvin White) West

4. Bathgate (Anne Crookston) Scotland

5. Kidlington Concert (Duncan Wilson) London & SC

6. Rushden Town (Adele Hudson) Midland

7. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton) North

8. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) North West

9. Parc and Dare (Jonathan Pippen) Wales

10. Westoe (Callum Harrison) North

11. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) North West

12. Marsden Silver (Alan Widdop) Yorkshire

13. SW Comms (Chris Spreadbury) West

14. Unite the Union (John Roberts) Yorkshire

15. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) Scotland

16. Regent (Paul Archibald) London & SC

17. Hitchin (Graham Chambers) London & SC