FORMIDABLE FODEN'S - Full coverage from the 2021 National Brass Band Championships

Issue 6112

HOW TO IMPRESS - Amos Miller on flourishing in a conservatoire audition

COMPOSER CAST - Liz Lane on her fascinating early musical life

DEPARTURE - Cornet star Kirsty Abbotts leaves Carlton Main

National Finals - Championship Section - LIVE!

Friday 13 October, 2017

Test-piece: Gallery (Howard Snell)

Adjudicators: Howard Snell, Phillip McCann and Luc Vertommen

Kenny Crookston reporting

Pictures: John Stirzaker


Full results

1. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King)
2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
3. Cory (Philip Harper)
4. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
6. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
7. Black Dyke (Professor Nicholas Childs)
8. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
9. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
10. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
11. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
12. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
13. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
14. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
15. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
16. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)
17. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
18. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
19. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
20. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)

Best Instrumentalist: Kathleen Gaspoz, cornet, Brighouse and Rastrick



What a fascinating and compelling contest! A great test-piece that really engaged the audience here in the RAH. We think Brighouse has won the day, but after that they could be in any order, with Foden’, Cory, Black Dyke, Whitburn and Tredegar the favourites to get up there. We’ll see soon! Now it’s time for Sandy Smith and his sensational Tubular Brass!

In the BB Frame 

1. Brighouse and Rastrick 

2. Foden’s

3. Cory 

4. Black Dyke

5. Whitburn

6. Tredegar

N.B. NOT the official result!


Paul Hindmarsh's prediction

1. Brighouse and Rastrick 

2. Foden’s 

3. Whitburn 

4. Cory 

5. Black Dyke

6. Tredegar

N.B. NOT the official result either!


20. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King) - Yorkshire
1. Entrance – a thing of beauty. Bravo soprano. Best of the day.
2. Street Market – we like the musical intention but there are some notable mispitches. Clarity and balance are outstanding.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – very tasteful cornet. (Cornets are all standing). Spellbinding playing all round throughout this movement. What a delicious sound the cornet section makes!
5. Love Story – real heart on the sleeve stuff here. Truly outstanding music-making. Just a hint of uncertainty near the end…
6. Cut-Outs – having the drummer in the middle really works and we hear total cohesion, but also with just the right amount of busyness. Tiny clips appear as it moves on but they seem barely relevant among such brilliance.
7. Landscapes – hymn-tune approach to phrasing is apposite and the sound is awe-inspiring. Could this be only the second band to win here from the last draw?



19. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey) - Yorkshire
1. Entrance – nicely done by the soprano. Very secure.
2. Street Market – some early clips but it gets on track. The steady tempo helps too. All well measured and laid out.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – we love the artistic approach. Unfortunately the error count is on the high side.
5. Love Story – nicely managed opening. Proper music making follows. Expertly shaped and the mellifluous sound from the lower and middle band is very appealing.
6. Cut-Outs – we like this too! Not the most pristine of the day but so well assembled. Dynamic control outstanding.
7. Landscapes – perhaps getting tired here. Sound seems to have taken a step back. What a fine debut!

18. Black Dyke (Professor Nicholas Childs) - Yorkshire
1. Entrance – quickly flowing opening is all there. Cornet section all standing so it will be interesting to see how that translates into the box.
2. Street Market – robust and exciting. Perhaps a question over balance at times.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – effortless cornet leads brilliantly and vibraphone takes all the time in the world when in the spotlight. Possibly the best Waltz we’ve heard.
5. Love Story – beautifully crafted and played with aplomb all round. Continued pristinely until a prominent clip in the closing bars.
6. Cut-Outs – right on the money with tempo and style until the lower cornets become disjointed. We loved the vibby trombones though. When the shackles are off it really has a sense of purpose.
7. Landscapes – a slightly jagged style here and the sounds are magnificent, if a bit light on top. Towering finale. Rumours of Dyke’s demise are clearly greatly exaggerated!


17. Friary Guildford (Chris King) - London & Southern Counties
1. Entrance – right by the book to open. Lovely style from the soprano.
2. Street Market – one or two less tidy bars but strong and well driven.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – not the cleanest of the day and the split counter is moving into overdrive. Possibly a bit straight in style.
5. Love Story – well shaped but the ensemble hasn’t managed to stay together enough today.
6. Cut-Outs – they have a good go at this one and we like the approach. Again, though, the delivery falls short far too often. Lots of clips and poor tuning will inevitably detract.
7. Landscapes – bold sounds from the bass end underpin a strong finale, but it’s too little too late for Friary. Disappointing today.


16. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse) - Wales
1. Entrance – nicely done by soprano in the opening.
2. Street Market – The Barras is in a traditionally ‘robust’ part of town and we hear that exact style here. Very strong but precise too.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – stylistically there’s plenty of good work here but it isn’t totally polished. Good overall though.
5. Love Story – flugel right on the limits but he digs it out in the opening. Lovely quiet passages keep it on track and there is plenty to commend stylistically.
6. Cut-Outs – light of foot and moving along apace, but the lower cornets are still the cleanest we’ve heard at their ‘moment’. They really get this one like few beforehand.
7. Landscapes – very detached in style and we’re not sure we like it that way, although the judges are all the open-minded type. Nice moment from the standing repiano and the end is typically powerful. Definitely one to watch from Tredegar.


15. Fairey (Garry Cutt) - North West
1. Entrance – text book opening. Bravo soprano.
2. Street Market – quality continues and it’s full of Glaswegian swagger. Terrific apart from a moment of poor tuning.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – very assured playing all round. A stylish approach that should go a long way too.
5. Love Story – unorthodox phrasing from flugel might not appeal to all in the box. The playing is lovely though, right around the band. Pity about the prominent slip. It was going so well…
6. Cut-Outs – going for gold with the tempo, but the full band needs to keep up! Lower corners appear to get tangled and other inaccuracies come into play too. Disappointing in comparison to earlier great work.
7. Landscapes – the sparkling sound we heard earlier appears to have gone and much of the louder playing is unbalanced. One that really had us excited earlier but it seemed to tire as it went on.


14. Milnrow (Mark Bentham) - North West
1. Entrance – nice flow in the opening but again the clip detector is flashing.
2. Street Market – underpowered and quite loose technically, but the shape is good.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – another that goes for a straightforward reading in the opening. We prefer the more ‘free’ style that follows though.
5. Love Story – one that doesn’t really do it for us stylistically. Why do players think that turning their backs at the quiet bits is a good idea? Invariably leads to errors…
6. Cut-Outs – heavy-handed to open and it never really finds its way in terms of flow and style.
7. Landscapes – no lack of commitment here! A good end to a disappointing show overall.


13. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay) Scotland 

1. Entrance – some untidiness in the opening but better than many…
2. Street Market – robust style, which has worked well today for a few. Some inner detail not so clean though.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – straight in style and nearly clean in delivery – just a handful of clips in the early part of the movement. We liked the closing bars.
5. Love Story – excellent flugel in the opening and the style and tempo is just right for us. A good mix of passion and control too. Very nicely done overall.
6. Cut-Outs – tidy and energetic. Detail and accuracy drops in rolling triplet passage but we do admire the dynamic control. Perhaps slightly muddy as it progresses but again this has been well handled.
7. Landscapes – big sounds in the opening and the ‘Bridal Song’ passage is just right. A fine end to a good show that may just have had too many small clips to make it to the top.


12. Filton Concert (Tom Davoren) - West of England
1. Entrance – nicely flowing opening. Well done soprano!
2. Street Market – definitely not holding back here. Total commitment and it’s nearly all tidy.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – perhaps a bit straight in style in places. Very good when unleashed. Fine ending too.
5. Love Story – best flugel sound so far and he soars beautifully above the band. Passionate stuff from Felton here and the ending is suitably serene.
6. Cut-Outs – certainly going for it! Tempo and volume on the high side and there are a few unbalanced sounds emerging. Technically good but somewhat OTT for us.
7. Landscapes – very busy in style. Perhaps just needing a bit more space. A good show though.


11. Foden’s
1.  Entrance – tidy opening to get the second half underway. Nicely played soprano.
2. Street Market – a hint of a split or two in the early bars but there is tremendous clarity.
3. The Skater’s Waltz – laid back style – works a treat. Not all clean in delivery but the end is sublime.
5. Love Story – opening just less than perfect. Real beauty here with great dynamic control underpinning a passionate reading. The merest hint of uncertainty near the end.
6. Cut-Outs – brilliant basses in the opening and it has boundless energy. Such detail too. Best playing of the day so far follows. Simply brilliant.
7. Landscapes – vast opening and, despite some intonation in the quiet passage, the end is magnificent

10. Cory (Philip Harper) - Wales

1. Entrance - an untidy start from the soprano, one of quite a few so far.

2. Street Market - robust and full of dynamism, plus the trademark Cory incisiveness.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - sedate and stylish. Beautiful cornet playing too - makes it all sound very simple. Vibraphone very quiet (too?). Untidy triplet detail near the end of an otherwise pristine movement.

5. Love Story - nicely done by opening flugel. Again the security isn’t 100% at the top end, but they really do take risks with quiet dynamics and much of it is simply spellbinding. Mesmeric ending - bravo!

6. Cut-Outs - and they’re off! Blistering tempo chosen and it is nearly played fantastically. The quality does drop occasionally, but the good parts shine brightly.

7. Landscapes - huge chords here and the view from the top is stunning. A brilliant ending, but could the noticeable slips have cost Cory a hat-trick?


9. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott) - Midland


1. Entrance - the soprano players are clearly warmed up now. Nice opening - just some intonation.

2. Street Market - not the tidiest opening and it lacks energy.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - the ice gets a bit on the thin side for Thoresby too. One or two scary moments but the overall shape was satisfying.

5. Love Story - nicely done flugel! The slow tempo doesn’t make it easy for the players but every last bit of passion is drawn out of them. Some tuning problems later in the movement.

6. Cut-Outs - steady and pretty clear as a result, but there is some incohesion in the triplet passages.

7. Landscapes - sounding a bit tired as a band to open, while the reflective section isn’t totally secure. A good show overall that could have benefitted from a bit more energy.


8. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths) - Yorkshire

1. Entrance - a very tidy start!

2. Street Market - gets off at a steady tempo and we hear everything clearly. Just a blip here and there, but it is very good.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - not one that really came off, with the poor old Reverend skating on thin ice a few times.

5. Love Story - nicely approached and there is plenty of commitment to it. Perhaps just a bit straight at times. Bravo soprano!

6. Cut-Outs - quite sedate in tempo but the benefit is clarity. Split count continues to rise, but we hear some very nice dynamic touches. Nice sense of freedom when the band is unleashed.

7. Landscapes - not the most expansive sound we’ve heard, but the bass trombone could wake the dead - fantastic! Nice quiet playing and the end finds the band at its best. One that improved as it went along, but the error count could keep it nearer the bottom than the top.


7. Woodfalls (Dr. Robert Childs) - West of England

1. Entrance - the first band to sit in traditional formation, against the instruction in the score. The opening is very nice though!

2. Street Market - a delicate touch and the lines are all clearly heard. There is some lost detail as it progresses though.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - quite a straight-laced approach from Woodfalls’ skating minister. Technically it is all good but it perhaps needed more freedom.

5. Love Story - nicely flowing and the soloists all perform with ease. Lovely serene close.

6. Cut-Outs - really going for it tempo-wise and it is difficult to distinguish much of the inner detail. Perhaps a bit light on contrasting styles and dynamics too.

7. Landscapes - unusually subdued in delivery and the wide view of the horizon is lost. Technically a good show but it lacked somewhat in delivery.


6. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise) - London & Southern Counties

1. Entrance - another good opening and it flows nicely into…

2. Street Market - robust in nature but none the worse for it. Security is the key too and it is all heard in the right place.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - beautifully shaped and all the soloists are right there. Just the odd loose moment but this is one of the best waltzes so far.

5. Love Story - just a hint of poor tuning in the opening and although we love the flowing style it is perhaps just a level off the top for balance and control. There are some beautifully shaped moments though. Lovely!

6. Cut-Outs - zips along with style and grace. The occasional bar loses clarity, but again this is so well led and delivered with commitment.

7. Landscapes - they’re a long way from Loch Lomond but we can see the rolling hills in the distance! Really fine finale to an extremely well-conceived performance.


5. Whitburn (Michael Fowles) - Scotland

1. Entrance - and we have an opening that works! Lovely flowing style too.

2. Street Market - just a scratch in the opening; the sound is incisive though and we hear all the lines clearly with finely judged dynamic contrast. Just some lower band intonation in the ending.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - not 100% blemish free but stylistically this has time and space like none before it. Terrific solo cornet and the vibraphone is in full control. Beautifully handled ending.

5. Love Story - lovely moments abound here - soprano right on top of it and the middle band excels when unleashed. Controlled playing from the top drawer here.

6. Cut-Outs - we hear something approaching jazz for the first time today. Some minor blemishes but this is very well measured and delivered all round.

7. Landscapes - suitably majestic in style (we can nearly see the mountains in the background!) and the reflective bars are all under control. End brings the house down. Whitburn at its best.


4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes) - Wales

1. Entrance - this is clearly the most tricky opening to a test-piece for years! Another scratchy one…

2. Street Market - quite understated in the early part of the movement but there is a ‘rawness’ as it progress. They do search for a few notes too.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - a nice flow to begin but the technicalities aren’t all overcome successfully and it starts to unwind stylistically.

5. Love Story - nice work from the flugel to open and the style feels right for us too. Soprano’s tight-rope walk is the best we’ve heard so far and there is real passion around the ensemble at times. Lovely work too by the lower cornets at their ‘moment’.

6. Cut-Outs - not always tidy, but it does zip along with some aplomb - perhaps a feeling of getting faster? A real ‘caution to the wind’ approach to this one and it almost came off in style.

7. Landscapes - appropriately big and bold finale leaves nothing left unsaid, much like the rest of the performance. Admirable commitment from everyone and musically very satisfying indeed.


3. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts) - North of England

1. Entrance - another opening that doesn’t quite measure up technically. It’s only nine bars but it’s proving VERY tricky!

2. Street Market - a few cracks in the pavement here too and balance is inconsistent. It holds its shape well though.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - lovely cornet - real style here - and we liked the vibraphone solo. Some of the later triplet detail isn’t clear though.

5. Love Story - a nice flowing style and the flugel excels in the opening. Lovely work too from the soprano. Just a pity about the occasional slip, but we liked this.

6. Cut-Outs - a more sedate approach and it still proves a challenge. Technically this is hard, but the slower tempo also makes it a stylistic challenge. Not one that really came off.

7. Landscapes - very light in delivery here, but from the reflective section to the end is very good indeed. Much to commend here but this could find its way down the list as the day progresses.


2. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray) - North of England

 1. Entrance - another one that doesn’t quite get it 100% accurate. This could be a moment that catches a few over the course of the day.

2. Street Market - the ‘Glaswegian’ approach from Russell Gray - bold as brass at times - but also subtle when required. Very good overall but a few splashes along the way.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - not sounding quite as comfortable here and the solo line is strained at times. The music has great freedom at times, but this didn’t quite come off all the way.

5. Love Story - a very ‘reflective’ tempo and it all goes in safely. There are questions over intonation, especially at the very top, and the security isn’t 100%. Another movement with great musical intentions but it just fell short in delivery.

6. Cut-Outs - again the detail just drops a level at times and it seems to struggle to maintain its flow at times. Possibly sounding weary at the top too.

7. Landscapes - perhaps lacks power in the top and middle (we loved the bass trombone though!). Reflective section a bit inconsistent in style too but it closes well. Overall, one that we perhaps expected more from today, but there were some lovely moments.


1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke) - Midland

1. Entrance - a scratch or two in the opening and we’re not 100% convinced by the intonation.

2. Street Market is quite robust in nature, but anyone who has ever been to the Barras will connect with that! Mainly tidy though.

3. The Skater’s Waltz - some good changes of mood here and great delivery from the cornet and vibraphone. We liked the respectful ending.

5. Love Story - beautifully handled here. All soloists are on top of it and the quiet, controlled playing creates just the right atmosphere. This one is growing on us!

6. Cut-Outs - quite ‘muddy’ in the opening but once the full band gets in it is clear and dynamic. One or two clips, but we suspect they might not be alone in that today. Not always easy to distinguish detail as it moves into…

7. Landscapes - big and bold, as it should be, but the reflective passages work a treat too. Builds to a strong finale. Again a slip here and there but this has been a very good opener.



1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke) - Midland

2. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray) - North of England 

3. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts) - North of England

4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes) - Wales

5. Whitburn (Michael Fowles) - Scotland

6. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise) - London & Southern Counties

7. Woodfalls (Dr. Robert Childs) - West of England 

8. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths) - Yorkshire 

9. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott) - Midland

10. Cory (Philip Harper) - Wales

11. Foden’s (Bramwell Tovey) - North West

12. Filton Concert (Tom Davoren) - West of England

13. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay) - Scotland 

14. Milnrow (Mark Bentham) - North West

15. Fairey (Garry Cutt) - North West

16. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse) - Wales

17. Friary Guildford (Chris King) - London & Southern Counties 

18. Black Dyke (Professor Nicholas Childs) - Yorkshire

19. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey) - Yorkshire

20. Brighouse and Rastrick (Professor David King) - Yorkshire