JAPAN'S RISING CORNET STAR - Chiaki Hirata talks to British Bandsman in an exclusive video interview

Issue 5974

THE UNFINISHED SYMPHONY: A CENTENARY CELEBRATION - Celebrating 100 years of Tullis Russell Mills Band

 GEARING UP FOR GATESHEAD - Extensive preview of the 42nd Brass in Concert Championships

Butlin's Mineworkers Festival LIVE - Championship Section Entertainment

Sunday 14 January, 2018

Championship Section

Venue: Centre Stage

Section Controller: Mick Veasey

Sunday 14 January (Entertainment)

Draw: during the Lower Section Results

Results Ceremony on Saturday Evening (commences 10.30am)

Adjudicators: Paul Holland and Ian Porthouse (music), Kevin Wadsworth and Paul Andrews (entertainment).

Compere: Frank Renton

 

Paul Bennett reporting

In the BB Frame

1. Flowers

2. Desford

3. Friary

4. Woodfalls

 

Overall thoughts and final predictions

Its been an engaging few days in Centre Stage, with Desford and Flowers leading the way on the set testpiece section yesterday. Today’s entertainment contest however allowed competing bands to showcase another side to their talents – we have witnessed some truly spectacular individual and group performances, and for us, Desford and Flowers occupy the top two placings.

Flowers delivered a truly polished show both visually and with razer tight ensemble. Desford were close behind with both bands featuring truly world-class soloists in Paul Richards and Nick Hudson respectively. Close on their heels were Chris King’s classy Friary Guildford and the hugely entertaining Woodfalls (GUS also deserve special mention).

Over the two days, our cumulative prediction is as follows:

Winners: Flowers Band (David Childs)

Runners up: Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles)

3rd place: Friary Guildford (Chris King)

4th place: Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

 

 

8. Jaguar Land Rover (Dave Lea)

Enter the Galaxies (Lovatt Cooper)

Stardust (Carmichael)

Moondance (Van Morrison)

Lake of Tenderness (Hollings)

Fragile Oasis (Meechan)

 

Theme: Space

Great sounds to start, band on good form and all is ship shape and a fine opener – more dynamic contrast would further enhance but all good stuff and nice work by Sop.

Kevin Lea steps up to treat us to a rendition of Stardust and immediately captures the audience with a fine tone and subtle touches, sensitively accompanied and well directed by MD – nice cadenza to finish.

Next up is a nifty arrangement for three flugels and band of Moondance, with flug 1 sat on stage, flug 2 enters from the right and flug 3 casually chilling on stage – cool stuff, man!

It isn’t without the odd moment, but flugels are having a Wild time and so is ‘Mr Scream’ on Sop!

Nice touch to have keyboard, adding another texture to the accompaniment – really nice piece to include – mood lighting would have made this even more effective, but great nonetheless.

Ben Hollings’ Lake of Tenderness is a stunning piece of writing and Jaguar do well to produce a worthy rendition. Great reading by MD and lovely touches by band soloists.

Jaguar Band’s finale features movements from Peter Meechan’s Fragile Oasis – some great sounds and soloist fare well, not without the odd ‘moment’, but good sounds and leads to an impressive climax.

Overall, a solid programme, well thought out and had some classy moments.

 

7. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)

Ride (Hazzard)

On the Track (Simpson) Xylophone soloist, James Foster

Memories of a Lost Child (Hollings)

12th Street Rag (Bawman)

To Boldly Go (Peter Graham)

 

Theme: Tenuous Links

Woodfalls open their account today with Samuel Hazzard’s ‘Ride’ – fine sounds with sop and cornet impressing with solo spots – bravo both. A fine opening piece as we are introduced to our soloist, James Foster – impressive technique, and solid accompaniment – very enjoyable supported by a strong audience appreciation.

Memories of a Lost Childs starts with xylophone and marimba offering atmospheric textures with all band members stood, heads bowed before singing in harmony – really striking effects, could be even more so with dimmed lighting. Solo cornet again features with the main theme – lovely tone and lyrical account, well done.

This piece presents us with the very best Woodfalls has offered in terms of tonal and dynamic control – impressive and well directed by MD.

12th Street Rag offers a wonderfully fun and slapstick variant to today’s proceedings – trom Scott Stewart excels in so many ways - best bit though was using dustbin lids as wow-wow mutes for the entire bass section – brilliant and so well executed!!

We have our second rendition of Peter Graham’s excellent To Boldly Go as Woodfalls’ finale. Wonderfully rich sounds from the band, who are now enjoying themselves – some moments of slack ensemble detract but overall it’s a very solid and impressive account. Flugel and Euphonium demonstrate class during the slow section of this piece, with cornet also impressing (once again!)

Absolutely blistering finish to an enjoyable programme – great last chord, particularly Soprano top D!

 

6. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

Cherry Blossom & Yagi Bushi from Japanese Tune (Konagaya)

Bashido (Overhead) Euphonium Soloist, Matthew White

A Song for Japan (Verheist)

The Burning of Mount Wakakusa (Guinivan)

Tale of the Dragon (Paul Lovatt Cooper)

 

Theme: Land of the Rising Sun

Virtuosi GUS’s programme opens with a brass quartet comprising rtwo cornets, horn and baritone, soon to be joined at the front of the stage by the band’s cornet section. Cherry Blossom and Yagabushi are performed and executed with slick choreographic precision.

The reigning champions sound tight, hungry and keen to reclaim any lost points from yesterday’s performance of Dragon – if the programme continues in this vein, they very well might succeed – nice opener.

Matthew White enters the fray with an impressively technical account of Christian Overhead’s Bashido. Exceptional facility, both from soloist and band – sop shines with the occasional flourish as band and soloist continue to enjoy interplay. Strong, confident and impressive effort from this fine Euphonium player.

Brasss quintet, led by the talented Thomas Fountain are next to perform Steve Verheist’s reflective Song for Japan – Ryan Richards shines on Trombone also. Fat sonorous sounds from the band with an intelligent reading of this piece from MD. A very beautiful piece of music – bravo.

The Burning of Mount Wakakusa offers much tonal diversity and excitement – great playing from a band that is in fine form indeed, with fire, fury and edgy technique that does nothing but impress.

PLC’s Tale of the Dragon is our finale and sets of at a frantic yet well controlled pace, with great effects. Euphonium, Horn, Trombone, Cornet all take it in turn to shine with virtuosic solo spots – impressive stuff. The band raise the bar, both in tempo and dynamic as we arrive at the latter stage of this finale. Overall, a well constructed programme with much technical prowess on show.

 

5. Haverhill Silver (Paul Filby)

Nuevos Horizontes (Pannell/ Sanders)

Wellington March (Zehle)

Don’t Doubt Him Now

Life on Mars (Bowies arr Pannell)

The Yompers (Sanders)

  

Theme: Missions

Haverhill open with a new composition by the two of the band’s members, entitled New Horizons (or Neuvos Horizontes) – cool, upbeat latino number featuring horns plus Flugel out front without music, all good stuff leading up to a showy solo from one of the composers, Tim Pannell – great work!

Slick stuff from the band and percussion provide a momentary link into Wellington March, which has a certain pomp about it (and could with even more tbh – this March deserves the full monty!) nice delicate obligato moments from Sop.

Moments of slight intonation issues slightly detract but there is plenty of style and bravura that carries this popular march toward its climax.

Tim Pannell steps up to perform Don’t Doubt him Now with subtlety and style, ably accompanied with some sensitivity by Haverhill. Tim’s playing is known for its wonderful lyrical style and today is no exception – very well played.

Tim Pannell features once again with his arrangement of David Bowie’s Life on Mars, which opens with brass quintet leading to a stylish Flugel and Soprano. Some notable moments of tuning do creep in from time to time, but the band respond to the soloistic demands of this arrangement.

Haverhill’s finale for their ‘missions’ depicts selected events during the Argentinian conflict for the Falklands – a haunting opening (one of six short movements) builds to a series of majestic block chords and into the first theme – nice use of dynamics employed and while all is not always as today as one would hope, there is plenty to admire with this playing, particularly solo cornet. Some excellent atmospheric playing and impressive writing from the Haverhill Percussionist.

Overall an enjoyable outing from Haverhill – not without the odd moment of insecurity, but some great programme choices and a fine soloist in Tim Pannell.

 

4. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

With a little help from my friends (Lennon/ |McCartney arr Baker)

People (arr. Catheral) Cornet soloist, Richard Straker

Letter from Home (Metheny)

So nice to come home to (Cole Porter)

Adventures on Earth, from E.T (Williams)

 

Theme: Friendships and relationships

Izzie Daws on Trombone opens Friary’s programme with ‘Get by with a little help from my friends’, soon joined one by one by other members of the band. Great arrangement subtlety leads into ‘America’ – very slick, very professional and pleasingly different. Lighting effects add to the show but crucially, the playing is top notch! Cornets in particular excel!

Richard Straker takes centre stage as trumpet soloist performing ‘People’ from the stage hit Funny Girl. Very well played, with a nice touch as Richard makes way to the side of the stage as the band assumes a tutti moment – great awareness and stage management. Not all effects quite come of but a classy showing from the Friary top man nevertheless – well played.

Letter from Home, by Pat Metheny features nice touches from Flugel and Euphonium, with a wonderfully fluid, reflective feel to it. The band acquits itself very well indeed, mastering the art of making a difficult piece sound so simple and effortless – much to admire.

Four (yes four) trombones stage the stage performing ‘So nice to come home to’ – chorale opening well negotiated by the quartet – fine sounds. Band joins in a swing mood – all is effortless and such a joy to listen to. Most importantly the band is adept at getting out of the way when required to – nothing too heavy or imposing in the accomp.

The finale showcasing friendship and relationships is a Chris King arrangement of John Williams’ wonderful ‘Adventures on Earth from E.T. Band is tight, all effects come off and Sop is playing a blinder. Lovely transparency about this arrangement (and of course the performance). Nice sounds from Solo Horn and Flugel. Some slight moments of insecurity creep in, but overall it’s been a highly polished show from the Friary boys and girls, expertly led by Chris King. Izzie daws features once again with a haunting echo of the main theme – a cracking finale!

 

3. Desford (Michael Fowles)

Enter the Galaxies (Paul Lovatt Cooper)

Fly me to the Moon (Arr. Barber) Trombone Soloist, Nick Hudson

Asteroid Belt (Stephenson)

Glow (Whitaker)

To Boldly Go (Peter Graham)

 

Theme: Space

The words ‘Space, the Final Frontier…’ echo from our host Frank Renton, with the Star Trek opening theme making a brief appearance before moving to Enter the Galaxies. Nice effective use of lighting and impressive band playing, with featured solo spots from George Thackery on horn and Gary Wyatt on cornet – both expertly handled. More effective choreography and slick playing provides us with a blockbuster opening – well nicely handled indeed.

Next up is Trombone legend Nick Hudson, with a sensitively handled arrangement of Fly me to the Moon – a timely reminder of what has made Nick one of the very best in the business, as we hear superb tonal control across the full range of the instrument. This arrangement is a cracker and our soloist captures the audience with his silky skills, oozing class. Bravo to Nick and band, a quite special performance.

Andrew Stephenson wrote ‘The Asteroid Belt’ specifically for todays show – full of flourishes and echos from the TV space shows from the 50s and 60s – some impressive effects, not without the odd scrappy moment but still so much to admire, particularly from Soprano legend Kevin Crockford (who as well as performing with Desford yesterday, appeared with the Black Dyke Reunion band last night) – stunning playing.

Flugel features well in Eric Whitaker’s wonderful ‘Glow’ – nice musical ebb and flow from MD, with the band displaying a wonderfully warm and sonorous sound. Excellent control by all – again, assisted by some subtle lighting effects.

Desford’s finale opening in spritely fashion with Peter Graham’s To Boldly Go – plenty of neat, tidy playing and lovely touches from Euphonium and Flugel – very atmospheric stuff this, taking us on a journey. Gary Wyatt again shines I the slow section – classy playing.

Musically speaking, there is so much to commend and admire from this finale – fabulous sounds and a band on top top form. Desford’s offering closes with a barnstorming final chord and huge appreciation from the Butlins crowd.

 

2. Flowers (David Childs)

Blackbird Special (Dirty Dozen Brass |Band, arr Reid Gille)

Let Freedom Ring (Jonathan Bates) Soprano soloist – Paul Richards

La Fiesta - Chick Corea (Arr. Philip Harper)

The Spy who Loved Me (arr. Paul Lovett Cooper)

Legends (Peter Graham)

Encore: Toss the Feathers

 

Theme: Icons of our Time

Great visuals from Flowers opening number, Blackbird Special opens with four tubas standing then gradually joined by full band – super slick playing, great perc and exceptional choreographically opener (and all without music).

Next on is a world premier from the pen of Jonny Bates, with Soprano star Paul Richards the featured soloist. Unsurprisingly, we are treated to moments of quite exceptional playing by one of the greats. Stunning control, lyricism and tone make this a very special performance. Band accompanies with sensitivity and great direction. A nice touch (from a presentation point of view) is the player performing without the use of music. Stunning.

La Fiesta serves up a bevvy of fine soloists, all taking it turn to display their individual talents – special mention to Rep player Lauren Chin for some great stand-up playing – what a talent! Another showy, impressive performance by this band.

This innovative arrangement of The Spy who Loved Me opens with some lovely lyrical playing from hornist Emily Evans and Flugel star Joanne Childs – moves to an upbeat tutti section, with excellent perc work before our featured female group of three flugels, horn and euphonium provide more class, with the music taking us to a sentimental and well managed close.

Flower’s finale is Peter Graham’s Legends delivers strong sinister fanfares executed in fine fashion – great sounds from trombones and some fine pedal notes from John Gillam and his bass team. Solo Horn again features with fine lyrical sounds, Euphonium also - bravo both.

Special mention to the band’s Xylophone player – exceptional!

Not too much more to say really – a very fine show from this band, with great consistency and panache throughout.

Wait, that’s not all…. Just when we thought it was all over, the band kickstarts with Toss the Feathers as a cheeky encore – a surprise to all involved (band excepted of course). Choreography once again is excellent and we find the band all in line. Great show.

 

1. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise)

Bali Ha’i (Rogers & Hammerstein, arr. Skinner)

Don’t doubt him now (Cornet Soloist Cliff Pask)

Alone again naturally (Gilbert O’Sullivan)

Scherzo for Motor Cycle and Orchestra (Williams)

Stars (Eriks Esenvaldas)

Excepts from the 1st Movement, Shostakovich 12 ‘October revolution’ (arr. Littlemore)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theme: ‘Music Jeremy likes’ (according to Frank Renton, our compere and host)

Redbridge open with a highly colourful arrangement of Bali Ha’i – great sounds, tight ensemble and some great kit work from perc. Slick and what a super opener from Redbridge!

Fresh from a super showing on Contest Music yesterday, Cliff Pask enters to perform Don’t Doubt Him Now, which is there first of two performances we will hear of this piece today. Some lovely phrasing and a sweet lyrical sound from the experienced cornetist - accompaniment is nicely handled indeed.

The band leaves the stage, with the exception of three Trombones, three flugels and an EEb Bass who combine to perform a swing version of Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s Alone Again, Naturally…

It a nice concept and a pretty cool arrangement, providing a brief respite from full band items (although we have only had one..) nicely managed from all, with the exception of the odd lapse in ensemble.

Back to full band now, and we have the uniquely named ‘Scherzo for Motorcycle & Orchestra’ by John Williams – wonderful sounds from band, with many ‘Williams’ touches evident and technical demands so well managed by the band.  Comical slides also produce a few laughs -= great great piece!!

 Stars provides something completely different, with dimmed stage lighting, torches (which of course emulate stars) – wonderful mood effects from band and glass bottle effects in tonal partnership, although at times the bottles slightly overpowered the band, but only slightly…

Finale is the an except from the 1st movement of Shostakovich 12, which begins with a red stage and sonorous, menacing bass and euph lines leading to a finale of epic proportions – bravo to the band for a well executed, disciplined performance and to MD for a well crafted programme.  

 

 

Draw

  1. Redbridge Brass
  2. Flowers
  3. Desford Colliery
  4. Friary Guildford
  5. Haverhill Silver
  6. Virtuosi GUS
  7. Woodfalls
  8. Jaguar Land Rover