The best contest of the year?

Issue 5963

UniBrass continues to grow in York spectacular

Change on the menu for Brass in Concert Festival

Regional Championships kick off around the UK

Midlands Regional Championships - Championship Section LIVE!

Sunday 11 March, 2018

PChampionship Section

Civic Hall

Test-piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)

Saturday 11 March

Draw: 12.30pm (commences following 2nd Section results)

Adjudicators: Steven Mead and Dr. Graham Jones MBE

Ryan Watkins reporting



1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

2. Desford Colliery (Mike Fowles)

3. Thorseby Colliery (Ian McElligott)

4. Ratby Co-operative (Marieka Gray)

5. Blidworth Welfare (Simon Oates)

6. Spal Sovereign Brass (Trevor Jones)

7. Derwent Brass (Keith Leonard)

8. Jaguar Landrover (Dave Lea)

9. Langley (Cliff Parker)

10. Newstead (Jim Davies)

11. Jackfield (Simon Platford)

12. Hathern (David Newman)

In the BB Frame

1. Desford Colliery (Mike Fowles)

2. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

3. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)

4. Jaguar Landrover (David Lea)

5. Ratby Co-operative (Marieka Gray)

6. Newstead (Jim Davies)



12. Newstead (Jim Davies)

 One of the cleaner starts of the day is still struggling on a piece that is showing just how challenging it is for our 12 bands today. Snare and band don't quite connect, but the performance continues and there's some good playing on show - just pity not all solos come off today, Cornets do a great job with the meno mosso, but what follows is a scrappy minute of playing - shame as it promised a lot. Allegro Vivace is well controlled by the MD with a steady tempo but the fortes are way too heavy here in the accompanying quavers. Continues in a similar fashion, but when things relax in to the Giocoso it's a relief - great playing here!! This is so much better now and the band are finding its feet - some excellent playing to close this section.

Great cornet playing, despite the basses not coming in together. A nice trombone sound follows and the euphonium plays great! Just some small errors and scratches detract from the overall picture after what was a good slow movement.

Real clear detail coming from the horns here as we listen to a band that has found it's confidence finally! It's exciting stuff and well balanced, with the technique really cutting through. A completely different band to the first third of the piece (like a lot of bands today). The final climax is excellent built towards some messy percussion, but a fine final chord to close today's contest. 

Overall: Another performance that took too long to finally get going. When it did get going though, it was great. May get a mention.

11. Hathern (David Newman)

Well, someone's got to follow that performance, and they aren't doing a bad job at all! Some good sounds are made in the introduction and they're giving it all they've got. The meno mosso onwards is steady but there's some obvious errors cropping up often. The MD is doing a fantastic job at keeping things in control, but as the music progresses it just loses energy and tempo. Intonation seems to be consistent problem but they journey onwards and there's some moments of greatness here and there. A good effort overall here.

Some intonation in the trombones detracts from a good effort from the cornet. There's some nice music making but intonation continues to be an issue which is a shame.

The final section has some good playing around the stands - it sounds like you're enjoying yourself which is nice to hear this late in the day for us. The 3/2 section is played brilliantly. Just sounding a bit tired now. It delivers towards the end and the final chord is balanced and successful!

Overall: A good performance that was let down by consistent problems in intonation. You can't fault your effort and commitment though - well played.

10. Desford Colliery (Mike Fowles)

 There's an instant surge energy coming from the band that brings out colours not many have achieved today. The menancing gong leads in to excellent muted cornet and soprano work and it's real, exciting stuff. The cleanest we've had this opening all day. It leads in to the faster section with such desire and demonic power -- it's truly excellent stuff. A small blemish in to the meno messo doesn't detract as the full front row give fantastic unison playing in this passage! A small blemish here and there is irrelevant when the playing in to the Allegro Vivace is so exciting. The band are really going for it here and it's coming off so well, with excellent contributions from baritone and Eb bass. Some errors in the horn section do raise an eyebrow but they are small moments, and we're led in to a fine giocoso section that is so relaxed and expertly shaped by the MD here. Seriously good stuff. It's so well controlled and the middle of the band are rifling through and going the turning out cornets and trombones a challenge to ride above them! What a fantastic first section, but not without its small errors.

The atmosphere is set perfectly and the trombone chorale is best of the day. What fine cornet playing too. Soloists follow well and the repiano leads us in to beautifully shaped music. The euphonium continue the passion and the ending of the movement is  something to behold. Marvellous playing from all.

Wow! This playing continues from the first movement and it's seriously powerful stuff. Never overblown, just full bodied sounds. The bass end and trombone excel in melody towards the end above cornets and you can hear every detail being pulled out of the score by the MD. It just continues to improve and despite the fast ending, there wasn't much to fault in this performance.

Overall: Truly awesome playing. Magic from the first downbeat until the end. The quality throughout the whole band was a joy to listen to. Just ahead of GUS for us!


9. Jackfield (Simon Platford)

A good start is just blemished from errors and, again, overblowing from the cornets. It's very exciting but it maybe misses some of the more subtle moments in the opening. It's not bad, and the flugel does excellent in the faster solos, but meno messo is littered with errors and intonation problems. There's a real sense of drive in to the Allegro Vivace and despite being messy in places, there's a certain amount of excitement from the band here. It's a shame when more errors start to creep in towards the end of the Allegro Vivace and the change in to the giocoso isn't instantly settled. Gorgeous flugel in the short hymn passage though. It drives forward but it's still loose in places.

Great trombone chorale follows underneath another great cornet solo that was nicely shaped. Solos that follow are nice but the horn section are well balanced and nice. Not everything came off in this movement, but the interpretation was there and there was much to be admired here.

There's a good level of character in this playing and it's well controlled. Just the odd splits but this is much tighter and executed with real authority compared to the first 1/3rd of the piece. It's really good stuff that closes in to a fine finish.

Overll: Another performance that took a while to get things going. The first part of the piece disappointed in what was a performance that built as it went along.

8. Spal Soverign Brass (Trevor Jones)

Not a bad start at all. Not everything comes off, but when it does it sounds great, It's going for an approach that's so convincing that even with splits, you have to appreciate how together the band are playing.  The first fast section is extremely tight and it flows well in to a messy meno messo. This moves in to an Allegro Vivace that's incredibly loud (potentially too loud) but again pretty tight. Fantastic Eb bass. There's just random moment of overblowing from one or two individuals in the cornet section. Giocoso takes a well to get grooving but it gets there in the end. This continues to the end of the first section with cornets just being too harsh for my liking.

Cornet is unlucky after a well shaped start, trombone follows on with a beautiful sound. Euphonium does great but there's some slips in the horn after. Shame. Trombone covers the lack of 2nd euphonium well and this rounds of some nice playing.

Cornets continue with extremely loud playing -- if this was 20% less it could have done so well today. The 3/2 section is played nicely but again we're hit with overblowing as the band gets louder. Sop sounds excellent at the end. 

Overall: An annoying one. I didn't have to come back from the comfort break to be able to listen to this - it was just too loud. Shame really, as the band playing was tight and exciting!

7. Blidworth Welfare (Simon Oates)

Back from the break and this is a fast one to get us started! Maybe a bit too fast...! It's good playing though however some sections (xylophone and cornets) don't connect. Just an uncomfortable moment before and during the meno messo unsettle the conviction that has been set from the beginning. In to the Allegro Vivace and there just isn't enough clarity in the semiquavers to match the better bands today. Good dynamic contrast throughout though. The tempo has slowed down quite a lot since the start of the Allegro and it's a lot more comfortable and clear when the theme of this passage returns for a second time. Giocoso has real style and energy but again the semiquavers don't speak well. Sop has power and we close with some good playing.

The cornet solo begged for more flow from the middle - shame as she has a great sound and delivers proudly. Trombone that follows is excellent with the euphonium also playing well. There was some nice playing here but it just could have moved forward more for me. 

Third movement rockets forwards and it's played mostly well. The band give it there all but tiredness and overblowing is apparent now. A great finale nonetheless.

Overall: One that just didn't sit well with the tempos today, especially in the technical playing. Some good band sounds though and there was certainly some exciting, enjoyable moments!

6. Langley (Cliff Parker)

A good start is just unfortunate with errors throughout. The band are putting a brave effort in but it's not quite settling yet. A scary moment in to the meno messo but the flugel recovers it well and it continues to drive. The Allegro Vivace is at a good pace and the MD pulls out the dynamic details really well - it's just scrappy in places compared to before, but they're giving it all they've got and there's some great sounds being produced. Some excellent whip work leads us in to the giocoso and the band sound much more relaxed here. 

3rd man takes the solo and does a great job - well done. This band can make some great sounds if the playing was supported with more air. A nice effort on the slow movement.

Presto is steady and the band respond well to the MD who is keeping things controlled and balanced. It's a shame not everything comes out in this acoustic, but the band power through and give it everything to finish with a fantastic final chord.

Overall: A commendable effort from Langley that just struggled in some of the technical passages today.

5. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)

Another demonic opening ensues, as this really does grab you and pull you right in! Some excellent detail on display, but there's some questionable balancing in place. The accel is perfect in to the first fast passage and there's some fantastic sounds coming out here. Annoying clips though. Meno mosso is so nearly there, but great style - it continues to journey forward no matter what happens. The Allegro Vivace is excellent - it isn't as rushed as others today and there's a lot of control, just a shame some of the solo work doesn't come off. Excellent whip and Eb Bass though! Giocoso is just the right style and bass trombone continues to drive with power along with a fantastic bass section. Great playing overall.

Cornet playing is superb - what fine shaping. Well done. Trombone continues in a similar manner. Euphonium impresses just as much as cornet - brilliant stuff along with the sop. MD knows what he wants with the flow and it's sensational stuff. A small clip towards the end detracts from an pretty special movement of lyrical playing.

Now they really mean business - smiles all around the band and they're oozing confidence out from their playing. Percussion are so tight and the relaxed section is PERFECT. The fanfare from the trombones and cornets don't quite hit you in the face like GUS, but it's still well played. The band continues with so much control right in to the very last note - what a climax. Excellent!!

Overall: Well now. That's thrhown a right spanner in the works! The principal cornet player goes mental at the end and rightly so - what a spectacular performance! I personally preferred GUS and their razor sharp clarity, but this certainly could surprise a few at the end of the day. A tight race at the top!

4. Derwent Brass (Keith Leonard)

A good start overall, but one that featured faults more and more as we went along, This is really well laid out by the MD but some overblowing brings intonation problem. Excellent meno mosso from the cornets. It accels nicely in to the Allegro Vivace and the band are showing the difference between the fortes and fortissimos. Again though, errors are happening way too often for this level. Shame really, as when we enter the giocoso and further passages there's some great music making. End of the first movement ends with a flash and the band are starting to sound more comfortable.

Another fine cornet solo, accompanied by heavy basses unfortunately. Euphonium follows equally well - bravo! That was a well played movement but it didn't quite catch the simplicity and beauty of the quieter dynamics from other bands so far.

Presto races forwards and it's exciting stuff, but errors creep in again. It's got real purpose and drive though, and even though the quieter 3/2 passage is heavy, it's all played well and together. The finale is great and the final chord is a good 'un!

Overall: A great reading from the MD and band, that had too many obvious errors to feature highly today. Good effort overall though.

3. Jaguar Landrover (David Lea)

Steady away and we're in to a good start that unfortunately doesn't quite gel 100% of the time. Some intonation across the band starts to show. It all just seems to be a bit too loud and brutal in places, but the bass end is excellent. Meno messo starts so well and is unlucky as more clips creep in. A well measured accel in to the vivace just finds some of the fortes too heavy in places which messes with the balance of the band. There's some fine playing but a lot of it seems forced and harsh (especially the giocoso). It's together though and they remain tight in to the slow movement.

Cornet - take a bow! That was some magic playing! Band follow on with confidence, if a bit loud in the accompaniment for the euphonium. There's a lot of music making here and it comes across really well. Well done all.

Presto is steadier than what we've heard but it's clear. Just a few scrapes here but the band are going for it here. Not all lines are heard in the 3/2 passage, but it follows on with dedication. Just some stamina creeping in towards a hugely grand finale. Yes soprano!

Overall: An interesting one. So much contrast in execution but sometimes came across as harsh in places. Too early to call, but could feature if the judges go for execution. 

2. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)

Yet another unlucky draw for GUS, but wow, this starts with raw power and purpose. The band are so tight, but there's some small clips along the way. We love the interpretation going through the meno mosso and the band play with real conviction in to the vivace. There's so much colour coming out of the score and you can tell every section knows the game plan. The young cornet section continue to impress throughout the technical playing. Giocoso is perfect in execution - you'll struggle to hear that played better! Forward facing bells point out and give power to the accented hymn tune.

The hymn tune starts beautifully, with the odd bit of unease. Nothing that takes away from the beautiful setting laid out by Adam Cooke. It's really magic stuff, and the euphonium in particular sings out. What a fine bit of playing.

The presto sets off with real purpose and intent - not much to fault here and the dynamic contrast between sections is excellent. It continues to drive and there's no hint of stamina loss. Real tour de force stuff all the way to the end.

Overall: What a magnificent performance. Surely one of the best performances from GUS in a long time. The door is open, but it'll take something special to beat that.

1. Ratby Co-operative (Marieka Gray)

And we're off! Excellent sounds to begin with as the band opens with power. The drive in tempo from the middle is effective, but it's not without slips and clips. This continues to drive in to the allegro but it gets slightly messy in places. The meno messo isn't clean but as we enter the Vivace the control and balance is better. The MD really knows what she is doing here and working with the players she has. Not all details are heard though, but it's not bad.

First challenging cornet solo of the day does a fine job! Delicate playing underneath, and there's some nice moments here. Could have been quieter, but it was played well.

The presto is clean and at a pace that suits the band. Again, there's some details covered from heavy percussion and basses, but it's played with energy and determination. Great final chord!!!

Overall: Some unfortunate moments in the first half of the piece, but really excelled towards the end. That was a good effort off the dreaded number one draw.