BATTLE OF THE TITANS - Bands gear up for a titanic battle at the Royal Albert Hall

Issue 6016

COMPOSERS' CORNER - Dr Liz Lane looks at the subject of  networking 

HERE IS THE NEWS - Looking back at the Daily Herald's Nationals sponsorship

London and Southern Counties Regional Championships - Championship Section LIVE!

Sunday 18 March, 2018

Championship Section

Gordon Craig Theatre

Test-piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)

Sunday 18 March

Draw: 2.00pm (commences following 2nd Section results - not before 3.30pm)

Adjudicators: Sandy Smith and Ian Brownbill

Andy Straiton reporting 


Official Result

1. Friary Guildford (Chris King)*
2. Thundersley (Nigel Taken)*
3. Wantage (Paul Holland)
4. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)
5. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson)
6. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
7. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
8. Haverhill Silver (Paul Filby)
9. Aveley & Newham (Alan Duguid)
10. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard)
11. Medway (Melvin White)

*Qualify for National Final

Best Cornet: Friary Guildford
Best Euphonium: Wantage
Best Horn: Friary Guildford
Best Trombone Section: Friary Guildford



A contest with a range of performances. For me, there are three very different performances at the top any one of which could win. Friary just edge it for me as it was a little more technically assured. However, Wantage and Zone One both gave bold musical accounts that could easily find favour in the box and would be deserving of a qualification place.

In the BB Frame - Not the official result

1. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

2. Wantage (Paul Holland)

3. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

4. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

5. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise)

6. Thundersley Brass (Nigel Taken)


11. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

The final band of the 2018 regionals is on stage. The opening has some real bite, especially from bass trombone. It sounds so eery, great work so far. It’s all so stylish, the tempo isn’t slow but the MD is giving the music so much space. The Allegro vivace is motoring along, whilst not without the odd moment this is so convincing musically. The molto adagio is given so much room for players to make music with it, captivating stuff. The presto giocoso flys along in captivating and the flying section is so light, its lovely. This last section sees the band really open up the taps, its gripping stuff, not without the clips (one chord, in particular, had some very questionable intonation) but you just want to go along with the whole.

Overall: Fantastic music. They really got the piece and all credit to the MD for a captivating interpretation. Not technically the best, and this could cost them a berth at the Albert Hall, but this was so much fun to listen to. What a way to end the contest!

10. Aveley and Newham (Alan Duguid)

Not the most dramatic opening we have heard, and again we hear a clip in the trombones near the start. Another band who are frustratingly inconsistent, some great moments just spoilt by splits and clips. Some of the more technical passages are lacking in detail but the ensemble is generally tight. The molto adagio doesn’t quite sit comfortably but the soloists do an admirable job. The faster sections on the road to home are well delivered, there’s a sense of purpose about the music that the band convey well. Another enthusiastic tam-tam player to close what has been an interesting performance from Aveley and Newham.

Overall: A committed performance from Aveley. It maybe didn’t quite have the drama of the best and slips did have an effect but an admirable performance that should provide a solid mid-table finish.

9. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise)

So despite all the mystery and intrigue, it is Jeremy Wise taking Redbridge after all! The opening doesn’t quite have the power of some bands we heard earlier, but bar a slight clip in trombones is tight. The band is driving forward up to 38 and it is so convincing. Some slight intonation questions in the meno mosso, but otherwise this is very well played. The Allegro vivace really moves on and is delivered with a real sense of purpose. The ending is big and bold, a little scrappy at times, but engaging to listen to. We have enough tam-tam for all 11 bands but a good close to a strong performance.

Overall: An engaging and enjoyable account from Redbridge, but one that you felt had a bit more to give. Scrappiness at various points could affect their final placing.

8. Medway (Melvin White)

The opening is strong, building nicely as the cornets enter, perhaps a little too much trombone affects the balance though. The lead up to 38 feels a little scrappy with not all notes cleanly heard. The meno mosso is a little untidy, with splits across the band, such a shame. The molto adagio feels a bit uncomfortable, but there are some lovely moments in between the clips. The presto giocoso moves along nicely and the band feel much more in control here. The ending feels tired, there is some scrappiness and intonation issues, a valiant effort by Medway, but they’ll know they can do so much more.

Overall: A valiant effort from Medway. This piece stretched them to the limits but they gave it their best shot, it isn’t an easy piece at all!

7. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson)

Opening not quite as dramatic as we’ve become accustomed to but there are some good well rounded band sounds nonetheless. A much more measured approach, the MD knows the limitations of his band, and as a result this is good stuff. The Allegro vivace is full of life and good fun to listen to with the band sounding very secure. The molto adagio is lovely with a really lyrical cornet soloist and a gorgeous sweet soprano sound. The presto is again taken at a sensible speed that gives the band a chance. Some tired sounds creep in towards the end but the band makes a great sound as we draw to a close.

Overall: A controlled and sensibly directed performance – well done MD. The band was given the opportunity to really play the piece and whilst it isn’t the most dramatic or exciting we’ve heard today the band played well and showed they deserve to be in this section.


6. Wantage (Paul Holland)

Again, such power in the opening. The band has such a huge sound, but there are points it is maybe a touch too much? This is really going at a fair lick, but the band seem to be able to cope with tempo and it is still clean and tight. This is certainly bold stuff from Paul Holland and his band. The molto adagio has a good sense of musical flow, and the band sound secure in their playing – good work all round. The presto giocoso is off like a shot, very fast yet still very tight and together. A massive silence before 327 keeps you in suspense before an absolutely massive ending. The band is at full pelt and this time it feels so secure.

Overall: A band with a huge sound. Some razor-sharp playing and some incredible sounds, but did it portray the story of the music quite as well as Friary? Will be a close one.

5. Friary Guildford (Chris King)

Big opening from the defending champions with a real sense of power, but a questionable moment in the trombones early on detracts a bit. There is such dynamic contrast throughout and the band respond so well to every gesture Chris King makes. Some sublime flugel playing at 77 gives the music a real sense of purpose and drama, particularly as this leads into the Allegro vivace. A little quicker than the other bands, but we are still hearing every note. Flugel again at 190 is simply entrancing, lovely stuff. The molto adagio is much more secure than we have heard so far and gives a real platform for the soloist to shine. The presto giocoso gives the band a chance to show their razor-sharp accuracy, but the flying section didn’t quite feel as weightless as we’d like. As we reach the Allegro at 327 the band motors off towards the end with a real sense of purpose, great stuff, so accurate. A big last chord nicely finishes off a strong title defence.

Overall: Great work from Friary, razor sharp, but not at the expense of the music. A couple of moments leave the metaphorical contesting door open for any challengers but it will take a class act to better that.


4. Thundersley Brass (Nigel Taken)

Such a dramatic opening, slightly slower but we like it. As the cornets come in its oh so stylish and has that drama we are after. There are a couple of clips and some questionable intonation at points but this doesn’t detract hugely. The meno mosso doesn’t feel quite as comfortable with some further scrappiness creeping in. The jubiloso feels slightly quick and doesn’t quite sound to have the control of the opening, but it is nonetheless good playing. The solo lines before 138 are a touch scrappy and we don’t get all the detail from both soloists and ensemble just after this. The alla gigue is much more controlled and this section has a great sense of rhythm to it. The molto adagio is very well delivered by all soloists (sop has been on fine form today) but there are points that don’t feel quite 100% comfortable in the ensemble. 275 is tight from the upper band and we have that sense of rhythm back again, with the flying section doing just that. 304 we hear such power from the lower band. They’re really motoring towards the finish and the last chord is huge – goes on forever!

Overall: Now you can’t say that lacked drama. We loved the opening but it just didn’t quite stay at that level. Not quite as technically precise at we’d like and that is likely to cost (have they left that precision in the bandroom?) but an enjoyable one regardless.    

3. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

The band is really going for it in the opening, so loud, is it out of control at times? The build-up to 38 is strong but some of the rhythms don’t quite have the detail we are after. The meno mosso features some lovely lyrical playing, sop especially. This performance has a really nice shape to it so far. Some great cornet work in the allegro vivace, all the notes can be heard and whilst loud this feels much more under control. The alla gigue is beautifully together and leads to some lovely delicate playing across the band. Principal cornet does a fine job at the molto adagio but we’d like a bit more passion throughout this section! The presto giocoso is light and technically assured, and again when asked to play loud the band can deliver. As we reach the end there are a couple of moments but this has been a good show from East London.

Overall:  Technically assured and a new leader for us, but we think it may lack the sense of drama and style that is required at this level – it is now about more than just notes.

2. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard)

Making their debut in the top section, the Channel Islanders make a really valiant effort at Norbury’s work. The opening isn’t the cleanest with some of the detail being lost, but the band settles down into the meno mosso and the next part feels so much more comfortable really capturing some of the style of the music, although is still not without clips. Soloists are strong but as it speeds back up the scrappiness creeps back in, with the brilliante at 213 a little rhythmically insecure as well. The molto adagio as much stronger, with some fine euphonium playing in particular. As the piece speeds back up the band is being pushed right to their limit but they are really going for it and they again make a valiant attempt to capture the style of the music. A tired band keeps driving for the close, but the fatigue is clear around 327. Regardless though, a very strong performance for a first top section performance from a band with the playing pool of a small island!

Overall: A performance full of sheer determination. The band was stretched to their limits technically but it was a valiant effort and there were some fine moments when the band relaxed.

1. Haverhill Silver (Paul Filby)

Strong opening with a real sense of power and great dynamic contrast. Some scrappiness at times and some of the detail is lost particularly in horns and trombones. The slower sections don’t feel 100% comfortable, with a few clips in the solo lines. The band is making a valiant effort but you feel it lacks the precision that the top bands will have. It was a very committed and purposeful interpretation from Haverhill and the raw power of the band came across but you have to question if they really got the full story of the music across. 

Overall: By no means a bad marker from the number one draw, but maybe lacked the precision and sense of drama to earn a trip to the Albert Hall. 


1. Haverhill Silver (Paul Filby)

2. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard)

3. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

4. Thundersley Brass (Nigel Taken)

5. Friary Guildford (Chris King )

6. Wantage (Paul Holland)

7. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson)

8. Medway (Melvin White)

9. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise)

10. Aveley and Newham (Alan Duguid)

11. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

W. Northfleet Brass (David Lewis)