A TALE OF PERSEVERANCE - Mareika Gray - the story of an unlikely musical journey

Issue 6006

ON THE BEAT - The first in a new series by Gavin Pritchard discussing all things percussion

PRODUCING A RECORDING - Adam Goldsmith reveals the secrets to a successful recording

North of England Regional Championships - 1st Section LIVE!

Saturday 17 March, 2018

1st Section

Test-piece: Brass Metamorphosis (James Curnow)

Saturday 17 March

Draw: 12.30pm (commences 1.45pm)

Adjudicators: Mareika Gray and Michael Fowles

Anne Crookston reporting 



1. Harrogate (Dean Jones)*

2. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)*

3. Ripon City (Jack Capstaff)

4. GT Group Peterlee (Simon Kerwin)

5. Ashington Colliery (David Kendall)

6. Dunston Silver (Aidan Hodges)


Best Trombone: Harrogate

Best Basses: Harrogate

Best Percussion: Ripon City 


Perhaps a bit of a tough one to judge here today - so many exposed solo lines to negotiate in this work, and not everyone came through unscathed. Soome fine cortibutions from some, but every band had its moments.


6. GT Group Peterlee (I Langthorne)

A steadier opening than the others but all safely negotiated and we get to the first transition safely. Nice sounding euph solo as well. Ensemble could be a little neater  - euphs a bit scratchy but the band move on in rhythmic fashion. Some lovely balance is found in the cornets – well done euphs, nice lines. Mutes cornets are a little uncomfortable – a pity, because the solo lines are delivered solidly. First time I’ve the glock ‘glissing’ today! Flugel shapes this nicely and with good balance along with solo horn. Sop is well in control of this – as are horns, really nice sound, ill some patches of tuning issues still persist though. Solo lines are delivered effectively to close. Again, some good technical work in this variation – not all ensemble work is quite as neat as it could be, but there is some good attention to detail – just peters out a little towards the end. Solo horn delivers safely with sensitive band accomp. The solo lines are effective – solo trombone is notable though. (Again with the glock gliss!!) The accel to the finale is well handled – powerful sounds from euphs – lovely. Some neat technical work from cornets but the tempo transition towards the euph solo comes apart a little. Nice work euph. Not the strongest sounding final moments but it’s kept in control. A solid performance today – well done, but perhaps a bit too safe to make an impact on the top three.

5. Ripon City Band (J Capstaff) 

Once again, another opening where the MD finds some lovely shapes from the band. Lovely flugel and sop contributions – just a little wobble in euph, but we get underway in Var. 1 with some excitement. Perhaps not the same degree of detail on show and some tuning issues in cornets, but an emphatic close. The transition is woven together well leading to a beautiful flugel solo – probably the best of the day for me. Sop solo is confident and nearly all comes off safely. Euph solo is workmanlike – just a bit of uncertainty towards the end. Some great technical work in the next variation – cornets, euphs/ baris, horns and percussion are notable. Tricky end to the variation that! Another transition that nearly all comes off – muted sounds and flowing accomp doesn’t quite sit together in the next variation but solo horn shapes the solo nicely. Some nice work from the solo Eb bass as well. The accel to the Finale works nicely – nearly all the ensemble work is tidy. Solo cornets struggle a wee bit – there’s only three of them, it’s beginning to take its toll. Tempo transitions are a little untidy and the finale is solid. Some really fine playing in particular from the flugel was evident, but the band tires towards the end and lost the edge with which it started.

4. Harrogate (Dean Jones)

Beautifully shaped opening – the MD is pulling solid solo performances from euph and flugel. We begin variation 1 in rhythmic fashion with good detail on show especially in cornets. Lovely lyrical lines in euphs and the variation ends emphatically – it almost pulled an applause from some audience members! The MD is really pulling lovely lyrical shaping from the soloists – flugel/ sop et al. Horns have a lovely sound – rich and warm, this is so well shaped. Not the biggest sounding euph today, but she delivered the solo line securely. Good work in basses to accompany the horn solo – this is good stuff – pity about the tiny slip off the final note in euph. We’re in high-octane mode in the next variation – most definitely the quickest of the day – but they can deliver. Tempo settles back just a little and there is some exciting work happening in cornets. Not without the odd split or two though. The transition is safely delivered leading to a committed horn solo. Just the odd moment of uncomfortable intonation leading to the trom solo (euph is a little shaky). A well-measured accel. into the finale – well judged. All under control. Really nicely shaped reflection before a well-balanced final few bars. This was a great reading – I really enjoyed the musical shapes the MD drew from the band, perhaps not all of the strongest soloists of today, but certainly the best shaped.

3. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)

Incisive and committed opening from Houghton – this has some drive and neat ensemble. Nicely shaped solo lines with good detail from te band and ND. Good work from euphs and cornet lines – this has some really quality about it – great stuff. Some nice balance and detail coming through – percussion enhance as well. The transition is well handled – scintillating muted cornet work! Solo lines are delivered securely. Solo flugel ahs this well under control, understated to open but opens up well and balances well with solo horn. Sop shows steady nerve, as does the solo euph. Slow movement safely delivered the band can open things up now and we’re back to incisive and rhythmic playing. The technical work in this variation is being dispatched with some flamboyance. Neat end euphs, well done. Lovely shaping in the next variation – bravo solo horn, rich sound in that low octave – beautiful. The intricate solo lines are really well woven together. The transition to the finale takes its time to get going but hangs together well. Perhaps not quite as neat as the opening – a bit of untunefulness creeping in sop/ cornets. However – we’re back on track just as euph begins his reflections – watch out basses –keep it together. Solid finale. A really commendable performance with some great solo contributions right around the stand- got to be a contender today.

2. Dunston Silver (Aidan Hodges)

A young band and a young MD – they get off to a confident start, although not all of the opening rhythmic complexities are neat. Sop really commits! The transition almost works – and variation gets underway with good energy and attention to detail. Nice balance of sounds around the stand, with some detail really coming through. Lovely cornet work – the MD is finding some nice colours. Not all of the technical work is tidy, but there is good work here. Aside from some uncomfortable tuning moments the band is really creating some real atmosphere – fab flugel solo, great work (just the odd clip). Sop is making this sound easy – shame about the intonation in the middle. The euph is fighting for every note – wonderful solo cornet sound – lovely shaping here. This is a band blessed with some fine soloists – intonation is letting it down in places. Back to an energetic style in the next variation – the tempo is just on the bright side for all of the technical work to be really nailed, but lots to admire about its conviction. A bit of an uncertain close to tat one – on to another transition, tha voices are all solid enough – don’t let this go now! Solo horn has a lovely sound and negotiates this low-set solo line securely. The exposed solo lines that follow are woven together neatly as we begin to wind up to the finale. We begin to encounter some tired sounds before solo euph begins her final reflection and the band end strongly. A really commendable performance – I liked it, but were there just too many splashes? We’ll see… 

1. Ashington Colliery (David Kendall)


The complex opening rhythms are handled well and the band is off in flambouyant style. Not all of the transition solos come off and we’re fighting a bit for tidy ensemble at the opning of var1. However solo horn and solo cornet solos are incisive – neat interjections from the band as we continue. The next variation begins solidly enough – muted cornet intonation is slightly uncomfortable though. Solo flugel has some uncomfortable moments but sop follows on beautifully – lovely shape to this. Nice sounds in the middle – bravo. A technically well delivered euph solo follows – and the solo contributions that ensue are handled well. Cracking pace in the next variation, with some incisive ensemble – again, solo and duet lines are delivered effectively. There is a sense of urgency about this. Slightly nervy solo horn opens the transition to the next variation, but we get there. He continues through confidently though – well done. The characteristic Curnow features are all being nicely shaped. The final transition winds up fairly neatly to our Finale. This has some great sounds and neatly handled tempo transitions. Euph has a final nicely shaped reflection. Sop slightly overbalances the ending but a solid opener from Ashington.


1. Ashington Colliery (David Kendall)

2. Dunston Silver (Aidan Hodges)

3. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)

4. Harrogate (Dean Jones)

5. Ripon City Band (J Capstaff)

6. GT Group Peterlee (I Langthorne)