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

British Open - LIVE!

Saturday 8 September, 2018

Live coverage of the 166th British Open Brass Band Championships

Test-piece: A Brussels Requiem (Bert Appermont)

Adjudicators: Paul Holland, Stephen Roberts, Rob Wiffen

Dave Kinross Reporting


1. Cory (Philip Harper)
2. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
3. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
4. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Bjarte Engeset)
5. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas J. Childs)
6. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
7. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen).
8. Grimethorpe Colliery (Allan Withington)
9. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
10. Foden's (Michael Bach)
11. Desford Colliery (LMTB) (Michael Fowles)
12. Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)
13. Aldbourne (Dr David Thornton)
14. Flowers (Phillip McCann)
15. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
16. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
17. Whitburn (Florent Didier)
18. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
19. Co-op Funeralcare (Frans Violet)

Stanley Wainwright Memorial Trophy: Principal Cornet, Valaisia Brass Band
Brian Evans Memorial Trophy: Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag
The Geoffrey Whitham Memorial Trophy: Philippe Schwartz Brighouse & Rastrick



Our Top Six

1. Cory (Philip Harper)

2. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

3. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Bjarte Engeset)

4. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

5. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)

6. Foden's (Michael Bach)

What a captivating contest at the Symphony Hall. In the box it will come down to the preference of approach as there was so much varience. It could go to one of a number of bands and there wont be much argument in the hall for any one of them. TwoFour Productions certainly picked a great contest to cover, and you have to think that the light shone upon our genre by Sky Arts, will be a positive one.

19. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

Some fine control in the soloists at the start although there are some uncertainties in the tutti lines. A high octane “In cold Blood” sets the band off and it’s well controlled with a fine contribution from trombone and Xylo. The balance in the muted cornets and trombones doesn’t work, with more cornet required. It also gets a little frenetic in the lead up to the Moderato although when the sections itself arrives it’s well played. The cornets opt to stay seated and for that reason it’s not as effective as the ones we’ve previously heard. The playing through this section is tidy and is safely delivered into “A New Day”. The Presto section is a little untidy at times although when it’s tight it’s of good quality. As the fatigue sets in the cornet duet at times has suffered although this one is delivered well. As the pace picks up for the finale, the band really get into gear with a rousing close, well received by the audience.

18. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

Some lovely controlled cornet playing in the duet between Steph Wilkins and Adam Borakis. The soprano and euphonium duet is also tastfully handled although there are some slight intonation issues with the ensemble into “In Cold Blood” where the trombone and Xylo solos are well played indeed. The tutto cornets into the muted trombones play with real precision and style although it gets a little scrappy into the Moderato. Fine middle of the band sounds are on display here and the lead up to “In Memorium” works well with the effective off-stage parts. The following section isn’t quite together in places but the overall musical intention of Garry Cutt is a fine one. There’s some of the best baritone playing so far heard in the duet. It’s moving on apace towards the end and it’s largely a really well worked ending, the duet at the end has some difficulties which is really unfortunate. The ending is high octance and exciting. A performance of real merit from Fairey but some corners will detract.

17. Co-op Funeralcare (Frans Violet)

Nicely shaped opening that in the main works well. Unfortunately, the wheels come off after the second set of cornet semi-quavers and it rocks for a number of bars. The band and MD do incredibly well to pick the momentum back up and there’s some fine dynamic contrasts heard. The section into the Moderato is both tidy and tight, although the onstage cornet duet that opens “In Memorium” doesn’t really carry off the effect. The passage that follows is their best playing of the day, well directed by Franz Violet. “A New Day” continues in the same vain with good sounds. The close has some uncertainties but generally has good ensemble and it’s as exciting as you’d expect from a Frans Violet band. The band will rue the calamitous beginning as there was a lot to admire.

16. Grimethorpe Colliery (Allan Withington)

Lovely interchange between Roger Webster and Chris Robertson. The atmosphere created is a fine one by Allan Withington and although there are a couple of clips, it’s a fine opening. Into “In Cold Blood” the band ensemble is generally tight and there is good direction to the music, although again there’s a clip or two in the exposed lines. The Moderato is another that has good motion and at that tempo it allows some of the colours not often seen to come through. The off-stage cornet part when played there seems to work best (from our vantage point) and this is one of the best. The solemnity of “In Memoriam” is wonderfully worked. The inner ensemble isn’t always secure but the atmosphere created as we head towards “A New Day” is incredibly effective. The finale itself is well played although it gets a touch scrappy for a moment. That said, it’s exciting and another account that will be up there.

15. Cory (Philip Harper)

A lovely opening which for us is the best of the day. Sublime cornet, euphonium and soprano. Similarly, the trombone solo will take some beating. We’re having a bit of a pens down moment up here as we marvel at the quiet playing. As we get into the Moderato, this playing has so far been peerless and it’s very difficult not to just sit and listen; it’s that good. It just starts to get uncomfortable in the middle of the band but as the atmosphere lifts into the closing sections there are broad sounds and everything is moving with a lovely flow. As we move into the finale it’s going at a lick and so exciting. The crowd love it and it goes into the lead for us. Wonderful stuff!

14. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)

Dyke safely underway and navigate through the difficult waters that have caught many today. “In Cold Blood” is exciting stuff with big sounds in trombones although the solo isn’t completely clean. The Xylo solo is one of the best so far and when the pp comes in the band sounds are well balanced with percussion which creates a lovely effect. The moderato moves along much more quickly than other accounts we have heard today and it’s just a little untidy in percussion going into “In Memoriam”. A clever use of positioning in the cornet brings off the effect well and the MD gives the music room to breathe. The baritones do well and there are lovely sounds as it’s handed off to Dan Thomas on euphonium. The building of “A New Day” is an exciting one which has fantastic contrast and the cornet duet is absolutely spot on. The pace that it picks up in is pretty quick and unlike anything we have heard thus far. Very different to the top performances and it’s up there for sure. This is an incredibly difficult contest to call, any one of the top rank could claim the title.

13. Foden's (Michael Bach)

Lovely control to open by Mark Wilkinson although this is another incredibly challenging soprano/euphonium combination that doesn’t quite come off. The bass end as the band moves into the quicker section of “In Cold Blood” is mighty and really sets things off. The trombone solo is played in typical John Barber style, one of the best today. The detail before the rall into the Moderato really comes through and the slower section displays lovely sounds from euphoniums and baritones. “In Memoriam” another one off-stage just has a little scratch in intonation but it gives way to an atmospheric reading by Michael Bach. As the mood lifts the band captures the intention and it builds nicely. Not always together towards the end but the picture painted is a compelling one. This is Foden’s in fine form and a good opening to the partnership with Michael Bach.

12. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)

A lovely shape to start with fine cornet and euphonium although there are some difficult moments of intonation in the ensemble that follows. “In Cold Blood” has the required levels of menace and drive and there are committed efforts in the solo lines. A couple of moments of scrappiness don’t detract from the momentum however it gets a little frenetic into the Moderato. Again there are some difficulties in intonation leading into “In Memoriam” and the seated cornet duet doesn’t quite come off. The broad chords that follow aren’t together at times but in general it’s good stuff, well directed too. As the sound builds little scratches creep in on the solo lines which is a shame and towards the general ensemble becomes a little scrappy. The drive for home is an exciting one to end a performance the band should be pleased with.

11. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

The opening is well proportioned but not without slight scratches. The euphonium and soprano duet is one of the best of the day and as it progresses into “In Cold Blood” the band displays its trade mark precision particularly in the cornet lines. Without doubt, some of the finest sounds so far in the lead up to the Moderato although intonation suffers as it heads towards “In Memoriam”. Another band that opts to go well into the wings and you have to think this is where the sounds are most effective in keeping with the composer’s intention of mood. There are some untidy moments of ensemble as we go on but the overall delivery is wonderful to listen to. As we push on to the Presto there is some great work in the trombones and the ensemble is in the main tidy and exciting with lovely dynamic contrast. To close it’s scintillating stuff and a compelling account from Tredegar.

10. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

A wonderfully secure opening from the reigning champions. The picture painted by Vincent Bearpark and Glenn Van Looy is sublime. The clarity suffers slightly in the soprano and euphonium duet and in the flugel but it recovers to a fine solo trombone contribution with the following double piano scintillating. The fast moving passage before the Moderato is one of the best of the day with the Moderato itself played with great style. “In Memoriam” starts with the cornets way off stage and couple with the steady tempo and space it really sounds different to anything heard before. It really is fine direction by Arsene Duc but there are times that it’s not quite together in the exposed lines. What can’t be denied though is that the overall picture is a wonderful one. The close is by far the best today but we feel that some of the clips may cost. Nothing between them at the top.

9. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen)

A wonderfully shaped opening well played by Kirsty Abbotts and Toni Durrant although the opening tutti section isn’t quite secure. Fine trombone ensemble and soloist with some super xylophone playing. The moderato is well measured and the sounds and balance is good. CMFC is another band opting to play the cornet duet off left if the conductor. Only one so far has followed the score by playing off stage left and right. With almost 40 metres between the doors on this vast stage it’s probably not an attractive proposition for conductors. The quiet playing of the band displays good balance and as the picture builds Luc Vertommen is deliberate in his intention of building a compelling scene. A few minor clips detract towards the end and the final theme takes a second or so to settle. Not all the detail comes through in the Presto but the dynamic shape is a convincing one. We’ve not heard a single below par performance today, what a contest!

8. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Bjarte Engeset)

You can hear a pin drop in the hall as the band open. The first tutti sees a really warm middle of the band sit on top of a rock of bass sound. The dueting soprano and euphonium part doesn’t quite come off but the semi-quavers are razor sharp and the band playing with sublime precision. The pp is the most atmospheric of the day with great clarity in the trombones. The passage into the moderato is the best of the day with some stunning playing in evidence. For the first time since Brighouse “In Memorium” really captures the composers intent. Bjarte Engeset really creates something with the cornet duet and as the hopeful sounds build it really is great stuff. Amongst the abundance of positives there are lines that aren’t entirely clean and you wonder if they just might be costly. As the band heads towards the finale you can really hear the colours and shapes; really quite stunning. The hall gives a rousing reception to what has been a fine challenge from Norway.

7. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

Some uncertainties in the opening and the cornet semi-quavers are just a little scrappy. Good work fromm the Xylo and trombone in their individual contributions. As the movement progresses theres some fine cornet work and the runs are measured well. The moderato is well measured with good precise work in the cornets, this is possibly the band’s best section. The intonation is a little uncomfortable in the opening of “A New Day” but the ensemble is well shaped. This is a section that’s catching a lot of bands today and you just sense a little discomfort at times. A couple of clicks in the solo lines are in evidence but the reading is showing off the band in a positive light. The Presto at the end is controlled and exciting and it’s another positive contribution to what’s shaping into a fine band contest.

6. Aldbourne (Dr David Thornton)

Slightly hesitant to open and there are a few challenges in the tutti ensemble after the cornet and euphonium interlude. “In Cold Blood” is just that, with the band playing with a control and menace that really delivers a picture. The syncopated cornet work is impressive stuff and the band is well drilled and playing with a confidence that belies their debutant status. The passage “In Memoriam” is given space to speak and there are well balanced sounds in evidence. The cornet duet isn’t entirely secure and there are some moments in the ensemble that although minor, just aren’t moving together. As “A New Day” breaks the band again play with some style. David Thornton really has got every ounce out of the band in what is a compelling account. As we head for home, we hear good band sounds and the cornet duet is bang on. The Presto is right at the edge of the band’s range but it’s shaped well. Not everyone who questioned after the Grand Shield whether Aldbourne were an Open standard band would have heard that today. Their loss.

5. Desford Colliery (LMTF) (Michael Fowles)

After a positive opening from the cornet and euphonium the tutti band just feels a little rushed and there are some frailties in the last of the semi-quavers. Some excellent tutti trombone sounds are followed by a stylish solo contribution. The muted cornets have menace and purpose which really helps create an atmosphere. Some lovely pp sounds create a real feature and this is leads to the band’s best section so far. The moderato has some really measured sounds, fine playing indeed. “In Memoriam is a lovely reading by Michael Fowles but in the quieter sections, especially at phrase ends the balance and intonation is a little ragged. Again, fine cornet and euphonium sounds and a positive baritone duet that really captures the sombre mood. As the atmosphere lifts, and we move into “A New Day” again, there are some small rubs in the ensemble but the Grandioso is delivered well and the Presto is neat and tidy. Good performances keep on coming in Birmingham!

4. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

An opening that doesn’t quick have the same effect as the first three but there are fine sounds to be heard in the middle of the band. Not entirely secure as the opening semi-quavers interject but the band sound into “In Cold Blood” is precise and exciting. The trombone solo shows just how difficult it is but it’s played with style. The cornets work well into “In Memoriam” and but the middle of the band don’t always play together despite it dynamically being very effective the euphonium then cornet paint a lovely picture before handing over to the baritones who play with nice sounds and good balance. As we progress to “A New Day” the band sits above some lovely flowing lines in the middle of the band. The trombones play with a lovely style and the tutti cornets are tight and precise. The closing Presto will test a lot of band’s but Rothwell deliver the tempo and accuracy. A really good show by Rothwell although it perhaps didn’t have that “little extra” of the first three.

3. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

A different style employed in the opening bars than the first two with less space afforded to the quavers and triplets, equally as effective though. Kyle Lawson plays with lovely style and control as does Phillipe Schwartz as he joins. “In Cold Blood” takes over with real drive and neatly fitting ensemble. It’s a good show that is really delivering some great style and shapes. Perhaps the only band so far to really make the most of the “Clair de Lune” theme especially in the “In Memoriam” which has a marked feel that adds to the sadness of the atrocity it represents. There is again a wonderful contribution from euphonium that gives way to razor sharp cornet work at the beginning of “A New Day”. The closing section is going off at a lick with great attention to detail on the accents and shape. This is another fantastic reading that’s shining a light on every possibility in the score. The closing cornet duet isn’t quite together but it hasn’t detracted from the picture being created as it gives way to a thrilling close. Not a lot to draw between the first three but takes the lead for us.

2. Flowers (Phillip McCann) 

The opening is wonderfully shaped by the MD and there are some lovely sounds from the cornet and euphonium but it’s not without slight slips. “In Cold Blood” has drive and purpose and the balance is just right. The transitions are beautifully crafted and the ensemble is tight and the intonation is spot on. “In Memoriam” really captures the sombre intention of the music and the atmosphere is electric. Again the transition in mood and tempo is really well handled. Into “A New Day” there is some looseness in the ensemble but it’s soon followed by a magic moment in the soprano and cornet duet. The close is exciting and really well delivered by the whole band. A super show and a fantastic reading by Phillip McCann.

1. Whitburn (Florent Didier) 

The opening of “Innocence’ is wonderfully controlled by principal cornet Chris Bradley and the duet with euphonium is joined by a lovely warmth of sound in the middle of the band. “In Cold Blood” starts with menace and the ensemble is tight. A slight clip in the fiendishly difficult trombone solo doesn’t detract from the momentum of the reading. Into “In Memoriam” there is some lovely sounds again but not all sections move together in parts. Half way through the third movement there are some insecurities which is a real shame given the overall quality of the presentation and shape that Florent Didier is creating. Going into the latter section that will surely catch a few out today, there is control in even the most frenetic of passages. Into “A New Day” builds with good sounds and accuracy to a close that’s well received by a full hall. Florent Didier has set a high bar and in Chris Bradley, the Scots have a real star.


18. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

19. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)