HITTING NEW HEIGHTS - Glenn Van Looy talks exclusively to British Bandsman

Issue 5977

FRANKLY SPEAKING - The first of a new series by Frank Renton, this month focusing on musical education

THE GREAT TRIUMVIRATE - Tim Mutum looks at the life and times of John Gladney 

Scottish Open Championships - Live!

Saturday 24 November, 2018

Full results from Perth Concert Hall as Whitburn makes it five-in-a-row

Adjudicators: Frank Renton and Stephen Sykes

1. Whitburn (Professor Nicholas Childs) 193

2. Co-operative Funeralcare (Mike Fowles) 192

3. Wantage (Paul Holland) 191

4. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks) 190

5. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) 189

6. Atlantic Brass (Salvatore Scarpa) 188

7. EYMS (Stig Mærsk) 187

8. Fishburn (Lewis Wilkinson) 186

9. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) 185

10. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts) 184

11. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass (Charles Keenan) 183

12. Bon Accord Silver (Stephen Malcolm) 182

13. Dalmellington (Nigel Boddice MBE) 181

14. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill) 180

15. Northop Silver (John Doyle) 179

16. Kirkintilloch (Raymond Tennant) 178

17. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) 177

18. Bathgate (David Thornton) 176

19. Bo'ness and Carriden (Lee Skipsey) 175

Best Instrumentalist: Chris Flynn, euphonium, Co-operative Funeralcare

 

Test-pieces: Choice of Rococo Variations, Of Distant Memories, Dances and Arias and Connotations for Brass Band (all Edward Gregson)

Adjudicators: Frank Renton and Steve Sykes

In the BB Frame:

1. Whitburn (Professor Nicholas Childs)

2. Northop Silver (John Doyle)

3. Co-operative Funeralcare (Michael Fowles)

4. Rainford (Gareth Brindle)

5. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

6. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)

Dark horse: Wantage Silver (Paul Holland)  

 

Rainford jumps into our top six at the death at the expense of Wantage but, for us, this was a one-horse race today. We'll be very surprised if Whitburn doesn't make it five-in-a-row. Some playing of the very highest order from them, a joy to listen to. We have Northop, Co-op and Rainford vying for the placings while Rothwell, East London and Wantage also impressed.

And a huge thanks to Bathgate (Dances and Arias) and Kirkintilloch (Connotations) for breaking the monotony a bit!!

Results out soon.

 

Rainford (Gareth Brindle) - Rococo Variations

Great start, as good as any today on Rococo, bravo euph. Well-lead cornet team controls an excellent waltz movement, Rainford in full flow here but it is controlled and articulate. Soloists continue to excel with more attentive accompaniment than from some others today. There is plenty of drama here and there is quality aplenty, not least from excellent bass team and solid trombones. More work has gone into this Rococo than many others, we are guessing. Bravo whole cornet team towards end - really enjoyable this, bravo Rainford!

 

Bo'ness and Carriden (Lee Skipsey) - Of Distant Memories

Slight clip from horns at start but settles quickly. Nice tempo and control from MD but we don’t quite hear the clarity of detail we have heard from others. Some individual errors creep in and it doesn’t all sit as it should but principal cornet leads from the front with flugel and sop following suit. The slower section is a mixture of excellence and uncertainty. Towards close, bass trom fills room which is great, if a trifle unbalanced. Lots of drive and verve from Bo’ness here, the MD impresses and the players respond with terrific finish.

 

 

Fishburn (Lewis Wilkinson) - Of Distant Memories

Gorgeous opening from horns which demands our immediate attention. Opening section is played very well and, despite the odd uncertainty and slight untunefulness, there is much to admire in the band playing. As is so often the case with this work, the quieter sections can be the most challenging and there some lumps and bumps on the way. General mood is good, tuning issues reappear in troms though, diverting attention from some fine playing. Well done euphonium and solo horn (great sound). Cornet does well too but the split count is high which might cost today. A bold, sonorous close to add to a great opening section – too many mistakes in between for us.

 

 

Kirkintilloch (Raymond Tennant) - Connotations

Finally, a Connotations arrives! Great to see Kirky back contesting after a difficult period. They get off to a great start, fab soprano playing and more quality from horns and flugel before tricky semi-quaver passage just about comes off. There is some scrappiness in ensemble though and there is the odd frantic entry, not quite together before well-played cornet solo. Euph does well and again sop leads by example but some entries sound hesitant and there is the odd tuning issue. Cadenzas are good if not perfect but band saves best to last with fine close to piece. A great effort from Kirkintilloch.

 

East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk) - Of Distant Memories

Exciting start from EYMS – not all as clean as it could be but not lacking in effort and attack. Too much attack at times? A matter of preference but its very ‘direct’ during opening salvo with less subtlety than others. Lots of expressive, lyrical playing follows and we enjoy although perhaps the dynamic is a bit ‘safe’. Mighty trombone team take things near the edge and playing in general continues to overpower – just not enough contrast for us, although plenty of committed playing and a huge sound.

 

Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts) - Rococo Variations

Not always together in first variation but a lot of quality on display here from Rothwell. Well done sop and flugel. We like the MD’s approach to the story-telling here, there is a drive and direction rarely heard so far today. Variation 4 is super, as is transition into 5 – solid bass team lay great foundation and there is a controlled power before Contest Music section where we just hear the odd clip. Great ensemble playing though, not to mention one of the best percussion teams on show today. Fine cornet work towards finale, a well-directed, thoroughly enjoyable account this, if not as polished as one or two.

 

 

Bon Accord Silver (Stephen Malcolm) - Of Distant Memories

Quality opening from Bon Accord, a few individual splashes but a real richness to the ensemble. We love the style and control and there is some terrific trombone section work as the piece begins to take shape. Not every solo line comes off and there are perhaps a few too many individual errors to figure too highly today. That said, Bon Accord return to the quality of the opening as the music reaches its climax. Trombones really steal the show here, a quality, well-balanced section. Some of the playing in the closing sections re-emphasises the band’s quality – just too many slips during the trickier moments.

 

 

Whitburn (Professor Nicholas Childs) - Rococo Variations

Opening starts beautifully, great soprano. Not overly secure into Var 1 but the playing thereafter is exceptional, as are the following transitions. Horn, cornet and soprano shine with solo lines and there is an attention to detail, like individual note lengths for example, that we have not heard so far today. Some super trombone work precedes pure excellence in tuned percussion as only the slightest occasional blemish can be heard. Top quality this, nothing has come close so far today. Such a difficult, intricate piece of music Rococo, this is the first time a band has appeared to be in complete control. Not the greatest opening to the piece, the close however, simply phenomenal.

 

Atlantic Brass (Salvatore Scarpa) - Rococo Variations

A tuneful, controlled opening from Atlantic Brass but initial transition could be smoother and first variation is lacking the tightness of others. Some fine inner band contributions though, especially fine tenor horn team. There is the odd tuning issue, particularly in lower end but there is lots to admire about the style and approach. Some solo lines suffer which throws the flow occasionally. Ensemble gets a bit scrappy towards the end and some detail is lost as a result but the finale is a strong one.

 

 Comfort break time in Perth and we have Northop fighting it out with Co-operative Funeralcare. A 'Rococo-dominated contest' so far with three 'Of Distant Memories' and a lonely Dances and Arias. No sign of a Connotations yet but we live in hope! American guests Atlantic Brass will get second half underway soon.

 

Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks) - Of Distant Memories

Starts well although some hints of louder dynamics than score suggests? Certainly played with plenty of vigour – not sure about the style though. Very different approach to previous two versions. Plenty of commitment around the stands but too bold at times and not always together.

Some enjoyable effects during quieter movement, excellent solo cornet (bravo!) but accompaniment not always on point. There is a definite confidence to the playing here – it will be interesting to see what the judges make of it. At times just gets too out of context for us. Enormous band sounds to finish, no holds barred. Great reception from the crowd too.

 

Northop (John Doyle) - Rococo Variations

Initial entry not quite together but some quality ensemble thereafter. Var 1 played with a great deal of gusto – percussion quite strong at times. Siciliano section starts well and flows stylishly – good direction throughout here. Almost all solo work comes off, cornet does really well but there are definite tuning issues in lower brass. We like the transition into waltz, this section is very well played. Not always quite as tuneful thereafter but no lack of endeavour here. Cornet again does well and solo lines are well played here, just the odd blemish taking the shine off the overall picture. Fine band sounds to close, some really tight ensemble and control shown. A contender for us at this stage.

 

Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) - Of Distant Memories

 

Some nervous entries to begin but soon settles with some fine work from lower brass. Odd splash and hint of intonation issue but the style is nice and this is beautifully directed. Troms don’t start together but recover well. Tentative transition into slower section, solo cornet settles things down and flugel does well. Some fine solo work in general with odd slip detracting, bravo euphonium! Band is at its best through closing moments – earlier slips may detract but an enjoyable account nonetheless.

 

Co-operative Funeralcare (Michael Fowles) - Rococo Variations

Rococo proving popular today… This one has more class in the opening, with real depth of sound and clarity throughout. Not the tidiest openings to Variation 1, with a few of the cornet shot quavers mis-pitching. Once it gets going the class starts to come through, however. Siciliano feels more like it in terms of style – some moments where the intonation isn’t perfect, but this is minor in comparison to earlier bands. Waltz has a touch of drama and we hear a good level of detail throughout. Variation 4 has boundless energy and we liked the transition into 5 – real quality in the basses and the intensity builds with real impact. There is a noticeable tuning issue in the small ensemble section and the lead up to the ‘Contest Music’ conclusion is insecure – the tuning is a continuing problem. Variation 6 opens well and everything remains in place towards the final melodic section. Very committed ending.

Overall, a level above what we’ve heard so far in terms of overall quality, but a few uncomfortable moments and poor intonation could leave the door open for others to come.

 

Kirkintilloch Kelvin (Charles Keenan) - Of Distant Memories

Opens with style from the horns and the quality remains throughout the opening section. Ensemble remains robust and precise as it proceeds, only occasionally getting rough around the edges in the more animated moments. Central slow section not quite so successful overall, with soloists occasionally losing the thread – cornet is the pick of them, with a very classy approach. Big and bold sounds are a feature of the final section, where the ensemble quality remains high. One or two players start to get a bit carried away towards the end! Overall another fine effort, 90 percent of which came off very well. The central solo sections could prove costly today though. 

Dalmellington (Nigel Boddice MBE) - Rococo Variations

Perhaps a bit ‘traditional’ in style to open, but there is consistency in delivery through the 1st Variation. The general standard of ensemble is still pretty good, with central detail emerging that we haven’t heard previously. More good work in 4, but the soloists aren’t completely on the ball in 5 (bravo to the solo horn though!). The heavy style returns as it nears the finale and although much of the playing is of a high standard, it is hard to hear every line coming through. Overall this one certainly had its moments but stylistically it didn’t really hit the spot for us. 

 

Newtongrange Silver  (Andrew Duncan) - Rococo Variations

Another well-controlled opening – just the tiniest of blips… Variation 1 is much less forceful in style than the earlier bands, and it would have come off had it all been together (the closing bars especially). More quality in the delivery in the waltz movement but it does feel rather flat-footed in style. Better work around the band in Variation 4, which is both tight and dynamic, until the last bars where the tuning is poor. Classy flugel is the star of the cadenza section and the full band sound that emerges is the best moment we’ve heard from Newtongrange today. Final variation lacks energy and becomes very heavy-handed in style as it reaches the end. Not Newtongrange at their best today, with quite a few lapses in tuning and precision and a very heavy style.

 

Bathgate (David Thornton) - Dances and Arias

Tight and dynamic to open, and the good work continues around the band through the first section. Just the occasional moment of poorer tuning (horns), while the bass section certainly didn’t miss out on their porridge this morning… Not entirely comfortable through the cornet solo. Classy euphonium sound (bravo!) in the extended solo, where the detailed accompaniment comes over well. Great work in the flugel duet (again the tuning is suspect at times though), providing an excellent link to the finale. Bags of energy on display as it races to the end; although the lower band is mainly right on the money, there are a few lapses at the top end. A good show from Bathgate overall. Quite a few slips around the band but they weren’t generally of the obvious variety. 

Wantage Silver (Paul Holland) - Rococo Variations

Lovely control of shape and dynamics to open – very laid back all round! Variation 1 slightly less precise in delivery at times, but prominent lines are all played with style. Lilting style is perhaps elusive in Variation 2 and the initial confidence has waned somewhat (terrific soprano solo though!). Good work from the cornets to open 3rd variation and there is a much more secure feeling now. Variation 4 is the band at its best – all clear and present with great dynamic work. The ensemble is more precise as it proceeds towards the robust finale – again there are tuning issues though…Overall another good performance of a difficult work. Just some inconsistent moments but again a lot of excellent solo work that will contribute to what could be a decent result.

 

 East London Brass (Jayne Murrill) - Rococo Variations

Tidy opening and the first variation is well measured, with excellent dynamics already evident. Cornet solo is excellent, as are all other contributions. Lilting style just right too, although lower band tuning isn’t always great. Stylistically this is very good though – a sense of drama in the right places. Drama continues as the music progresses and the ‘Cloudcatcher’ motif has real impact when it arrives. Excellent control from lower end and following interjections are all well handled (bravo to the ‘Contest Music’ cornets) – while the dark atmosphere again feels appropriate. A very good opening performance overall. Tuning and fast detail weren’t perfect but there were good solo contributions and a first-class reading of a cracking piece!

 

 

Draw

1. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
2. Wantage Silver (Paul Holland)
3. Bathgate (David Thornton)
4. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan)
5. Dalmellington (Nigel Boddice MBE)
6. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass (Charles Keenan)
7. Co-operative Funeralcare (Michael Fowles)
8. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon)
9. Northop Silver (John Doyle)
10. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)
11. Atlantic Brass Band (Salvatore Scarpa)
12. Whitburn (Professor Nicholas Childs)
13. Bon Accord (Stephen Malcolm)
14. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)
15. EYMS (Stig Maersk)
16. Kirkintilloch (Raymond Tennant)
17. Fishburn (David Hirst)
18. Bo'ness and Carriden (Lee Skipsey)
19. Rainford (Gareth Brindle)