PUSHING BOUNDARIES - How Les Neish is making a successful career of tuba playing

Issue 6011

ON THE BEAT - Gavin Pritchard emphasises the importance of preparation

FRANKLY SPEAKING - Frank Renton discusses the role of conductors


Butlins Mineworkers Festival 1st Section - Live!

Saturday 12 January, 2019

Chris Robertson reports

That ends the 1st section here at Butlins in what was a very enjoyable contest. Two very different challenges were on offer with Verdi’s Force of Destiny proving the more popular choice today over The Corsair by Hector Berlioz. The first half was a coinflip between Eccles and Haydock but the late efforts of Stannington could see them feature, with Yorkshire Imperial, Enderby and Jackfield also in the mix. Well done to all the bands for their efforts and preparation for this contest and to Butlins organisers for a smoothly run show with two great pieces of music on offer. Thanks for reading and have a fantastic weekend.



16. Jackfield (David Maplestone)

One more band and one more rendition of the Force of Destiny. Huge sound to open, really fills the room. Swells come across well. Nice horn entries to compliment flugel and PC. Light touches from the basses are great. New MD David Maplestone keeps the dynamic down with a late crescendo, very effective. Into the 3/8 full of excitement but we do lose some semiquaver detail. Love the Eb bass descending line. Band sound is great but could be broader in this music. Lots of detail heard in flugel and front row, this is never overblown. Yes soprano! Balance not always good but a small point. Full of energy and commitment, we could take more from the euphoniums through the semiquavers at the end. Well done band and MD. SP: Soprano


15. Enderby (Ryan Richards)

Another Force of Destiny for Enderby and after a slightly hesitant start we are into the solos. Cornet is lovely and length from basses is appreciated. Flugel plays well but should be broader, nice euphonium. A lighter sound on the build to 3/8 and it works well, great textures coming through. Gets a bit aggressive in the semiquavers before the solos and slows down. Horn, cornet and soprano are the best trio of the day, and cornet continues well, fantastic stuff. Symphonic sounds are well balanced but a couple of clips blur the picture. Not sure about turning out for tremolo, but was certainly heard! Cornets continue to impress and drive the band forward to the close. Powerful stuff, especially basses and timpani. SP: Cornet


14. Stannington (Derek Renshaw)

Force of Destiny once again. Good opening as the band settle into the acoustic and the cornet solo that follows is one of the best of the day. The band follow MD so well and the bass rhythm is understated but very effective. Soprano and front row brilliant sounds and balance. Cornet continues to deliver and the rhythmic triplet figures are spot on, fantastic flugel and horn. This is a full band sound now and although detached, it is so together. Snare is a touch too loud on the roll so we lose some of the middle band but great sounds from the rest. Cornet was so close and euphoniums take the lead with soprano really going for it and getting it. Front row are on fire on the last page, love it. Fantastic ending, bravo. SP: Cornet


13. Hucknall & Linby (Paul Whyley)

Hucknall go for the detached opening in Force of Destiny but then struggle to get going into the 3/8. We’re off now and hear great flugel and PC but again could be more passionate. Careful with mute noises. Flugel plays well and euphonium is lovely when he joins. Sustained trombone chords work well but we are losing tempo through the semiquavers. Be careful about flat notes in those tricky solos. The MD keeping a lid on it all so far, we are waiting for it to come off. Back to short notes and again styles do not match throughout sections, a real shame as the core sound is good. You can afford to play louder in this acoustic. A well paced finale with great trombones. Full blooded sounds right to the end now and now you seem to be enjoying it. Great ending, especially cornets. SP: Flugel


12. Fulham Brass (John Ward)

Force of Destiny for Fulham with an opening statement full of bass end. Cornet and flugel could be warmer but play well together. Trombone is lovely and bass interjections set a great scene and builds up well to 3/8 section. Every semiquaver is heard but lacks the loud dynamic it should carry. Cornet and soprano blend together nicely but it is not error free. One of the least sustained accounts here and not sure it works all the time. MD has read this well and adds his own touches of class every so often, great effects. On our way to the end and the euphoniums rip through semiquavers with ease, bravo and fantastic style. A fine ending to a very mixed performance. SP: Euphonium


11. Soham Comrades (Mark Ager)

Back to the Corsair now and the opening flies and makes way for PC and flugel. Not all accompanying parts agree on note lengths which creates gaps in the music. Some nice dark and round sounds leading into the fast section. The perennial problem of slowing down is back in the bass solo but they regain the drive. Good horns but they get lost. Balance is an issue with parts being played at all kinds of dynamics losing much of the texture. This can all be much broader underneath the ascending triplet lines but dynamics are much better. Starting to tire and slow but the cornets carry it all the way to the end. SP: Soprano


10. Milton Keynes Brass (Jonathan Mott)

Force of Destiny here with a sustained opening this time. The slower tempo gives a more lilting feel to the music but suits the band. Flugel and cornet duet is good but accompaniment is very short. Good balance and cornet completes the job with style. A few nervous sounds here but the lilting continues and the band show their first fortissimo. The three exposed solos set up PC for his moment but it sometimes overpowered by triplets. Euphonium soars when the rest of the band start to tire, but the second wind is coming and soprano takes the lead well. The delicate triplets on cornet lead us to a rousing ending and they sound like a new band, wow. Dynamics contrasts working well and a great finale. SP: Cornet


9. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)

A detached opening statement set a darker tone than previous readings. Clarity is evident from the off and MD chose all the right tempi. Soloists generally do well just drop the occasional note, and tuning problems arise in unison melodies. Syncopation works very well and solos have mixed levels of success. Principal cornet shines, and trombones really take the lead with basses giving all the support. The band play well together and meet barlines fantastically. Cornet triplets are some of the best all day, with help from soprano but it is seamless. James Garlick is driving forward now and the band go with him. Cornets excel right to the end with just a hint of overblowing but you can’t doubt the effort. Could feature highly. SP: Cornet


Half time here in the 1st section. A broad spectrum of performances so far with four renditions of each overture.

Eccles and Haydock leading the way for me but a long way to go, band number 9 making their way onto the stage.


8. Haydock Band (Mark Quinn)

The Corsair again, and the best opening of the day. The length of minims before the slow section sets us up perfectly, great style. Balance in middle band is spot on, allowing soloists to sit nicely on top. Lovely soprano sounds. Harmonic lines being brought out that we have not heard today. Finally a fortissimo, and not slowing down either, this is going well. Upper band are really strong here, and makes all the difference in a piece like this. Lots of poise to this, a few clips but every band has had them. What a sound. Percussion and basses so tight and the balance is again some of the best all day. Shame it loses a little clarity in the last few lines of syncopation but the last note makes the whole room shake. Fantastic. SP: Front Row


7. Harborough (Brad Turnbull)

Corsair time again, and the opening technique is handled with ease. Into the expressive sections and the MD gives a real flow to the music we haven’t heard so far today. Cornet and flugel play well together, nicely done. Minim section is played well but intonation problems are arising and again we have slowed down. BBb bass section are a perfect foundation. Semiquaver passages sometimes so convincing and others times sound rushed. Middle band sounds are great in the ascending triplets passages and the band sound is so well balanced, fantastic MD. The low end always driving this the right way led by bass trombone. Loved the BBb bass, just don’t pedal everything! SP: Conductor

6. Ware Brass (Craig Patterson)

Pretty solid opening to the Force of Destiny, just lacks the crispness and power in upper dynamics. Lovely trombone solo, could take more BBb bass in triplet interjections. Euphoniums really sitting on top of the band here with some wonderfully expressive solo contributions. Cornet solo is well played just a bit flat but triplets are well played. Build up is good just once again lacks that true fortissimo but soprano rides the band at the right points. Final cornet solo starts well and almost runs out of steam. The rest of the band haven’t, massive sounds from euphoniums and the band gather momentum through the last few lines. Terrific ending but errors will cost today. SP: Euphonium


5. Knottingley Silver (Kevin Belcher)

Another Corsair now, a difficult opening with entries not together. It settles down for the flugel and cornet to take the lead, and I love the space given to the music, bass section is so atmospheric. The slower music seems to suit the band more than the fast technical passages, but throughout there is a nice range of dynamics and colours. Snare overpowers a lot on semiquavers. Again slows down in fortissimo section but basses sound fantastic. Bass trombone is on another level at times, what a noise. Full sounds from the top end right to the last note, bravo. SP: Basses


4. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)

A faster version of Force of Destiny here so some detail is lost compared to previous bands. Cornet solo is beautifully played, and flugel and euphonium follow suit ever so well. Bass section are the clearest of the day and makes such a difference to the feel of the music, great style. Just loses a little momentum in the semiquavers before the exposed horn solo. PC almost perfect and plays effortlessly whilst MD allows all the space. Excitement builds to Grandioso and note length are really taken care of. Great tempo, euphonium and PC do well in triplet section. Percussion well in the mix towards the end but adds so much to the texture. Three different readings but this was the most convincing. SP: Cornet


3. City of Cambridge (Philip Fisher)

Slightly hesitant opening to this Force of Destiny but they get going nicely with lots of space. Flugel does so well and euphonium is a fine duet partner, bravo to both. A more “symphonic” approach to sound and the exposed soloists do well but a slow allegro section shows a few weaknesses. Tuning is an issue and the band seem to drop when fortissimo is required. Top man negotiates the tricky solos towards the end and the band gain confidence with every bar. Last note not quite together but good overall with some great solo playing. SP: Flugel


2. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Simon Gresswell)

Force of Destiny this time, with a steady approach from MD Simon Gresswell, allowing the semiquavers to be heard clearly. Fantastic back row and horns, and horn soloist does well. Much more breadth here than Sandhurst but could still take more. A few clips here and there but they’re really going for it. Basses are sometimes lost towards the end but make up for it in the final bars which are so tight and balanced. Full commitment from every player, a fantastic performance. SP: Euphonium


1. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)

After the National Anthem at 10am the 1st Section begins here in Skegness with Sandhurst playing The Corsair. A tight opening sets up the slow section and the flugel soloist is given so much space, bravo. The sudden differences between piano and forte could be greater but the top range of dynamics are used well in this hall. Cornets do well on semiquaver passages, but it loses a bit of tempo in the loud sections of syncopation. They get louder as the piece goes on and really open up towards the end, great sounds from all.  SP: Cornet


Full Draw

1. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson) 
2. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Simon Gresswell) 
3. City of Cambridge (Philip Fisher)
4. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
5. Knottingley Silver (Kevin Belcher) 
6. Ware Brass (Craig Patterson) 
7. Harborough (Brad Turnbull)
8. Haydock Band (Mark Quinn) 
9. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
10. Milton Keynes Brass (Jonathan Mott)
11. Soham Comrades (Mark Ager)
12. Fulham Brass (John Ward)
13. Hucknall & Linby (Paul Whyley)
14. Stannington (Derek Renshaw)
15. Enderby (Ryan Richards)
16. Jackfield (David Maplestone)

Adjudicators: Alan Morrison & Dave Lea

1. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
2. City of Cambridge (Philip Fisher)
3. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
4. Enderby (Ryan Richards)
5. Fulham Brass (John Ward)
6. Harborough (Brad Turnbull)
7. Haydock Band (Mark Quinn)
8. Hucknall & Linby (Paul Whyley)
9. Jackfield (David Maplestone)
10. Knottingley Silver (Kevin Belcher)
11. Milton Keynes Brass (Jonathan Mott)
12. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
13. Soham Comrades (Mark Ager)
14. Stannington (Derek Renshaw)
15. Ware Brass (Craig Patterson)
16. Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel (Simon Gresswell)