MASTER OF HIS TRADE - Remembering Allan Littlemore

Issue 6082

COVID ROADMAP - Optimism at route out of restrictions

COMPOSER CAST - Christopher Bond meets Naomi Styles

Scotland Regional Championships - Fourth Section LIVE!

Friday 8 March, 2019


Presentations made to Angus MacKay & Angus Lowden for combined service of over 140 years!! Also Life SBBA Membership conferred on John Boax.

Anne Crookston paid tribute to the performances of Leadhill Band and Coalburn Intermediate Band.


Best Instrumentalist - Flugel player - Barrhead Burgh

Youngest BBb player - Owen Campbell (Dundee Instrumental)

  1. Barrhead Burgh - 182
  2. Newlands Concert Brass - 180
  3. Kilmarnock Concert Brass - 178
  4. Peebles Burgh - 176
  5. Dundee Instrumental - 175
  6. Penicuik Silver - 173
  7. MacTaggart Scott Loanhead - 172
  8. Stranraer Brass - 171
  9. Bon Accord B - 170
  10. Hawick Saxhorn - 169
  11. Forfar Instrumental - 168
  12. Callander Brass - 167





What an enjoyable morning this has been. We might not always do things right in Scotland (our national football team is rubbish for example) but I tell you what, the future of brass bands in Scotland is surely secure.

It has been completely heart warming to see quite so many young players on show this morning and they have not been frightened of the music. Some new faces on the conducting front too, which is encouraging to see. Finally, the music. Ray Steadman-Allen's test has been a perfect platform for the bands to showcase their talents. He would certainly have enjoyed listening to them, being a man who cherished the prospect of developing young talent.

My predictions

For me there was a clear winner, and then two or three performances which were constructed really well and thoughtfully by their MD's. As I said yesterday, I know not a lot, but here's my predictions:-

  1. Peebles Burgh
  2. Barrhead Burgh
  3. Newlands Concert Brass
  4. Penicuik Silver
  5. Kilmarnock
  6. Dundee Instrumental (I'm biased)

Outsider: MacTaggart Scott


Band 12 - MacTaggart Scott (conducted by George Cameron)

It's a bold start here to the andante and then we immediately settle down to a much lighter and appealing horn chorale. The tempo is very well marshalled and there's a nice feel to the mid movement interlude at E (grazioso). Despite the band being one bass short there is still a solidity of tone in the lower end of the band. Good ending to the movement.

Moderato - We're definitely on the march here and I think MD Cameron has nailed the tempo. It's very much of the more direct style but I think the music can take it. Another band who have struggled with the appearance of  5 flats!  Good cornet work towards the end of the movement.

Oh my goodness this is a fast allegro!! It's very much 1 in a bar here. It manages to keep its pace pretty well, and it's certainly a very individual take on things. Some challenge in keeping that tempo as we approach M (definite slowing of pace here) but it is restored again and the band races on to a high octane ending. One for the judges to consider I'm sure!


Band 11 - Callander Brass (conducted by Ian Milligan)

It's another measured andante here. While the band starts with a degree of confidence there are are a couple of moments in the first movement where there isn't the cohesion. MD does well to bring things together after a couple of wrong entires in lower band.

Moderato - Another uncertain start here but it gets into proper slow march stride quickly. Not for the first time today some challenges with 4 and 5 flats at C & D. It's a lot better at E though. Missed timp entry before G but the movement ends in a nice reflective style.

Allegro - Pace is steady which is fine but there's a certain lack of lightness of touch. When we get to the theme at C the scherzando feel is there. The band manages to find its feet and it's good going into Strawberry Fair, which is delivered in quite a resolute style by the horns. There's a slight feeling of tiredness creeping in but we get to the end.

Well done MD in pulling that performance out with only 6 cornets. Well done.


Band 10 - Dundee Instrumental Band (conducted by Robert McDonald)

Time for your correspondent to register a conflict of interest. This band contains the writer's sister on 2nd horn, who after successfully battling a horrific episode of cancer last year is making her contest debut at the age of fifty something alongside her son Owen (E flat bass). Take a bow Joanna Campbell (proud brother and uncle moment).

On to the music (sure there's not a dry eye in the house now). It's a great start and there is a real feel of poise and stature here. Good lower band sounds to be heard.

Moderato - We suffer from a poor first note here ubt it immediately settles down. We are certainly on a march here, with quite a distinct approach taken to this (detatched minims and almost staccato crotchets in places). It's a nice horn sound at C and then a good pomposo feel towards the end. Well done solo cornet, euphonium and soprano at the end of this movement.

Allegro - And we're off to Strawberry Fair with a definite skip in our step here. Great solo cornet work at C and into D. Band seem to be really enjoying this. It's got a real lightness of touch to it and as we get to Strawberry Fair it's really beginning to make an impact. Once again great piano cornet work at O. It ends well and is well received by a fairly partisan local audience.

OK - so I'm biased but I enjoyed that one...........



Band 9 - Stranraer Brass (conducted by Angela Miller)

Another band packed to the rafters with young players. The andante is great too. At this level there are going to be some tuning and intonation challenges but notwithstanding this the band is coping very well with the technical demands of the music.

Moderato - A nice sensible tempo picked for this movement. There are some hiccups with the key changes but this movement ends.

Allegro - Straight into this movement and it's got all the joie de vivre that you would expect. Great contribution from percussion and there is lots to admire here. Well done all. Enjoyed that.


Band 8  - Bon Accord 'B' (conducted by Jennifer Cook)

Andante - Jennifer Cook has chosen a very sedate tempo which has its potential pitfalls but the band resists the temptation to move the pace on which is good. I could do with a touch more attention to the tenuto marks and also the sections marked legato but otherwise and despite a mispitch or two it closes well.

Moderato - We've gone for the reflective hymn tune style here and it suits the band. Some missed flats at letter C (D flat major scales to be practised) but the band regains its compusure at the pomposo section. Nice piano to finish with too.

Straight into the Allegro (I like this approach). It's a good tempo too - not over rushed. Careful with the octave entries and some occasional mis pitching again, but the style is totally nailed; light, engaging and with a hint of playfulness (helpd by a great percussion team). As we move towards the end of the movement things are going well. The chords in the final few bars are not greta from a tuning perspective but a fine full sound on the final note to finish. A tidy performance from a band full of young players and an MD who held it together very well.


Band 7 - Hawick Saxhorn (conducted by Stuart Black)

This is a steady andante with a fine statement of the opening 4 chords. Danger of there being a lack of connect between horns and cornets but MD Black brings it back under control. A touch of nervousness around the stands leads to a couple of wrong entries. Good tormbone work from none other than Mr. Alan Fernie.

Moderato - Good sounds here.  A little touch of uncertainty which fortunately doesn't detract from the general style and feel of the music. A nice close to the movement.

Allegro - MD picks a tempo which is a relaxing one, but the band manages to find a good style and seems to be enjoying the music. It's not without its hairy moments but there is a really good light and free style to the music. Despite one or two hiccups in the final bars the band ends with a flourish. Well done all.


Halfway thought

A really enjoyable morning so far. Some really committed performances. Great to see such a mix of youth and experience on stage. My favourites so far are Peebles, Newlands with Barrhead in the mix too.

Band 6 - Barrhead Burgh (Conducted by Alistair Gibson)

Band demonstrating good style and poise here in this andante. It's got depth but never over heavy. Particularly appreciative of the bass legato work and the movement ends well.

Moderato - Just the right feel here. Probably as RS-A would have imagined it (given how many SA players are in this band perhaps not surprising!). A bit jittery at the key change at C but the pomposo section is great. 1st trombone Alex Williams marshalling his troops in his section well. Nice ending to the movement here.

Allegro - The allegro is steadier than a couple we've heard today, and there's the occasional feeling that we want to mve the tempo on a bit. Nice delicate stuff going on at D - well done front row. Octave unison work around G & H not quite so tidy but as we get to Strawberry Fair it's got a good lilt to it. L not without its challenges (not for the firsttime today). Could do with just a touch more air being pushed through front row at O but it recovers well into P. It's a fearsome accel into the conclusion, and we lose trombones slightly at the end but a committed and tuneful finish to a good performance.


Band 5 - Peebles Burgh (Conducted by Peter Holmes)

This is the briskest Andante we've heard this morning. Cracking cornet work at letter A. Some intonation issues in horns but it settles back down with a fine bass sound at D. Well done flugel at E and lovely poco rit into F. It's a really rich sound here. Basses - beware. The pedals police might be out to get you. Lots of additional ones getting dropped in (naughty naughty!).

Straight into the moderato - no messing around. Nice style adopted. Horns great at C (Rosie McLeman making me feel very old.....). Great pomposo work at E and possibly the first fortissimmo we've heard so far - just be aware of tuning. MD working hard to keep the band at piano.

Allegro - By jingo this is fast! Hopefully the band can keep this tempo up. It's skipping along quite nicely. A different legato approach at Strawberry Fair by horns which possibly doesn't work that well. MD keeping things going well here though. Nice dynamic contrast. We move along merrily towards quite a frenetic ending.

Liked this - my favourite so far. Nice baton Mr MD!


Band 4 - Penicuik Silver (conducted by Robert W Fraser)

Andante - This is another measured andante start. Couple of slippy fingers moments which is a shame. I like how MD is trying to find the music in there (example back row letter H). Ends well and in a nice relaxed manner.

Moderato - This is a slightly more robust version than we've heard so far today (Salvation Army Band on the march maybe?). Key change at letter C doesn't go down well with the bas section (oops). It's all better at the pomposo here. Nice solo cornet sound at G but perhaps a bit more air support.

Allegro - This is steady but style is good. Trombone octaves are very persuasive.  Good work from percussion here. The first tambourine of the day at letter E (keeps the Salvationist in me happy! - it is a Sunday after all.) Nice and jocular as we enter Strawberry Fair. Mezzo forte perhaps a touch heavy before J and watch the key change at L. I'm loving the trombone work here. Band rocks a touch at M but Maestro Fraser reins it in well. It's a good rumbustuous sound at P & Q. Band really motors towards the end and it's a shame that the final chord lacks a real centre to it tuning wise. Otherwise a very musical and enjoyable reading.


Band 3 - Forfar Instrumental Band  (conducted by Terence Jackson)

This is a gentle Andante pace to commence with. It's a nice sound the band is making but a touch more movement would I think breed a bit omre confidence. A nice no nonsense end to the first movememnt here.

Moderato - Nice sound from euph/baritones but more care needs taken on the length of minims. Horns work well at letter C with a nice light mp. Well done flugel. Letter E could do with a touch more swagger for me. This ends well with a nice bass pedal!

Allegro - A touch shy here which is a shame as when the band relaxes into the music and style it does well. A nice Strawberry Fair but after this we could do with a touch more dynamic contrast. The band might enjoy just playing a touch louder at times. P and Q is more like it. Nice cornet and horn work at the sustained chords towards the end, and a pleasing chord to finish.


Band 2 - Kilmarnock Concert Brass (conducted by Scott Walker)

A light and lyrical start, with cornets occasionally running away with the semiquavers. MD is seeking to work the band hard to find the lower dynamics. Slight malfunction at letter H but bandsrecovers well.

Moderato - Could be a touch more deciso for me at the start of the movement. A nice forte sound though and the band negotiates the tricky modulation at letter C. Great horn and flugel sound. Basses strike just the right element of pomposity at letter E.

Allegro - a good sparkle here in cornets. I fear that the trombone octave entries could be mentioned quite a lot today. As we move towards Strawberry Fair things are becoming more exciting. It's untidy at Letter L but trombone entries at M are good this time. Mezzo forte before P is too heavy for me and we don't see enough contrast in the forte at letter P. It's a very resolute and driven accelerando and delivers an exciting close, with some intonation issues at the final chord.

Enjoyable and expressive performance.


Band 1 - Newlands Concert Brass (conducted by Simon Railton)

Newlands, making their first appearance on the contest stage under Simon Railton, make an impressive start. A stately and measured Andante with nice lyrical flow. Notable good work from Gareth Bowman on Soprano cornet. Odd clips and tuning issues don't detract from a nice wholesome band sound.

Moderato - Sunday morning is a good time for a hymn tune and Newlands deliver a nice warm hymn tune sound. We're straight into the Allegro. MD has picked a brisk tempo here but the band responds well. A real attempt to find the style here which is encouraging. Three basses here but they're giving it some. The band ends strongly and despite the occasional rough edges band and MD should be satisfied with a musical and vibrant effort.


Good morning and welcome back to Perth. Adjudicators are in the box and we're ready to go.


Test piece - A Stantonbury Festival (Ray Steadman-Allen)

Adjudicators: Richard Evans and Leigh Baker


  1. Newlands concert Brass
  2. Kilmarnock Concert Brass
  3. Forfar Instrumental
  4. Penicuik Silver
  5. Peebles Burgh
  6. Barrhead Burgh
  7. Hawick Saxhorn
  8. Bon Accord 'B'
  9. Stranraer Brass
  10. Dundee Instrumental
  11. Callander Brass
  12. MacTaggart Scott