MASTER OF HIS TRADE - Remembering Allan Littlemore

Issue 6082

COVID ROADMAP - Optimism at route out of restrictions

COMPOSER CAST - Christopher Bond meets Naomi Styles

Welsh Regional Championships - Championship Section LIVE

Saturday 16 March, 2019


1) Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)***

2) Northop Silver (John Doyle)**

3) Cory (Philip Harper)*


Best Instrumentalist: Ian Roberts, Soprano Cornet, Tredegar Town

Ian Williams Award for Best Cornet: Dewi Griffiths, Tredegar Town

John Trotman Memorial Trophy for Best Bass Section: Tredegar Town


***Qualification for the National Championships of Great Britain, and the European Brass Band Championships in Palanga 2020

**Qualification for the National Championships of Great Britain

*Pre-qualified for the National Championships of Great Britain



A fascinating contest has come to a close here in Wales. Two tiers of the competition have revealed themselves, with the heavyweights of Tredegar and Cory fighting it out for the top spot and qualification for the European Championships. Tredegar’s incredibly accurate, solidly delivered reading of the score may in this case edge over Cory’s more unique take, which has caused much discussion in the hall. It will all come down to what the judges prefer however, and it will be mighty close!

Behind them, the fight for the all-important third qualification spot to London is tight. The light, detailed reading from Llwydcoed held its own throughout the day, while Northop impressed much later on, it could be close there. M1, Tongwynlais, and Ebbw Valley meanwhile will have to see if the judges favoured their individual takes.

Thomas Dunne goes for:

1) Tredegar

2) Cory

3) Llwydcoed

4) Northop



7) Northop (John Doyle) 

A convincing start from Northop today, with much to enjoy in the evocative opening. The allegro is full-blooded and passionate, though does flirt with being overcooked at times. Discipline is maintained however, and we transition well into movement two.

The second movement begins well, with a real sense of direction. Not all the individual lines are 100% convincing however as the movement progresses. Despite this, there is plenty to enjoy in the rich ensemble sound and musical shapes from the MD.

Not the cleanest of starts to movement three, but it recovers to reveal a well-layered musical picture, with most of the musical hurdles being dispatched. The dynamic contrasts are most effective, especially in the tranquillo. The finale never becomes overdone, and builds to a thrilling conclusion.

In all, an excellent performance from Northop that captured the drama of the score so well. Not without error, but very enjoyable indeed.


6) City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Garry Cutt)

A solid start for M1 today, though not without a few clips. The allegro is characterful and largely accurate, though does get heavy on the ear as it progresses. The transition is well handled however.

The opening of movement 2 doesn’t quite sync up, though recovers well and develops into an intelligent reading, with the music flowing effectively. Ensemble tuning doesn’t quite sit as well as it could however, and there are occasional slips in accuracy.

The third movement never quite finds its feet despite some fine individual moments, with lapses in ensemble and unforced errors taking a heavy toll on the musical picture. The finale is adrenaline-charged and powerful.

Not the best of days for M1, moments of fine playing, but the error count will likely affect their ability to make an impact today.


5) Cory (Philip Harper)

Broad opening chords from Cory, followed by feather-light detail and deep musical swells – a most evocative start! The allegro propels forward, rich in sound and detail, with a thrilling final flourish. The transition is so delicately done.

The style of the second movement is somewhat more detached than most, with small moments of previously unheard rubato, some a touch unusual. The execution of these ideas is of the highest quality however, with such depth of sound.

Movement three is more conventional in approach – and what a musical picture they paint! Huge extremes of dynamic and musical colour bring the score intensely to life. There is the odd uncomfortable moment however. This race to the end is very fast indeed, relentless in its drive. Thrilling stuff to listen to – and the crowd go wild, but will the judges go for it?

A very individual take this one – such a unique reading of the score which is proving polarising in discussions in the hall. The playing was immense, just what we have come to expect from Cory. This will very much come down to what the adjudicators prefer…


4) Tongwynlais Temperance (Gareth Hann)

The opening is simple, yet effective, with the lines flowing well. There is a curiously detached introduction to the allegro, perhaps not best suited to the hall, but it works well. The allegro is occasionally marred by the odd inaccuracy, and while it moves along well enough, as we reach the final flourish the ensemble becomes quite chaotic.

The second movement is much better in terms of flow. Technical and notable tuning inaccuracies distract however, from what is a well thought out reading of the score.

A very restrained start to movement three, which grows more vibrant in style as it progresses. The individual contributions are generally well done. Not everything comes off, but it moves well towards an enthusiastic, if tired, ending.

A frustrating one from Tongwynlais today - moments of promise, but too much in the way of technical and ensemble inaccuracy to make a mark today.


3) Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)

The opening section is so well controlled, almost mysterious in atmosphere, with the musical motifs emerging to great effect. The allegro is a complete contrast, a thrill to listen to – yet never becoming so loud as to be harsh. The final flourish sees the band open up at last, before a magically quiet transition.

The second movement is a masterclass in musical flow, with MD Ian Porthouse letting the musical colours emerge so vividly, while the ensemble is perfectly balanced from tubas to soprano. This is fine musicianship indeed.

The third movement is about as accurate as you could wish, with crisp detail being projected into the hall. The tempo is thrilling, leaving the listener on the edge of the seat (it only very occasionally becomes a touch hard on the ear). The individual contributions are simply outstanding, and the music drives to a monumental, exhilarating finale!

Overall, there is little more to say than this was a simply world class performance - crystal clear detail, superb musical shaping and so much life! A clear leader so far…


2) Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)

Rich sounds from Ebbw Valley as they begin. Some of the detail gets lost in the texture as we move towards the allegro. Here things aren’t 100% accurate to begin, but the band settles and things tick along well. The dynamic grows perhaps a little harsh as we head towards the finale, and the climax comes across a touch chaotic. The transition into the second movement is well handled however.

The second movement exhibits better control and the sarabande moves along smoothly. As we reach the climax of the movement however, despite some good individual contributions the tempo increases to a point where the music doesn’t have time to speak, and things generally feel rather rushed to close.

From a steady start to movement three, the music continues to gather tempo and things start to become frenetic as the more abstract music reveals itself. As we reach the ride to home, the tempo recovers slightly and more control is evident towards an exciting finale.

Overall, not the best of days for Ebbw Valley, the band produced a good sound, yet let the tempo and overly loud dynamics run away with them today.


1) Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)

Opening the competition, Llwydcoed’s opens Seascapes in a restrained and delicate fashion. This works well, though not all the detail comes across. As we reach the allegro, the music propels forward excitedly. The MD is careful to keep hold of the reins however, with nothing being overdone. Fine ensemble playing all round as the movement reaches its climax – a promising start to the piece.

The second movement is a no-nonsense affair, which flows along so musically. The duets all come across well, and the big dynamic moments are again very well managed with no harshness. The movement is topped off by a fine, singing baritone.

The opening of the third movement is again very restrained (perhaps compromising on energy?). The general accuracy is good however, and the drive comes across as we reach the larger dynamic moments. Some focus is lost as the musical lines become more abstract, and perhaps the tranquillo was not a true, clean pp. The finale however drives confidently home to a strong finish.

Overall, a fine opening to the competition – a good musical reading that never became overwrought with a high standard of ensemble discipline and individual contribution. Just the odd moment, but the band can certainly be very happy with this performance.


Thomas Dunne reporting.


  1. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)
  2. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)
  3. Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)
  4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Gareth Hann)
  5. Cory (Philip Harper)
  6. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Garry Cutt)
  7. Northop Silver (John Doyle)

Adjudicators: David Hirst and Roger Webster