CROSSING MUSICAL BORDERS - British Bandsman talks to tenor horn virtuoso Owen Farr

Issue 6013

SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE - John Wallace discusses pieces that have played a significant part in his life

A BAND OF THEIR OWN - How the all-female US-based Athena Brass Band came into being

THE BRITISH OPEN - LIVE COMMENTS

Friday 6 September, 2019

Welcome to The 2019 British Open live at The Symphony Hall Birmingham.

19 Bands will perform Peter Graham's Dynasty, a new commission celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Mortimer. So after immense pieces in the last two years in Fraternity and Brussels Requiem, we have a piece that doesnt dwell on disaster, mourning, recovery and hope, but chooses to celebrate the life of one of the great characters of the banding movement.

The life of Harry Mortimer (HM) reads like a musical adventure story. Born in I902, his earliest memories (as recorded in his autobiography) include playing cornet duets with his father Fred in the family cottage in Hebden Bridge Yorkshire, a favourite being a legato melody from Von Flotow's Martha which he suggested was “(lt's) just possible that this (Martha) set the pattern of my playing career"

He made his contest debut at the I9l3 Crystal Palace Contest on Labour and Love and whilst in his teens, with father Fred away on military service during the Great War, he supported his family playing for silent movies and music hall artistes including the legendary Marie Lloyd.

From I930, beginning with Elgar's Severn Suite at the National Championships and together with others of the Mortimer dynasty, Fred and brothers Alex and Rex, he led the Fabulous Fodens Band to unparalleled contest success both as Principal cornetist and later conductor. At the British Open he won on a record seven occasions in nine years, whilst his Nationals wins included, in I954, a remarkable first and third place with brother Alex taking second prize, on jack Beaver's Sovereign Heritage. He made the transition from brass bands to symphony orchestra as a celebrated trumpeter whose recordings spanned the globe. At the BBC as a producer he increased the broadcast output of brass bands to a level not seen before or since.

In his professional life he knew most of the great English musicians of the twentieth century, from conductors Sirs Adrian Boult, Malcolm Sargent and john Barbirolli to composers Sirs Granville Bantock, Arthur Bliss and Edward Elgar. An astute musician who knew the value of a judicious blend of the old with the vitality of the new, he was equally comfortable commissioning innovative works from Elgar Howarth (Fireworks, I975) through to conducting what he described as "the backbone of our repertoire" from prolific arranger Edrich Siebert. Whilst disappointed that Tippett and Britten were not persuaded to contribute to the canon, he was nevertheless quick to remind his audience of the merits of "the old classics of our repertoire, which exploited the unique tonal qualities of the brass band"2, nor express a desire that “would there were a few more composers coming on to the scene prepared to write interesting music with an occasional tune in it!”3"

Harry Mortimer was awarded the CBE for services to the brass band movement and died in I992.

About the music

In conversation with Martin Mortimer some time ago l mentioned that in the course of some background research for a project I had re-read his father Harry (HM's) autobiography, On Brass, and was struck by the possibility of a musical response to what was an extraordinary life. I thought no more about it until a telephone call from Martin a year later, inviting me to take up the challenge.

The result is Dynasty, which takes the form of a Symphonic Poem, a musical form first introduced to a contest audience at the Crystal Palace in l9l3 by Percy Fletcher in his work Labour and Love. Using key passages from Harry Mortimer On Brass as the source for the narrative, the work opens with a four-note leitmotif (Harry's theme, "as if descending from the heavens“), and the timeline unfolds as follows:

I - Harry
One's destiny decided at birth “I'll make him the best comet player in England".

2 - War
Why do the nations so furiously rage together? Fred volunteers for military service

3 - Theatre
And suddenly "l dashed to the rescue like a hero in the silent movies I was about to get to know so well"

4 - Journey
Comfort Ye A new life and new challenges

5 - Together
Come unto me "A golden age"

6 - Farewell
For behold. darkness "Fred's death surely marked the passing of an era”

7 — Amen
The Trumpet shall sound

Listeners familiar with brass band repertoire will recognise a few pertinent quotes within the piece. In my imagination Harry is joined by Fred on cornet and the euphoniums of Alex and Rex for the quartet cadenza from Sovereign Heritage by Jack Beaver in Together.

The Amen section from Handel's Messiah provides the basis for a contrapuntal flight of fancy as the work moves towards a conclusion. Other less overt fragments contribute to the story.

Dynasty has been co-commissioned by the British Open Brass Band Championships for the September 20l9 contest, and the Brass Band Committee VLAMO for the Belgian Brass Band Championships 2019.

We shall post the draw after the adjudicators are safely in their box.

Enjoy your day at The British Open!!

 

And so, welcome to the British Open. The adjudicators are safely ensconced in the box, so we can reveal the full draw to you:

 

1 - Leyland

2 - Valaisia

3 - Tredegar

4 - NASUWT Riverside

5 - Fairey

6 - the cooperation band

7 - Wingates

8 - Desford Colliery

9 - Fodens

10 - Whitburn

11 - Brighouse and Rastrick

12 - Black Dyke

13 - Carlton Main

14 - Flowers

15 - Hammonds Saltaire

16 - Cory

17 - Aldbourne

18 - Grimethorpe

 

Todays adjudicators are Nigel Boddice, Stephen Roberts and Stephen Cobb - have a good day gentlemen!

 

1 - Leyland:

Harry - lovely solo cornet to start, but euph entry and tuning a little strained.

War - starts with real purpose and a good sense of drama. I would have like more dynamic contrast and foreboding. Whistling section is a little pastiche, but is in the spirit of the piece.

Theatre - This baritone section will sort the bands today, well played by Sarah Lenton, if not always trouble free. Some tight playing though for the rest of this section.

Journey - Bass line not clean or accented, lots more could be made of this.bari/euph/basses running passages not always together or clean.

Together - ironically, not together! This is one of the trickier parts of a relatively straightforward piece.

Farewell - very nicely played, the best section for the band so far.

Amen - Has its moments of lovely playing, but tutti running passages again not the cleanest. Builds to a nice climax.

Overall - not a bad marker for what seems a very straightforward challenge today.

 

2 - Valaisia:

Harry - An uncharacteristic first note slip from Vincent Bearpark leads to a generally edgy opening.

War - good atmospheric opening to this section. Whistling very good. Great bass section. Band now getting into their stride. Great intensity. Couple of clips detract.

Theatre - superb running passages from bari, horns then cornets. So precise and great dynamics. This is Valaisia in full stride now. Every accent is heard.

Journey - lovely cornet, perc and euph.

Together - extremely together, but again cornet clips are heard.

Farewell - played with such lovely emotion, balance and dymamic control. Bravo horn and flugel, lovely. 

Amen - lovely and clean bass solo, emphasis on dynamcs and dim. some beautifully melodic and detailed playing. Bravo sop. What a sound to close, and again dynamic contrast is superb.

Overall: Moments of sheer brilliance from Valaisia, but too many clips and occasional tuning errors today. An "if only....." performance that could have set a very high bar!

 

3 - Tredegar

Harry - very loud for mp on cornet. some noticeable tuning errors, but some nice ensemble playing.

War -  functional opening, but Tredegars five basses make a mighty fine noise! cornets razor sharp through this passage, but middle of the band tuning incosistencies are heard.

Theatre - this is wonderful, grreat xylo work, best of the day so far.

Journey - now the band are in full flight, great running passages throughout, clear basses and again great xylo work, on a fairly benign percussion part by todays standards.

Together - nicely balanced and whimsical playing. good colour to the music.

Farewell - nice horn, but again dynamics could be more p/mp from accompaniments. Danny Winder is wonderful on flugel. So close on baritone. Lovely close to this section

Amen - Eb solo to start is not clean but recovers in tutti. Cornet section razor sharp, but sop clips. nice closing section and lovely full sounds from Tredegar.

 

Overall: On a piece that most bands would hope to play clean today, clips will be costly. Overall though a very good showing from Tredegar, appreciated by the audience.

 

4 - NASUWT Riverside

Harry - Lode Violet makes the trip across the North Sea and hits his stride immediately. Lovely tone. Slight tuning on tenor horn. beautiful cornet cadenza. Well played sir!

War - opening a little loud for piano. Whistling not the finest we have heard today. Band opens up with great style and effect. real drama, and great perc work which is so effective.

Theatre - some problems on the clarity of the running passages through the middle of the band, 

Journey - the band is very settled here and care is taken on all the accented passages. basses upwards now in their stride.

Together - this is played together, but there are so many dynamic markings to be observed through this passage, which are largely ignored. 

Farewell - lovely tenor horn anf flugel contributions, accompaniments could be quieter to create more atmosphere. Good baritone attempt but some clips through the middle of the band detract. Again, lots of dynamic markers are ignored. 

Amen - nice bass solo to start, if again a little loud. Piu mosso very loud for mp. Playing here is rhythmic and tight though. TT to close is well balanced and together. 

 

Overall: Well done band and conductor. A fine debut to be proud of. More attention to dynamics and a cleaner middle section would have been liked, but for a first open, very well done!!!

 

5 - Fairey

Harry - lovely opening by Steph Wilkins. nice dynamic contrasts. Euph performs well.

War - nice p entry into War. Whistling layers balanced. Perc overpowers a little. Playing is tight, and nice sop and solo cornet entries.

Theatre - Wow, running passages so tight, so crisp and all detail is heard. very nicely done.

Journey - this builds so well, attention to detail, to dynamics and when the band open up it is balanced.

Together - very together, though more dynamic contrast could be squeezed out of this. 

Farewell- nice tenor horn and lovely flugel, accompaniments again a little louder than the required p dynamic. Baritone and troms get through this, couple of moments of unease. Lovely close to the movement.

Amen - Bass solo starts so lyrical, just a couple of hints of unease. Recovers so well though, such warm sounds coming from the band. the climax sets off at a gallop, but sop is fantastic. Controlled, then let loose, great contrasts, great drama and a beautifully balanced climax. 

Overall: Super showing from Fairey, so much attention to detail, not overblown, very clean and precise. The leader for us so far!!!

 

6 - the cooperation band

Harry - Johnny Midnight aka Jimmy Hayes starts us off from the back of the stage. very loud for mp. some noticeable clips in the opening passages do detract. 

War - starts with purpose and good whistling section. Nice drama.

Theatre - running passages start well, and the music settles straight away. nice trombone trio, backed up by tight and rhythmic ensemble. 

Journey - starts so well and maintains its intensity, Euph cadenza very nicely done. . 

Together - Again cornet and euph dynamics in duet passage are loud but are together

Farewell - flugel excels and euph and ensemble respond beautifully. troms very loud for mf though. Section closes well with conductor bringing out the full warmth of the music. Rep solo played from front row?

Amen -  bass solo doesnt quite hit the mark, but recovers quickly. some exciting drama is created and a well balanced climax, if the last few bars sound a little tired however. 

 

Overall - a good showing from a band that has had many personnel changes and one I think they will be happy with. 

 

7 - Wingates:

Harry - Andy McDonald starts off in lovely style, a real shame that a couple of blips follow. Nice euph passage though.

War - perc should be p, but do overpower. Wingates 5 basses at the expense of a front row cornet make their presence known and htis section is played with real drama.

Theatre - the running passages are not the cleanest we have heard today and do detract from the flow and drive of the music.

Journey - starts well with good intention, but tiredness is starting to creep in and the mistakes are beginning to count.

Together - stylishly played, but again, clips detract with cornet any euph. Suspicion of tuning problems creeping in also.

Farewell - good attempts by flugel, horn and baritone, but unfortunately, some errors creep through here as well.

Amen - bass solo starts well, and some nice ensemble playing here.

 

Overall: A performance with great intention and a good reading, but marred by unfortunate clips and errors.

 

8 - Desford

Harry - At last, a cornet entry is allowed without conducting - bravo Mike Fowles.Very nicely played too! Kevin Crockford makes his presence felt with some lovely sounds. real attempts made at dynamic contrast by solo cornet, well done sir!

War - real p to start from perc - thank you! Good whistling! The band are allowed to open up and Mike creates some real drama.

Theatre  - razor sharp euph and bari entries. This is seriously good playing. trom trio could be a little sharper and articulated, but its still pretty good.

Journey - Dynamic contrast is the best of the day so far, terrific stuff.  Xylo should have harder mallets to come through with full effect.

Together - Euph cadenza from Jim Fieldhouse just sublime and cornet matches. Ooo, something happens on back row which was just wrong.

Farewell - horn and flugel are just lovely, real emotion on show. Baritone and troms come very close to pulling it off. Lovely ensemble sounds to close the movement, nothing overblown and wonderfully balanced. Rep solo played by principal cornet - shouldnt be too difficult for rep and 2nd cornet!!

Amen - starts off at a fast pace and bass solo struggles for clarity. Some of the sharpness has gone with this tempo and we are not hearing all the detail come through. Exciting stuff though! Mike keeps the band in control for the majestic closing section. A rapturous reception from the audience.

 

Overall - great show from Desford, right up there for us, but will that last movement tempo be there undoing today? The crowd love it though and they are rightfully getting a wonderful reception from the audience.

 

9 - Fodens

The National Champions take to the stage with the hall only 80% full! Where is everyone?!!

Harry - nice start, with Mark Wilkinson on lovely form. Gary Curtin ably supports. Lovely cornet cadenza then a stunner from Gary Curtin.

War - genuine piano dynamic. Whistling well layered. Superb timps from Jon kitchen. Well balanced, but dramatic playing. tuned perc bring in layers we havent heard yet.

Theatre - running passages lack a little articulation through the middle of the band, but overall this is high class playing from Fodens. Troms superbly balanced. 

Journey - some very tidy playing here, but again a little lack of articulation on bass running passages. Lovely euph throughout.

Together - brilliant dynamic contrast and lyricism from solo cornet and euph. Just beautiful.

Farewell - flugel hint of intonation, lovely solo horn passage. Baritone does a very nice job, just a hint of not being together with troms, but oh what a glorious rounded sound this band are now producing under Russell Gray Mark Wilkinson takes 2nd cornet solo.

Amen - bass solo good, but not sublime, the ensemble style is perfect, however. Bravo sop, wonderful playing. All the detail coming through now and what a bass sound! Russell getting every bit of emotion out of this closing section and finished with a magnificent and so well balanced ending. The crowd love it!!!!

Overall: Wonderful from Fodens, and this has sneaked into the lead for us. We can be picky about some tuning but it is being picky. Terrific reading from the conductor and a great response from a wonderful band. Well done all!!!!

 

Halfway Point:

Some really good performances from a first half full of variety. Fodens lead the way for us, with a top three of:

1 - Fodens

2 - Fairey

3 - Desford

 

Lots to play for in the second half with Brighouse, Black Dyke, Cory and Grimethorpe going toe to toe!!!

Lunch break now, back in 20 minutes!!!

 

10 - Whitburn

Harry - slight clips to open detract from a very atmospheric setting from Florent Didier. ome tuning issues come through the ensemble and euph clips make this a messy start.

War -  nice p from perc, whistling ok in sentiment. Band opens up to the war scenes in dramatic fashion. Tuning again comes through as an issue. 

Theatre - running passages are not the cleanest we have heard today and this hasnt really settled yet. Troms trio ok, cornets now into their stride with some really tight playing.

Journey - As this movement progresses hpwever the tightness is unravelling and bass running passages lack definition. 

Together - not very balanced between cornet and euph - both have same dynamic markings and this could have been cleaner. 

Farewell - horn unfortunately has a serious clip in the slow lyrical section here, which takes away the mood. unease on flugel as the errors begin to take their toll. Baritone does a nice job, but two noticeable clips on trombone again take a layer of gloss paint off. 

Amen - tempo is taken down here so we hear some clarify from the bass solo, but the music isn't flowing as it should. Further slips in the cornet rank, sop excels though. The close hasnt had the passion and raw emotion we have heard from other bands.

Overall: Not Whitburns best day at the office. The numerous clips and splits contributed to really take the edge of what could have otherwise been a fine show. 

 

11 - Brighouse 

Harry - almost a false start as the announcer and conductor are not in sync, but when we do start Kyle Lawson is almost sublime!Chris Robertson on euph is lovely too. Euph cadenza to close a little untidy.

War - lovely piano, and great layering of the whistling. The war scene opens with great band sounds, perc overpower though.

Theatre - real definition on show here, some very good, tight playing, good trom trio. 

Journey - horn rank just bordering on not together in the running passages, but rest of the ensemble razor sharp. Basses really good. Delicato almost dream like, followed by a commanding cadenza from Chris Robertson. 

Together -  this is sublime from solo cornet and euphonium.

Farewell - David King opts for a slower tempo than the score suggests and the music is lyrical and so emotional. Mike Eccles almost anonomously delivers his solo with so much style. Baritone handles the solo lines with ease, and the troms are in perfect tandem with him, so good! Lovely choral sounds as the movement progresses, band and conductor as one. Solo cornet takes rep solo. 

Amen - bass solo is clipped and a little clumsy, taking the gloss off the opening of this final section. Band recovers well though and lots of lovely textures and colours coming through. Sop does well. fabulous close, but the door is left truly open.

 

Overall: A strange one from Brighouse, fragile in places, sonorous and glorious in others. Not sure how the band will feel about this one?

 

12 - Black Dyke

Harry - beautiful from Richard Marshall to open proceedings. ensemble in wonderful harmony. Small clip on cadenza just takes the sheen off. Euph cadenza to close the movement is really wonderful. Bravo. 

War - quiestest piano of the day opens War. Whistling not totally together however. What a bass sound though - huge, full and full of foreboding. This is vintage sounding Dyke. 

Theatre - razor sharp running passages around the band get the movement off to a terrific start, full of drama and so, so tight. Troms tuning? Overall, just wonderful.

Journey - rhythmically tight to open, with confident entries all round the band. dynamic contrast is huge. Xylo perhaps a touch behind cornets. The larger dynamic sounds are just so rich, full and balanced. Baritone and troms excel as does the general ensemble. 

Together - so lyrical and stylishly played. Hint of top register tuning on euph.

Farewell - horn so confident in solo passage. flugel takes up the mantle with ridiculous ease, the playing so smooth. Baritone and horn passages almost perfect, just the slightest clip, but doesnt take away from the music. If anyone doubted Dyke were not back at their best, listen to this. Rep solo played on rep, thank you.

Amen - Bass solo clear and precise, ensemble is just growing with confidence with every bar. The agitato is spitting venom and sop excels. This is building to one magnificent end, I think the audience will clap 10 seconds before the piece finishes, its been that good. Nothing overblown or vulgar, just the richest sounds imaginable from a band who has just delivered a cracker. The crowd as expected, go nuts. 

 

Overall: The leader by some distance - a performance of refinement, class, confidence and sheer brilliance. They were unlucky not to win Band Of The Year, they will be unlucky not to win this one. The highest of high bars has been set. Just terrific.

 

13 - Carlton Main

Harry - uncharacteristically loud from Kirsty Abbotts for mp, and a little clip give the opening a nervy edge. It recovers well though and all is good in the world again. Euph cadenza struggles a little though.

War - nice piano start, whistling in tune and sync. War opens up, but again perc overpower. Luc Vertommen creates drama, but is quite hard. 

Theatre - running passages good and there is much control in the playing. Xylo not coming through at all though. Majority is very good.

Journey - starts a little scrappy with horn passages not totally clear. Bass runs not clear either. rest of ensemble pretty good though. Delicato a little loud, but nicely done.

Together - euph starts well, cornet sublime. Finishes well together.

Farewell - horn starts well, hinting of tuning on top register. flugel silky smooth. Baritone does very well, not totally smooth with troms though. Close to this section is glorious though and the band shines. Rep solo on rep!

Amen - bass solo is so close to being perfect. Nice ensemble sounds coming from the band. This is one of the most musical passages of the piece in my opinion, giving bands the full range to play with. The accel starts a little ploddy though and loses some impact. The final passage however is magnificent and the band finish on a climax that does justice to their proud name and heritage. 

Overall: another mixed bag performance. There will be many bands today kicking themselves for the slips and clips which will cost dearly in the final tally. 

 

14 - Flowers

Harry - Jamie Smith very solid to begin Hammonds attempt on the title. Very deliberate on the cadenza. Good euph close

War - good piano from percussion. Whistling ok, but not fabulous! War opens up with a massive but balanced noise created by this very good band. 

Theatre - running passages very good - clear, crisp and precise. excellent trombones, percussion and cornets. Very tight playing. Good stuff .

Journey - horn and mid section excel and all the detail is heard. good dynamic range and an excellent reading from Paul Holland. Wow what a huge sound. Delicato very nice.

Together - euph has so much time and blend with cornet is excellent, if not a little loud. 

Farewell - lovely horn solo and great bass sound to begin this movement. Flugel nice, but tempo has slowed visibly. Deliberate? Baritone is one of the best of the day, well played. Trombones just overpower the balance. Cornet slip just detracts.

Amen - lovely bass solo and ensemble work. This is very tight and balanced. The accel takes off just right. Paul Richards on sop, wow!! Controlled but pulsating and exciting, this is good stuff from Flowers. Balanced and sonorous in the final passages. Good climax. A shame the hall was only half full to hear the band. 

 

Overall: A good show from Flowers that may sneak them into a top six position. Small clips and issues, but when it was good, it was very good!

 

15 - Hammonds Saltaire

Harry - confident start from the solo cornet, but a couple of small clips take the gloss off. Nice ensemble sounds and strong euph close.

War - perc very loud for piano. good whistling. War imagery opens up with a great bass end, but slightly too much percussion. rest is on the whole good.

Theatre - running passages nicely articulated and we hear definition and detail. Well done. Good xylo work. tight ensemble and good trombone trio, Morgan keeping great control over his band when it would be easy to let it gallop away.

Journey - confident and rhythmic start to this and all detail is heard. This performance is growing in stature. wonderful ff balanced sounds. Delicato a little heavt though. 

Together - euph and cornet do very well syncing together, if a little loud and more detail could be given to dynamic contrasts.

Farewell - a sonorous and proud opening to Farewell, and horn and flugel are making lovely sounds with some excellent ensemble. Baritone does superbly well and troms do not overpower, this is so well balanced. Building gracefully to a full forte chorale. some slight tuning on basses, but ensemble so well balanced. 

Amen - bass solo is almost there, great attempt. the ensemble takes over and it again is almost quite there. Couple of slips, I suspect from tiredness coming in, but its not fatal. The band builds to a proud climax and received a very good ovation from the audience. As I said on Twitter, this is the hardest working band there is, and if effort was a factor they would win every contest!

 

Overall: A performance Hammonds should rightly feel proud of. A great effort.

 

16 - Cory - Defending Champions

 Harry - wonderful start from Tom Huchinson, there is some tuning on sop however - didnt sound right.  Euph closes first movement in fine style.

War - a true piano from percussion, thanks you ladies and gents. Whistling not totally convincing. massive war imagery, but not overblown and percussion in control. 

Theatre - running passages are sublime - every bit of detail is heard. Lovely xylo work James Andrews. terrific bones trio and running basses are just so light. Dynamic control superb. 

Journey - Every accent is head, every dynamic change audible. Slight fuzziness on basses, but Im being picky. Delicato is striaght from Explorers on The Moon!!

Together - Glyn Williams and solo cornet are in perfect sync, though slight tuning issue with rep. 

Farewell - one of the slower tempos of the day and MD Phil Harper is wringing every bit of emotion out of this he can! Helen Williams picks up the baton and delivers in some style. Baritone cadenza given so much space and very well managed. Troms in perfect harmony - wonderful playing. And now the build....perfectly balanced with such style. Rep and 2nd cornet deliver their solos off stage.

Amen - bass solo delivered with absolute aplomb. Cory now settling down for a showboating and memorable finish, I'm sure! The accel is on, but sop clips a bad one, very noticeable. Cory wind up with a thunderous climax and the audience is rightly going wild!!!

Overall: The cat is well and truly amongst the pigeons, with the eyelash of said pigeon separating Cory and Black Dyke - which way we dont know yet, but the two standout performances of the day, by a country mile! That was a study in how to defend your title. They could do no more.

 

17 - Aldbourne

Harry - following a solid start, it gets a little clippy, but the overall band sound is wonderful under the maestro Ivan Maylemans. Euph sdtruggles in top register a little.

War - very good percussion piano, whistling is very good. War opens up in vivid style and we hear all the detail, not overblown. 

Theatre - the band has definition and control in the semi quaver running passages. Well done. The band is responding to their flamboyant conductor in some style, and I suspect they are enjoying this! Not the loudest band today, but very detailed.

Journey - starts with rhythm and purpose, if a little loud for the dynamic. not all details comes through the basses and middle of the band, but its not far away. Delicato is very nicely done.

Together - euph cadenza is stylishly played, just needs a little more balance with the cornets. Ending is lovely. 

Farewell - nice phrasing from tenor horn, despite a couple of small blips. flugel follows on with again lovely lines and phrasing. Baritone struggles unfortunately, but duet with trombones recovers well. Ensemble gives such a glorious sound it is a joy to listen to. 

Amen - bass solo is almost handled with disdain, but the following ensemble has so much style and swagger. The accel for home sees sop excel with some very tight ensemble playing. 

Overall: The band shows plenty of stamina in the tank and keeps it going right to the end. They get a deserved excellent reception from the audience. Bravo Aldbourne, you have done everyone associated with your organisation proud today. Terrific performance!

 

 18 - Grimethorpe

Harry - a nervy start from Iain Culross clipping his first note. Some tuning issues in ensemble are evident too. It recovers with a good euph cadenza.

War - slightly loud on percussion, whistling a little incoherent. War opens up though in savage brutality with a massive sound from Grimethorpe. A different take on the reading from David Thornton. 

Theatre - running passages start with a blip, but recover and settle nicely. Trom trio works well. band now settled, feet on the floor and producing some very good stuff. 

Journey - horn and cornet rank working well together. Basses a little muddy though through their running passages. Delicato quite heavy, not dreamlike.

Together - Michael Dodd doesnt disappoint on his cadenza, balance with cornets not always evident though. 

Farewell - Helen Varley makes easy work of her horn solo, and very nicely done it is too! Mark Walters shows how the flugel solo should be played with a wonderfully lyrical style. This is a performance that is getting better as it goes along.  Baritone does a passable job of his solo, but trio with troms is not balanced or perfectly in tune. Another conductor who goes for a slightly slower tempo but keeps the music flowing. 

Amen - Sean Crowther shows his pedigree with a lovely bass solo. Ensemble a touch heavy too soon though. Accel is settled, but sop clips detract. Final run for home explodes into huge sounds (a little hard). The climax as you would expect from Grimethorpe is huge. 

Overall: A pretty good first contest with new conductor David Thornton, not without its blemishes and faults, but very commendable. Could it possibly squeeze into a top six? Maybe, just maybe....

 

The Round Up:

Well, firstly the piece. Not quite the sum of its parts in either length or complexity, but it did cause problems. With a piece of this nature, the devil is in the detail and doing the basics correctly. Keep the performance clean, musical, in control and use the dynamics to full effect, and you are halfway there. Its not one to live long into the memory like Fraternity or Brussels requiem, but it did its job in sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

So, for our top six predition:

1 - Black Dyke

2 - Cory

3 - Fodens

4 - Desford

5 - Brighouse

6 - Faireys

 

Dark Horses: Grimethorpe, Valaisia, Tredagar.

 

As for the other end of the scale, I suspect NASUWT Riverside, Wingates and Leyland could be in the mire.

 

As always, it is only our opinion, and we dont count!!! Results to follow shortly!

 

RESULTS:

1 - Cory

2 - Black Dyke

3 - Fodens

4 - Desford

5 - Flowers

6 - Brighouse and Rastrick

 

Best Soloist - Tom Hutchinson , Cory

Best Soprano - Mark Poole, Fodens

Best Euphonium - Dan Thomas, Black Dyke