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

SECTION 1-4 NATIONAL FINALS CHELTENHAM - LIVE COMMENTS

Wednesday 11 September, 2019

Sections 1-4 Finals 2019, The Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse - Rob Tompkins reporting

Test Piece: 'Occasion' — Edward Gregson

The Results

6th - Besses
5th - Newmains
4th - Epsom
3rd - Sidmouth
2nd - Chapeltown
1st - South Yorkshire Police
 
Best instrumentalist – Flugel with Besses

That is it for the 2nd section, here are my top 6

1st Newmains
2nd Sidmouth
3rd South Yorkshire Police
4th Cockerton
5th Epsom
6th Bollington



Farnworth & Walkden (Luke Pallister)
We get a good opening from the final band of the weekend, the fanfare was neat and tidy and well presented. The 2nd movement is driving forward and has a lovely flow about it, it is very neat, all entries come through well and the dynamic change works well. The 3rd movement feels a little less confident, but still comes across well, we get a few issues with intonation, but the band push on and continue to give a full sound and good entries, the build in dynamic works well and lifts the music with it, good Sop, intonation again as the movement draws to a close. The final movement is coming over well, it feels a little forced in tempo, but holds on to the big ending.

Newmains & District (Michael Marzella)
A big, grand opening and what a lovely sound, the band are not holding back, need to keep driving on, the tempo takes a step back, the slower section works well, good balance and very clear movement through the band. The energy remains through to the end of the movement and this is a good performance so far. Into the 3rd movement and what lovely solo passages we get, the playing has lovely shape and flow, when the band are playing through the quiet sections you can still hear everything, the volume builds and the balance is good throughout. The full sound continues into the 4th movement, this has everything, controlled volume, but a big sound that makes you take notice. 

Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman)
We get good opening fanfare that is well balanced, the tempo in the 2nd movement is quick, but the band keep up and sound in control, we have drive and it is very neat. Good balance and drive push the piece on and the band keep the intensity. Into the 3rd movement and we get some big sounds even for something so quiet. The solo sections come across well and sound very confident. A lovely big sound at the end of the movement, this is growing into a good performance. The 4th movement continues to give us the full sound and drive, the dynamic contrasts and exposed entries are confident. A big ending to a good performance.

Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)
We get a good fanfare and 2nd movement, the balance was good and some of the dynamics were well delivered, the intonation was not so good at times, this seems to be something that a lot of the bands are having trouble with. The 3rd movement seems to suit the band better as they produce a lovely full sound, it opens up into the loud section of the movement and you get a lovely full sound. The final movement opens well, but some clarity is lost through some of the phrases. The band are trying to get something out of the piece, dynamics help it and we get a good ending.  

Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)
A good opening and controlled, it remains strong through the Fanfare and moves into the 2nd movement well, it’s together and balanced, the band are playing what is there and without many slips which is good, it just lacks drive. The Elegy shows up some intonation issues early on, there are some good moments in this movement, it just feels it needs something more. Into the last movement and we get the same, it is very safe and the band are playing what is there, we get some good dynamics and some good solid entries, it was well played, but needed something more to trouble the top places.

Rolls Royce (Derby) (Graham Cardwell)
A strong start, tempo feels a little quick, but it has a good feel of a fanfare, there are some slips that cause the band to lose flow for a few bars. The 2nd movement continues in the same way, a mix of some great sounds and feeling of movement but slips just stop the flow and the band take a few bars to get that back. The 3rd movement seems to suit the band better, there are some cautious moments, but in the main the balance is good and the control is there. The final movement has good momentum but the clarity of some of the notes is lost. The band go for the big finish and nearly pull it off.

Tendring (Antony Sanders)
The opening didn’t feel like a fanfare, it was quite a cautious start. The first two movements have been good, but have suffered with slips, when the band is settled they sound good, when the slips happen they recover well, it just upsets the flow a little. The 3rd movement is coming across well, but again we get slips that just upset the flow. A good opening to the 4th movement, this is coming across well, nice and tidy, good entries and it builds well. A good ending.

Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey)
Not off to the best start, it comes across as untidy for a couple of bars but there is a lovely rich sound to the band as well. This is under control and the band are making the most of a good dynamic range. The exposed sections are well played and balanced so they come through. The 3rd movement is all about control and balance and Sidmouth have both, as the band change the dynamic the balance remains and it is all very smooth, one or two bumps creep in which is a shame, but the band are in control of this movement and are sounding great. A lovely opening to the 4th movement, this is turning into a great performance, each entry is neat and balanced with the band. A great ending, we are getting better and better with each band now.


South Yorkshire Police (Leigh Baker)
Control of the opening is spot on, nothing rushed or thrown away, a good start. Dynamics are good and balance to allow all the sounds through, very well played. This is a very well managed performance, the dynamics are the biggest asset, some parts of the piece that have not been heard before are coming through. Trying to get the opening to the 3rd movement as quiet as possible and a couple of the notes are just behind the beat, some lovely solo work. Great balance, the MD Leigh Baker is keeping everyone on their toes with instructions as they play and the band are doing as instructed. A lovely move in dynamic to a full and rich sound. The 4th movement starts well and the flow is there from the off, the soft and smooth is as well controlled as the big and bold. A great performance and for me this is the one to beat.

At the half way stage and I will go with

1st Cockerton
2nd Gresley
3rd Bollington

Cockerton Prize Silver (Andy Hunter)
The strongest and most confident start yet, well balanced and is moving along at a good pace, the exposed sections are being played well and the movement continues to grow as it goes and ends strongly. The Elegy is not so strong, there is some lovely lyrical playing, but the band don’t sound so confident in this section of the piece. As the volume increases the big sound comes with it and what a lovely sound, at the quieter dynamic the confidence is not so evident. The 4th movement is starting to sound untidy, big ending was very good.

Epsom & Ewell Silver (Paul Graham)
Strong to start and a band that are in control from the off and through both the 1st and 2nd movements, dynamics and control are the key and they have both. The 3rd movement is lovely, opens well and sounds so controlled, a sit back and enjoy movement from Epsom. The balance is spot on, a lovely end to the movement. The 4th movement keeps things moving along, but I start to hear some untidy sections of the piece which is a shame. A big ending to the piece that works well.

Gresley Colliery (Craig Stevens)
A good opening fanfare and good 2nd movement, there is some real sparkle and control about this performance, they are together and working well as a team producing some great sounds. The 3rd movement has a really nice feel and balance, a slip here and there, but mixed in with some delightful moments. I am enjoying the performance, it has a feeling of control about it and that helps the music flow. We get some great drive in the 4th movement and a great sound to finish.

North Skelton (Lewis Wilkinson)
Another confident start and the move into the 1st movement keeps the momentum and drive, there are no heroics, just a steady performance and a good feeling as the parts merge and produce a very nice, full sound. Nice opening to the 3rd movement, it has a really calming feel about it. Lovely Flugel, this is a lovely sound, shame about the slips, this movement is the highlight of the performance and the band are playing with confidence and it’s coming across well. The 4th movement starts off at a good rate and the players hang on a little to get it played, some players are not managing the tempo and are just off the pace, but it was a good effort.

Bollington (Peter Christian)
There is some real confidence about the opening and 2nd movement, powerful and controlled, the balance works well and all the entries can be heard. Bollington are in control which shows and the music is flowing. Dynamics are controlled to the end of the movement. The 3rd Movement is presented beautifully and well balanced, the soloist comes across well, this movement is flowing and has a really good feel about it, balance is key, everything gets heard and all at the same volume. 4th movement is lively as marked and is being managed well, very few uncertain moments in this performance.

Bedford Town (Craig Paterson)
We get off to a good opening and then get some intonation problems, the band get back on track and start to take the piece on, only for a couple of slips to creep in. The bands are all tripping over at some point in this opening movement. There is some confidence in the loud sections and the band give some shape but then it becomes stilted and loses it’s shape. Into movement 3 and intonation is an issue to open, it takes time to settle and just as it does a slip and we lose it again. It lacks dynamic contrast and character, when it starts to feel like its coming together a couple of wayward bars and it’s fighting again. Into the 4th movement and we have some lovely shape and movement about this, a real flow and feeling of energy to the end.

Besses Boys (James Holt)
We get a more consistent opening from Besses, just as it seems to settle it starts to lose momentum and drops off a little, we then get some slips and the band take a few bars to settle back down. Into the 3rd movement and we get some lovely quiet playing, a lovely opening to this section and the solo is smooth and very sweet, well played. The rest of the movement has some moments that are well presented and well balanced but then a bar that doesn’t balance and the moment is lost. Into the last section and we get some good passages that are well played and well controlled, some great dynamics and some lovely little solo sections. Through to a big finish, the last movement went well.

Chapeltown Silver Prize (Sam Fisher)
A strong opening and move into the 2nd movement, some lovely moments coming through, well balanced which allows it to all be heard. The feel and flow is good and nice tidy playing helps the piece keep its momentum. We get the odd slip, but it feels secure in the main. Good contrasts and controlled loud sections a lovely cornet solo, it feels a little held back but then flows again and has a nice build into the louder sections. Some lovely contrasts are well executed and feel very secure. The 4th movement has a lovely feel of movement and drive, but we hear some slips and that detracts from the performance which is a shame.

Weston (Carl Whiteoak)
Good opening Fanfare and some tricky areas that were well navigated, some areas sound scrappy, not together. But we get a lovely sound when the band are in full flow.  Elegy is well balanced, but some entries not secure, it feels very calm and flows well, but the slips keep coming. We get a good balance and can hear some lovely moments in this movement. I don’t feel the confidence from the playing and some scrappy moments are not helping. It didn’t get going.

Adjudicators: Nicholas Garman, John Maines, Steve Sykes

1. Weston (Carl Whiteoak)
2. Chapeltown Silver Prize (Sam Fisher)
3. Besses Boys (James Holt)
4. Bedford Town (Craig Paterson)
5. Bollington (Peter Christian)
6. North Skelton (Lewis Wilkinson)
7. Gresley Colliery (Craig Stevens)
8. Epsom & Ewell Silver (Paul Graham)
9. Cockerton Prize Silver (Andy Hunter)
10. South Yorkshire Police (Leigh Baker)
11. Sidmouth Town (Adrian Harvey)
12. Tendring (Antony Sanders)
13. Rolls Royce (Derby) (Graham Cardwell)
14. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)
15. Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)
16. Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman)
17. Newmains & District (Michael Marzella)
18. Farnworth & Walkden (Luke Pallister)

3rd Section - Viking Age Thierry Deleruyelle

Here are the results 

6th Chichester City
5th Kippax
4th Gosport
3rd Poole Borough
2nd Taff Vale
1st Uppermill

Cornet player of Taff Vale gets best instrumentalist

This is going to be tight I think, my top 6 are

Uppermill
Taff Valley
Gosport
Trimdon
Hawk Green
Kippax

Trimdon Concert (William Harrison)
The opening is quick, but controlled and comes across well. The quiet sections in the opening don’t feel quite so confident, they are still well handled and the dynamics are well controlled, the confidence builds and we are back on track. The tempo is pulling, there is a bit of a battle for a few bars and then settles again. Good balance across the 2nd movement and dynamic contrasts are well handled, there is a lovely flow. With only one player in the percussion team the big percussion does not dominate the band, this is a good thing. Lovely cadenza and ending to the movement and into the final movement we get a lovely feeling of calm, i’m going to sit back and listen, back in a minute…. Lovely, well played and the ending is big and controlled as well. Good performance, might see you get a placing.

Chichester City (Rom Stanko)
The opening doesn’t feel secure, a couple of slips hinder the progress, the band move through the quiet opening section with a bit more purpose, now we are starting to hear a better flow. The band are growing in confidence as we go and it is sounding much more positive going into the 2nd movement. There is a lot of good playing in the 3rd section and some great dynamics and control, then end of the movement works well and the move into the final movement is calm and well presented.

Gosport Solent (Colin Garner)
This has a nice feel about it, all well controlled both in tempo and dynamics, the loud and brash has an edge and the quiet and calm is still driving forward and keeping momentum. I am feeling that it is a little too much under control in dynamics, we are getting very loud from percussion but not so much from the band, having said that the band dynamics start to push the volume and we get a nice full sound. A well played cadenza and the band take us through to the end of the movement with some controlled playing and well balanced dynamics. Into the final movement and another band that controls the flow and shape well, the odd slip, but the flow is not interrupted. We build to the ending and now we hear what the band has in the locker, a lovely full sound. Good ending.

Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)
Off to a flying start, there is a lot of intent about the opening, but just lacking some control. This is taking some time to settle down and when it does we get a good sound from the band. The tempo just feels to quick, the band feel like they are playing catchup. Percussion is big, maybe a little too big. When the piece calms down the band calm down with is and we hear some very well balanced playing, calm and smooth is suiting the band. The final section shows what they can produce and it sounds lovely, the quicker areas of the piece felt like hard work.

Hawk Green (Marple) (Neil Hewson)
An opening with some urgency and energy, moving to the slower and quieter section we have a lovely balance, some slips creep in, but the momentum isn’t lost, the end of the movement is good and percussion take us into the next movement well. The band have settled into this and we start to hear some lovely phrasing and flow, the balance is good with all parts coming across. The cadenza is handled well and the end of the section is controlled and we all take a breath as we move into the calm of the final movement. The band are trying to keep the volume to a minimum and in some cases the start of the note is lost, but the build to the end is good and well controlled.

Irvine and Dreghorn (Lewis Bettles)
A strong and bold opening, but very early on we hear intonation issues that hamper progress of the phrases and detract from the lovely sounds that are also coming through. We are getting a real mixed bag of playing, some lovely moments and then sections that don’t sit and sound untidy. Some lovely cornet work and a real feeling of calm in the quieter sections, good phrase endings and we are hearing the best of the band. A different interpretation on the cadenza, the end of the movement suffers with intonation issues and balance is not quite right. In the final movement we are getting some quite beautiful sections of this piece but we also get some bad intonation which is a real shame. The ending is controlled and well played.

Usk (James Jones)
A lovely opening and the band sound very confident, as we move through the movement we get some lovely sounds from the band. Into the next movement and we get a few slips and we lose a few phrases and the band don’t quite keep together. For me the percussion is too much and bands parts get hidden, the band move together well and balance is good. The Cadenza is well played and the end to the movement is good. The final movement gives us quiet and calm and this is handled well by the band, building to the finish is controlled and comes across well. For me the percussion being so loud has detracted from a good overall performance, some slips but in the main this was well played.

Raunds Temperance (Jonathan Pippen)
The first movement opens well and with confidence, the quitter section has a nice flow and this continues through to the build into the next movement. This is a well put together performance that does everything the score asks for, every dynamic change is noted and the balance and intent of the band is good. I find the percussion too much, it overpowers the band in places and we lose the overall effect. The drive is there and we are motoring along and because everyone is going together we feel that movement. Into the final movement and we need to be calmed and we are, intonation is key and a few issues slip in, but the overall effect works well and the band build to end well. A good performance, they did the parts asked for.

Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Phillip Tait)
I like the opening, some intent shown and a solid start, as it calms the sound from the band feels a little thin, but we then open up into the louder part of the movement and the big sound comes with it. Good work from cornets at the start of the 2nd movement. Percussion is very dominant in places and not always where you would expect it to be. The band end the movement well and we move into ‘raids’ and percussion is the dominant sound again. The band flow well and balance is good, as we build in dynamic the full sound returns and with the confidence of the band reaches another level, the end to the movement is good, control and balance, intonation is not great though. Into the last movement and it all calms down and what a lovely sound from the assistant principal cornet, some slips start to creep in and tuning is off. When the volume returns then the band sound so much happier and confident.

 

Time for a comfort break, back in 20 mins

Here are my top 3 at the halfway stage

Uppermill
Taff Vale
Perthshire

Kippax (Stephen Tighe)
Bands are enjoying the opening section, Kippax are moving well through the opening, we calm down and a lovely flow through the band, some balance issues, not hearing all the parts in places. Some of the detail is lost in the cornet parts, but we gain some drive to the piece and everything settles down nicely. Into the next movement and we start to build the tension, smooth and calm is good, edge and brash are not there, that may be the intention of course. Good control in the final movement which sets the mood well and continues to stay through to the end of the piece.

Stamford (Julian Bright)

A good slick tempo to get us started and there is control of the dynamics, maybe a little too much, it needs some volume to give the piece some drive.
The band are playing well, but I am not feeling the story. We get some drive as we move into ‘Raids’ and we now build and start to feel the excitement of what is about to come, well controlled quavers and semi-quavers. The end of the movement gives us a nice feeling of calm and the cadenza is well presented along with the end of the movement. Into the last movement and we are feeling very mellow, the band play this section very well. The piece has just lacked some drive and volume in places, it has been played well, but just missing that edge.

South Molton Town (Gil Taylor)
We get a good opening and the band settle into it very quickly, we seem to be lacking some drive and intent. It feels like the band are holding back a lot of the time. There are some lovely sounds, it just feels a little slow in places and that I feel is holding it back. Some lovely solo sections, the control in there. A great cadenza and the end to the movement is very well executed. Into the final movement and this is the band at their best, control, flow, balance, it’s all there. What a lovely ending to the piece.

Perthshire Brass (George Annan)
A good opening, off to a good start. Doesn’t quite have the urgency and drive in the opening, but the band settle and we get some great contrasts. Good work from the back row cornets at the start of the 2nd movement. The flow is lovely and the dynamics are controlled. Great sound from the sop. The opening of the 3rd movement could have been even bigger for me from the percussion. Good work from the band on articulation and the semi-quavers all played well and together. Good work at the end of this movement and a good cadenza. The final movement is well balanced and very well played, it is very calm and you just want to sit back and listen, the cresc works well, the volume drops off a little but then returns and we are taken to the end of the piece with some lovely sounds.

Uppermill (Dean Redfern)
We get a great opening and it just goes from strength to strength, forgot to write for a moment or two which is a good sign, this is some great story telling and they are painting some great pictures. This piece is great and this band are clearly enjoying performing. For 3rd section this playing is outstanding, such control, in both the smooth and slow and the loud and brash. MD Dean Redfern is giving the band all the info they need and they respond by the bucket load. What control, this is getting better as it goes on. Superb!


Taff Vale
(Gareth Ritter)
We are off to an opening that is not hanging around, the band stay with it well and we get a good opening section, controlled ending and move into movement 2 has good energy, good sop. Percussion take control as we go into movement 3, some very neat and tidy cornet work helps the feeling of drive a purpose. We move into the smooth and keep the balance well and keep the drive, the end of the movement is well controlled and a good cadenza. The final section and the band are producing a lovely rich sound that you just want to sit back and listen to, so smooth and clean. This is another good performance of the piece, they have taken the piece to another level, this is the band to beat.


Wetherby Silver (Derek Warley)
A solid opening, missing some edge to get us sitting on the edge of our seats. We get a lovely smooth and slow in the opening section, nice balance, nice sop. The end of the movement is balanced and the percussion take us into the next movement well. We move towards the raids and the tension is on the music and off we go, good percussion. Controlled bass end, the Vikings are coming. Good work from Solo Horn and Flugel, I am enjoying this. The final movement gives us such a feeling of calm, so smooth and well balanced. It wasn’t without any slips, but overall I really enjoyed this performance.

Valley Brass - Haydock (David Chadwick)
The opening works well and the band sound full of confidence. Good build into the 2nd movement, cornets not so tidy in the opening of this section. The band are playing well and the drive is there, good flow which is what is needed. Opening of the 3rd movement doesn’t sound like a raid until the band join and then the sound fills. Good cadenza and the band move into the final movement and the lovely flow is back, the band sound good in these slower more flowing sections of the piece. We move through to end well and produce a good final section.

Poole Borough (Lloyd Bartlett)
Excitement from the off, a good opening and we move through the opening movement, the build into the 2nd movement is good and more excitement builds. Percussion let it be know the raids are coming, good build of dynamics and the balance is very good. Nice cadenza from the solo cornet. The opening of heritage is very calm and very well controlled. This section of the piece is so smooth and so calm, no harsh edges to any notes and the sound fills as it gets louder and the band keep the flow which is nice. The ending is well controlled.

Here is the draw for the 3rd Section

Adjudicators: Philip Harper, Paul Holland & Melvin White

1. Poole Borough (Lloyd Bartlett)
2. Valley Brass (Haydock) (David Chadwick)
3. Wetherby Silver (Derek Warley)
4. Taff Vale (Gareth Ritter)
5. Uppermill (Dean Redfern)
6. Perthshire Brass (George Annan)
7. South Molton Town (Gil Taylor)
8. Stamford (Julian Bright)
9. Kippax (Stephen Tighe)
10. Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Phillip Tait)
11. Raunds Temperance (Jonathan Pippen)
12. Usk (James Jones)
13. Irvine and Dreghorn (Lewis Bettles)
14. Hawk Green (Marple) (Neil Hewson)
15. Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)
16. Gosport Solent (Colin Garner)
17. Chichester City (Rom Stanko)
18. Trimdon Concert (William Harrison)

 

1st Section - Endeavour Philip Sparke

Here are the results 

1. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)
2. Rainford (Dr David Thornton)
3. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
4. Michelmersh Silver (Melvin White)
5. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)
6. Kirkintilloch (David Roberts)
7. Fulham (John Ward)
8. Amersham (Paul Fisher)
9. Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stan Lippeatt)
10. Bodmin Town (John Maines)
11. Enderby (Ryan Richards)
12. Burry Port Town (Ceri John)
13. Hucknall & Linby MC (Paul Whyley)
14. Old Silkstone (John Hopkinson)
15. Ripon City (Mark Sidwell)
16. J36 (Steven Craig)

My thoughts are

1st Rainford
2nd Goodwick
3rd Unison Kinneil
4th Boarshurst
5th Michelmersh
6th Hatfield

Let see what the adjudicators think

Kirkintilloch (David Roberts)
The softest of openings and then a good build to a full sound, lovely contrast and a lovely full sound. Good drive and determination as we move though, loses some shape in some bars, finds it feet again and keeps moving, into the quiet section there are some lovely solo passages. A few slips are evident, the band regain their big sound in the louder section and move along at a good rate. We move into the ending and the band are giving everything, a good performance to round off the day, but I don’t feel this will break into the top 6.

Michelmersh Silver (Melvin White)

Control and confidence to start the piece and the balance is just right, the band open up to a full sound which is big but controlled and gives a very warm feeling. This is another good opening, some great work throughout the opening movement, we move on and we start to feel the drive and still the band are in control and playing this so well. Solo sections are strong and the ending continues to drive and give us some lovely big sounds. Fine margins will make the difference, this could be top 6.

Rainford (Dr David Thornton)
Opening is not as quiet as many of the other bands, it has a feeling of security about it, but needs to be quieter. MD Dr David Thorton expresses his wishes in his face and his conducting and the band respond. We are starting to hear the bands big sound when we get to the louder sections and what a lovely sound they have. This is another well worked and played performance, everything is there, everything is well played, it is down to fine details today and maybe a few notes here and there may make all the difference. There are some lovely solo sections coming out of this, Tenor Horn was excellent. Moving through the last movement the drive is coming through well and the playing is neat and tidy through to the end.

Ripon City (Mark Sidwell)
A calm and controlled opening, the move into the fast and loud is also well controlled, some good drive from the MD and band, a real feeling of movement about this performance. The move back to slow and calm is well managed and we hear some lovely solo work. We move into the next movement with a strong and confident sound, this looks like being another of the confident and well constructed performances, there has been little wrong with what is being played, this will go into the mixer with all the other bands that have captured the piece and played everything that is on the score. I don’t think it will get a top 3, but it may be in the top 6 if it pleases the adjudicators ear.

This is getting very interesting, a very high standard but some very different interpretations. The Adjudicators are earning their fee today.

Old Silkstone (John Hopkinson)
We get a good opening from Old Silkstone, but it doesn’t feel totally secure. It doesn’t flow well through some parts of the 2nd movement, but then picks up and is solid again. Good dynamics, but slips are creeping in. Some big sounds that are great and control in some of the solo sections is good. Just has moments where it doesn’t fit and we get an untidy bar. It has good pace and drive and the band are giving it everything. A good ending.

Hucknall & Linby MC (Paul Whyley)
A confident opening and as we move to the louder sections of the opening movement the full sound of the band is heard and what a lovely sound. This is a confident performance, doesn’t quite grab you as others have, but the performance is strong and the playing is good. Balance is very good, everything is coming across, dynamics are good and well controlled. The solo sections work well and the ending is good. A great performance, but with the standard is so high today I am not sure this will squeeze into the placings.

J36 (Steven Craig)
Steven Craig take the band today, we all wish Andy Warriner’s daughter a quick recovery. The opening has it’s mystery element but doesn’t feel secure, we also get some tuning issues as the band move into the louder sections of the opening. The band are full of confidence going into the next movement, some great sounds but also mixed with some untidy sections which is a shame. We are hearing some great sounds, some great balance and some good dynamics, there are some uncertain moments as well which upsets the flow.


Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)
Well, just when you don’t think it can get any better and along come Goodwick, what an opening, just magical. Into the next movement and we start to get the excitement of the piece and this is very well presented, very strong and with a swagger about it. The band are in control, they are giving everything and what a fantastic sound, this is going to be another contender for top spot. Some bands today are going to have played their socks and still not get a top 3, the standard is so high. The standard remains into the final movement and the solo sections are a delight and what a great sound coming into the ending. Great performance.

We are back after a comfort break

Fulham (John Ward)
We are getting some top notch performances here today, the time and effort that these bands have put in must be off the scale, some terrific performances. Fulham open so well, so controlled, moving into the faster section with ease and driving forward, a real feeling of excitement builds and they keep us on the edge of our seats. We move to the delicate and smooth, the playing is so graceful, these solo sections come across so well. When the tempo picks up to end the band all go together, more great dynamics. The adjudicators are going to have a job to separate these bands, we are only half way and already have 4 that could take top spot. 

Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)
You could hear a pin drop in the opening bars, the Tuba and Percussion section were so quiet. As the band move into the louder section we get a feel for the sound they can produce, it is controlled and well balanced and some lovely movement is felt. This is another excellent performance, with real drive, but all so well controlled. The solo sections are delivered with great authority, this is great, I am really enjoying listening to this. It has everything, the precision is excellent, the balance, dynamics, sound are all outstanding. Well played, very well played. This one goes to the top of the pile for me

Amersham (Paul Fisher)
Another good opening to the piece and the move through the opening section is well controlled and very well executed, we move up tempo and up in volume but the control remains which is excellent, it is a well put together performance by Amersham, always feels that the band are on top of this piece, the solo sections are well delivered. Very neat and tidy into the Celebration and this remains into the final part of the piece. This is a well delivered performance, it certainly caught my imagination.

Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
The mysterious opening is well controlled by Boarshurst, each part played well and a good balance. As the volume increases you start to hear the full sound of the band and what a lovely sound it is. A well-controlled change in volume and dynamics brings us into the next section of the piece and we are feeling the tension within the music which has been captured well.
Boarshurst have this piece under control, everything feels secure, it is very tight and great to listen to. This takes top spot so far for me.

Enderby (Ryan Richards)

The mysterious opening almost disappears, the Tuba sound gets lost for a bar or so, as we are taken through the unknown continent the band settle and at the vivace the band spring into life and this section is very neat and tidy. The louder sections seem to suit the band more and they handle these very well. MD Ryan Richards is giving the band confidence with clear queues and they respond with some lovely playing in the solo sections, the tuning does suffer a little here. It doesn’t sound so secure as we move through the next section of the piece, the security returns leading up to the Presto, the band are working hard now and keeping it together and into the finish.

Burry Port Town (Ceri John)

Volume is a little louder for Burry Port, intonation issues creep into the opening, but we also get some quite delightful chords and the balance is spot on, if a little louder than marked. As we move on and the volume increases the band keep control and we start to feel the tension in the music, it is real edge of the seat writing from Philip Sparke. We have moments where it doesn’t quite sit, the band keep the tension and drop away in volume and tempo and we settle into some lovely solo sections. Some very neat and tidy cornets and then a couple of untidy bars which is a shame, the piece loses some of its drive and passion, it picks up again as the tempo picks up and the basses give the piece a good push, tempo moves, volume increases into the ending and I get a few bars that don’t quite flow. A Good final section to finish.

Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stan Lippeatt)

Control in the opening section is spot on, you can only just hear them over the extractor fans in the ceiling.

What a lovely full sound we get from Hatfield, you feel there is more in the tank, this is another very strong opening, the quiet sections are so well executed and the balance is spot on, moving into the faster tempo the band build in volume and it feels very intense. Even with Troms on full volume the rest of the band are still getting through and the drop into the quieter sections is done very well. The Euph and Flugel duet is well played and the solo from the principal cornet follows with Trombone taking over and it all flows across the band, beautiful. You start to notice some moments where it is not quite so tidy, not quite so together, the start and middle just felt so good and as we move into the later stages it hasn’t felt quite so secure. It is a great sound, but has lost that security. I enjoyed the performance, just wonder if the last quarter of the piece was as tight as the first three-quarters.

Bodmin Town (John Maines)

What an opening, so well played and so tricky to get right, the scene has well and truly been set. Everything is so exposed but is being very well executed, precision is spot on. The piece is a real test for everyone and Bodmin are leaving no stone unturned, control and precision are key and they have this sorted. Some lovely solo sections, not without a few slips, but in the main very well played. The dynamic contrast is huge and really effective, all controlled and not overblown. It is a great piece and the band have made the most of what has been written, an enjoyable piece to listen to and Bodmin played it very well, it felt controlled. Well played, a good start to the section.

Here is the draw for the 1st Section

Piece: Endeavour by Philip Sparke
Adjudicators:Gary Davies, Howard Evans and Glyn Williams

1. Bodmin Town (John Maines)
2. Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stan Lippeatt)
3. Burry Port Town (Ceri John)
4. Enderby (Ryan Richards)
5. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
6. Amersham (Paul Fisher)
7. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)
8. Fulham (John Ward)
9. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)
10. J36 (Steven Craig)
11. Hucknall & Linby MC (Paul Whyley)
12. Old Silkstone (John Hopkinson)
13. Ripon City (Mark Sidwell)
14. Rainford (Dr David Thornton)
15. Michelmersh Silver (Melvin White)
16. Kirkintilloch (David Roberts)

 

Here are the results of the 4th section

6th - Sale

5th - Rode Hall Silver

4th - Beaumaris

3rd - Simon Langton

2nd - Redruth

1st - Tewit Silver 

Best Instrumentalist - Flugel of Tewit Silver

 

For me the top 6 are

Beaumaris

Redruth

Tewit

Ratby

Sale

Nailsworth

Lets see what the adjudicators think.

Wroughton Silver (Simon Jones)

Jackets off for Wroughton Silver, a solid opening, not very clear on the semi quavers, but good intent. A good early part to the piece and we have a band that is settled in and making the most of the music, MD Simon Jones is in control and the band are following his lead and taking his encouragement as the piece grows. Into the slower section and the Euph Cornet was well executed. The band are controlling the slower section well and giving some lovely phrases. There is some great playing from across the whole band, really making a good effort. Dynamics and Intonation have been controlled a well put together performance. Well done, a great end to the contest.

Newland Concert (Simon Railton)

Feeling a little rushed in the opening section, but the band are keeping together, good contrast of dynamics gives the piece some life which is good to hear. Good sections early in the piece and then a slip which is a shame. Some good solo work, the slower more exposed sections are well controlled and the band have a lovely sound. Soprano is on good form, a lovely sound. Euph also has a lovely sound and blends well in her duet passages. Intonation in the back row cornets in the quiet section, tenor horns have a lovely sound. There are some lovely sections to this performance. MD Simon Railton is making every beat super clear, the band are in no doubt of where the beat is. Some untidy areas near the end, but overall very good.

Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)

We get a strong opening from Rode Hall, everything is being played, is balanced, maybe lacking a little in dynamics and feels a bit safe at the start. It starts to flow in the faster sections, still controlled and very carefully played, very few slips and tuning is good. Soloists do well and present them well. The band follow the MD who gives them every half beat in the slower sections to ensure they are all playing together and its working. The performance is just lacking a bit of sparkle, it needs a bit more life in places, but this is an assured performance and the band have done what it says on the tin. 

Burneside Brass (Laurie Johnston)

A steady opening, the band are in control but lacking a bit of flow, some lovely lyrical solo cornet work. We start get some flow as we go through the piece and the band start to settle. The quiet sections are now under control and well delivered, along with the solo sections which are well presented, maybe just a bit more from the Euph would have been nice, but these solo sections are a challenge and are being well met. Some good moments in a well put together performance.

Nailsworth Silver (Steve Legge)

Opening was a little hard but then that edge was taken off and the sound of the band comes through and a lovely sound it is, there is a feeling in places that things are rushing. The move into the slower sections and the solo work is excellent, all moving as one and soloists are putting their own stamp on the music. Some slips and intonation issues creep in, but in the main everything is being played with care and consideration which makes for some lovely sounds. MD Steve Legge has control of the band and is giving them the confidence to play at their very best. A well-constructed performance.

Gwaen Cae Gurwen (Robert Burnett)

A controlled opening, no heroics, it moves well and gives off a confident feel. Some issues in the semi quaver sections, they sound rushed and get in each other way. We are getting some intonation issues as well which is a shame, the solo sections are coming across well and the feeling of the piece pushing forward is good, just the clips and slips that are pulling it back. MD Robert Burnett is getting the most out of the band in the slower sections, some lovely sounds and a lovely flow to the music. It was a steady performance but too many slips for me.

Ratby Co-operative Mid (Gary Perrin)

A controlled opening, you feel the confidence of the band from the off, some untidy semi quaver runs but the band are moving along nicely and giving an assured performance. We are getting a few slips creeping in, but again, the band keep the momentum and the piece continues to flow. Some lovely quiet sections allow us to hear another side to the band. Some intonation issues and clips, Soprano nails the solo, well done to you sir. The soloists are very confident and tubas have a lovely full sound. Nice a quiet where required and controlled volume at the other end of the scale. A very enjoyable listen.

 Cottenham (Peter Mackley)

Not the strongest opening, but the band recover well and we start to hear what they can do, semi quaver sections lack any flow so the music struggles to keep momentum. Solo sections come through well, a few slips and intonation issues hamper the flow of the piece. There are some lovely moments, but mixed with some untidy playing which detracts from the performance which is a real shame. A spirited attempt and a good listen.

Beaumaris (Scott Lloyd)

This must be the band with youngest average age so far. Great to see so many youngsters on stage, fearless opening. Control is excellent, this is a well-balanced performance with some great solo playing, some great ensemble playing and some excellent dynamics. I am enjoying listening to this performance, the piece is well within the band and you can hear they are confident and with is the MD Scott Lloyd is able to make the very most of the music. This is a performance that will challenge the top 3 so far, its nip and tuck between this and Redruth for me. Enjoyed that, thank you

Tewit Silver (Martin Hall)

A more reserved opening than some, good move into 13 but not all together which is a shame, some very neat and tidy playing with good articulation and balance and setting into the piece well now. Getting some intonation issues creeping in, the phrases move well and soprano is sitting well on top of the band. Strong cornet section are working well. Dynamic contrasts are good and well controlled. Some slips are creeping in, but the band regain composure and once again the full ensemble sound is being heard and appreciated by the 150 or so in the audience. Some of the solo work from the band is excellent, a real ‘listen to this’ about their playing. This makes into my top 3 of the bands so far.

Time for a break, 20 minutes

Maltby Miners' Welfare (Terry Clifford)

A few empty seats for Maltby, neat and tidy opening, the quiet section benefit from the missing players, but we miss the full band sound which a shame. The performance is good, some neat playing mixed with intonation and balance issues. Lovely Soprano sound comes through well, MD Terry Clifford is getting the most from his team. Loving the Euph and Solo cornet duet. When we get the balance and plenty of air then the band sound great, Sop nails the solo, well done, best of the day. 


Redruth Town (Andrew Craze)

What an opening, some controlled volume, team work is evident and sop is sailing over the band. Every section of the band is sounding strong but balanced. Andrew Craze is getting the most from the music and the band. In the flowing sections we get some beautiful sounds, the solo sections are presented well and with confidence. We are not without the odd slip, but the music is really coming out in this performance. We are getting a real ‘sit back and listen’ performance here, the MD is letting the band know what he wants and they are responding in spades. Everything is together, balanced, great dynamics, good changes in tempo. This performance is the one to beat. Well done Redruth

Great Yarmouth Brass (Colin Swaep)

The opening doesn’t sound confident, it takes time to settle and then we start to hear some good balance and some good dynamics and articulation. The band are into their stride now, some of the solo sections are really well played. We are hearing a different band now, the control it there and some well-thought-out phrases draw the ear. Intonation issues are evident in places, well played Sop, we are starting to hear more tuning problems, less confident in the middle of the piece with the quiet sections. Confidence and sound starting to come back now as we come to the end of the piece, a big ending. There were some great moments in this performance, but also some areas where it did struggle. Well done

Sale Brass (Matthew Hindle)

The band open well but it is then untidy in the quiet section, possibly trying to go too quiet? Some good work going on here, the mix and blend is working well, solo cornet team working well together, some great playing. We get the odd blemish in a phrase which is a shame, the balance is such that everything is being heard. There is some good team work going on here, I have had moments where I forgot I was supposed to be writing, that is a good sign. Sale Brass are all over this piece, they have worked so hard on balance and flow and it is a great performance, confidence is building all the way through. It is not without its slips, but the flow isn’t lost and big sections of the piece you just want to sit back and listen. 

Shipston Town (Howard Gibbs)

Nothing held back for the opening, some well balanced and confident sounds early on, getting some dominant sounds over the ensemble which is a shame, but the playing is well controlled and some lovely full sounds. Solo sections are well played, not always getting the opening notes, but when they settle they are lovely. Great sounds from the Principal Cornet, Euph is well controlled and full. Some intonation issues in the quiet and exposed sections. There are some lovely moments from Shipston, real control in some of the quiet sections.
The semi quaver runs are a little untidy and don’t flow into each other so well. The ending is controlled and a lovely note to end. Another performance that had moments, but some sections didn’t have that flow. Well done, good effort.

Barnsley Metropolitan (Alex Francis)

The opening stutters a little and then settles and now we hear some lovely moments, 51 doesn’t come across as ff, the band are very happy when there is a full compliment playing but some of the exposed sections are a little untidy, another band playing 169 well, 182 is well played, the band are improving as the piece goes on and we get some lovely balance and style. Well done Sop, that is not easy. 220 doesn’t quite fit, but lovely Flug and Euph from 231. Nice and neat from Cornets at 248, some moments lost at 268, little semi quaver runs not flowing. Nice build to the ending at 329 we had some great energy. Well done, some moments didn’t sit, but in the main it was a good performance. Well played

Simon Langton Brass (Keith Twyman)

A lovely opening, a feeling that you are about to be taken on a journey, very neat playing holds the balance well and playing together well. The flow continues and some lovely sounds from throughout the band, good Euph and Basses at 130. Lovely horns at 147, lovely balance and flow. Well played Euph and Cornet at 169. Lovely Sop at 203, beautiful flow. At 220 we hear a good balance, cornets and horns working well and a lovely flugel at 230, just needed a bit more air. 240 not a big as I expected, it is moving well, just needed a bit more volume I think. Nice ff at 317, what a nice ending, full and confident. A good effort, some lovely big sounds that really made the performance, a few little slips, a couple of moments of bad intonation, but overall it was a great effort, enjoyed that.

 

The first band on stage are Melton, with big intro from the sound team

Everyone stands for the queen

A good opening, clean semi quavers and a lovely tone from Melton. Good control of the dynamics, mp to f at 43 was a little tame, that may be the acoustics of course. Nice at 82, good balance and good cornet interruptions. Few intonation issues at 98 which detract from the overall sound. Move onto the key change at 155 was untidy but settled and sounded better as it went on. Nice Euph and Cornet at 169. What a solo for the Sop at 203, not easy, didn’t sound confident which is a shame. Moving into 280 and a much fuller sound from the band, they sound much more confident when they are all playing. Nice big last note to finish. Some lovely moments that were mingled with some less confident sounds and a few slips. A good starter for the section well done.

 

Here are the very details notes from the composer, it will interesting to see how many bands follow his words.

Beecher Variations – 4th Section

Stephen Bulla is not only famous as a composer and arranger, but also as the conductor of one of America's most prominent brass bands, the National Capital Band of The Salvation Army. He received his degree in arranging and composition from Boston's "Berklee College of Music" where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.


Today Stephen Bulla is the resident arranger of "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band and White House Orchestra. In this capacity he regularly arranges and composes pieces for these formations. His musical arrangements for many performers, including Sarah Vaughan and The Manhattan Transfer, were featured on the PBS television series, "In Concert At The White House".

This piece was jointly commissioned by the Dutch Brass Band Association as a test piece for it’s Championships (NBK), 2015 – 4th Division, and the Buffalo Silver Band (New York) in celebration of it’s Centennial, 1915 – 2015.

Stephen Bulla’s writes ‘This composition is based in a hymn tune in which the melodic fragments are morphed into a series of variations. The hymn, known as “Beecher”, was penned by German organist John Zundel and was first published in 1870. It was created as a setting for Charles Wesley’s text Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, the name by which it is known today.

The variations take on a symphonic form through their development of the hymn motifs, used sparingly at first with only fragmentary references to the familiar melody. A majestic opening leads into an energetic first section that sets the stage for the variations to follow. Soon there are more obvious references to the theme in chorale style, though not yet in a complete setting. A contrasting lighter, rhythm-based ostinato variation follows.

When the tempo eventually slows, the solo cornet and euphonium are showcased in a duet, set in the espressivo style. Within the following chorale-like variations, the soprano and flugelhorn are also provided with soloistic opportunities over a shimmering texture of muted cornets and glockenspiel. Throughout this middle section of the work the entire band is challenged to maintain the melodic line while sustaining a very soft dynamic. A final dialogue between flugelhorn and euphonium brings this quiet space in the music to a close.

An upbeat, brighter variation opens the final section, based on a fragment of the melody drawn from the Wesley text, “Pure, unbounded love thou art”. Here the music takes on a new character, and under development leads finally into a jubilant setting of the theme in full. The music closes with simultaneous references to the opening and motivic material as the band provides a conclusive triumphant chord of resolution’

 

Here is the draw for the 4th section

1. Melton (Graham Sutton)
2. Simon Langton Brass (Keith Twyman)
3. Barnsley Metropolitan (Alex Francis)
4. Shipston Town (Howard Gibbs)
5.Sale Brass (Matthew Hindle)
6. Great Yarmouth Brass (Colin Swaep)
7. Redruth Town (Andrew Craze)
8. Maltby Miners' Welfare (Terry Clifford)
9. Tewit Silver (Martin Hall)
10. Beaumaris (Scott Lloyd)
11. Cottenham (Peter Mackley)
12. Ratby Co-operative Mid (Gary Perrin)
13. Gwaen Cae Gurwen (Robert Burnett)
14. Nailsworth Silver (Steve Legge)
15. Burneside Brass (Laurie Johnston)
16. Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
17. Newland Concert (Simon Railton)
18. Wroughton Silver (Simon Jones)

Piece: Beecher Variations by Stephen Bulla
Adjudicators: Ian Brownbill, Paul Holland and Craig Roberts 

Commentary for the weekend will be starting at around 9:15am each day, so if you want to keep up to date with progress and see comments on each of the bands performances then head back here at the weekend.


4th Section
Saturday 14th September
Start: 9.30am

Test Piece: Beecher Variations by Stephen Bulla
Adjudicators: Ian Brownbill, Paul Holland and Craig Roberts

Barnsley Metropolitan (Alex Francis)
Beaumaris (Scott Lloyd)
Burneside (Laurie Johnston)
Cottenham (Peter Mackley)
Great Yarmouth (Colin Swaep)
Gwaen Cae Gurwen (Robert Burnett)
Maltby Miners Welfare (Terry Clifford)
Melton (Graham Sutton)
Nailsworth Silver (Steve Ruck)
Newland Concert (Simon Railton)
Ratby Co-operative Mid (Gary Perrin)
Redruth Town (Andrew Craze)
Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
Sale (Matthew Hindle)
Shipston Town (Howard Gibbs)
Simon Langton (Keith Twyman)
Tewit Silver (Martin Hall)
Wroughton Silver (Simon Jones)

3rd Section
Sunday 15th September
Start: 9.30am

Test Piece: Viking Age by Thierry Deleruyelle
Adjudicators: Philip Harper, Paul Holland and Melvin White

Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Phillip Tait)
Chichester City (Rom Stanko)
Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)
Gosport Solent (Colin Garner)
Hawk Green (Marple) (Neil Hewson)
Irvine & Dreghorn (Lewis Bettles)
Kippax (Stephen Tighe)
Perthshire (George Annan)
Poole Borough (Lloyd Bartlett)
Raunds Temperance (Jonathan Pippen)
South Molton Town (Gil Taylor)
Stamford (Julian Bright)
Taff Vale (Gareth Ritter)
Trimdon Con