BATTLE OF THE TITANS - Bands gear up for a titanic battle at the Royal Albert Hall

Issue 6016

COMPOSERS' CORNER - Dr Liz Lane looks at the subject of  networking 

HERE IS THE NEWS - Looking back at the Daily Herald's Nationals sponsorship

2020 Regionals: Welsh - Second Section

Friday 28 February, 2020

Second Section:

Adjudicators: David Hirst & Nicholas Garman

Matt Rowe reporting

Results:

1. Taff Vale (Gareth Ritter)*
2. Abertillery Town (Alun F Williams)*
3. Markham & District (Jayne Thomas)
4. Ammanford Town Silver (Glyn Davies)
5. Abergavenny Borough (Lana Tingay)
6. Mid Rhondda (Thomas Coaches) (Alan Gibbs)
7. Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)
8. Seindorf Arian Crwbin (Andrew Jones)
9. Penclawdd (Tony Small)
10. Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)

*Qualify for National Final

Best Instrumentalist: John Jones (euphonium) — Abertillery Town
Best Percussion: Taff Vale 

Predictions:

A tough piece today for the section. Not too many came out unscathed, but the ones that did had bags of life and vigour about the performances. It's anybodies guess for the order at the top, but we are going for"

1 - Taff Vale

2 - Markham

3 - Royal Buckley

10 – Ammanford (Glyn Davies)
Neat opening, if not entirely centred in pitch but this is minor. There have been some risks taken here dynamically, but the intonation and balance is not quite successfully negotiated. When the band opens up if it has a nicely blended sound and creates good drama. It does tend to get a little bit overblown in the real upper stretches of the dynamic range. The 10/8 is negotiated generally well, and has a good lilt to the music and some really nice details lifted off the page. Percussion are keeping a nice rein on things too, allowing a good balance of drama between the parts. The playing is strident, but generally well together and dramatic, before a brilliant contribution from Solo Trombone, well played sir! The drama continues, the band have really warmed into this performance and are producing their best now, portraying the story so well. It isn’t faultless with moments of intonation causing issues, but the playing is so committed. The following transition isn’t quite so successful, with a few lost passengers along the way. It does recover though and the 10/8 is well homed in again. Great dynamic levels, so well shaped by MD. Bold sounds to close round of a performance of merit from Ammanford.
Overall:
Good stuff from Ammanford today. Really convincing in approach and style, but maybe a few too many intonation and balance issues to quite push towards the top. Certainly a band that got to grips with this piece today.

9 – Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)
A bit of a hiccup to start, but lovely effects brought out from the percussion despite the basses and middle of the band not blending to start. Again, it is lacking in passion and clarity of ensemble so it all just feels a little jumbled. Great trombones in the fanfare reprises, but the percussion is not gelling well with band. The progression into the 10/8 sounds like hard work, it just doesn’t settle down and loses so much tempo. You just can’t help will the ensemble to gel back together, but it is unfortunately just so dislodged. Good contribution from Solo trombone, and this does start to progress much more successfully with well controlled sounds and good detail appearing through the texture. Again the 10/8 does prove to be a real challenge for this band today, it sits so uneasy and loses its dance-like feel. The band are driving well towards the close and sounds much more comfortable, but a tough day at the office you have to say today.
Overall:
The piece was just a step beyond Newtown today. The nasty 10/8 sections just could not get under control and proved to be a tricky step to overcome. Some good individual contributions, but not their day today.

8 – Mid Rhondda
A little untidy to start in the fanfares and the following sounds are a little untuneful. The timbre of sound just needs a little more vibrancy and intonation is wavering leaving this as quite an uneasy start. The reprise of the fanfares is handled much better than the opening section. The 10/8 works, but feels very heavy in approach. All progresses well, but once again you feel like there is something lacking stylistically about this and it doesn’t always link between band and percussion. Risks taken with the quieter dynamics, but it feels slightly fragile and doesn’t sit as well as it should. The band hit their stride now, bold, dramatic sounds which lifting the music off the page. It unfortunately has just taken a little too long to get to this stage, exciting stuff. The following 10/8 gets a little scruffy in execution, but retains a lovely lilting feel. The cross rhythms in the faster ¾ aren’t quite successful and leads to quite a disjointed feel to the music. Fine ending however.
Overall:
A few too many difficulties today for Mid Rhondda. It felt understated throughout, but still had scruffiness and intonation problems to go with it. Some good soloists made an impression but this didn’t quite portray the story as well as it could have.

7 – Abergavenny (Lana Tingay)
A safe opening, if a little underpowered. There is a lot of good quality, warm playing on display here but it isn’t quite settled with intonation. Great transition into the 10/8, possibly the most successful so far, although it does get a little bit heavy handed. This does continue in good fashion, just with the most minor issues. You just have the feeling that the dancing music could do with more lilt to push it along. This is a very young band, and they are handling the difficulties of this music well but it just lacks a bit of that vigour that we have previously heard today. The individual solo entries are handled well, and flow well into the next creating a lovely flow between the lines. The dynamics are still well controlled, just with the tendancy for percussion to override the band during the swells. When the music gets louder, the band is a little lighter weight compared to previous performances, which does sometimes leave you wishing the band just opened up a little bit more. Great direction from MD, the picture Lana Tingay is trying to portray is so clear. The faster music in the ¾ is well handled too, just intonation starting to pose a few problems. The band opens up now and it is well balanced and good quality, but the ending is a little underpowered and not quite together to close.
Overall:
A solid, if underpowered rendition of the piece. Plenty to commend that’s for sure, but you just always had the feeling you wanted more...

6 – Markham and District
Good solid opening with a good approach. Basses not entirely comfortable in intonation but the sounds are blending well in the middle of the band. The sounds are so well controlled, meaning there is progression for the louder dynamics which are so effective when the band opens. There are just a few uncomfortable moments of intonation, which although small do disrupt the picture. The reprised fanfares are well handled. The 10/8 is very solid to begin and has good levels of detail and good dynamics. A few nasty little moments, but they are very short lived and continues well with very good neat tidy playing. There is such a lovely lilting feel to this playing, it really does dance. There are just a couple of moments where the playing does slightly dislodge in ensemble which is a shame. This is being so well controlled and shaped by MD Jayne Thomas, a real portrayal of the storyline and appreciation of colours and dynamics. Great trombone contribution, but the following sounds are slightly nervy. The faster ¾ section is handled well, but a few more intonation issues are starting to creep in on the longer held notes. Great work from the percussion section, keeping a lid on it enough to enhance rather than overpower. The band has enough stamina in the reserves to save something for the end, great to close.
Overall:
A good showing from Markham and District. Plenty of style and swagger on show, really getting into the heart of the music. Just unfortunately a few intonation issues and moments between transitions that took the sheen off, but great soloists and a great approach from the middle.

5 – Penclawdd
Solid enough to start and a good approach to the opening, but with pitch wavering slightly as the notes progress. The following sounds are uncomfortable, hint of nerves creeping in you feel. This is so bold, but also imbalanced resulting in the sound losing its warmth. The 10/8 progresses well and has a dancing feel to it, if slightly understated. It does have a real tendency to get a bit heavy handed and occasionally disjointed but there is plenty of vigour on show. As the 10/8 gets more delicate we hear the best of the band, very stylish indeed.
As the music slows down, we hear some nasty moments of intonation starting to appear in Passover between individuals, which does detract. Cornets are once again bold, but much more centred here (despite a very early entry on one of the fanfares). Once again, as the playing gets louder we can hear individuals really sticking out of the texture. The balance just isn’t quite sorted and it takes away from the hugely committed playing. The faster ¾ starts well but loses focus as it progresses with the ensemble precision. This does regain focus however before a very bold close.
Overall:
Another bold performance, but didn’t get into the nitty gritty of the storyline once again. There was plenty of drama on display, but it didn’t quite gel at too many points and got a touch untuneful.

4 - Taff Vale (Gareth Ritter)

An opening packed with drama, great cornets to start and well blended sounds to follow. Sometimes feels a little disjointed in approach, but these are bold sounds with great lower dynamics to contrast resulting in a much more dramatic showing. The reprise of the fanfares is well handled, but the percussion is too loud for this hall. The 10/8 has so much swagger, if sometimes a little heavy handed in approach. It's all in its place though, and so convincing with it. The more melodic music flows well, and this is so much more gripping as a result. The occasional moment of intonation catches the ear, but this is minor. The ensemble stays so clear and consise, really enjoyable playing this as it sounds so easy and comfortable. Trombones get a touch untuneful through the final 3/4, but the effects from the band are huge and dramatic as a result. Great to close.

Overall: 

A great showing from Taff Vale. Bold and colourful in approach, great soloists and story has been told aplenty. The marker so far? 

3 - Abertillery (Alun F Williams)

Certainly the boldest start so far, but a little wayward in execution. Following bass sounds don't quite sit comfortably, but lovely contributions from Flugel and Euphs. The top dynamic sounds are certainly big, but there is some overblowing here and it becomes somewhat untuneful unfortunately. The fanfares between cornets and trombones don't sit together and get a little lost behind the percussion. The 10/8 starts well with good rhythmic precision but it feels a bit panicked, lacking that dancing lilt that is essential to this coming off well. The transitions are working well though, giving this performance a good level of flow. Just the occasional lapse of ensemble. Well done solo trombone, lovely contribution and the music that follows flows so well. This is certainly a performance that has taken a little while to warm up, but we are hearing the true colours of the band now. Bold, dramatic, but controlled enough to hear the details within the ensemble. Just gets a little unhinged around the fast 3/4 music, as have bands previously in this section. Strong sounds towards the end but the ensemble has a really nasty moment of dislodging, almost a quaver apart which loses the drama to large effect.

Overall:

Some bold sounds from Abertillery, but the volume sometimes got in the way of the story and impacted on a lot of the basics. Some great solo contributions, but some uncomfortable moments really did get in the way. Such a shame, the intent was so clear even from the opening. 

 

2 - Crwbin (Andrew Jones)

Good to open, maybe could do with a bit more of a 'declamatory' feel, but certainly solid and together to begin. The following sounds are just not quite together in the basses and middle band, with intonation issues starting to creep in. It all just needs that bit more rhythmic precision, and dynamically it is very comfortable in the quieter music, losing some of that vital drama. Percussion are good, but it is overriding the band at points. 10/8 is sensibly taking a notch down on tempo to allow some more detail to speak, but it isn't quite clinical and loses some focus as a result. Lovely work from the front row cornet during the dance, but as the band joins it doesn't quite have that dancing lilt and intonation errors do continue to impact this section. Good tight ensemble playing through the 6/8 antiphonal work between troms and cornets. This is solid enough playing, but because it is so loud, so often, it loses so much drama as a result. It starts to get a little scruffy around the transitions, which makes this piece such a tricky test. The band have hit full stride now, full of drama and big balanced sounds followed by delicate playing. 

Overall:

A hardworking performance from Crwbin today. Just a few too many problems to make a big impression, despite a solid start. The loud music was loud, but it became difficult to portray the story due to it sitting within a limited dynamic range. 

1 - Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)

A slightly untidy opening, doesn't quite have that deciso feel to the fanfare openings. The sounds from the middle of the band are much better blended, with real risks taken in the quieter dynamics, meaning the upper dynamics have much more effect. This has drama in spades, but it does start to get a bit untuneful in the louder dynamics and the fanfare figures are still untidy on reprise. The 10/8 section starts well and has a lovely swagger to the music, just some of the more intricate detail is not carrying in the acoustic. Some great work by the euphs and horns. The lighter 10/8 music is so playful and joyfully done, aided by excellent percussion. It has the occasional lapse in ensemble as this progresses, but it always recovers well. The muted work is very well negotiated, intonation well centred and part well balanced. Well done trombone, followed by beautiful sounds from the front row. Just a few more moments of intonation start to rub, but it settles again before a great dynamic change with really well controlled quieter dynamics, bravo! The faster music gets a little untidy back into the 10/8, just not quite the same level of detail coming through. Once again, the MD is really getting into the nitty gritty of the story as the drama created is excellent. Just a few uncomfortable moments before a great close. 

Overall:

Good start from Royal Buckley. Plenty of drama and a great portrayal of the storyline, with just the odd uncomfortable moment. Real risks taken dynamically, and it came off with great effect. 

Draw:

1 - Royal Buckley Town

2 - Crwbin

3 - Abertillery Town

4 - Taff Vale

5 - Penclawdd

6 - Markham and District

7 - Abergavenny

8 - Mid Rhondda 

9 - Newtown

10 - Ammanford Town 

 

Abergavenny Borough (Lana Tingay)
Abertillery Town (Alun F Williams)
Ammanford Town Silver (Glyn Davies)
Crwbin (Andrew Jones)
Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)
Markham & District (Jayne Thomas)
Mid Rhondda (Thomas Coaches) (Alun Gibbs)
Penclawdd (Tony Small)
Royal Buckley Town (Keith Jones)
Taff Vale (Gareth Ritter)