THE NEXT CHAPTER - Euphonium star Robbert Vos looks to the future

Issue 6091

NEW DIMENSION - set for international brass series

GETTING IN SHAPE - Balancing practice and patience on the return to banding 

2020 Regional Championships - Midlands - Championship Section

Saturday 7 March, 2020

The championship is due to start shortly after the results for the previous section which are about to be announced. Adjudicators Steve Sykes and Alan Morrison.


A tough start to their bid to regain the trophy after their second place last year  for multiple Area winners GUS with the dreaded number 1 draw. The band had a fairly slow start to the year coming 4th in the test piece at Butlins in January but may take some encouragement with Desford just managing 5th in the same discipline.

The test piece is ten years old this year and is an excellent work commissioned by Cory for their own choice work at the Euros in 2010. It was written for the best band in the world to show off their soloists too so there will some testing moments for all.

The stage is being set so we will be up and running in a few moments.


  1. GUS Chris Jeans
  2. Thoresby Mike Howley
  3. Derwent Brass Jack Capstaff
  4. Foresters Brass Gareth Brindle
  5. Langley Cliff Parker
  6. Desford Mike Fowles
  7. Blidworth Welfare Simon Gresswell
  8. Ratby Mareika Gray
  9. Jaguar Land Rover Nigel Seaman
  10. Enderby Ryan Richards
  11. Hucknall and Linby Paul Whyley                 Withdrawn Rushden Town


1 GUS Chris Jeans

2 Desford Mike Fowles

3 Ratby Co-op Marieka Gray

4 Jaguar Land Rover Nigel Seaman

5 Thoresby Colliery Mike Howley

6 Derwent Brass Jack Capstaff

7 Foresters Brass Gareth Brindle

8 Enderby Ryan Richards

9 Langley Cliff Parker

10 Hucknall and Linby Paul Whyley

11 Blidworth Welfare - Simon Gresswell



That is it now for the Champ section here at Bedworth. It has been a tough day for some bands on this piece - too hard for most but such a great work. Maybe an own choice piece for the Euros is just too far for a lot of bands at this level as it has been only two bands that have given a complete performance of it with three or four playing 80-90% of it well and the rest struggling like mad to get it done.

In term of results it will come down to taste as there is little to choose between the best two bands. GUS played a super show off 1 with a lustrous warm sound and superb ornet and sop soloists and all the others too played their parts with character and style. No real weaknesses and a low error count it was very good indeed. Desford gave some of the very best playing but had a slightly higher error count, some balance issues and perhaps was just a bit forceful at times. It will come down to the taste of the judges and either band could win.

After that I would go for either Thoresby or Ratby - different performances with Thorseby more secure and Ratby more organised perhaps. Again a close choice. After that it becomes harder with Jag, Derwent and Enderby next up for consideration for me.

My top 6 (top 2 in either order)


2 Desford

3 Thoresby

4 Ratby

5 Jags

6 Derwent

but my opinion counts for nothing ..........


Band 11 Hucknall and Linby - Paul Whyley

This starts solidly enough with good balance and detail. Some individual frailties in little solo sections. The conductor is giving it all to encourage his players and this is a brave effort but the test is yet to come really with movements 2 and 3. The conductor continues the enthusiastic whole body direction into movement two - it's a tender slow melody!! Relax. Euph plays with real bravura. The overall picture it just too aggressive it could do with some gentle smooth sounds to relflect the nature of the lovely yearning music. Solo cornet plays with real character and style - well done. The close is a struggle. As with so many other bands the last movement tests whole band technique to the absolute limit. A real hard fought effort by the band and all credit to them for that.

Band 10 Enderby Ryan Richards

Doesn't quite gel to start and again cornets are too big in the balance early on. It is decent but the balance troubles us a bit too regularly. Tempo suddenly shoots forward now. These complex angular tunes in the middle band really take some playing when the whole section is in unison and it is not quite accurate enough. The playing is generally  sound enough but the tempo varies - it keeps shooting off. 2 starts well and there is a nice gentle flow to this. As with so many fragilities appear and once they start the other playes seem to copy. It hangs in there until the end and 3 starts reasonably well. This is better - tidy and well organised - a decent pace but under control. Too many have sounded like the last movement tempo was like a dog that someone had tied a firework to and it was running to get home. This had discipline and it heps so much. Well structured finish to a sensible reading.

Band 9 Jaguar Land Rover

As an owner of two Land Rovers I'd better be careful here!! Nice contolled start and we're  reminded of what an elegant conductor Nigel Seaman is. This is very tidy so far - well organised and structured.  This develops well with secure technique from the soloists and band - perhaps not quite the tightest at times but it is very secure so far. A we run towards the end there are a couple of splashes with percussion not quite right. Movement two starts well with a lovely smooth and flowing style and some musical touches and rubato added in to the mix. Very uncomfortable moment follows but soon passes - the pp is really quiet - thank you. Some fragilities now - it seems to be spreading. We hold it together to finish but only just. The standard really dipped there and we are back on track as mvmt 3 progresses. This is not as good as earlier - it is messy and loose in the ensemble which is not consistently tidy. It stays scruffy through the arpeggio section - this is not the same band as the first movement. A performance with so much promise early on but falling away from the middle of movement 2 to the end.

Band 8 Ratby Co-op Marieka Gray

Ratby have flirted around the top places in recent years and straight away there is a weight and solidity to the playing. Cornets pushing the dynamic a touch at times. Percussion on the edge too volumewise. Lovely little trombone moment. The technicalilties aren't all comng off here and the fantastic young percussion is just  a bit over-powering at times. Central section is suddenly taken much slower - again percussion are too obtrusive. The big tune has a lovely sweep and breadth to it. A solid movement to start. Movement 2 is hesitant to start with some mispitching in the horn line. The euph melody is the most malleable we have heard today with a lot of rubato. Tasteful euphonium solo and cadenza s a treat with a spacious reading and lots of time given. Horn also takes a lot of time and it is better for it. As with so many today there are lovely moments and then some fragility. Lovely close - again with super trombone contribution. Careful and steady start to 3. This allows it all to get played so a sensible approach. This is organised, structured and rhythmic and therefore works. It might be under tempo slightly but it sounds so much better than the flying rushed efforts we have heard from some. This trots along so well all organised and in place. Rally super last movement. A good show and close to the upper prizes today - not quite the clarity or soloists of Desford or GUS but a very respectable, well organised performance.


Band 7 Blidworth Welfare Simon Gresswell

After a slightly hesitant start this settles well with warm band sound and well balanced dynamics. The central section of the movement starts to expose some technical weakness between the sections and it doesn't all convince. Again we hear nicely blended warm band sounds to start 2 but there is some uncomfortable intonation between muted back row and euphs. The soloists play with confidence but we have some really edgy intonation in the accompaniments that can't be ignored. This is just so fragile at times - such a pity.  The band makes a supreme effort to play the quietest dynamics at the cost of some tuning again - especially in the unison cornets. Trombone recovers to finish stylishly. Movement 3 is controlled in term of pace but is untidy in terms of accuracy of the notation around the sections. The band works hard and continues to play the written dynamics with discipline. A better movement for the band with a higher general standard of playing noted than before. Just tends to be messy when pushed technically. As with others this piece is a real stretch for them but they played with credit.

Band 6 Desford Colliery - Mike Fowles

Neat and organised opening with crystal clear razor edged technique through the band - crisp and clean with every note heard. Bass drum needs to be careful not to dominate at times. Lovely rich and thick band sound evident. A couple of heavy clonks in the big moments just spoil it for a moment but this is otherwise so clean and accurate as a band performance. Not quite the smoothest of starts to 2 - solo euph is superb - confident and full sounding. Accomps perhaps bolder than ideal occassionally. Solo horn is bravura in style but not completely 100% accurate. Cornet is very nice and the handover to flugel works. Tender quartet follows. Quietest of pp playing - lovely. Biggest dynamic range too with a more direct and bright sound. Stunning trom  to close. Super slick and speedy opening to 3 with that razor edge back to the playing. This really motors and the arpeggio lines are really heard from the basses in such clarity for the first time. It is quite bold and forceful - to end. A different show to GUS - more clarity but perhaps lacking the warmth  and a higher split count sometimes. Not much to choose between them. Very close.

Band 5 Langley Cliff Parker

Uncomfortable start with very messy and prominent cornets out of balance. Being heard when they should be decorative background effects. Pity as they are drawing the attention from some nice middle and lower band playing. There is  a lot of good playing but the piece is proving the winner and is taking a few casualties along the way now. The young lady on the end of the cornet section is a star however - really nailing the part - well done. Clonky start to 2 but euph picks things up witha great attempt at some quiet solo playing - not all of the accompaniments are following suit tho'. Quite a few production issues on the quietest moments. Baritone delivers but horn is not all secure. It is always the quiet moments that test the most - no exception here. The solo trom does really well to close. Very steady start to 3 but this just serves to expose some of the inaccuracies and misptching. Cornet euph and xylo are not together. The whole band sound is good when you get to hear it but the technique needed for this piece isn't there throughout with some of the players beyond their limit. The conductor has maintained a sensible leadership style on a day when the test was a very stiff one.

Band 4 Foresters Brass Gareth Brindle

Steady Eddy tempo and some very awkward balances with cornet decoration becoming the dominant  line at times. It is rather pesante and deliberate at times with a thumping bass drum. Sectional unison playing is not all accurate and the  mispitching is evident at times. This is a tough piece and the general standard this year is better so far than I have heard for many years here. All bands are really having a lot of fun working on this it seems and it shows in the playing. The end to the movement is very untidy between band and percussion. Insecurities marr the opening to 2. The conductor is working hard to find the emotion and solo euph gets it back on track. Its proving a tough one at the moment - such a tough piece for all soloists and they are all going for it. The little chorale is pretty but needs more time. Mr Sparke does love his octaves and there is no interval more testing. Real attempt at pp but tone and tuning both suffer. Untidy and loose to start 3 - this is testing them to the limit and beyond. It is at risk of runing away here - more haste less speed needed to regain control. A few percentage points off the tempo would have made a huge difference here, sadly it's all a bit wild and rushing headlong to the end. Percussion drown out the last 10 bars.

Band 3 Derwent Brass Jack Capstaff

Movement 1 is well delivered with balanced playing and a security of tempo thoughout that is just right. Good solists and technique to match the demands generally. A few scruffy moments but these are in the minority. Good srart. 2 just tends to roll on a little too fast to begin - just needs to set the scene more gently. Euph solo is solid and warm but a better effort to get right down to the dynamics where needed would add some magic. The chorale to the baritone is good but strong again. A little more subtlety would add so much. Solo horn falters a bit and we lose some of the supporting chord too. The magical pp is lost somewhat with a really solid bass note and the close is a very uncomfortable struggle to get the notes. Pity. The last movement gets started really well and this is much more comfortable now with neat and tidy playing, sensible tempo with just the odd inclination to rush slightly for moments. Probably the fastest mvmt 3 yet and it just trips it up occassionally. Exciting but messy now with this driven tempo and we lose some of the detail in the search for pace. Percussion get very excited and loud in the last 20 bars.

Band 2 Thoresby Mike Howley

Band 2 start well if a slightly lighter body of sound generally. The odd rasp appears from times from the troms which we could do without - gets edgy at times. The playing is solid with the odd technical scramble at times. The tempo is wandering a bit from section to section and the through line is lost as it slows. Unison cornet lines not all secure and some rough edges appear momentarily. This is a touch steadier to close but solid and rhythmic. Movement 2 is solid and secure with no real dynamic risks taken really - a dope in the audience has left their phone on. What a shame. Soloists play well but it is safe and careful rather than magical. The quartet is a little unbalanced and too top heavy with flugel dominant. The full band pp suffers a little from poor intonation in the cornet unison and the climax is a bit on the raw side. Super and confident trom closes superbly. Lovely neat opening to 3 - well done. The whole performance hangs together well and is organised and secure. It is a solid show just lacking some of the extra quality of 1.


Band 1 GUS Chris Jeans

An impressive start from GUS with super soloists throughout mvmtn1 particularly sop and solo cornet who are immaculate. Th dynamic range is not the biggest at the top or the bottom but a lovely rich, balanced sound is heard. The second movement is a little clonky to start and could be quieter. The euph solo is secure and shaped - a very brave attempt at the quieter moments too and they come off - bravo. The horn cadenza to follow is also super with one tiny imperfection. The cornet cadenza is exactly what you would expect from James Fountain - magnificent and the handover to flugel is perfectly in tune. The little quartet is so well shaped and takes us to the magical full band pp which falters slightly for a moment with slight intonation issues. This is lovely stuff and its very musically satisfying. Stunning start to 3 with cornet and euph as one - neat as can be. This is moving on so well  - energy and excitement but so controlled too. This is a hugely enjoyable piece and this performance has been hugely enjoyable to hear. Lovely stuff. A thoroughly musical performance with super soloists and great ensemble. Safe generally too with the merest of slips - that will hold the attention all day and is absolutely a very high bar for the others to get past.