A LIVING LEGEND - Celebrating Elgar Howarth as he prepares to turn 85

Issue 6068

HIGHLIGHT REEL - Virtual Brass in Concert to look back at best of the best

FLUGEL SIGNING - Black Dyke welcomes new addition to the ranks

2020 Regionals: Yorkshire - Championship Section

Sunday 8 March, 2020

Live coverage of the Yorkshire Regional Championships Championship Section:

Test-Piece: A Tale as Yet Untold - (Philip Sparke)

Adjudicators: Nigel Boddice, Garry Cutt

Alex Parker Reporting


1.       Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas Childs)

2.       Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Allan Withington)

3.       Hepworth (Ryan Watkins)

4.       Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

5.       Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)

6.       City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

7.       Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stanley Lippeatt)

8.       Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)

9.       Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

10.   Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)

11.   Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr. David Thornton)

12.   Strata (Jonathan Bates)

13.   Crofton Silver (Dean Jones)

14.   Drighlington (Neil Robinson)



There were very few bands that got beyond the notes to explore the music today which is probably a clear sign the section is simply too big as it stands. Outside the bands that got to the music I’m afraid 6-12 might be quite a lottery today.  I’ll caveat my guess with a dark horse of Carlton Main who I really liked but the interpretation there will be the key to success or failure.

1.       Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

2.       Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas Childs)

3.       Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)

4.       Hepworth (Ryan Watkins)

5.       Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Allan Withington)

6.       City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)


14.      Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Allan Withington)

Carlton Main display some of the detail rarely seen throughout the day and Alan Withington ensures the dynamic range is used to the full (possibly too much too soon?) and shows his musical experience to bring the movement to a full stop by just holding the last chord on to let it ring in the hall. Classy but it will certainly force opinion one way or the other in the box.

The second movement has a subtly throbbing pulse not heard before today. This give the Euphonium soloist space to play and really focus on making a nice sound. Band are supporting well making the most of the crescendo cut offs. After the first solo the flow just lifts which is something I’ve been waiting all day for someone to do with this section. By the time the cornet solo begins the ban have the audience on the edge of their seats and we’re not disappointed. This is the most stylish middle movement we have had today showing and excellent band in all its glory it might have just strayed slightly to far from the intention of the score if the box is still looking at it!

The final movement doesn’t shoot off as some have but is by no means slow and again the detail is back. The loudest sections might be too much for some but the band have clearly shown a wide dynamic ability.

I’m not sure on this one I personally enjoyed the music but some of the interpretation might not have gone down well in the box.


13.      Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)

Elland fall into the trap of working very hard on the technique but at the expense of the clarity overall but manage to use the tempo changes to bringout some of the character elements in the middle section before the final 3 chords ring out.

The second movement keeps more flow than some others which is nice and soloists use that in the rubato to borrow time effectively a few struggles at the odd moment in some solos but generally it’s a good attempt especially from the bands young principal cornet player.

Some Ugly sounds really do dominate the last movement as some of the discipline seen earlier evaporates.

The band finish with big smiles on their faces and maybe that’s what matters?

It’s a good show from Elland but overblowing (the theme of todays contest) will have done its damage. 

12.      Hepworth (Ryan Watkins)

Hepworth start well although another band to use practice mutes to open and I can’t help but feel it just hides the detail too much. Ryan has a very similar style of conducting to David King and the band do react well to the interventionist style and give back a nice broad sound in both the peaks an troughs of the waves of sound we want to hear.

The second movement is probably one of the most controlled we have had and the band work well as a team even with some excellent solos it doesn’t feel like anyone was trying to be a hero. The band have found something different in this movement as the ensemble crescendo begins there’s all sorts of lovely small moments all moving together. It’s a refreshing interpretation.

The same approach to the detail serves the band well as the last movement really takes of like a rocket before continuing the flight analogy with the slow melody gliding gracefully over the controlled chaos below.

A good performance today from Hepworth which falls into the very narrow group of bands I class as can play the notes from there its possible to make music. It was very well led from the middle and I suspect Ryan has a real future in conducting. Depending on the priorities of the judges this might squeak onto the podium but could also just miss out.  

11.      Strata (Jonathan Bates)

From the opening you can tell this another band who have worked incredibly hard just to get to the point of walking on stage but the piece has just made it impossible for them to shine. There seems to have been some re-written parts for the 1st movement which, on the whole pays off but, the detail is well and truly lost into the sound of the lower half of the band – possibly by design?

The opening of the second movement gives the band to show the sound quality that gained them promotion but as the solos start some unsympathetic support playing makes life hard for the soloists who do make a good go of them all the same but intonation and nerves get the better of most at some point.

The 3rd movement goes at quite a lick and taking a bit off might have led to more right notes going in. When the long phrases start some clever thinning does allow the melody to carry through.The final march you can tell the band like as you can see the tempo pulsing in the players movements. The band get to the end. Just. Phew!

Well done to the band and a very clear MD but it just didn’t come off today although I don’t think it will sit on the bottom of the pack either.



10.      Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas Childs)

Not a perfect opening chord from Black Dyke but the detail is there and the sound comes and goes like waves washing over the audience as it should. We can start to appreciate the multiple musical ideas that are hidden within the opening movement that are brought to life with subtle changes in tempo then brought crashing back to reality in the recapitulation of the opening. This is one of the few band to play with a wide grandiose sound rather than trying to blow the roof off the concert hall and it really shows as the short running lines are able to cut through without volume behind them.

It’s a confident opening to the second movement but it sets up a beautiful Euphonium solo which uses all the space it can to never sound crammed in. It’s the best Euphonium we have heard today by a whisker. The solos continue in the same vein however, we have heard that idea now and I’d like to hear more flow brought back into the music. Solo cornet picks up well but is not 100% clean before handing over the Flugel who brings the music to its minimal point - the slow rise to a glorious eruption of sound from the full ensemble at the climax seals a fantastic middle movement.

The technical and controlled opening of the third movement quickly clears into the whiz bangs of the thing. There is brilliant playing going on but there are just a few clips on the odd note which might dictate which podium spot they finish on. There’s a few rocks in the road right at the end as some of the percussion falls out with the band right at the close and Nick Childs stamps his feet in the final moment.

This feels like this is only the third band today that really can play the notes of this piece but when a band can boy is there some great music in it. I fear Black Dyke will be disappointed with unforced errors which will cost them the top spot today though.

9.      Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)

It feels like there’s some good technical playing here but that the balance is out of kilter to let it shine. The first FF is very loud and the band don’t really resettle after and all the sounds start to meld together again. A slight reduction on the tempo might give some sympathy to the players in this opening movement. 3 great strong chords close out the movement.

The second movement raises questions on balance and intonation across the band as it seems they just cant reach the needed quiet dynamic. Well intended solos throughout but there’s a feeling of relief as the movement ends.

As with the first movement the opening or the third seems to meet the technical challenges but starts to fall away as the band pile into the scrum of noise. Sop does well to cut through and to a lesser extent horns.  The sound builds to the end but so does the tempo unnecessarily.

Well done to the band but its another performance hard to place as it feels like the band will pleased to have gone on stage and got through it. I’m starting to feel for the band who are just being asked far to much with this choice of test piece. 

8.      Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stanley Lippeatt)

Not the cleanest of openings but we have had worse. The first big dynamic is very loud indeed and as it gets quieter the same technical problems come back in as we’ve been seeing all day. There’s some really nice playing going on but the odd overblown moment diminishes the effect. The last 3 chords of the movement are very tight and well sounded.

The second movement opens with some very clear musical shape from the MD. This might  lack the magic of the softest performances today but some really nice scene setting takes place before the solos take over. Baritone takes the standout honours here although its close with the solo cornet. A few inconsistent moments in the back end of the movement and the final FF has the wrong timbre for this movement having too much edge.

The final movement has a nice flow in the slower lines which have been carefully brought to the front of the balance. We loose the detail the further into the movement we get. The ending is just too loud for my taste.

This wont be at either the top or bottom of the table today as its another proof that the technical challenges get in the way of a good band from making the most of their musicality. 


7.      Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)

Hammonds bring the contest back to life as they show off the excellent playing that allows the longer melodic lines to come out of the wood work in the opening section. As the music grows it is led from the middle of the band in the horns and Baritones which keeps the balance really well in check.

The second movement continues to find the music and you can hear a pin (or chair as it was) drop in the auditorium as the Euph sets the tone for a well-tempered set of solo features with an outstanding horn taking the top spot all well supported from the ensemble.

The third movement returns to show that this band can play the technical work without a need to hide anything away. Great work from the tuned percussion player!

This is really only the second contender we have heard today, so far, who is able to find the music amongst the technical fireworks. It probably lacks the final polish from the soloists to challenge the top spot but it is certainly a real performance of musical merit and ensemble playing. 

6.      Crofton Silver (Dean Jones)

There’s a lot of detail missing again in the opening here. Basses support the sound well from below but the top end is struggling.  There is a nice band sound here but the technical challenge is just to great and intonation causes problems in the highest sections of individual lines.

The good band sound make the opening of the second movement the standout moment in the performance there’s been some good work from the MD to show off the best elements of the band. As the solos begin the band do struggle to get below the sound of the soloist but maybe this is by design to maintain that good sound. This was a great attempt by all the soloists but the Euph gets the stand out performance from me.

The 3rd movement again presents its technical challenges and maybe taking off some of the tempo would have allowed more of the music to come across rather than getting lost in a quagmire of sound.

Another band that you need to question if this is the right section for them if the standard of music is this high as technical work and intonation really causing problems only rescued by a good quality band sound. Well done MD on delivering what I expect was close to the expected plan and well done band on delivering what I suspect has been a real challenge.

5.      Drighlington (Neil Robinson)

This is the first band who have been exposed technically from the outset by the piece with both wrong notes appearing early, intonation causing a problem and the detail becoming lost. The MD singing before the first movement ends says it all really.

The second movement again shows the bands weakness in the soloists and the ensemble as intonation plagues the band and the majority of the detail is lost to a pool of sound.

The steady pace of the final movement was a good decision from the MD the band does not disgrace themselves and shows where their ability is and are able to make some music for the first time although technical challenges still present themselves.

Congratulations to the players today who have clearly made a massive effort to be on stage and playing the music. They got through it and it didn’t fall apart this is a good band but if this music is the standard expected of the section then it does beg the question if they were promoted too soon and are being overstretched as a result. 

4.      Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr. David Thornton)

The opening has the clarity you would expect from Grimethorpe but as the movement progresses to its louder sections it starts to sound strained and feels like taking the roof off rather than filling the hall was the aim. David Thornton looks like he is having to work hard to get the vision in his head across.

The second movement kept up a consistently louder sound than we have heard in other bands which left me feeling like there was a subtlety in the music that hadn’t been explored fully and maybe left some of the tale still to be told. That doesn’t mean the individual solos we not technically brilliant, as they were, but the overall effect just lacked the warmth the movement needed.

The third movement shows the bands technical ability off but again the detail is lost to the volume of sound being produced.

I think the band will be disappointed with this performance as it had the potential to do something special in the vision from the MD but subtlety was missing in the middle movement and the top volume sounded like it was trying to make up for other areas that were missing. The technical ability of the band wont be missed in the box but this was perhaps the wrong approach today.


3.      Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

Rothwell open with clear sense of pulse with the cornets providing the Euph a platform to sit upon. As the movement progresses some of the technical passages show the odd weakness across the band in the ensemble but the musical effect and sound quality is really very good.

The second movement holds onto the sense of musicality but some of the solos show their difficulty technically and intonation takes its toll in places. Whilst still a brilliant account the lack of finding a shimmering pianissimo might hurt in the results. The ensemble climax though is something beautiful before going down onto the trombone to finish the movement off with some style.

The third movement opens showing just how technically challenging this piece is with detail being lost in several places even if it does keep moving. Lovely duet from the Sop/Euph combo. Again some of the unison rhythms struggle to hold together but the band find some of the lines hidden within the phrasing of parts nicely and finish well.

David Roberts led the band on a very sure musical tale with a clear direction in mind. A few blips across the bands will cost and this was clearly a technical challenge very nearly mastered. 

2.      City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

The opening cornet line is supported by the mute choice in the cornet section which gets the right sound but looses some of the detail. Lee Skipsey pushes the band to the edge of  quality sound in the first climax but will just about get away with it. As the movement finishes the band put everything they have for the final push to the finish.

The second movement has a sense of wonder about it some real feeling with the MD showing a real connection with the players. I wonder what story they have decided they are telling. This is followed by another fine set of solos but some that do lack the final sparkle achieved by the band before.

The 3rd movement is off like a rocket with the band showing they have the technical skill to really play this piece as music rather than a technical exercise. Sop stands out for some particularly fine sounding work along with the technical work in the Euph and middle band.

This was a performance that in the not too distant past you would not have expected from this band but shows the development at the band is true form built on solid foundations and still growing. It was a musical performance which could find some favour in the box depending on how well some other bands have got round the piece.


1.      Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

Brighouse get the contest started with a pulse of sound followed by the near silent bubbling cornets that are going to be one of the biggest challenges for bands today. Through out the first movement David King matches the subtlety of the running lines with the melody threaded throughout the other parts.

The 2nd movement opens with a glorious sound in the middle of the band before leading to the first of three truly virtuosic solos from principal Euphonium before handing over cleanly to the Baritone and Horn.  The climax of the movement is  a stunning sound from the cornets and led to a close but another great solo from the trombone.

The third movement and we’re off flying again with Brighouse giving a tour de force show of their flexibility, sound and sheer brilliance.

As you would expect at this level the ensemble playing on show is truly excellent but it’s the musically that we’ve just seen that will make the difference today. As markers go this is an excellent performance that is going to take something special to beat. We may have heard the best we will get from the first band today. 



1.      Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

2.      City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

3.      Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts)

4.      Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr. David Thornton)

5.      Drighlington (Neil Robinson)

6.      Crofton Silver (Dean Jones)

7.      Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)

8.      Hatfield & Askern Colliery (Stanley Lippeatt)

9.      Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)

10. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas Childs)

11. Strata (Jonathan Bates)

12. Hepworth (Ryan Watkins)

13. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)

14. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Allan Withington)

Old Silkstone (TBA) — Withdrawn