MARVELLOUS MARCUS - BB meets composer and performer, Marcus Venables

Issue 6103

NATIONALS UNCERTAINTY - Bands withdraw amid COVID concerns

TIME CAPSULE - Sandy Smith on a magical moment in time for Black Dyke

UniBrass Championships 2021 - Live Comments

Saturday 26 June, 2021

Live coverage of the UniBrass Championships from The University of Sheffield

Adjudicators: Adam Cooke, Alexandra Kenyon

Zoe Wright Reporting

What an exciting day that we have ahead of us! The first post Covid-19 brass band contest!

The day includes performances from 9 University Bands, including one virtually – making Unibrass the first hybrid brass band contest!

Hosted at The University of Sheffield Students’ Union, the event is being held outside to comply with Covid-19 restrictions, lets hope the weather holds off for the whole day!

Each band has an own-choice programme with the contest beginning at 11am.

The day is being live streamed which is provided by BrassPass.tv at £2 for the day. 

Go to https://unib.co.uk/live for more information.

 

Results

1. Durham University

2. Nottingham University

3. Huddersfield University

Best Solo/Feature: Flugel Player for York University

Most Entertaining: Durham University

Student Conductor: Durham University

Best March: Huddersfield University

Best Section: Cornet Section for Nottingham University

Best Percussion: Durham University

 

 

 

Summary and Predictions:

What a brilliant day! The first brass band contest post covid and it couldn’t have gone any smoother. All of the bands put on brilliant performances despite restricted rehearsal time, numbers of players and last minute isolations and missing players. All the bands should be proud of themselves today, performing outside isn’t the easiest, plus social distancing and add to the mix wind and bright sunshine on and off all day, making it all the more difficult. Also, my hat goes off to all the Unibrass committee, who have been involved in running today’s events and ensuring the whole day was Covid secure. Thankfully, the weather held off and we’ve had some wonderful sunshine making the outdoor contest even more enjoyable!

Top 6 Prediction:

1.       Nottingham

2.       Huddersfield

3.       Durham

4.       Sheffield

5.       York

6.       Leeds

 

9. Durham University Brass Band

Conductor: Thomas Hicken

Programme:

Barnard Castle (Goff Richards)

Variations on Laudate Dominum (Edward Gregson)

Sandpaper Ballet (Leroy Anderson Arr Geoffrey Brand) Soloist: Martin Davies, Sandpaper

Back to the Future (Alan Silvestri Arr Darrol Barry)

The final band of the day! Opening with Barnard Castle, this is the first time the piece has been performed at the contest and is ode to one man’s trip to check his eye sight..! A little bit of acting and Durham University’s own time machine, the band is transported back to the 12th Century to perform Edward Gregson’s ‘Variations on Laudate Dominum’. A brilliant piece of music played with lots of enthusiasm and stylistic consideration. Quite possibly my personal favourite piece of the day followed next with Geoffrey Brand’s arrangement of Leroy Anderson’s ‘Sand Paper Ballet’, where the solo instrument featured is sand paper..? Lots of fun with this piece and something a little different for sure! Taking us ‘Back to the Future’ in the time machine, the band finished their programme with Darrol Barry’s arrangement, which brought the whole day to an exciting close.

 

 

8. Cambridge University Brass Band

Conductor: Josh de Gromoboy

Programme:

The Floral Dance (Katie Moss Arr Derek Broadbent)

Wellerman (Johann Blitzkrieger)

Selections from Minecraft: Volume Alpha (Daniel Rosenfeld Arr Storm E Knight)

Madness! (Darrol Barry)

Not one that we usually hear as an opener but ‘The Floral Dance’ works well! With a quirky reference to Zoom Band rehearsals and how the internet can sometimes cut out! By far the smallest number of band members in a band we have had today with just 13 players on stage. Linking to the world we have all lived through this past year, the second piece is a nod to the Viral TikTok Sea Shanty ‘Wellerman’. The third piece in the band’s programme was ‘Selections from Minecraft: Volume Alpha’, the piece was accompanied with a video for the audience to watch on their phones while the piece was being performed, a clever alternative to suit the contest being held outside, rather than what would have been played on a big screen if the contest could have been held indoors. The band ended their performance with Darrol Barry’s ‘Madness!’, to aptly describe what we have had to live through over the last 18 months, while all players donned matching sunglasses. A good performance for a band with such limited numbers.

 

 

7. University of Sheffield Brass Band

Conductor: Theo Letts

Programme:

Prismatic Light (Alan Fernie)

All in the April Evening (Hugh S Roberton Arr Eric Ball)

On the Quarter Deck (Kenneth J Alford)

The Irish Blessing (Joyce Eilers Bacak Arr Stephen Bradnum)

Fat Bottomed Girls (Brian May Arr Philip Harper)

Another brave conductor, no scores! Last year’s ‘Shield Section’ winner, the University of Sheffield band opened with Alan Fernie’s ‘Prismatic Light’. We have had some great openers today and this piece is no exception! Eric Ball’s arrangement of the choral work ‘All in the April Evening’ is the second piece in the band’s programme, a gentle hymn like piece. Moving onto the band’s choice of march ‘On the Quarter Deck’, the band played this piece standing – in true Whit Friday style (without the rain!). Irish Blessing then featured 4 of the band’s leaving members - Repiano, Tenor Horn, Baritone and Euphonium – opening the piece before the whole band joined in, a beautiful piece played well. To finish their programme they finished with Philip Harper’s arrangement of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’, a fun way to bring the programme to a close.

 

 

6. Bristol University Brass Band *Virtual*

Conductor: Angus Currie

Programme:

The Cossack (William Rimmer)

Deep Inside the Sacred Temple (Georges Bizet Arr K Wilkinson) Soloists: Charlie Pearce, Euphonium; Amy Williams, Baritone Horn

A Cambrian Suite (Michael Ball)

During the lunch break, we heard Bristol University Band’s ‘Virtual’ entry into the contest. Through the speakers we heard their recording made earlier this week. It really is great that this has been an option for this year’s contest, so that band’s not able to attend the contest in person could still take part in the event – one that is a staple in so many University Band’s diaries and looked forward to all year.

 

5. University of Nottingham Brass Band

Conductor: Kieren Williams

Programme:

Home of Legends (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)

Water of Tyne (Philip Harper) Soloist: Keir Evans-Brown (Cornet) & Jon Clare (Euphonium)

Mamma Mia! (Benny Anderson, Bjorn Ulvaes and Stig Anderson Arr Peter Kleine Shcaars)

Batman the Movie (Danny Elfman Arr Alan Catherall)

The World's Greatest Storyteller (Arr Philip Harper) Soloist: Keir Evans-Brown (Cornet)

Opened by two cornet fanfares at the front of the stage, the band opened with Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Home of Legends’. Impressively, the University of Nottingham band has the largest number of players on stage so far today. A strong opener from the band. Featuring the Solo Euphonium and Principal Cornet, the band moved onto ‘The Water of Tyne’ by Philip Harper. The piece showcased the bands melodic and lyrical playing and warm band sound. The second time some ABBA has been played today with a selection from ‘Mamma Mia!’, lively and full of energy, it was difficult not to tap your foot along to the music! Brilliantly played, transitions between the songs were done with complete control. Some classic film followed next with ‘Batman the Movie’. Bass Trombone really stood out in this piece, complementing the sound of the bass section. Finally, the band finished their programme today with ‘When I Grow Up’ from Phillip Harper’s arrangement ‘The World’s Greatest Storyteller’. Some fab playing from the Principal Cornet and Soprano! A fantastic performance, well done Nottingham.

 

 

4. University of York Brass Band

Conductor: Sabrina Duxbury

Programme: Pastime with Good Company (Stephen Roberts)

Habanera (George Bizet Arr Fred Mills)

My Love is Like a Red Red Rose (Arr Gordon Langford) Soloist: Emily Roberts (cornet)

Dancing Queen (ABBA Arr Frank Bernaerts)

The Joust (Don Gillis Arr John Glenesk Mortimer) Soloist: Brandon Fletcher (Trombone)

A Henry VIII themed programme from the University of York, opening with Stephen Roberts ‘Pastime with Good Company’. The second piece featured 5 of the bands members at the front of the stage performing an arrangement of Bizet’s ‘Habanera’.  A bit of theatre, scroll and all from the band’s compere, telling the story of Henry VIII and his wives, got a lovely chuckle from the audience. Seamlessly moving in the band’s featured soloist performing ‘My Love is Like a Red Red Rose’, on flugel by the band’s principal cornet, fits in with the storyline of the performance very well. A clever storyline linking into ‘Dancing Queen’, who doesn’t love a bit of ABBA?! Ending with a true medieval piece, ‘The Joust’, featuring the Solo Trombone player and ended with the whole band stood on their feet. A very entertaining and well thought out programme.

 

 

3. The University of Warwick Brass Society

Conductor: Matt Jackman

Programme:

Breezin' Down Broadway (Goff Richards)

Share My Yoke (Joy Webb Arr Ivor Bosanko) Soloist: Daniel Brennan - Cornet

Punchinello (William Rimmer)

New York, New York (Fred Ebb / John Kander Arr Goff Richards)

A brave student conductor with Warwick – no scores! A spritely opener with ‘Breezin’ Down Broadway’, a piece I’m sure everyone is familiar with, aptly dedicated to the tremendous hit the music and theatre industry have had over the last 18 months. Moving on to the band’s soloist performing ‘Share My Yoke’, beautifully performed from memory by the principal cornet and really showcased the band’s quiet dynamics. Another Whit Friday classic, ‘Punchinello’ to follow, full of style with a great ‘bass solo’. Finally, ending back where the performance started with ‘New York, New York’, a great light-hearted programme.

 

 

2. Leeds University Union Brass Band

Conductor: James T Heaton

Programme:

Starburst (Dan Price)

Ravenswood (William Rimmer)

Mr Blue Sky (Jeff Lyne Arr Christopher Wormald) Soloist: (Cornet)

All Through the Night (Traditional Welsh Air Arr Gordon Langford) Soloist: David Richardson (Euphonium)

Cornerstone (Shawn Kirchner Arr Philip Wilby)

Great opener with Dan Price’s composition ‘Starburst’, the iconic rhythm matching the old advert slogan ‘made to make your mouth water’ (if you know the one I mean!). Such a catchy tune! Moving into the traditional march Ravenswood - a Whit Friday classic. Well played sop, singing over the top of the band. Brilliant dynamic contrast from the whole band. Followed by a bit a fun with Mr Blue Sky, it was hard to stop myself singing along! Well done to the trumpet soloist, last minute stepping in to do the solo after the original soloist has unfortunately had to miss the contest due to having to self-isolate. Slowing things down with the Welsh Air ‘All Through the Night’, the band showed off their melodic abilities. Finally, the band end their programme with a new arrangement from Philip Wilby, ‘Cornerstone’, a fun end to the programme! Who doesn’t love a bit of audience participation with some clapping!

Down 8 members of the band due to having to self-isolate, the band put on a great performance today.

 

 

1.University of Huddersfield

Conductor: Jonathan Beatty

Programme: Birdland (Josef Zawinul Arr Philip Sparke)

Under the Double Eagle (JF Wagner)

Be My Love (Nicholas Brodszky & Sammy Cahn Arr Ray Farr) Soloist: Thomas Cobham – Euphonium

Fire in the Blood (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)

First up we have 2 times Unibrass Champions The University of Huddersfield!

Opening with Birdland, the band got the day off to a great start, the piece was full of energy! Followed straight away by the short march Under the Double Eagle, the band then changed the mood completely to welcome Euphonium soloist Thomas Cobham to the front of the stage to the perform the wonderful slow melody Be My Love. Fantastic playing! To end their performance the band performed Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Fire in the Blood. Great melodic lines from the whole band. Expertly controlled and memorised solo from the principal cornet despite having to contend with some flying music due to the wind! Same goes for the Solo Euphonium solo too! Well done both! Go basses, solid playing! Fantastic dynamic contrast from the whole band throughout. Stood up Trombones and Back Row - followed by the whole band at the end brought the programme to a incredible finale.