FORMIDABLE FODEN'S - Full coverage from the 2021 National Brass Band Championships

Issue 6112

HOW TO IMPRESS - Amos Miller on flourishing in a conservatoire audition

COMPOSER CAST - Liz Lane on her fascinating early musical life

DEPARTURE - Cornet star Kirsty Abbotts leaves Carlton Main

Lower Section National Finals - Live Updates - Day One

Thursday 16 September, 2021

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Issue 6109 digital September 16, 2021


Saturday, September 18 

Rob Tompkins reporting.



Congratuations to all the bands that took part today, we have heard 30 bands and had a great day. 

We are back at 9:30am on Sunday with the 4th Section.


Section 1

Test Piece: Connotations (Edward Gregson)
Adjudicators: Alan Morrison; Steve Sykes; Sheona Wade
Saturday, September 18
Start: 3.45pm (approx.)

Section 1 Result

3rd - Medway

2nd - Sandhurst Silver

1st - Kingdom


Section 1 Prediction

Kingdom put in a great performance, Medway and Jackfield also showed us good performances with Sandhurst, Brunel and Blackburn also giving a good account of themselves. The final band Roberts Bakery have also put themselves into the mix.

For me Kingdom 1st, Roberts Bakery 2nd, Medway 3rd but there are more in the mix for the prizes.


Section 1 - Band Number 14 - Roberts Bakery

From the start Roberts Bakery are showing their intent, this could be an interesting contest with Kingdom putting in the performance they did and now we are getting another great performance to make the result just that bit more interesting. Full of confidence and great balance, the exposed sections are well played and the band are producing a lovely full sound when needed, good dynamics. Cadenzas are well played and the ending is great.

Section 1 - Band Number 13 - Kingdom

Well controlled opening, a very measured start and has a good feel to it, the band are sounding confident and not holding back. The full sound of the band is great and they keep it all under control, balance is very good and there is a real attack to this piece. The exposed sections come across well and this is building into the performance of the section, some great playing. With only 1 band left to come this is going to take some beating.

Section 1 - Band Number 12 - Jackfield

A nice opening, this is being well managed and well played, a real sense of confidence in the playing, could we have another contender, looking that way at the moment. Good contrasts in dynamics, well balanced, controlled, it has it all. The band continues to produce some great sounds, some slips come into play, but the band continues to produce a good sound and confident sound. The ensemble sound is very good, the exposed sections may just make a difference. Overall a very good performance well done. 

Section 1 - Band Number 11 - Medway

A good opening, not without it’s splits, but kept moving along and sounded good, a delightful sound from the Principal Cornet. The slower section suits the band and its controlled and balanced and has great depth. The band are producing some lovely dynamic contrasts and keeping the balance, this is sounding good, into the quicker tempo and now the band are moving together well.

Cadenzas go well and the band join with a confident feel and drive, pushing through to a good ending. Now we have a contest on our hands with several bands taking the piece by the scruff of the neck and putting in good performances.


Section 1 - Band Number 10 - Blackburn and Darwen

A measured opening, balanced and well controlled. With the change in tempo comes more depth of sound and a nice balance with it, the principal cornet has a lovely sound and really comes across well. The band have settled into this now and sound more confident and the dynamic contrasts now come in and sound great.

Good cadenzas and the move into the end of the piece has a great feeling of movement and the ending is very good. Nicely played, enjoyed that.


Section 1 - Band Number 9 - Newstead

This took a while to settle, some slips and lack of balance gave us a shaky start, but the band have lifted themselves and are getting into their stride now. Starting to sound more confident and some nice sounds and good balance, the exposed sections are not sounding as confident. The performance is gaining in momentum as it comes to a close and the ending is good.

Section 1 - Band Number 8 - York Railway

A steady start, no fireworks, but carefully played and sounding good. The band are playing within themselves and producing a good performance, lacking a full sound as they hold off on the volume, but you can hear it is there in places. This is a very controlled performance, some lovely sounds, just missing some of the dynamic contrast. The louder dynamic is starting to show itself now and this is adding to the performance, balance remains good. It’s a very measured performance and with very few slips, so might just do ok.


Section 1 - Band Number 7 - Tylorstown

A great opening, the band produce some lovely big sounds and stay together through the opening bars and settle into the piece well.

The change in tempo took a while to settle and feels a bit quick, some of the players trying to keep up. It settles but still feels rushed, slowing down the band are back together but some slips come in.

Cadenzas come across well and the band sounding strong and confident as they play through to the end of the piece with a lovely full sound.


Section 1 - Band Number 6 - Sandhurst Silver

Sounding good to start and keeping the momentum, sound and style, a nice full sound and good sounds around the band as the part is moved around. There is a confidence in this performance, it’s not without some slips, but the recovery is instant. A lovely sound from the cornet and euph.

There is a great deal of control in the performance and it comes across well, still some slips, but overall sounding good. Nicely worked cadenzas and good finish.

Section 1 - Band Number 5 - Unite the Union

The band start well, the opening sits well and feels good, continuing to keep together, well balanced. Slips start to come in and appear in a few places as the band go through the slower section, lovely sound from the Euph and this gives the band a lift as the following section is much stronger and sounding much more confident.

The cadenzas work well and again you can feel the band fill with confidence through to the end, a great ending.


Section 1 - Band Number 4 - Ripon City

The opening is good, a feel of control and the band worked well together, good balance and good style, the playing continues to grow in confidence and the team-work is good. Heading into the slower section there are some slips that take a while to sort themselves, then it picks back up and comes across well again. The confidence of the band seems to have gone and slips come into the playing which is a shame. The ending picks up and the band play the final section with greater balance and confidence.

Section 1 - Band Number 3 - Brunel

A good opening, the band continue to grow in confidence and give us a lovely sound, not without its slips, some lovely sounds from the Principal Cornet, the slower section is well balanced and comes across well. The cadenzas have a real feeling of purpose and really come across well. A very controlled ending and care taken to get everything played and heard. A great performance.

Section 1 - Band Number 2 - BTM

A real sense of purpose about the opening and some lovely sounds from the band, not without it’s slips, but the band recover well and maintain that warm sound.

Well controlled movement, well balanced, some clarity is lost as the part moves around the band.

The cadenzas work well and the band move well into the scherzando, but clarity is lost as the section progresses.

A performance that had some great moments, but some sections of the piece, were untidy and that detracted from the performance which is a shame.


Section 1 - Band Number 1 - Knottingly Silver

A lovely warm opening, some of the clarity is lost in the triplets, there are some great sounds, but doesn’t settle. The band move well together and the balance is well maintained through the changes in dynamics, there are moments where the clarity goes again and some parts are lost. Good work through the cadenza’s and into the scherzando. Some moments of really tight playing but mixed with some areas where that was lost.

Saturday, September 18

Section 3

Test Piece: Kaleidoscope (Philip Sparke)
Adjudicators: Alan Bourne; Mark Wilkinson; Glyn Williams
Saturday, September 18
Start: 9.30am


Section 3: The Result

3rd - Raunds Temperance

2nd - Beumaris

1st - Tewit Silver


Section 3: Prediction

What a great contest, the bands have really given everything today and it’s been great to hear.

For me the top spots are between




Hazel Grove

Lofthouse 2000


I think Tewit will take it, with Beaumaris 2nd and Lostock 3rd

Hazel Grove and/or Lofthouse 2000 must be in the mix as well, but please remember, I am not the adjudicator, just my opnion.


Section 3: Band Number 16 - Chichester City

A secure opening, it feels like the band are holding back to ensure clarity and not going for the full dynamic contrast. Everything is controlled and we start to hear the full sound of the band and it’s a good sound. Some of the bright and light sounds are lost and get a little heavy, but are soon replaced with some neat and precise sounds. A solid ending and a happy band. 

Section 3: Band Number 15 - Stamford

A captivating start, sit up and listen, some great playing and contrast to start the piece, some moments of insecurity creep in, but are short-lived. Some big sounds and great drive with a few slips. This is a real mix of some quite delightful sounds and slips, the band trying to keep together and not quite managing. MD Julian Bright is giving it everything to keep the band driving forward and the band respond with some really great playing, for me there were too many slips. A great finish.


Section 3: Band Number 14 - Beaumaris

A sit back and listen performance, well controlled, well balanced and what a lovely sound. The flow in the faster sections and the band play well together, what great drive. Lovely combination between Horn and Cornet, what a sound. There is a real feel of ease about the playing that makes it a pleasure to listen to, just sounds so easy (I know it’s not).

So neat and tidy and not hanging around, some great playing and really great to listen to.


Section 3: Band Number 13 - Poole Borough

An assured opening, very solid and confident, moments where the balance is lost, but a good start,

The band are in control of the music and it comes across well, good dynamics and well controlled. A feeling they are playing a little safe in places, but the confidence is coming through.

A few bars that don’t quite sit and lose balance and flow, but this is resolve quickly. The quicker tempo is well managed, a few untidy moments but in the main well handled.

The ending remains controlled and is well delivered.


Section 3: Band Number 12 - Gosport

A mixture of great sounds and great flow, but a few slips and untidy bars then creep in. The band are producing some beautiful moments in the small ensemble sections, great balance and presentation and the Principal Cornet has a lovely rich sound.

As the piece progresses we get more of the lovely sounds and full sound of the band coming through, the team work is evident and produces some great moments. The sticky bars are a shame, a very good effort.


Section 3: Band Number 11 - Olney

A well measured opening and the band settle in quickly to the piece, it lacks a bit confidence as the band move through the slower section, but you also hear some delightfully full sounds from the band which are lovely.

A mixed performance that had sticky moments and moments of delight, the band worked hard to play what was there.


Section 3: Band Number 10 - Lostock Memorial

A sit up and listen opening, really well-presented opening bars, what a great start. You want a performance that is controlled but on the edge at the same time and this has started in that vein.

Some lovely sounds from around the band, a few untidy bars find there way into the performance but as the tempo drops the full sound is back and sounding very assured.

Some real moments of top class playing mixed with some bars that don’t sit well, the MD Ryan Broad is really giving the band everything they need from the front and they respond well.

A great performance.


Section 3: Comfort Break 

Having heard 9 bands I think Tewit are the band to beat, Lofthouse 2000 also put in a great performance.

I am not in the box, but these are the 2 bands I put at the top at this stage.


Time now for a comfort break - back shortly

Section 3: Band Number 9 - Ocean 

Opening works well and feels very relaxed, enjoying sitting back and listening to this performance, it sounds good and some lovely sounds from around the band. A few little slips creep in now and then, but the band continue to produce a solid performance.

Nice and neat, playing well together and sounding very light, the band are playing well and keeping the piece under control. Well done


Section 3: Band Number 8 - Raunds Temperance

A solid start and the band settle into the piece nicely, as the tempo changes it gets a little untidy, but again settles down after a few bars. A mix of well controlled and then not so well controlled phrases, there are some real moments of great sound, great drive and real colour in the playing.

A really gutsy performance, a little untidy in places which was a shame, but plenty of great playing on show.


Section 3: Band Number 7 - Langholm Town 

A very assured opening, some great sounds, not quite balanced, but a good start. Mixed in with the great sounds are some intonation issues and less confident sounds which is a shame.

A lovely sound from the Principal Cornet, the solo sections in the performance are well played

This has been a great performance from Langholm, not as neat and tidy as they would like and some sections that tripped them up, but moments of delight within the performance.


Section 3: Band Number 6 - Tewit Silver

Tewit are another band that have got the opening section well and truly under theirs belts, a solid opening and as the piece develops the drive from the band very much led from the front by MD Martin Hall really pushes on well.

There is nothing being left in the locker with this performance, everything is played with confidence and the balance is a delight in places. Every solo and duet section has been positive and well presented.

I have really enjoyed this performance, a bit more edge of the seat in places, but the Tewit have nailed this, for me the best of the bunch so far, but I am not in the box.

Section 3: Band Number 5 - Lofthouse 2000

A good opening, well controlled and together, as the tempo picks up the control stays and with it comes some good dynamics, real drive and excitement builds. Good changes in tempo and style help hold the piece together, some great playing from across the band. I am quite enjoying just sitting back and listening to this performance, it has a bit of everything and is sounding great. This has been a great day at the office for Lofthouse, the MD must be really pleased with this performance.

Section 3: Band Number 4 - Pilling Jubilee Silver

You can hear all the bands have put a lot of work into the opening and it pays off for Pilling Jubilee, a big opening to the piece and really have set the scene well. Some slips creeping in which detracts from the flow and drive a little, but they are going for it, no holding back. The band move into the slower section and show their more subtle side and what a lovely sound. Nice and neat into variation 5 and stay together well, a real feel of drive even when quiet. More control in the final section rounds off a great performance that had a bit of everything.

Section 3: Band Number 3 - Kippax

A controlled opening, lacking a little in dynamics, but well balanced and confident. The full sound from Kippax is lovely and the control is there, playing together and playing through the tricky runs well and with a great flow. MD Stephen Tighe is giving the band great direction and making sure the band know exactly what he wants. The Principal Cornet has a wonderful sound which works well in solo and duet passages.

This is a very neat and tidy performance, no risks taken and all well put together, for me it was just lacking in dynamics, but everything was there.


Section 3: Band Number 2 - Usk

Another lovely opening, a lot of work has gone into this to get it balanced and controlled.

Great contrast, the piece is flowing well, some of the runs are not together which is a shame, the band sound great when in full flow, the slower sections present a few issues with keeping together and maintaining that full sound, but there are some real moments of beauty mixed in.

Really enjoying this performance, great sounds, some moments of insecurity which the band recover well from. The band sound like they are enjoying playing and that is great to hear.

Great energy to finish.


Section 3: Band Number 1 - Hazel Grove

Nicely controlled opening and full sound from across the band. Great dynamic contrast, a lovely feel of movement and really good team-work from the band to keep everything precise.

The band are producing some real beauty in this piece, making the most of the writing and getting the most from it, control is key and they are in control as they move through the movements.

Some of the runs are getting away a little, but back on track straight away. Lovely sounds coming from the Principal Cornet.

Variation 5 sounded a little unsure in places, but again the band pull things back and the control returns.

Hazel Grove have really pulled out a great performance, a lot of work has gone into producing that performance and hats off to them for a great effort. Some moments of insecurity, but in the main well controlled and well played.


Here is the draw for the 3rd Section



Section 1

Test Piece: Connotations (Edward Gregson)
Adjudicators: Alan Morrison; Steve Sykes; Sheona Wade
Saturday, September 18
Start: 3.45pm (approx.)


Sunday, September 19

Section 4

Test Piece: An Elgar Portrait (Dan Price)
Adjudicators: Martin Heartfield; John Maines; Jonathan Pippen
Sunday, September 19
Start: 9.30am


Section 2

Test Piece: Lions of Legends (Thierry Deleruyelle)
Adjudicators: Nicholas Garmen; Steve Pritchard-Jones; David Hirst
Sunday, September 19
Start: 2.45pm (approx.)