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 Two

Saturday 18 September, 2021

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Issue 6109 digital September 16, 2021


Sunday, September 19

Rob Tompkins reporting.


Section 2

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


Section 2 result

3rd Wantage

2nd BD1

1st Hebdon Bridge 


Section 2 - Prediction

There are a number of bands that will be in the mix for the places, BD1, Hebden, Glossop, Annan and Wantage in my opinion.

For me I will go with


Wantage Concert

Hebden Bridge


Band 17 - Wantage Concert

We are off to a flyer here, the quickest yet and keeping the clarity as the excitement drops away and we go into the exposed section. We head into the Hunt and all the excitement is there, very intense and big sounds from the band. There is some great shape to the phrasing and the big sounds are full.
The calm is being well managed and the sound is full, they are making the most of every phrase. A fine performance, another one in the mix.

Band 16 - Annan

A confident start and we hear all the notes and well measured intensity, the Buffalo Hunt is good, starts to drop off in intensity as it goes, but worked well. We have another well-constructed performance, this is another one to enjoy listening to and one I have been drawn into. The balance and the lovely sounds are really making this one a contender, some great playing and a captivating performance.

Band 15 - Cockerton Prize Band

We are off to a flying start and the band keep up, but then we loose the clarity just before the tempo drops. The Buffalo Hunt is good, excitement builds as does the intensity, that sounded great. There is some great movement in this performance and as we go back to calm the band switch well and produce a nice warm sound. A great performance to put into the hat, well played.

Band 14 - Glossop Old

The tempo to start feels too quick, there is a loss of clarity in the sounds produced, we get a couple of loose entries and then the band settles into the piece and we get some good sounds. Percussion a little over-powering before the Hunt begins. The Hunt is driving but doesn’t have the intensity, some loose notes make some of the bars untidy. Into Emblems and we get some wonderful sounds in this section, well balanced and warm and into a strong finish.

Band 13 - Tendring 

The opening is strong and really sets the scene well, movement is good, solo sections come across well, this is another good performance. The build of intensity in the Hunt is good, that sense of the chase is apparent. We get more great style from the band leading into Emblems and we see the calmer side of the band and we hear some lovely warm sounds. The band are putting in a near faultless performance, but will it be what the judges want to hear. We have a number of bands all playing the piece, but who is giving that extra something to take the places?

Band 12 - Bedford Town

We get another good opening, good intensity and the band work well to keep that intensity going, some more good work heading into the Hunt and we get a real feel of the chase, the band are producing a big sound and some great style. We move into the quieter section and hear the bands softer side which has a nice warmth. We are getting a good performance of the test piece from Bedford, very few mistakes and doing what is asked of them by the composer. Maybe lacking a bit of fire power, but it had some great moments.

Band 11 - Valley (Haydock)

Good start, intense buffalo and strong band sound, this is a good performance and a great sense of adventure coming from the style and presentation of the music. A good full sound when the volume is turned up and some very well-balanced sounds as well. The control the band are showing in the quiet section and going into Emblems is delightful, this is a very strong performance. We get a few slips which is a shame, but the band pick up and head to the end in good shape.

Band 10 - Hebden Bridge

The most frantic of the starts today, but the control was there with it and it was intense, the exposed passages that follow are well constructed and presented. A big full sound takes us into the ‘Buffalo Hunt’, we have that intensity and it is staying, great drive and purpose. The band are producing some great moments in this piece, such delicate playing which is balanced and full in ‘Emblems and Crests’ the sound remains full as the volume increases and the balance remains. This is a good performance and ends well. Very good, enjoyed that.

Band 9 - Uppermill

Uppermill start with a controlled opening section and the exposed passages are played well, we get the feeling of movement from the ‘Buffalo Hunt’ but it comes and goes, it’s doesn’t feel consistent and the intensity is lost. As the piece settles down the band produce some lovely sounds. Moving towards ‘Emblems and Crests’ the sound is delightful, so warm and so quiet, a lovely moment. The piece is finished well.

Band 8 - St Keverne 

The opening is frantic but controlled and comes across well, the solo sections are well played and we move into the ‘Buffalo Hunt’ with a feeling of intensity, it doesn’t keep that intensity throughout which is a shame. Heading towards ‘Emblems and Crests’ the sounds are good but lacking warmth. The repeat of the opening section ends the performance, it has been good, but just lacked depth for me.

Band 7 - Eagley

The opening is mixed, some areas very good and some not. The ‘Buffalo Hunt’ is intense, but feels a bit heavy, the feeling of drive is there, but it comes and goes and doesn’t stay consistently through the section. The exposed sections come through well ahead of ‘Emblems and Crests’ there is a calmness about it and a feeling of serenity which is lovely. We move back to the opening and the band finish the piece well.

Band 6 - BD1

A solid opening and the exposed sections are well played and keep the story of the piece flowing, we move into the solid sounds and they are well balanced and have plenty of punch with great dynamic contrast. ‘Buffalo Hunt’ feels a bit heavy on percussion and not getting the basses through. Good drive and momentum that is all under control and sounding great, this has the bite and really is being well performed. A very good ‘sit back and listen’ performance that had everything and is the one to beat in my opinion.

Band 5 - Abertillery Town

I like the opening, intense but not frantic, the exposed sections has some slips, but the full band ahead of the ‘Buffalo Hunt’ is good and I like the feeling of movement being created here, there is that feeling of intensity that you want to hear. We get some big ‘full-on’ sounds and also some lovely full and warm sounds, but mixed in we are hearing slips that detract from the moment being created. We head back to the opening and this sounds crisp and is a good finish.

Band 4 - Taff Vale

Some good detail in the opening section of the piece and the exposed sections of the opening are played well, the percussion is very dominant in the louder sections, the band are sounding good in the louder sections. ‘The Buffalo Hunt’ has a great flow and intensity about it. We move into the more sedate section of the piece and get some nice sounds, but it doesn’t always sound secure. We head back to the opening and finish well. A mixed performance with some great moments.

Band 3 - Gresley Colliery 

A frantic start, but the band stay on track, through the exposed sections we get a mix of good playing and slips, the full sound of the band is good and the dynamics are good as we head into ‘The Buffalo Hunt’ this has a great feeling of intensity. The lead up to and the playing through ‘Emblems and Crests’ is good, well balanced and well controlled. As we more to the end of the piece we return to the frantic opening and this is a great ending.


Band 2 - Hatherleigh Silver

A good opening, the scene is well set, not without a few slips, but a great build up and great momentum. It starts to sound untidy as parts don’t quite match, there is a mix of great phrases and then a slip and it detracts from the momentum. We move into ‘Emblems and Crests’ and this is lovely, well balanced and sounds delightful and we get a lovely full sound when the volume increases.


Band 1 - Durham

A very atmospheric piece of music and Durham capture that well and are giving a great performance that pulls you in and makes you forget to write things down, this is a good opener for the section, the movement around the band is excellent and the band sound very comfortable. We get a few moments when muted where it doesn’t sit well and we get a few split notes but in the main the band are in control and continue to present the piece well. I am looking forward to hearing this piece multiple times and Durham give us a good opening rendition.

Section 4

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


Section 4 - Result

1st Nailsworth

2nd Skelmersdale

3rd Crosskeys Silver


Section 4 - Prediction

The performances for me that showed the piece off the best were from Tewkesbury, Nailsworth, Amington, Crosskeys and Skelmersdale and from those I will go with






Band 14 - Skelmersdale Prize

Good opening and well-balanced trombones, we get a few slips, but the 1st movement is flowing well and has a nice feel to it. The phrases are well presented with some nice rise and fall. A good start.

The 2nd movement is well controlled and really has some great moments, sounds mixing well and the balance is very good.

The 3rd movements has a great feeling of movement about it, the changes in tempi and dynamics are well handled and played with real confidence. This is a really good performance and should see Skelmersdale take a top 3 spot.



Band 13 - Crosskeys Silver

Starting with control and at the right volume, this continues and the 1st movement is going well, we get a few entries that don’t quite happen, but the movement is well constructed and ends well.

In movement 2 we hear the band trying to put some shape into the phrases and this is happening in the most part, some moments of insecurity come in, but once again the band produce some lovely sounds and balance.

The 3rd movement gives us a louder dynamic and with it comes some big sounds from the band, some exposed sections don’t sound as full and are little lost, the overall flow of this movement is good. The quiet section is well controlled and keep the momentum. A good ending


Band 12 - Amington 

I am enjoying listening to Amington, the opening movement has a nice feel to it and the band are well in control of the piece.

This is a measured performance, everything is being played and played well, the band sound confident and it makes for an enjoyable listen. We get some moments when intonation is out, but we also get some lovely moments of balance a full sound which is very big.

The 3rd movement continues from where the 2nd movement left off, the band are enjoying this movement and are playing well, a nice full sound. Good ending


Band 11 - Linthwaite

A controlled opening movement, not without it’s intonation issues, but well played and everyone trying hard to keep the volume down and keep the balance, the band manage that in the main.

The 2nd movement starts off louder than marked, but this gives the players confidence to go for their notes and it pays off as the most of the entries are secure and as the band settle into it the balance is found and there is a lovely sound. This movement has been well thought put and well executed.

The 3rd movement shows the band off very well, a nice flow and feeling of movement, the phrases are shaped and start and end well, the band have all settled in well and this is a good final movement, they are producing some good sounds to end the piece.


Band 10 - Trentham

Good opening and good rise and fall, some entries struggle at this volume but then the band settle again and getting good shape from the music and a nice flow to the performance.

The start to the 2nd movement had some entries that edged their way in, at this volume the players are just managing to keep the sound and as the volume builds you can hear the confidence build with it. We are also getting some intonations issues at this volume.

We get a bright opening to movement 3 and what sounds like a much happier band, being able to play at the louder volume certainly suits the band a much brighter sound and entries are much more confident.


Band Number 9 - Cwmtawe

Another good opening to the 1st movement, some entries follow that are not so secure and the band take a while to settle. There are some intonation issues finding their way into the performance, the band are trying hard to keep the volume down and there are moments where it sits beautifully.

Into the 2nd movement and we hear the issues caused by playing quietly and then the band settle again and we get some delightful moments. A real mixed performance of wonderful sounds and then intonation issues. As the volume increases you hear a full sound from the band which is lovely.

A steady start to the 3rd movement and the band are happier with this volume and tempo and produce some lovely moments. A controlled final movement and ends well.


Band Number 8 - BMP Europe

A lovely opening, good balance and confident. Some sounds lost as the piece progresses and some uncertain moments, the confidence then lifts as more players join the ensemble.

The 2nd movement has a very warm sound and settled quickly, the start and ends to phrases are well controlled and the movement has a nice flow. The louder volume is stopped from going to far and the band have a nice full sound and well balanced.

Into the 3rd movement and you can hear the band are enjoying this one, able to let lose a little and that comes across in the style the piece is played in, a nice feeling of movement. The quiet section is sounding good and as the volume builds the MD David Ashworth reminds the band not to go too far and they respond with a solid sound, a good ending.


Band Number 7 - Easingwold

A shaky start, but soon resolved by the band with some lovely lyrical playing. I am enjoying listening to the opening section, but it is lacking that feeling of movement, the shaping is good, but it just needs a little more. Some insecure entries take away from the phase openings, that said, I did enjoy this movement.

The 2nd movement settles down and now we start to hear some lovely sounds and band working together, there is a control and a big sound that is rich but also a little flat, losing the bright sound just where it was needed most.

Into the 3rd movement and a good start, with great contrast in dynamics. The quiet section is well controlled, as the volume increases we lose the balance but the style is good and is well played.


Band Number 6 - Pangbourne

A good start and the band settle in quickly, the phrase endings are not clean in places, the overall sound is good, the rise and fall is good but feels like it needs more shape. A good opening movement, it just felt a little flat.

Good balance to open the 2nd movement, some intonation issues creep in, but the sound and volume is well controlled in the main, as the band increase in volume you hear a lovely full sound and this is maintained for the start to the quiet sections, but then goes a little thin. The flow is good and it has a nice feel, but intonation issues detract.

The 3rd movement is bright and moving along well, we get a well-controlled quiet section which is nice and then as the volume builds the good sound is maintained, the finish is good.


Band Number 5 - Nailsworth

What a glorious opening, such control. The performance continues to give more as it progresses with some very well shaped phrases and some delightful use of the dynamics. This is a strong opening movement with some lovely flourishes and a full and warm sound from around the band.

The 2nd movement continues from where the 1st movement left off, the control of the sound is key and the very expressive playing is really lending itself to a top performance of the music. The build in volume is well controlled and every part moves as one, this is a delight to listen to.

A bright and breezy opening to the 3rd movement, the control remains with every change in tempo and dynamic, the band are really on top of this piece and MD Anri Adachi is really finding the music and making sure it is heard. No apologies for this, Nailsworth have nailed it….

Band Number 4 - Hemel Hemstead

The opening is good, as the movement progresses there are issues with balance and intonation, but the overall sound of the band is good and there is a good style to the playing.

It takes a few bars for the 2nd movement to settle, the sound of the band is good where the music allows the full sound to be heard, around the band you can hear some delightful but the overall sound is a little unsure in places, trying so hard to play the lower dynamic, its very difficult and the start of some notes are being lost.

A nice opening to movement 3, sounds like the band like this one, it has a nice feeling of movement about it, the sound is controlled and well balanced, really enjoying this movement. Good ending.

Band Number 3 - Tewkesbury Town

A very good try at the pp start of the piece, never easy. The band takes a while to settle but then we get some delightful rise and fall and very controlled moments, the sound is full when the music allows.

The 2nd movement opening is highlighted by the sop, what a lovely sound. The band are now producing a bigger sound at the quieter dynamic and it does sound good. Great care is being taken with the ends of phrases and the opening note of the new phrase which is good to hear. Some intonation issues creep in, but the ending of the movement is good and the last note is very well controlled.

The 3rd movement opens brightly and good use of the dynamics bring the music out, the changes in tempo are carefully managed, the lower dynamics are well played and care is being taken not to be the sound that sticks out. A good performance, well controlled, well played and a great listen.


Band Number 2 - Spennymoor Town

A confident start and good use of the dynamics, some slips, but the flow of the music is good and the balance is right. A good sound across the band when the volume lifts a good opening movement.

At the lower volume the band are controlling the sound in the 2nd movement well, ends of phrases are lost a little and balance suffers in places, but in the main this is well controlled and when the volume lifts you get to hear the bands full sound and what a great sound it is.

The 3rd movement starts a little untidily, but soon picks up and MD Fiona Casewell gives the band good direction from the front that they follow well. The quiet sections of this movement are controlled well and this movement comes across as one the band enjoy and you can hear it in the playing. A very enjoyable performance


Band Number 1 - City of Birmingham 

A very lyrical opening and very carefully played, good balance and as the piece progresses the confidence builds, a good opening movement.

Some parts not coming through in the quiet sections of the 2nd movement, playing at the lower volume the balance is not quite there. We all know how difficult it is to play quietly and the band are finally let off the leash with a louder section and what a lovely sound.

Very tidy opening to movement 3, the band are working well together and a very bright sound. The intonation is good and the balance is also good, the band are working well as a team and a couple of untidy bars near the end, but a good performance.


Section 2

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