BATTLE OF THE TITANS - Bands gear up for a titanic battle at the Royal Albert Hall

Issue 6016

COMPOSERS' CORNER - Dr Liz Lane looks at the subject of  networking 

HERE IS THE NEWS - Looking back at the Daily Herald's Nationals sponsorship

Scottish Open: LIVE

Saturday 23 November, 2019

Congratulations to Whitburn Band, conducted by Professor Nicholas Childs, on its sixth consecutive victory at the Scottish Open! 

Look out for a full report from the contest, and the rest of the Scottish Festival of Brass, in the next edition of British Bandsman.

 

Results:

1st: Whitburn Band, 195 points

2nd: cooperation band, 194 points

3rd: Rainford Band, 193 points 

4th: Elland Silver Band, 192 points 

5th: The Oldham Band (Lees), 191 points

6th: The Milnrow Band, 189 points

7th: Newtongrange Silver Band, 188 points

8th: Easington Colliery Band, 187 points

9th: Dalmellington Band 186 points

10th: Fishburn Band, 185 points

11th: Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass, 183 points

12th: Bo'ness and Carriden Band, 182 points

13th: East London Brass, 181 points

14th: Dunaskin Doon Band, 180 points

 

The Neil Philip Memorial Trophy for Best Euphonium: David McKellar, Dalmellington Band

4barsrest award for Best Soloist: Scott Forrest, Soprano Cornet, Whitburn Band

Lifetime Achievement Award presented to SBBA Secretary, Tom Allan

 

6.51pm

White River Brass, fronted by Dr Brett Baker, is entertaining the audience in Perth Concert Hall prior to the results ceremony.

 

With that, the final performance of the 2019 Scottish Open comes to a close.


This has been an interesting one. The inclusion of two movements from Howard Snell’s Excelsior proved an engaging listen and bands generally appeared to enjoy them.

 
The tension crept in, though, from the opening bars of Waverley. The silences surrounding these early entries seemed to spook some bands, leading to wobbles in individual production and tightness of ensemble. Some, though, retained their poise in carefully crafted readings, a joyous richness to the tone.

 
Likewise in the Allegro Vivace, where the fast-paced quaver lines were heard with varying degrees of success. At their best, it was incredibly exciting but sometimes the texture just became a bit muddy.

 
The audience was sparse today; a shame for the bands who had worked so hard and travelled some considerable distances to perform.


There were three women conductors at today’s contest, all very fine musicians. There are more who would be perfectly capable on this stage - it shouldn’t be a ‘thing’ but at the moment, it is. Let’s see more women given a chance to excel in front of bands.


As for a prediction, let’s opt for Whitburn by some margin ahead of its dear rival, the cooperation band. After that, it could go any number of ways. Look out for Rainford, Dalmellington and Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass. 

Dark horses: Oldham Band (Lees), Bo'ness and Carriden

 

14) Newtongrange Silver Band | Anne Crookston

 
Fanfare and march

A disciplined opening from Newtongrange. Anne Crookston ensures a dynamic reading, drawing a variety of colours from the score of the march.

 
Tutti cornet semiquaver lines are a touch scruffy at times and there are fleeting intonation grumbles but overall, it’s impressive.

 
Waverley

Well-controlled to open, with just slight intonation issues in the lower sounds during this pearly opening.

 
Those tightrope entries up top just about pass without incident, giving way to an expressive performance. Now cornets are feeling a little uncomfortable, intonation-wise.


The Allegro Vivace is well paced in tempo and in shaping some of the longer lines found in the score. In full flight, it’s very impressive and bristles with energy.


Newtongrange Silver and Anne Crookston round off an engaging afternoon at the Scottish Open with a performance which sparkled with energy.

 

13) Rainford Band | Sarah Groarke-Booth

 
Fanfare and march

Well-measured and exciting to open. Some of the smaller notes don’t quite spring from the page but there are quality sounds on display here.

 
An animated Sarah Groarke-Booth coaxes a variety of colours from the score, with the lighter corners particularly effective.

 
The tunes will be firmly embedded within the ears of the BB editor for some time to come - happily so, it’s engaging music.

 
Waverley

A confident opening which comes through almost unscathed. The confidence is shared by euphonium, and there is neat attention to detail, helping ensure the ensemble stays tight.

 
The Allegro Vivace bursts into life and the band is capturing the bright, optimistic colours of this music. It isn’t immune from scruffy edges, as has been the case throughout the field, but it’s engaging.

 
Some of the intricate lines are starting to become hidden among the big picture; it’ll be interesting to find out how these sorts of passages found their way into the adjudicators’ box during the course of the day.

 
Well organised to close.

 

 

12) Elland Silver | Daniel Brooks

 
Fanfare and March

Everything is in place in the opening stages for Elland; committed and energetic, if not always entirely clean.

 
Waverley

Euphoniums embrace their melodies wholeheartedly and the band works so hard to find the delicate moments in the score.


The Larghetto ends neatly, giving way to an Allegro Vivace which holds steady. A solid engine room sets up a steady pulse, on top of which melodic lines rise and fall gently out of the texture.

 
Some of the initial clarity dips as the performance progresses and it loses its sheen, somewhat. The tutti sounds are generally controlled, only occasionally becoming a little over enthusiastic.

 

11) Milnrow Band | Chris Binns

 
Fanfare and March

The opening statements are given some breadth, ensuring nothing is hen-pecked.


The march ticks along gently, the band enjoying this music, which has been an engaging listen during this afternoon’s contest. There’s a dark, endearing quality to the sounds of horns, euphoniums and baritones in their brief melodic line.


Waverley


Not entirely together at times. It’s amazing how this opening has made life tricky for bands today; nicely shaped though.


It does feel a little nervy at times in the Larghetto but it does dissipate.


Allegro Vivace drives nicely and attention is given to bringing out the smaller notes, particularly in the tutti sections, which hasn’t always been the case today.


A performance from Milnrow which retains its discipline, seemingly immune from the fatigue which has affected other performances in the final moments today.

 

10) Dunaskin Doon | Paul Drury

 
Fanfare and March

Balanced and confident to open, with just the odd insecurity.


The march is tight and particular attention is given to the lighter moments in the score.


Waverley

There are hints of nerves but it retains its poise in these exposed opening bars. It gets a little fragile up top, on occasion. 

 

The playing is measured and Paul Drury engineers a well-organised reading; it just doesn’t all come off.


Many of the spiralling quaver lines come across but the texture sometimes gets a little muddy, especially in the bottom end.


Committed playing from Dunaskin Doon. It didn’t all come off but there was a sense of poise to large parts of Waverley, on top of which Paul Drury led the band through an engaging reading.

 

9) Whitburn Band | Professor Nicholas Childs

 
Fanfare and March

Sprightly opening. Whitburn wastes no time in a dynamic, colourful fanfare. The semiquaver lines in low end are some of the few which have really come across today.

 
It’s bright and jovial but there’s a clinical feel from the West Lothian band as it hunts its sixth consecutive Scottish Open title.


Euphoniums and baritones shine, glorious sounds which soar out of the texture when called upon. Razor sharp to close.


Waverley

There’s an elegance to the opening; it’s tight and the sounds are rich and alive. It maintains composure in spite of the hearty laughter which bleeds into the auditorium from the foyer.


Soprano soars to the C with ease and the confidence continues around the stand, euphoniums demonstrating poise in their melodic lines.


Attention to detail is notable, with the dotted rhythms given time and space.


The Larghetto is nicely understated to close.


There’s no hanging around, with the Allegro Vivace energising. The details and dynamics pop out from Howard Snell’s score while horns embrace the nimble quaver lines wholeheartedly.


The very occasional blemish isn’t detracting from a powerful, virtuosic account. 


It builds to a thundering conclusion.


Whitburn Band is clinical in its Scottish Open performance as it seeks a sixth consecutive title. Forensic attention to detail and furiously exciting.

 

8) The cooperation band | Michael Fowles

 
Fanfare and March

A tight opening, which opens into a sound of some sonority.


The score is coming to life here. The march is elegant and Michael Fowles finds a good pulse on which to build a characterful reading.


Waverley

The Larghetto opens in understated fashion and the subtle decays to the sound come across well. It isn’t immune from slight frailties in pitching and intonation, though.


The euphonium melody is sonorous, even in its softer moments, providing a rich, chocolatey texture to this account from the cooperation band.


Basses are so delicate to close the Larghetto.


Allegro Vivace is spirited and largely neat to open.


Horns and flugel relish the cascading quaver lines, which burst out from the middle of the band. It’s tight and never threatens to go overboard. Scratchy sounds appear but are fleeting.


A performance of some stature from the cooperation band as it looks to regain the title it last won in 2013. Not immune from clips and little frailties but organised to the nth degree and the quality for large parts is undeniable. 

 

7) Easington Colliery Band | Sandy Smith

 
Fanfare and March

Easington Colliery unleashes its full might early on, opening into a full, balanced band sound.


The march is agile and the fast-paced semiquaver lines in cornets come across well.


Some of the dotted rhythms don’t have the poise required to speak clearly in the lower end but overall, it’s well played and an engaging opening to Easington’s performance.


Waverley

It’s a fairly confident opening, managing to avoid some of the ensemble pitfalls which can strike here. Confident sop, elegant and tuneful. 

 
This is sprightly though some of the quaver lines in the Allegro Vivace don’t quite speak as desired. It regains its composure in the softer moments and is well-executed to close.

 

We’ve reached the halfway point in the 2019 Scottish Open and there have been some mixed bags so far. Some bands start their programme brightly but fall victim to the pearly opening in Waverley.


Seven bands to go.

 

6) Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass | Charles Keenan

 
Fanfare and March

There’s an elegance to the sound in Kirkintilloch Kelvin’s performance, with Charles Keenan neatly turning the corner from fanfare to march.


The sounds are of a high quality and it’s quite charming in character.


The audience decided fairly early on that it wouldn’t applaud between Excelsior and Waverley; a shame, particularly after this performance.


Waverley


The first note wavers but the band playing is confident and the ensemble is tight. Only occasionally does the sheen come off in the odd scruffy corner.


Some of the lighter corners of the Larghetto feel a touch on the heavy side but euphoniums are delightfully melodic.


Allegro Vivace is well-paced but, though it’s just a little messy in the top end during some of those speedy lines.


At its best, it works well and the intentions are clear. It’s just a little inconsistent from Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass today.


Not all the detail is coming across but the final stages are confident and it regains its charm to close.

 

 

5) Dalmellington Band | Richard Evans

 

Fanfare and March

A bright opening. It feels like the semiquaver sounds are a little crushed though they’re given more time and space shortly afterwards.


The march is jolly, bristling with energy. There’s a richness to the sound, underpinned by the middle of the band


Waverley

The overture opens delicately and some fine solo sounds are on display. Sop does well. It isn’t entirely settled, intonation-wise, when mutes are in play.


There’s an admirable lightness of touch to the Allegro Vivace which ensures this music doesn’t become bogged down. The quaver lines fizz along with confidence.

 
This may not be new music but the challenges are still there and this reading isn’t immune from the odd crack and scruffy edge. It maintains its sense of drive, though, pulsing forward with excitement.

 
After a bright Fanfare and March, Dalmellington bubbled with excitement in its account of Waverley, with Richard Evans leading the band on stage.

 

4) Oldham Band (Lees) | John Collins


Fanfare and March

Well measured to open, with nothing overdone.


The March is tight. Oldham Band (Lees) is really enjoying itself so far, providing a crisp reading which captures a youthful, jovial spirit to the music.


Waverley

As is the case for many bands, a couple of percussionists have done their work for the day so move to the back of the stage.


The Larghetto places demands on many of the basics for any band, not least starting and releasing together. Oldham does well, with just the odd blip. Former Black Dyke sop, Ben Richeton, is sitting among the front row cornets for this one.

 

There’s a brightness to the Allegro Vivace. Not everything comes across, occasionally becoming a little muddy.


Such a bright start from Oldham Band (Lees). It became a little muddy at times in the more intricate moments of Waverley but a good performance from a band which features a great mix of youth and experience.

 

3) Bo’ness and Carriden | Nigel Boddice MBE


Fanfare and March

Bo’ness and Carriden opens brightly, finding the subtle difference between the crisp semiquaver and slightly more relaxed trip rhythms.
This march is particularly poised, but there’s plenty of character.

There’s a lovely, vocal quality to the solo cornet legato playing, which inspires colleagues who follow.


Waverley

It isn’t quite settled to opening. The silences around the notes in this opening Larghetto can be disconcerting.


There’s no hint of nerves in the euphonium solo, which is bold and expressive. Elsewhere, it just feels a little healthy for some of these dynamics at the softer end of the scale. That said, basses work hard to take a risk at the end of this passage with their descending crotchet lines.

Nigel Boddice knows this piece well; two of his previous readings came at the Scottish Championships in 1984, conducting Clydebank Burgh and Newtongrange in Falkirk. 


Allegro Vivace opens in a measured fashion and this discipline to the pulse remains, never threatening to get carried away.


Intonation isn’t entirely settled in the top end at times. The middle of the band revels in the nimble quaver lines, which speak well.

As the performances progresses, it isn’t without its splashy entries but the organisation is clear.


Bo’ness and Carriden offers a disciplined reading which retained its poise for much of this performance, only occasionally dropping its guard. 

 

2) Fishburn | John Pearson


Fanfare and March

There’s a refinement to the sound from Fishburn and the march moves forward with a gentle swagger. 
The solo horns are delicious!


Waverley

A neat opening, which largely retains its sheen. It becomes a little nervy in a couple of places during the stately twists and turns of this music, which is a shame as it's an otherwise tight account.

There’s a great deal of organisation to the Allegro Vivace. Some of the subtleties of this score eg making sf sounds really pop, or finding light and shade in bars which pass so quickly, are not always realised to full effect but the attempts are there.


The performance retains its focus and the sounds are round and rich, for the most part. It makes for an engaging reading for Fishburn on its trip to Perth.

 

1) East London Brass | Jane Murrill


Fanfare and March

It’s a bold opening and the triplet feel in the fanfare is rhythmic. 
The march flows well, particularly the big, lyrical lines. On occasions, the more intricate lines don’t come across with quite the clarity that may have been desired.


Waverley

It’s another confident opening. East London Brass is working to find a lightness of touch to the opening though this could even lighter in around pp markings like C.

The euphonium melodic line is shaped nicely. The dotted rhythms require such poise at this steady pulse and it’s there, for the most part.
The Allegro Vivace bursts into life and flows nicely. The nimble quaver lines don’t always start together which affects the clarity a little. The soprano sounds are sweet throughout, often perched some away up the rest of the band in this score.


The latter stages see the odd crack start to appear but the band finds a second wind on its way to an exciting conclusion to its performance and opening to this contest.


A bold opener from East London Brass and Jane Murrill; some of the intricate details didn’t always make it off the stage and it got a little untidy in the final stages but an exciting way to open this contest.

 

1.27pm

Here's the draw for today's Scottish Open:

 

  1. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
    2. Fishburn (John Pearson)
    3. Bo'ness & Carriden (Nigel Boddice MBE)
    4. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
    5. Dalmellington (Richard Evans)
    6. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass (Charles Keenan)
    7. Easington Colliery (Sandy Smith)
    8. the cooperation band (Michael Fowles)
    9. Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
    10. Dunaskin Doon (Paul Drury)
    11. Milnrow (Chris Binns)
    12. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks)
    13. Rainford (Sarah Groarke-Booth)
    14. Newtongrange Silver (Anne Crookston)

1.20pm

Welcome to the 2019 Scottish Open, live from Perth.

After a morning showcasing percussion ensembles, it's nearly time for 14 bands to take to the stage performing Waverley Overture, arranged by Howard Snell, and a fanfare and march from his work, Excelsior.

Adjudicators Alan Fernie and John Doyle are entering the box now...