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2017 National Championships of Great Britain
Championship Section - As it happened

All the action from the 2017 National Championships of Great Britain — Championship Section — As it happened.

Saturday 14, 20:10:48

Brighouse make winning musical portrait...

Brighouse & Rastrick takes the spoils on an epic day at the Royal Albert Hall which brings us to an end of our live coverage today.

Congratulations to Professor David King and Brighouse & Rastrick and the other prize winners, but also last but not least, Howard Snell for his tremendous composition, 'Gallery', which has also been a real winner today.

On behalf of everyone, Mr Snell, thank you.

Good night from the Royal Albert Hall — and we are sure supporters of 'Briggus' will enjoy themselves in London tonight more than anyone else.

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Saturday 14, 19:46:57

Results:

Test Piece: Gallery (Howard Snell)
Adjudicators: Phillip McCann, Howard Snell, Luc Vertommen

1. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)**
2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)*
3. Cory (Philip Harper)*
4. Fairey (Garry Cutt)*
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
6. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
7. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
8. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
9. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
10. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
11. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
12. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
13. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
14. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
15. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
16. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)
17. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
18. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
19. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
20. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)

Best Instrumentalist: Kathleen Gaspoz (cornet) Brighouse & Rastrick

* Top 4 pre-qualified for 2018 National Final
** Denotes qualification for 2019 European Brass Band Championships as highest placed English representative.


Saturday 14, 18:47:17

Contest Conclusion and Final Predictions

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The performance of B&R draws the contest to a conclusion.
The awards ceremony will be followed by a concert by Tubular Brass and the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of the Prince of Wales Division will hail the new champion.

Final Predictions:

Chris Thomas
1. Cory (Philip Harper)
2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
3. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
4. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
5. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
6. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

Dark Horses
7. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
8. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
9. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)

Steven Mead: Final Graded Places
195pts — Cory (Philip Harper)
194pts — Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
192pts — Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
191pts — Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
186pts — Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
184pts — Fairey (Garry Cutt)
182pts — Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
181pts — City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
179pts — Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
174pts — Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
172pts — Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
171pts — Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
170pts — Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
167pts — Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
166pts — Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
163pts — Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
159pts — Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
158pts — Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)
157pts — Friary Guildford (Chris King)
155pts — NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)


Saturday 14, 18:14:03

Band 20: Brighouse & Rastrick

Conductor: Prof. David King

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On Stage — Brighouse & Rastrick with conductor Prof. David King

Brighouse opt for standing cornets and a fine flowing Entrance is marked by excellent soprano cornet but immediately undermined by a nasty cornet splash at the opening of Street Market.

It's an uncomfortable moment in an otherwise promising opening as Street Market progresses in spirited and ebullient fashion.

The Skater's Waltz is pliable and so cleverly shaped by David King although the subtlety is not always as pronounced in the playing as we don't quite hear the finest nuances of colour and texture that have marked the top few bands today.

Love Story glows with warmth and there's a passion simmering beneath the surface that is both engaging and touching. Soprano struggles in the exposed solo entry at the close. Such a shame as it detracts from the repose of the closing bars.

Matisse's Cut-outs fly along with agility although that last ounce of detail and precision can't again match the top handful of bands for us. The big band style is good, especially the dance band trombones, but again the detail is not always crystalline to close.

The concluding visions of Loch Lomond are impressively coloured with skies of so many hues and this is grows to an impressive close, capped by a majestic final peroration.

Overall:
Not everything came off for Brighouse today. Some very fine moments indeed but also some costly slips that will surely preclude the band challenging for top honours.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Brighouse & Rastrick

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 191

Short Comment:

Some moments of pure magic from Brighouse and Dr. King. Some early cornet splashes and small clips could count against them, but the last half was absolutely sublime, some of the very best playing today.

So much shape and nuance to the music, every level of dynamic crafted and sculptured. And the band nearly delivered it perfectly!

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 17:48:13

Band 19: City of Bradford

Conductor: Lee Skipsey

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On Stage — City of Bradford with conductor Lee Skipsey

City of Bradford takes to the stage of the Royal Albert Hall for the first time and the opening Entrance is generally secure.

The Street Market abounds with spirit although detail and ensemble isn't always quite in sync. This is such a creditable effort for the debutantes though and is certainly holding its own with many a performance today.

The Skater's Waltz displays a few insecurities at times but again the style is good and there is a sense of the MD shaping the melodic lines and nuances of the scoring.

Love Story unfolds well and although not always the most subtle, is laced with warmth and affection. Soprano is a touch heavy handed to close but this has been a love story told with empathy.

Cut-outs is weighty but needs that big band West Side Story element a little more fixed in its delivery and musical persona with detail sometimes sacrificed for volume as it progresses.

The effort takes its toll in the final stages as we don't quite hear the majesty of Loch Lomond in all is natural glory. Such a great overall effort though.

Overall:
A very creditable debut for Lee Skipsey and his team that has held its own today amongst the toughest of competition.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — City of Bradford

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 181

Short Comment:

A thoroughly enjoyable and remarkably consistent performance by City of Bradford. They set out to make good music, and did that from beginning to end.

No histrionics just quality music making and a glorious band sound to finish. Well done all!

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 17:27:10

Band 18: Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

Conductor: Prof. Nicholas Childs

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On Stage — Black Dyke with conductor Prof. Nicholas Childs

Cornets play standing to ether side and Soprano opens flowingly and the initial Entrance is shaped with elegance.

The band launches into Street Market with vigour although the clarity of detail isn't always as crystalline as it could be. The energy and spirit of the playing abounds though and there is an ebullient spirit of activity about this.

The Skater's Waltz could be a little more transparent at times but individual entries are of such high quality and the close is handled with sensitivity displaying the finest of dynamic control.

Love Story is imbued with warmth and an almost bitter-sweet quality that paints a poignant picture of the old couple. Soprano heavy handed in the closing bars which unsettles the atmosphere as the band subsides into silence.

Cut-outs fails to draw us in with little excitement or spirit despite the obvious quality of the playing. This is coming across as something of a technical study rather than jazz infused Matisse with volume often making the abundant inner detail and intricacy of the score.

The final visions of Loch Lomond are broad yet still don't quite engage us and transport us to the place that inspired them despite a triumphant final bar.

Overall:
Another strange one from Dyke. Playing of obvious quality was often undermined by a lack of genuine transparency and musical character.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Black Dyke

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 182

Short Comment:

Slightly uncomfortable with this one. After an exciting but overall muscular performance, which sees a lot of things over dynamic and slightly forced, but clearly exciting, we have to witness the spectacle of the conductor imploring the audience to applaud during the last note, facing the audience.

I know this is closed adjudication, but if this is a new aspect of the National finals, I sincerely hope it never catches on!

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 17:12:51

Band 17. Friary Guildford

Conductor: Chris King

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On Stage — Friary Guildford with conductor Chris King

The opening Entrance is finely shaped and unfolds well into the initial bustle of the Street Market. The detail here is not as pristine as some but the stylistic approach is well handled with wide ranging but controlled dynamics and a thoughtfully created atmosphere.

The Skater's Waltz is a touch more inconsistent, with a handful of entries that don't quite come off and the ensemble isn't always entirely cohesive. Again, the musical approach is effective however.

Warm sounds are heard in Love Story and there's a fine sense of flow to the melodic lines with the band finding the affection and emotional element of the music in fine fashion.

Cut-outs starts off well although cracks appear as the more technical exposed passages take their toll on individual entries and ensemble as the performance starts to lose its early impetus.

Something is held in reserve for the final vision of Loch Lomond however which has a bracing spirit about it. There are minor lapses as tired lips take their toll in the final bars but

Overall: Plenty to enjoy from Friary Guildford. A musical approach that wasn't always backed up in execution however.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Friary Guildford

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 14
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
Control of full dynamic range: 16
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 16
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 16
Total musicality from the band: 15

Total: 157

Short Comment:

Undoubtedly they give it their all, and there is no faulting the commitment with this band.

Just too many lapses in concentration, niggling errors, and some overwhelming power at times, at the expense of clarity. However like I said totally committed, and they gave it their all.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 16:34:09

Band 16. Tredegar

Ian Porthouse

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On Stage — Tredegar with conductor Ian Porthouse

The opening Entrance flows so well and the hustle and bustle of Street Market is superbly done; detailed, busy and with clarity of texture and balance.

The Skater's Waltz opens with impressive transparency and is laced with colour and detail. A nasty clip on euphonium momentarily ruffles the balance but there is so much to enjoy here with the MD shaping and moulding the lines with thought and skill.

There's a limpid, touching simplicity at play in Love Story, this is so heart warming in its eloquence. Poignant, gentle and delivered with sensitivity by the soloists. The close is so subtle and delicate.

The jazz of Matisse's Cut-outs progresses with such rhythmic drive and vigour; with dynamic levels that allow all of the detail to be heard throughout the band. This really is impressive, big boned stuff with a fabulous final flourish.

The initial tread of the final visions of Loch Lomond has both breadth and grandeur, with rep cornet rising to his feet in the final passage of repose ahead of the radiant final bars; a fine end to a magnificently conceived and executed account.

Overall: Tredegar delivers an absorbing Gallery laced with so many contrasts and bristling with detail and style.

Chris Thomas

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In Performanc — Tredegar

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 192

Short Comment:

A performance of immense stature from Tredegar, hallmarked by superb solo playing, razor sharp decision and attention to detail.

Could come anywhere in the top three right now! Fantastic.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 16:14:59

Band 15. Fairey

Conductor: Garry Cutt

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On Stage — Fairey with conductor Garry Cutt

Soprano opens well and it's a flowing, nicely shaped Entrance.

Street Market is marked by good dynamic control and this has just the right feeling of busy, bustling activity although not without a couple of uncomfortable moments, notably in terms of tuning.

The Skater's Waltz is beautifully controlled with nothing being forced or out of place. It perhaps just lacks that sparkle of something special that the judges will be looking for but it's elegance and shape are certainly commendable.

Love Story is touchingly done and there is an affectionate sentimentality about this that carries us along. Nice individual touches from soloists and the close is sensitively handled.

The dynamic control of Cut-outs is excellent and the playing is never less than solid but again, we just miss that something special to mark the performance out as a serious contender.

The landscapes of Loch Lomond are well portrayed and there's a breadth of sound evident that lends the vision a crucial degree of majesty ahead of a resounding final climax.

Overall: A performance of quality from Fairey. Technically sound and with so much to commend in its approach and commitment.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Fairey

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 184

Short Comment:

Very fine performance indeed from the Fairey Band. Despite a couple of very pronounced errors, this had solidity, class, excellent ensemble playing and precision.

Maybe a touch of the art feeling was missing, but this should hold its own, and muscle its way into the prizes maybe?

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 15:48:55

Band 14. Milnrow

Conductor: Mark Bentham

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On Stage — Milnrow with conductor Mark Bentham

Entrance opens well although the bustle of Street Market is all a tad heavy and weighty. As with so many performances so far this needs the feel of activity and spirit without the accent on weight of sound.

The Skater's Waltz is pliable in line but needs more focus on colour and detail. We don't hear those crucial nuances that have marked the leaders out today.

The band works hard to inject warmth and tenderness into Love Story and there is certainly a good band sound evident here with this perhaps the best movement of the performance so far.

Cut-outs isn't able to garner the sheer accuracy of detail required to give the performance the necessary energy and rhythmic vigour required through this section, with the final vision of Loch Lomond requiring a greater degree of majestic grandeur to crown the band's brave account.

Overall:
Committed, purposeful playing from Milnrow although the band was unable to display the accuracy and nuance required to steer it towards the top half.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Milnrow

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 16
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 166

Short Comment:

Another good showing by Milnrow, demonstrating the full range of its sound potential. A few fragile moments, some tuning, and ensemble precision could've been better on several occasions.

However, it was well received in the hall, and enjoyable to listen to.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 15:19:16

Band 13. Co-operative Funeralcare

Conductor: Allan Ramsay

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On Stage — Co-operative Funeralcare with conductor Allan Ramsay

Soprano delivers the first note perfectly but then falters in the subsequent bar.

For a second the musical picture is disturbed but it recovers into a weighty, muscular Street Market, that could do with a little more detail of transparency over sheer sound. It's certainly purposeful though and drives on with energy.

The Skater's Waltz is delivered with reasonable security but lacks the nuance of colour and line that make this movement so difficult to pull off.

Love Story is again reasonably safe in its execution but we miss a degree of emotion and warmth of affection despite a nicely done close to the movement.

Cut-Outs is taken at a cracking pace and takes no prisoners but so much of the detail and clarity is lost in the melee.

The final vision of Loch Lomond is close to home for this band but moments of tuning and a lack of breadth take their toll on the final scenic vision.

Overall:
A band that has upped its game since the Open in Birmingham, delivering a solid account but one that failed to find the nuance and detail of the finest today.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Co-operative Funeralcare

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 14
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
Control of full dynamic range: 16
Ensemble precision: 15
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 16
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 16
Total musicality from the band: 16

Total: 158

Short Comment:

Some very nice touches, but many sections where the ensemble and technical ability was found wanting.

Some spirited playing especially in the last two movements, but this was a test, indeed.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 15:03:14

Band 12. Filton Concert Brass

Conductor: Tom Davoren

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On Stage — Filton Concert Brass with conductor Tom Davoren

Filton Concert makes its Royal Albert Hall debut and the opening Entrance is effective and leads into a Street Market that crackles with life and activity. It's a touch weighty perhaps but the spirit evident in the playing is commendable.

The Skater's Waltz is a boisterous affair at times but there are also lovely little flecks of colour and touches along the way, notably at the close, that stamp this with its own nuance and individuality.

Love Song is delivered at a free flowing tempo yet not at the expense of emotion, with individual lines safely negotiated.

Matisse's cut-outs need a little more breadth of dynamic range and the detail is sometimes lost in the textures with ensemble not always precise with the concluding views of Loch Lomond not quite succeeding in capturing the scale and majesty of the scene.

Overall:
A very creditable debut by Filton Concert. Inconsistent at times but displaying intelligent direction from the middle and a generally solid response from the band.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Filton Concert Brass

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 171

Short Comment:

So much to admire in this performance by Filton. Some original touches by Tom Davoren, and some real spirited playing.

Just occasionally a little bit disjointed and one of two sections that didn't quite work, however, really enjoyed this.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 14:38:08

Band 11. Foden's

Conductor: Bramwell Tovey

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On Stage — Fodens with conductor Bramwell Tovey

There a plaintive feel to the opening Entrance that immediately engages, with Street Market setting off at cracking pace. And this hustles and bustles with thronging activity, with distinct cockney feel to the witty little transition into The Skater's Waltz.

And it's Ravel that comes to one here as hints of La Valse are brought to the surface by Bram Tovey. This is so intelligent, so different and so characterful in its conception. There are some very different nuances at play here but the band is playing its part by delivering exactly what Bram Tovey asks of them.

Love Story is warm hearted, flowing and touching...with a climax at its heart unlike any other we have heard today so far. And the morendo at the end is just so beautiful, segueing straight into Matisse's Cut-outs with a jolt of styles that just works....even thought it possibly shouldn't!!

And here that Bernstein like jazz is delivered with both ease of style and sophistication. The detail is always audible but it's the sheer energy and drive of the playing that really carries this.

There's a ruggedness about the visions of Loch Lomond, a craggy grandeur that is again unlike anything we have head so far. There's just an uncomfortable moment of tuning on cornet prior to the final majestic bars but what a fabulous close, capping a reading of such passion and insight.

Overall:
A performance from Foden's that was imbued with Bramwell Tovey's stamp from the start and delivered with so much passion and musical integrity.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Fodens

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 194

Short Comment:

A quite superb performance by Foden's and Bram Tovey, and such effortless music making. Everything seems so natural, rich and stylish.

Boy, the band delivered. Just the tiniest little moments, but it's so close at the top!!!

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 14:19:21

Interlude and Half Way Comments

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National Trophy on stage at the Albert Hall

Both Chris Thomas and Steven Mead have a united view of the performances in the first half of the draw.

Cory comfortably leading the way from an excellent performance by Whitburn, with Redbridge settled neatly into third position.

Chris Thomas — Half Way
1. Cory
2. Whitburn
3. Redbridge
4. Woodfalls
5. Virtuosi GUS
6. Tongwynlais Temperance

Steven Mead — Half Way
195pts. Cory
186pts. Whitburn
179pts. Redbridge
174pts. Woodfalls
172pts. Virtuosi GUS
170pts. Tongwynlais Temperance


Saturday 14, 13:40:34

Band 10. Cory

Conductor: Philip Harper

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On Stage — Cory with conductor Philip Harper

The opening soprano note is skewed but recovers and the Entrance is otherwise finely done.

The Street Market bustles and bristles with detail and when the band opens up the dynamic range is so impressive. Nothing is overstated here but the detail is always evident throughout.

The Skater's Waltz is so pliable and solo cornet is simply exceptional. This is playing of such elegance and stylistic awareness. Fabulous percussion and such wonderful playing at the quieter dynamic levels. And the entries at the close are just perfect. So well placed and delicate in their execution.

Love Story is imbued with so much warmth, tenderness and nuance. This is playing that tells the most poignant of stories, touching, joyous and heart breaking in equal measure. And it's glorious to hear. What a beautiful closing few bars...just perfect in every way.

Cut-outs is laced with such remarkable levels of detail. My oh my, this is like a different piece....the lilt, the accuracy, the style....virtuosity on a different level and brilliantly tinged with echoes of West Side Story. Spellbinding stuff indeed.

The views of Loch Lomond simply amaze in their majestic grandeur. And then the tender precursor to the final peroration is so beautifully done, the build to the final chord measured so well. And what a final chord!!

Overall:
Cory delivers a performance of phenomenal detail, accuracy and musicality. Simply magnificent!

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Cory

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 195

Short Comment:

Another incredible performance from the reigning national champions. Slight bump at the start, and after that it was all pure gold.

Magical musicmaking conducted by chief wizard Harper! Certainly the one to beat, and Foden's up next could be the band to do it. But that will take some beating.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 13:19:05

Band 9. Thoresby Colliery

Conductor: Ian McElligott

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On Stage — Thoresby Colliery with conductor Ian McElligott

Soprano opens well but the opening Entrance could flow a little more and there re couple of nasty moments before we hit Street Market.

The tempo is well chosen here and the there is drama and dynamism in the playing, although it's also a touch on the muscular side in its approach and intonation is awry as the dynamic level subsides in the closing bars.

The Skater's Waltz needs more pliability in its musical line. This isn't quite finding the subtleties and nuance of the score and individual entries towards the close are at times wayward, unsettling the musical picture.

Love Story opens well and is coloured with warm sounds. We just need a touch more human affection about this and tenderness. There are also fleeting moments of insecurity that again just interrupt the flow at times.

The jazzy rhythmic vigour of Matisse's Cut-outs are a touch hard edged at times and the momentum this section gathers as a result of rhythmic accuracy is lacking as it progresses. The dance band sounds of the trombones are excellent however, although there is a also a a tendency for percussion to predominate.

The spectacular vistas of Loch Lomond could do with more breadth of sound as the band tires noticeably towards the close.

Overall:
Moments of quality from Thoresby but overall this was a performance that was unable to sustain its initial promise.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance Thoresby Colliery

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 16
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 15
Balance/clarity of textures: 16
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 16
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 163

Short Comment:

Like several bands today Thoresby start with great promise, clarity and precision, but as the piece wore on, so small cracks appear, quite literally, and the final section seemed wary in comparison with the energy they had at the beginning of the journey around the gallery.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 12:52:18

Band 8. Hammonds Saltaire

Conductor: Morgan Griffiths

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On Stage — Hammonds Saltaire with conductor Morgan Griffiths

The opening Entrance is well measured and Street Market is kept on a tight dynamic leash. This just lacks that crucial atmosphere of hustle and bustle though, whilst ensemble isn't always totally precise.

The opening of The Skater's Waltz is affected by a few noticeable slips that initially disturb the musical picture. The style and the pliability of musical line are good but there are also further niggling lapses that get in the way.

Love Story doesn't quite engage in its warmth and tenderness as some have so far but fine soprano towards the close and the dynamics are again well handled.

Matisse's Cut-outs are somewhat ragged in their execution and this doesn't have the rhythmic, jazzy lilt or the extreme detail that the score demands.

The views of Loch Lomond sound somewhat tired sounding although again we sense the musical intent from the MD.

Overall:
An inconsistent account from Hammonds Saltaire. Musically well conceived but unable to maintain sustained levels of detail and execution to the close.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Hammonds Saltaire

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 16
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 167

Short Comment:

This started well, very bright and full of intention, it plateaued a little bit in the middle, and fell away a touch towards the end. A little bit of fatigue and a slight lack of cohesion. However, as always with this fine young band, great spirit and elegance shown.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 12:27:14

Band 7. Woodfalls

Conductor: Dr Robert Childs

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On Stage — Woodfalls with conductor Dr Robert Childs

Woodfalls opt to sit in standard band formation and not the formation prescribed in the score, with the opening soprano solo played on the front row and David Childs occupying the solo euphonium chair.

Entrance is effective though and Street Market achieves a good degree of detail without being forced or overblown. This is solid and competing playing laced with detail and spirit.

The Skater's Waltz is nicely nuanced, with a good degree of transparency and a subtle appreciation of the colours of the score. Fine dynamics too and this tricky movement is handled with impressive pliability and musical shape.

Love Story is again, subtle warm and affectionate and the gentle tenderness evident here stems from quality soloists and security at lower dynamic levels.

Cut-outs is detailed, driving in its tempo and at times, West Side Story like in its stylistic delivery. The dynamics are kept under control and it trips along so well.

The vistas of Loch Lomond are perhaps a little underwhelming although it's certainly measured in its delivery as we approach the final bars and a stirring final chord.

Overall:
Playing of real musical credibility from Woodfalls. Precise, accurate and well put together although losing its way a little towards a the close.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Woodfalls

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 174

Short Comment:

Woodfalls deliver an elegant performance, well controlled and generally very secure.

For me, the ending fell away a little bit. Not keen on the part swapping of the soprano part, but it's closed adjudication, so it's okay. Some super rich sounds, especially at the bottom end of the band.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 12:02:38

Band 6. Redbridge

Conductor: Jeremy Wise

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On Stage — Redbridge with conductor Jeremy Wise

A nicely measured opening Entrance and Street Market sets off at a good tempo. This is solid, competent playing and although it doesn't engage us as much as Whitburn, it is stylistically aware and executed with impressive accuracy.

Fine use of dynamics in The Skater's Waltz and this has both shape and poise. There are fleeting little lapses but nothing that disturbs the musical picture, which is always at the forefront.

Love Story displays both warmth and tenderness and is painted in glowing colours. There are one or two tiny slips but the exposed entries are secure and again, the affection of the score is evident throughout this.

Cut-outs is neat, detailed and well bolted together and although there could be a tad more excitement created, this is impressively taut and executed with accuracy and rhythmic precision.

Loch Lomond is well measured and we can visualise the majesty of the landscapes portrayed. The ending impresses and caps an enjoyable account from the Londoners.

Overall:
An impressively cohesive and well engineered performance from Redbridge marked by fine soloists and accuracy of ensemble.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Redbridge

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 179

Short Comment:

Very consistent performance from Redbridge. Although never truly exceptional, everything worked, very well directed, good rhythmic feel, and soloists play confidently with good quality sounds.

For sure will hold its own today. The standard is rising as the day progresses.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 11:44:19

Band 5. Whitburn

Conductor: Michael Fowles

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On Stage — Whitburn with conductor Michael Fowles

What a graceful Entrance. Fine soprano and there is both flow and affection about this.

Street Market is bustling and filled with atmosphere and character but never overblown, whilst the detail is always apparent. This is so stylistically aware and accurate in its execution.

The Skater's Waltz isn't without minor slips but this is the first performance today in which we have truly felt that the colours, subtlety and at times gentle, sophisticated wit of the score has been projected with style and confidence. This is playing of nuance and affection....and that word affection is so important here.

Love Story is so delicate, so warm and we are enveloped by the humanity of this, a musical smile that paints a story of of lifelong devotion. And what a lovely close; fine dynamics and so tender.

Cut-outs trips along so well, sitting in the groove and with so much detail and subtlety about the style. Nothing is forced and there is great ensemble work evident from all quarters of the band. This is really drawing us in and sweeping us along.

The views of Loch Lomond are so finely measured and spacious in their scene painting and we can really sense the Highland views here, whilst the closing bars resonate majesty. Stirring indeed.

Overall:
What a fine account from the Scots of Whitburn. Playing that capitalised on the band's fine result at the Open and held our attention and imagination throughout.

Detail and affection in equal measure.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Whitburn

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 186

Short Comment:

Thank you Whitburn, you raise the bar very high with that outstanding performance. From the opening section we hear a band brimming with confidence, taking musical chances, shaping elegantly the music, whilst always faithful to the score.

The tiniest clips only. Will be right up there, no doubt at all.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 11:13:12

Band 4. Tongwynlais Temperance

Conductor: Ian Holmes

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On Stage — Tongwynlais Temperance with conductor Ian Holmes

The opening Entrance is uncomfortable and lacks warmth and affection.

Street Market drives on but once again we don't get the true sense of the scene depicted in the painting with that bustling sense of joyous activity not always present.

The Skater's Waltz needs a greater sense of flow, musical continuity and nuance. We are still waiting for a performance that truly grips us in its colour and delicacy here.

Love Story opens well and this is so much more affecting in its touching warmth. There are fleeting moments of insecurity and intonation but the gently flowing atmosphere is nicely done.

Cut -outs progresses reasonably well and although there are slips, this projects the music with fine clarity at times. Creditable playing and thoughtfully put together.

The view of Loch Lomond is well paced and we sense the majesty as the performance reaches a grand conclusion.

Overall:
Some quality moments from Tongwynlais, notably in the affectionate portrait of the old couple's Love Story although once again it was precision that detracted from the performance as a whole.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Tongwynlais Temperance

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 16
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 16

Total: 170

Short Comment:

Very gutsy performance from Tongwynlais. Some movements of the Love Story were so beautiful, led by outstanding flugelhorn.

Elsewhere quite a lot of ragged playing, especially in the first movement. However, a lot of detail is communicated well.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 10:51:55

Band 3. NASUWT Riverside

Conductor: David Roberts

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On Stage — NASUWT Riverside with conductor David Roberts

A wayward opening to Entrance on soprano immediately unsettles the fleeting opening paragraph. Street Market is weighty and muscular. We really want to hear the bustle and activity of the street scene here played with atmosphere and clarity but no band has yet pulled this off.

The Skater's Waltz is untidy and ragged at times and although the dynamics are adhered to well, we miss those crucial nuances and subtleties of colour and effect.

The MD give Love Story space but allows the music to flow well. This is effective and the style is well captured despite one or two intonation issues along the way and the ending is sensitively done.

Cut-outs opened well enough but doesn't subsequently trip long as comfortably as it should with so many clips and flaws in the ensemble. If this doesn't sit right in the groove it simply fails to convince and this is losing our attention as it progresses.

The views of Loch Lomond are adequate although overshadowed by dominant percussion at the close although it is a bold and majestic final peroration.

Overall:
A creditable attempt from NSUWT Riverside with Love Story being the highlight although detail in the faster sections was often lacking in precision.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — NASUWT Riverside

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 14
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 16
Overall understanding: 15
Total musicality from the band: 15

Total: 155

Short Comment:

Despite the super grand ending, this piece was a real test, especially for ensemble precision, and one or two soloists would've had better days. However, some of it showed great authority and dynamics were impressive.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 10:23:37

Band 2.Reg Vardy

Conductor: Russell Gray

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On Stage Reg Vardy with conductor Russell Gray

Soprano scuffs the opening note and Street Market gets off to an untidy start with the tempo and rocking not always sitting tightly. It's a touch too muscular for the bustling, activity portrayed in Paul Cox's painting and there are also many clips and splits along the way.

The Skater's Waltz is again beset by too many clips even though the style of the music and its subtlety are well negotiated. This movement is so challenging in its nuances but the execution is the problem here rather than the musicality or style.

There's tenderness and warmth at the opening of Love Story along with glowing colours but again those moments of discomfort prove crucial with cornets in particular straining at times and exposed soprano gain struggling at the close.

Matisse's cut-outs need to trip along along with a greater sense of ease; this has an awkwardness about it at times that inhibits the momentum of the jazz rhythms. It's so difficult to pull off though.

We miss the breadth and grandeur of Loch Lomond in John Knox's Landscapes and although the ending is well handled this has been a performance all too often marked by very noticeable errors and slips.

Overall:
An uncomfortable and at times wayward account from Reg Vardy that never unite got to grips with the nuances of the score.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Reg Vardy

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 15
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 15
Tuning/intonation: 15
Band sound quality: 16
Balance/clarity of textures: 15
Quality of soloists: 17
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 16

Total: 159

Short Comment:

Some really beautiful attempts at phrasing and the style for each movement by maestro Russell Gray, and a belated happy birthday!

A lot of tough moments for individual players, and tuning and ensemble suffered in numerous places. However, brave effort, but one that might struggle today unfortunately.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 10:18:00

Band 1. Virtuosi GUS

Conductor: Adam Cooke

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On Stage — Virtuosi GUS with conductor Adam Cooke

Opening soprano line is not entirely comfortable and although Street Market sets off at a cracking tempo it's a touch scrambled in the detail at times.

We miss some of nuances of dynamic in The Skater's Waltz that are so crucial to the colours of the score and the effects that abound. How subtle much of this music is in its scoring! There's real commitment about the playing here but there's sense that this is really going to take some playing today.

There's a touching sense of tenderness about Love Story. Fine soprano and there's a carefully created atmosphere evident here.

Matisse's cut-outs lack razor sharp precision at times but the lower dynamics are well executed. The extreme clarity called for here is crucial though and conquering the acoustic of the Hall is a crucial part of that challenge.

The views of Loch Lomond are majestically projected and the ending is impresssive capping a very creditable opening account from the Midlanders.

Overall:
An opening account of quality from GUS. Lacking pristine clarity at times but both musical and projected with confidence.

Chris Thomas

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In Performance — Virtuosi GUS

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 16
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 16
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 17

Total: 172

Short Comment:

Quite a clean and enjoyable opening performance. The cavernous acoustic of the hall does not help for clarity, so bands will have to make the detail jump off the page.

Some lovely moments here, well done soprano cornet, in fact all soloists excelled. All tempi worked fine, but clarity will be a big concern today.

Steven Mead


Saturday 14, 10:16:10

Introduction


Saturday 14, 09:43:54

Draw

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Composer of today's Test Piece: 'Gallery' — Howard Snell

Saturday 14th October
Test Piece: 'Gallery' — Howard Snell
Commence: 10.00am

Adjudicators: Phillip McCann, Howard Snell, Luc Vertommen

1. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
2. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
3. NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts
4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
5. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
6. Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
7. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
8. Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
9. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
10. Cory (Philip Harper)
11. Fodens (Bramwell Tovey)
12. Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
13. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)
14. Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
15. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
16. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
17. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
18. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
19. City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
20. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)


Saturday 14, 09:30:25

Welcome

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Good morning and welcome to the Royal Albert Hall, London from Christopher Thomas.

The draw has been made and what a day the 2017 National Championship Final promises to be.

Howard Snell's Gallery is a tour de force of a test piece, by turns clever, intriguing and entertaining but most of all, a musician's piece of music that will test the player's to the limits whilst keeping the audience on the edges of their seats. What more could we want!

So sit back, follow my live comments on 4BR along with Steven Mead's criteria based comments and enjoy the day's action unfold.

Chris Thomas


Saturday 14, 09:03:24

Good Morning All

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Good morning and welcome to the Royal Albert Hall, London from Steven Mead.

Good morning all, I hope you're able to follow the live commentary today.
If you are in the hall, why not make your own scores and compare with mine.
Have a great day everyone.
Steven Mead

 

Criteria Mark Sheet

Marks by Steven Mead

 

Technical accuracy: out of 20
Rhythmic precision and clarity: out of 20
Control of full dynamic range: out of 20
Ensemble precision: out of 20
Tuning/intonation: out of 20
Band sound quality: out of 20
Balance/clarity of textures: out of 20
Quality of soloists: out of 20
Overall understanding*: out of 20
Total musicality from the band**: out of 20

Total: out of 200

Comments

* direction and shaping of the entire work, phrasing, appropriate tempi and articulation of the music
** style, commitment, elegance, beauty, control of all moods

Scoring
1-5: Fair
6-10: Good
11-15: Very Good
16-20: Outstanding


Saturday 14, 08:58:01

Arrived at the hall

4BR has arrived at the hall and are getting ourselves sorted and organised. The draw has been made and we will publish the judges go in the box around 9.45am


Saturday 14, 05:37:08

Competing bands

Saturday 14th October
Test Piece: 'Gallery' — Howard Snell
Commence: 10.00am

Adjudicators: Phillip McCann, Howard Snell, Luc Vertommen

Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)
Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)
City of Bradford (Lee Skipsey)
Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay)
Cory (Philip Harper)
Fairey (Garry Cutt)
Filton Concert Brass (Tom Davoren)
Fodens (Bramwell Tovey)
Friary Guildford (Chris King)
Hammonds Saltaire (Morgan Griffiths)
Milnrow (Mark Bentham)
NASUWT Riverside (David Roberts)
Redbridge (Jeremy Wise)
Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
Tongwynlais Temperance (Ian Holmes)
Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)



Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Lichfield Cathedral

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Enfield Citadel Band -

Saturday 25 November • The Salvation Army. 42 Clarence Road. Southend. SS1 1AN SS1 1AN


Contest: Swiss National Championships

Saturday 25 November • Stravinski Hall, Montreaux. Claude-Nobs 5, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland 1820


Newstead Brass -

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Lofthouse Brass Band - Lofthouse Christmas Fair

Saturday 25 November • Lofthouse Methodist Church, Leeds Road, Lofthouse, Wakefield WF3 3NE


Hitchin Band

November 21 • Due to a re-shuffle in our cornet section we are now looking for a REPIANO or FRONT ROW cornet player. We are a busy band currently at the top of the 1st section in the London and Southern Counties area. We rehearse Mon + Thurs - 7.45-9.45pm.


Blidworth Welfare Band

November 21 • The Blidworth Welfare band, Midlands Championship section, require a 2nd cornet player to join our friendly but ambitious and hardworking band. A good programme of concerts, recordings and contests will provide an enjoyable challenge.


Blidworth Welfare Band

November 21 • The Blidworth Welfare band, Midlands Championship section, require a principal cornet player to join our friendly but ambitious and hardworking band. . A good programme of concerts, recordings and contests will provide an enjoyable challenge.


Phil Lawrence

ARCM PGRNCM MFTCL ARCM B.Mus.
Composer and conductor