The Brass Band League (NI) own-choice Spring Festival contest recently took place at the Alley Theatre in Strabane, County Tyrone as guests of the North West Music Festival.
13 bands competed, with adjudicator Allan Ramsey speaking in glowing terms about the standard of the performances he heard — stating that he felt it had been a 'refreshing day'.
Newcomers Enniskillen Royal Grammar School under Stephen Magee seized the School Bands trophy along with the new Stuart Haigh Memorial Cup for the 'Best Trombone Section'. Their performance of Edward Gregson's 'Voices of Youth' received high praise from many quarters.
In the Youth Band Section, 1st Old Boys Youth Band led by Jacklin Bingham offered an impressive programme, which opened with McKenzie's '1914', followed by a fantastic rendition of Erik Silfverburg's 'Standing on the Promises', by rising star Eb tuba star Andrew Milligan. A lively performance of Alan Fernie's 'Prismatic Light' brought their programme to a close.
It was a winning performance that almost didn't go to plan as Jacklin very nearly didn't make it on time as she was teaching until 11.00am in Belfast before being chauffeured the 80 mile trip, by band secretary Jo Sharpe. Thankfully, she made it just in time.
Meanwhile, Ballyduff Silver Band led by Willie Hill took home the Founders Cup in the Second Section for their fine performance of Goff Richard's 'Saddleworth Festival Overture'. Their young principal cornet Sam Brodison also claimed the Ross Aiken Memorial Trophy as 'Best Soloist'.
The six well matched bands in the Championship Section certainly made life tricky for Allan Ramsay.
However, it was defending champion 1st Old Boys Silver Band with their fine rendition of 'The Raid' by Oliver Waespi that took the Rothman Trophy home for the second successive year, setting them in good stead for their forthcoming trip to the European Championships in Ostend. The band also took prizes for 'Best Percussion' and 'Best Trombone Section' and the Championship Section 'Band of the Year 2017' title.
Allan Ramsey commented in the remarks that it 'was a new piece to me' but that had 'great attention to detail, great sound and superb dynamic contrasts.'
Runner-up Laganvale's commendable performance of Gilbert Vinter's 'Salute to Youth' also saw Nathan Thompson awarded the Harry Gault Trophy as 'Best Soloist'.
Also popular on the day was the DKMS 'Delete Blood Cancer' campaign which saw over 50 sign up to help following the popular #SwabsforSykes on-line campaign.
The Brass Band League also extended their thanks to Tommy Barr and the North West Music festival, and the team at the Alley Theatre, Strabane for their excellent work and hospitality in hosting our contest.
it was defending champion 1st Old Boys Silver Band with their fine rendition of 'The Raid' by Oliver Waespi that took the Rothman Trophy home setting them in good stead for their forthcoming trip to the European Championships4BR
Adjudicator: Allan Ramsey
1. 1st Old Boys Association Silver (Stephen Cairns) — 194
2. Laganvale (Metal Technology) (Stephen Crooks) — 193
3. Downshire Brass (Michael Alcorn) — 192
4. Three Rivers Brass (Noel Barr) — 191
5. Murley Silver Band (Willie Hill) — 190
6. Third Carrickfergus (Brian Connolly) — 188
1. Ballyduff Silver Band (Willie Hill) — 182
2. Wellington Memorial Silver Band (Gary Proctor) — 181
3. Comber Silver Band (Wesley Thompson) — 180
1. Enniskillen Royal Grammar School (Stephen Magee) — 174
2. St Michael's College, Enniskillen (Simon O'Hare) — 172
3. Omagh Academy (Stephen Crooks) — 170
1. 1st Old Boys Youth Band (Jacklin Bingham) — 176