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Results: 2012 Welsh Regional Championship

Cory takes the honours and the European qualification in Swansea with area titles heading to Burry Port, Goodwick, Pontypool and Severn Tunnel.

Brangwyn Hall

 

There was a real feeling that Dr Robert Childs had delivered a career defining victory with Cory at the Brangwyn Hall on Sunday evening, as the British Open champion retained the Welsh Regional Championship title.

Emotional

Despite his modest appraisal of it being a ‘solid’ victory, the celebrations involving his close-knit family, with the latest addition, grandson Benjamin quizzically looking to get his first grasp of the Welsh Regional Challenge Trophy that his granddad has lifted a remarkable nine times, were as heartfelt and emotional as any since the first in 2002.

Little doubt

Adjudicator Derek Broadbent appeared to have little doubt in his mind, leaving the confines of the tent within a couple of minutes of Cory’s final chord as the last band of the contest rested in place off the Brangwyn Hall stage.

"It was a wonderful performance full of subtle musicality," he told 4BR, echoing his written remarks that ended with his appraisal that Cory’s ‘Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ had been; ‘A fine performance with so very much to commend—full of style and musical shape.’

Outstanding

Derek also singled out Bob’s daughter in law Joanne, for her outstanding flugel contribution. "It was a sheer delight. I had no hesitation in picking it as the best instrumentalist of the day."

The MD was also delighted that Joanne’s performance had been recognised. "She is such a wonderful player. Sometimes the flugel gets overlooked in the major test pieces we have to play nowadays, so this is so well deserved."

Work hard

"The band knew we had to work hard for this victory," he added. "We are always pushed very hard here—and this was no different. Both Tongwynlais and Tredegar really performed well, but I felt we were very controlled and solid in what we had to do on what is a very difficult piece. It’s a very satisfying win."

In his well received pre- results remarks, Derek Broadbent highlighted that all the bands had to work hard for their reward on the Derek Bourgeois work.

Glorious

"It’s a glorious work. I had no pre-conceived ideas to take into the box, only to listen to the music being played. Yes, there were hiccups in all bands, but the best had the time and space to control the fugue and display ensemble balance in the quieter sections.

There was a lot of fine playing on show today with best very good indeed."

With Cory’s clear victory sealed, and with Beaumaris already pre-qualified, there was an engrossing battle to see which two bands would join them at the Albert Hall.

Thrilling

In the end, a thrilling performance from Tongwynlais Temperance, deservedly took second place to take them back to London for the first time since 2009, whilst Tredegar claimed the other qualification slot.

Tongwynlais MD, Philip Harper told 4BR that their reward came from a determination to remain focussed on a gilt edged opportunity to show their true contesting pedigree.

"We haven’t really performed to our potential following the Scottish Open win last year, so we really focussed on delivering here. I felt we certainly did that. It was controlled and very musical. It showed our true potential and ensured we claimed that place back at the Albert Hall."

Chaos

For Tredegar’s MD, Ian Porthouse, third place was a disappointment but also a relief.

"Congratulations to Cory and Tongwynlais — it was thoroughly deserved. Our plans were thrown into chaos by losing our solo horn player Chris Davies less than 24 hours before the contest. Thankfully, he’s had an operation and is making a full recovery, so despite coming third, the band is more relieved about that and that we still did more than enough to get back to London."

With Philip McCann leading a revitalised BTM into fourth, the remaining top six places were taken by Beaumaris, who also had to overcome health difficulties of some of their players in the lead up to the contest, and Northop.


Both Tongwynlais and Tredegar really performed well, but I felt we were very controlled and solid in what we had to do on what is a very difficult piece. It’s a very satisfying winMD, Robert Childs

First Section:

Burry Port certainly enjoyed the mountain views on their way home on Saturday after claiming the First Section title with a performance adjudicator Derek Broadbent revealed, ‘pushed nearly all the right buttons’.

Conducted by Michael Thorne, a high class account of Bertrand Moren’s test piece full of rhythmic precision and ensemble accuracy gave Derek just what he was looking for on a day when he felt some unsuccessful MD’s might seek ‘a high peak or two to jump off’.

They will be joined in Cheltenham by Lewis Merthyr, after Gareth Prichard used his experience to steer the reigning Welsh Miners Entertainment champion back following their appearance in the Third Section last year.

Return

The victory sees Burry Port return to the Finals for the first time since 1999, although they did appear in the Championship event in 2006.

"We’ve been working towards this for a very long time," Ceri John told 4BR.

"We decided to plan for the long term and really develop our young players. Results have been improving despite the odd set back, but this shows the decision we made was the right one. By the time we get to Cheltenham we will be an even stronger band."

Key

Band Chairman Graham added: "Putting the right plans in place has been the key to this success. We are developing ideas and initiatives to secure our future, and with Michael Thorne to lead us and players like Ceri who put so much into the band he loves, I think this is just the first step towards many more days like this."

‘Best Instrumentalist’ winner, soprano player Jayne Thomas was also delighted. "I’m so happy for everyone," she said after collecting her trophy. "It’s a brilliant band to play for. We are looking forward to Cheltenham already."

Steps

The talk of steps was very much in the mind of Lewis Merthyr’s MD, Gareth Pritchard too.

"I told the band that the first step towards success is a hard one, but the rest follow more easily. Those first steps have been taken now and the future is looking good. We are a developing band and an increasingly confident one."

No doubt

Adjudicator Derek Broadbent ensured that the audience was left in no doubt that despite ‘two very good qualifying performances’, the rest of the field found ‘Mountain Views’ perhaps more difficult to master that they originally may have thought .

He highlighted the lack of rhythmic accuracy as the main failing in many of the robust renditions on show.

"They may have thought it a little bit easy," he said. "It’s not. One or two conductors may be looking for a high peak or two to jump off. The First Section is a gateway to the Championship level, but only the top two really showed that they could bridge that today. The winner pushed nearly all the right buttons but not all."

Missing out

Just missing out for a second year was Tylorstown in third, after their exciting account under Gary Davies was undermined by some early untunefulness.

The remaining top six places were claimed by Abergavenny Borough, Rogerstone and Deiniolen.

Second Section:

There were mixed emotions for the youthful Goodwick Brass after they continued their remarkable run of success under the baton of MD, Matthew Jenkins.

An outstanding performance of ‘Cross Patonce’ gave them a thoroughly deserved victory—to make it three wins in a row following a brace of Third Section successes.

They will be joined in Cheltenham by Llwydcoed, after the reigning champion delivered a purposeful account under Gary Davies to return once more.

Dedication

The West Wales band certainly enjoyed their celebrations on the Brangwyn Hall stage—although they dedicated the victory to their much loved bus driver Rob Jones, who died after a short illness less than 24 hours before the contest.

"Rob was an integral part of the band," Matthew Jenkins told 4BR.

"When we had our accident on the way back from Harrogate a couple of years ago, he literally saved all our lives. He was a lovely man who loved the band. He was never happier than driving us back home after we had won. The young players in particular really miss him today. He would have loved this, so this win really is for him."

Impressed

Goodwick’s performance certainly impressed Steve Sykes in the box.

"I can’t believe there would have been many better than that across the country," he told 4BR. "It was so well put together and full of confidence. What an impressive band—especially as they are so young. The lad who won the ‘Best Instrumentalist’ Award was a real star."

That lad was Gareth Trott, who delivered the fiendish opening cadenza with commanding aplomb.

He is now looking forward to Cheltenham as well as a place at the Royal Welsh College in Cardiff to study music. "I’ve been playing the euphonium since I was 6, and joined Goodwick about five years ago. It’s been brilliant and we have such a great time. I want to carry on playing with the band for as long as I can, and to win lots more trophies too!"

Praise

The winning MD was full of praise for his young players.

"They are so responsive," Matthew added. "We really enjoyed the challenges of the piece. To win three years in a row is amazing, but the one we really want to bring home is the National title. We’ve come close in the past two years, and we know how difficult it will be in the Second Section, but all we want to do is win it!"

Centenary celebrating Llwydcoed was certainly happy to return to the Finals.

"We didn’t quite play to our very best today," Graham Brill told 4BR. "Our congratulations to Goodwick—they thoroughly deserved it. We are pleased to be back though and aim to put up an even stronger challenge this year."

Keep happy

As a proud Englishman, Steve Sykes ensured he kept the Welsh banding public happy by congratulated the national rugby team on their success. "I thought I’d better do that before the results came out, as not everyone may be so happy after," he laughed.

"It was an interesting contest," he added. "The top two or three were terrific, the winners especially, but behind them it was more variable. There was some incisive playing from all the bands, but the lack of dynamic contrast in the second movement was puzzling. It’s a very difficult piece, but perhaps a few MDs made it more difficult than it really was. Some had a torrid time not helped by their tempos."

Missing out

Just missing out for a second year was Llanrug conducted by Paul Hughes, whose deliberately set out account was enhanced by fine solo contributions from their young euphonium player and the slightly older Gwyn Evans, conductor of Beaumaris on soprano.

"They just needed a touch more brio in the final movement," Steve said later. "But it was close between them and second."

In a contest that certainly showed that Welsh bands were not alone in finding the test piece a demanding musical cross to bear, it was the returning Royal Buckley who claimed fourth, ahead of Treherbert and Blaenavon Town.

Third Section:

A performance literally inspired by firsthand experience of the Olympic Games enabled Pontypool Brass, conducted by Owen Farr to claim the Third Section title.

Venissa Head, who represented Britain at the 1984 Games in Los Angles, played Bb tuba as they secured victory just 18 months after the Cory horn star returned to his home town band to find only 6 players around the stand.

Coincidence

"It’s a remarkable coincidence," Venissa told 4BR. "I come from a banding family and wanted to try something very different to athletics. To play on a piece that was so inspirational to me was brilliant. It brought back all those lovely memories. I think Philip Harper really captured just what the Olympic ideals are all about."

Owen Farr certainly thought so too. "It was a great piece to work on and we all thoroughly enjoyed it, especially after Venissa told us about her Olympic experiences."

Great feeling

Owen is even more pleased that he has been able to help a band he first started playing with aged 6.

"This is such a great feeling. To be able to help them back from just 6 players to a full line up today—and conduct them to victory, makes this every bit as good as any major success I’ve enjoyed over the years as a player."

Encouraged

Adjudicator Derek Broadbent was encouraged by what he heard, but did make the point that many performances were undermined by rhythmic inaccuracies.

"MDs need to ensure the rhythms are stable," he said. "Rhythm is all about putting the right notes in the right place. The best did that today, but many others didn’t. MDs must take responsibility to get this right."

Inspirational

Joining Pontypool at Cheltenham will be Ogmore Valley, another band that has been revitalised by the inspirational work of MD Alice Jones. It will be their first Finals appearance since 2003.

Just missing out was Crwbin conducted by Andrew Jones, whilst there were a few eyebrows raised in the hall after the much fancied Melingriffith 2’s powerful account failed to make an impression in the box. The final top six places in an entertaining contest went to went to Briton Ferry and the returning Thomas Coaches Mid –Rhondda.

Fourth Section:

Welsh banding unearthed a young English conducting talent as 19 year old Josh Ruck from the Forest of Dean led Severn Tunnel to the Fourth Section title.

Even Josh’s father Steve, who helped his son by playing flugel, was just 5 years old when the band’s name last appeared on any Welsh Area winner’s trophy, as their last win came way back in 1972 in the old Second Section.

Help out

"I can’t quite believe it," Josh commented to 4BR. "We were a few players short so Dad came and helped out on flugel, but the band enjoyed the test piece, and I felt we played really well on stage too."

Dad was understandably a very proud man. "Josh is working so hard with his music studies at Cardiff and especially with his conducting. To play on his first Area contest win makes me feel very proud—and old!"

Style

Josh’s neat conducting style enabled his band to play with just the right combination of light style and lyrical musicality in ‘English Folk Song Suite’, with adjudicator Steve Sykes telling 4BR:

"They really captured the musical spirit of the music. For a 19 year old to do that is a wonderful achievement. Congratulations to him and the band. They should do well at the finals I’m sure."

Great job

The comments echoed Steve’s written remarks, which Josh proudly held in his right hand, with the Welsh Regional Trophy in his left.

'Very enjoyable, much to commend,' Steve had written although, Josh was even more delighted with the added remark—'MD is doing a great job!'

That is something Josh, who is studying music at Cardiff University is keen to keep improving on. "We hope to keep getting better as a band, so by the time of the Finals we will be even stronger."

Compact

Joining them at Cheltenham will be Rhyl Silver, who returned this year for only the second time since 2006. Their compact performance under Keith Jones gave a first qualification since 2002.

With an encouraging rise in numbers in the Fourth Section, Steve Sykes said he was pleased with the overall standard. "There were the usual problems with balance and tuning, but all the bands gave it a good go," he said.

Third place went to another returning band in Holywell, whilst the remaining top six places were taken by Abertillery & District, Oakeley and the debutants of Ebbw Valley.

Full Results:

Additional comments and thoughts on our twitter site:
http:/­/­twitter.com/­4barsrest

Championship Section:

Sunday 18th March

Test Piece: 'The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea' — Derek Bourgeois
Adjudicator: Derek Broadbent

1. Cory (Dr Robert Childs), 8**
2. Tongwynlais Temperance (Philip Harper), 7*
3. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse), 3*
4. BTM (Phillip McCann), 6
5. Beaumaris (Gwyn Evans), 1**
6. Northop (Thomas Wyss), 2
7. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) (Gareth Ritter), 4
8. Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins), 5

* Tongwynlais & Tredegar qualify for National Finals
** Cory & Beaumaris are pre-qualified

Best Instrumentalist: Joanne Childs (Flugel) — Cory

First Section:

Saturday 17th March
Test Piece: 'Mountain Views' — Bertrand Moren
Adjudicator: Derek Broadbent

1. Burry Port (Michael Thorne), 2*
2. Lewis Merthyr (Gareth Pritchard), 7*
3. Tylorstown (Garry Davies), 4
4. Abergavenny Borough (Craig Roberts), 5
5. Rogerstone (Jamie Jones), 3
6. Deiniolen (Neil Samuel), 1
7. Penclawdd Brass (Tony Small), 6

* Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Best Instrumentalist: Jayne Thomas (soprano) — Burry Port

Second Section:

Saturday 17th March

Test Piece: 'Cross Patonce' — Goff Richards
Adjudicator: Steve Sykes

1. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins), 6*
2. Llwydcoed (Gary Davies), 5*
3. Llanrug (Paul Hughes), 3
4. Royal Buckley Town (S. Lloyd), 7
5. Treherbert and District (John Burns), 1
6. Blaenavon Town (Andrew Protherough-Jones), 8
7. Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards), 2
8. Gwaun Cae Gurwen (Colin Hogg), 9
9. RAF St Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne), 4

* Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Best Instrumentalist: Gareth Trott (euphonium) — Goodwick

Third Section:

Saturday 17th March

Test Piece: 'Olympus' — Philip Harper
Adjudicator: Derek Broadbent

1. Pontypool Brass (Owen Farr), 10*
2. Ogmore Valley (Alice Jones), 2*
3. Crwbin (Andrew Jones), 5
4. Mellingriffith 2 (Dewi Griffiths), 3
5. Briton Ferry (Rhodri Griffith), 4
6. Thomas Coaches Mid-Rhondda (Alan Gibbs), 9
7. Upper Rhondda (Gareth Robinson), 11
8. Newport Borough (Ivor Barnett), 1
9. Tata Steel (Port Talbot) (Ceri Thomas), 8
10. Ammanford Town (G .R.Davies), 6
11. Ynyshir (Dean Evans), 7

* Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Best Instrumentalist: Lynne Turner (horn) — Pontypool

Fourth Section:

Sunday 18th March

Test Piece: 'English Folk Song Suite' — Ralph Vaughan Williams
Adjudicator: Steve Sykes

1. Severn Tunnel (Josh Ruck), 1*
2. Rhyl Silver (K. Jones), 7*
3. Holywell (D. Roberts), 3
4. Abertillery & District Youth (Dean Evans), 2
5. Oakeley (J. Jones), 6
6. Ebbw Valley Brass (Nigel Seaman), 8
7. Oakdale (Adrian Browning), 5
8. Ystradgynlais (A. Parker), 4

* Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Best Instrumentalist: Percussion Section (Severn Tunnel)
Youngest Player: Gwen Flowers (Ystradgynalais) 10 years & 4 months



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