4BarsRest logo



news desk

articles & features


results archive


classified ads

your comments

go shopping




Welsh Regional Championships: 4BarsRest take a closer look at the competing bands in the championship section. Also featuring BTM Band.

This Sunday sees the bands in Wales line up to what is possibly the hardest task in banding at the moment – trying to beat Buy As You View Cory Band.

Just like Manchester United, Cory seem to be head and shoulders above their domestic opposition at present and have got their eyes firmly set on Europe as their outstanding priority for the year. However, the Welsh Regional Championships also double as the qualifying competition for the European Championships for 2002, so even though Cory have pre qualified to the National Finals this year as reigning champions, there will be a great amount of pressure on them not to take things for granted and to go out firing on all cylinders.

Defeat could see them having to rely on winning (a feat not in anyway beyond them) the European Championships this year in Montreux or regaining the National title in October to gain qualification again. On paper therefore, going for victory in Swansea may seem to be the easier and less complicated route. However, there has been a bit of a revival in Welsh banding of late – led by BAYV Cory with Tredegar also continuing to make their mark at national level. Manchester United may be a great team, but as Liverpool and even West Ham United have proved this season they are not unbeatable – even at home. It should be a great contest.

The reigning champions come into the Area as overwhelming favourites, but with the European on the immediate horizon they have had to work up three test pieces in recent weeks. However, with players of the quality of Ian Williams on principal cornet, David Cornelius on horn and Nigel John on euphonium they have a backbone of top class performers. Robert Childs is also meticulous in his preparation and he is sure to have instilled the band with the need to carry on their winning run in Wales and retain the title the band won last year. That would mean qualification for the 2002 Euro’s, and would give Bob Childs his first Welsh Area title to emulate his brother Nicholas who won it twice with Tredegar and their father, John, who also won it twice with the same band. That’s not a bad record to aim for.

Tredegar go into the contest as favourites to take one of the two other qualification spots on offer. (There are two to aim for, as Cory is automatically invited to the Finals as reigning champions). Tredegar has recovered from losing many of their players at the beginning of last year to the rivals to such an extent that they not only remain one of the top ten ranked bands in the UK, but also saw them come 8th at the Open and 5th at the Nationals and just missing out on automatic qualification. There are a lot of bands in the country that would give their high teeth for their record over the past few years, and with one of the most talented young conductors in the shape of Steve Bastable taking the band, and some excellent performers with Roger Boyle on principal cornet, Joanne Dean on Flugel and Paul Holland on horn, they will travel to Swansea aiming to regain the title they last won in 1996.

Point of Ayr make their annual pilgrimage to the Brangwyn Hall with a record of late at the contest that is as good as any of their main rivals. There is a certain symmetry about their record with a win in 1997 followed by third in 1998, a win in 1999 and a third in 2000. A win in 2001 then? Although it’s certainly not out of the question, the band has been through a very rough patch of late that even saw them unable to take up their qualifying place at the Finals in London in October last year. Thankfully the band has survived, but getting a qualifying place may be the more realistic task for them this year. Thomas Wyss brings his experience and flair to the band, which can only be a good thing.

Northop Silver also makes the long trip south form North Wales with a realistic chance of getting amongst the prizes. Conducted by Ian Porthouse - who has won plenty of admirers as well as prizes in recent months with his stable of bands under his baton, they have been making steady progress towards the level that saw them gain the runners-up spots at the Areas in 1995 and 1996. Some excellent players around the stand could see them making a real mark this year.

Burry Port Town are another band that has made remarkable progress in recent years under the direction of Michael Thorne. 2000 saw them become runners-up to Tredegar in the Champion Band of Wales title race with a series of ever increasingly mature performances. They are now a band that has made its mark in Wales and one that is hoping to make a mark further afield, with some very talented players within their ranks, and euphonium player Ceri John an undoubted star performer. They are more than capable of giving “Jazz” a real performance and more than capable of taking any number of scalps. Dark horses.

Cwmaman Institute also come to Swansea on good form, and has secured the quality services of John Hudson to direct their title attempt. John is no stranger to success at this level, with a National win with CWS Glasgow and a runners-up spot with Tredegar to his name. Now making his living in Norway he will bring a very common sense approach to a band that has overcome many problems and now should start posing a threat not only here, but at the Senior Cup in Blackpool later in the year. They also have some very talented players in their ranks with principal cornet Richard Davies and horn player Tim Malpas top class players.

Parc and Dare are a famous band that has had very little luck of late, but approach the Areas with renewed vigour. A successful lottery bid will see the band stage a series of high profile concerts at their home concert hall in Treorchy over the next couple of years that will feature international soloists and new works from leading brass band composers. The Areas may have come too soon for the band, but the last couple of Welsh ranking contests has seen great improvement in the performances under the sensible guidance of Craig Roberts. Due a bit of luck.

Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda are also a band that has worked hard in recent years, especially under the baton of Alan Gibbs. Nigel Seaman has the stick this time, and he brings to the band a well-deserved reputation as one of the best band trainers in the country. Some top players as well, with Kevin Gibbs on trombone and Carol Flannery on soprano, players to look out for.

Our feature band are Bedwas Trethomas and Machen, universally known as BTM. The early 1990’s saw the band qualify on a regular basis for the Finals, with them being Welsh Area Champions in 1991 and 1993 and Champion Band of Wales in 1992.

In 1991 the band were Pontins Champions and came 5th at the National Finals on “Energy” under the baton of Melvin White. 1992 saw them retain the Pontins Championship, but further success at National level eluded them. However, the Areas have proved to be a happy hunting ground and in 1994 they were runners-up, 1995, third and 1998 they again took second place.

The last couple of years saw some barren times and the band were demoted to the First Section in Wales and missed the Regional Championships in 1998 in a dispute over entry forms to the contest. However, the band has recovered well and under the direction of Gareth Pritchard they have matured into a solid and competitive outfit.

4th place at last years Grand Shield was a return to good form, and their unique performances at Entertainment Contests has won many fans. They were the first band to perform a strip routine a la “Full Monty” and have a very professional ten-piece ensemble called “BTM X” who not only bring in revenue to the band but also continue to provide top quality entertainment to varied audiences throughout the UK. Their Youth Band has grown into a fertile breeding ground for new players for the band and many of the current line up has come through their exemplary set up.

Others who have found fame and small fortune through BTM include James Gourlay, who started his conducting career with the band and Melvin White who has taken his experience gained at the band to great effect, especially in the London area. The band also hold the somewhat unique achievement of producing British Solo Champions with Mark Hutcherson and Chris Thomas winning the prized title whilst at the band, and Owen Farr, now solo horn at Williams Fairey, also winning the Junior title. Their quartet are the current British Champions to boot.

They also boast some of Wales’s most talented young players within their ranks. Many are members of the vibrant National Youth Brass Band of Wales, whilst older members such as Mark Hutcherson on solo euphonium and his brother Jeff on principal cornet have long been recognised as some of Wales’ best brass players.

They will certainly be a band to look out for on Sunday.

The current line up of the band is as follows:

Soprano Cornet: Laura Davies.
Currently occupying the soprano seat in the absence of their regular player Deiniol Williams, Laura is one Wales’s brightest talents and is currently the assistant principal cornet of the National Youth Band of Wales.

Principal Cornet: Jeff Hutcherson.
A top quality player who for many years held the flugel horn position in the band with distinction.

Solo Cornets: Glyn Maplestone, John Cullen and Felicity Danning.
Glyn makes a welcome return to the band even though he still makes his living in the army, whilst both John Cullen and Felicity Danning are players have joined the band in recent years to add a lot of experience.

Repiano and Flugel Horn: Mena Beale and Trevor Isaac.
Both players have been with the band for a number of years and bring a wealth of experience to their playing. Trevor moves from the front row to flugel for the contest.

Back Row Cornets: Mark Joseph, Alex James, Paul Kelly and Anhaghrad Lewis.
All youngsters and all very talented. Alex is currently the principal flugel with the National Youth Band of Wales.

Horns: Geraint Chamberlain, Sarah Giles and Lyndon Harris.
Geraint has moved from baritone to solo horn with great success, whilst Sarah is the steadying influence. Lyndon joined the band from Rogerstone Band about 18 months ago and is making a name for himself.

Euphoniums and Baritones: Mark Hutcherson, Mike Altree, Andrew Gourlay and Hywel Rowles.
Mark is recognised as one of the best euphonium players Wales has ever produced and he gets good support from Mike Altree. Andrew Gourlay has a great deal of experience, whilst Hywel has joined the band I the last few weeks from Pontypool.

Trombones: Susan Cherrington, Nick Jones and Peter Smith.
A good hard working section of players who have brought a lot of stability to the band.

Basses: Meilyr Howells, Mike Davies, Keith Hutcherson and Bedwyr Morgan.
The family band shows up here with Mike the father of sop player Laura and Keith the father of both Jeff and Mark.

Percussion: Alan Hathway, Andrea McLaren and Julian Ruddall.
A young and very talented trio of players with Alan Hathway rightly regarded as on of the best percussion players in Wales.

Conductor: Gareth Pritchard
A consistently inventive and clever conductor who is now very much in demand. Both BTM, Besses o’ th’ Barn and others have had the benefit of his intuitive approach, which has seen his bands gain considerable success since his return form Norway in 1999. A man to watch we think.

back to top

 © copyright & disclaimer

Fax: 01495 791085 E-Mail: