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The Old Masters Versus The Young Guns:
featuring the three most experienced men going about their business at the Open and three young men who have just started on the road to possible fame but no fortune.

The 2001 British Open sees 21 conductors vying to win the ultimate prize in the banding world and to get their names in the record books and their hands on a Mortimer Maestro award to stick on the mantelpiece.

Major Peter Parkes:

No other conductor at these years Open comes close to the record of the Major. Six victories starting with Black Dyke in 1976 to Williams Fairey in 1993 have shown that he has the winning touch. Not only that but he’s won the National Championships on seven occasions and the European eight times. Countless other prizes have also come his way in a banding career that started with a win at the Nationals in 1975 and the Open in 1976.

Dyke, Fairey’s, Grimethorpe, Desford, Whitburn and many more have all won contests under his direction and even though he hasn’t won at the Open since 1993 he continues to be a force in the Major contests as his performance at the European with Trieze Etoiles of Switzerland proved.

Open Record:
Six wins (1976, 77, 83, 85, 86, 93): 4 Seconds (78, 84, 88, 91): 1 Third (92): 2 Fourths (79, 98): 2 Fifths (95, 97): 1 Sixth (90): 9 Unplaced.

Howard Snell:

If ever a man should have won the Open then it’s Howard Snell. Countless brilliant performances under his direction have either by hard luck or even more brilliant performances from others have conspired to rob him of the one title he needs to achieve a personal “Grand Slam”.

His first appearance at the Open was with Grimethorpe in 1977 before he linked with both Desford and Fodens to come in the prizes year after year after year without ever winning the top prize. Two Nationals, four Europeans and four Masters titles are perhaps a fraction of the honours he really deserves.

Open Record:
No wins: 2 Seconds (79, 87): 4 Thirds (80, 81, 85, 97): 3 Fourths (82, 86, 91): 3 Fifths (84, 86, 88): 4 Sixths (83, 84, 92, 94): Unplaced 15 times

On a number of occasions Howard Snell took two bands at the Open in the same year.

Frank Renton:

1977 saw the first appearance of Frank Renton with Wingates at the British Open – and what an appearance – drawn number 1! The following years he appeared with the declining CWS (Manchester) and took the famous band to their last prize winning in coming 5th in 1980.

The mid 80’s saw a break away from the Open, before a return with Grimethorpe in 1988 heralded prize winning performances that culminated in the famous “Paganini” win of 1991. Since then he has been seen with Desford on a few occasions and this year will lead the way with Travelsphere. 1991 and 1992 when he stood top of the world with Grimethorpe may be a while ago, but he remains a maverick at heart with the talent to win any contest.

Open Record:
1 Win (1991): No Seconds: 1 Third (90): No Fourths: 3 Fifths (80, 89, 92): No Sixths: Unplaced 8 times

Steve Bastable:

As Musical Director of Tredegar Band, Steve Bastable is one of the clutch of talented and exciting breed of aspiring young conductors who are now forcing their way to the top of the banding tree.

A product of Salford College and the tuition of David King and Roy Newsome, he played at the top level with Black Dyke and Williams Fairey in Major contest winning performances before concentrating on his conducting first with the Flowers Band and since late 1999 with Tredegar, whom he took to the Welsh Regional title this year.

2001 sees his second appearance at the Open following last years 8th place with the band.

Philip Harper:

Another highly talented musician, who has not only made a name for himself as a brass band composer, but also as an exciting conductor.

A product of Bristol University he played with bands such as Sun Life before moving to Japan for two years. Here his composing skills came to the fore and he returned home in 1998 with a batch of highly rated compositions for both band and soloists under his belt. He gained conducting experience with the Thornbury band before becoming Musical Director at the Flowers band.

2001 sees his debut at the Open following a highly rated direction of the band at the recent All England Masters where they came 5th.

Dennis Hadfield:

The most experienced of the trio we have featured, Dennis Hadfield has been the driving force behind the spectacular rise of Todmorden Old from the depths of the Fourth Section to qualification to the British Open in 2000 in the space of five years.

A fine tuba player his talent and commitment has resulted in Todmorden Old becoming an established contest competitor in the toughest area of them all – Yorkshire, where the band under his direction secured 4th place at the 2000 Area Championships, won that years Grand Shield contest and came 6th at the All England Masters.

Further solid performances in 2001 sees him hoping to steer the band to improve on last years 15th place.

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