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Players Guide – The Possible Stars of the Day?
Here’s our list of players who we think will be well worth listening out for

Each new test piece brings with it a whole new set of problems for any competing bands. Be it stratospheric euphonium parts, lip bursting cornet solos, bum clenching back row cornet cadenzas or even bass parts that have semi quaver runs in them, any band that hopes to win the Open will have to have a settled, experienced and very talented team of players to make golden purse of a winning performance out of a pig’s ear of a score and parts.

Any conductor will get up on stage to claim the glory for any win, but as every player knows – they are only as good as the players beneath them. (If only some of them would recognise this eh?)

So here’s our list of players who we think will be well worth listening out for. Some are the usual suspects – but we are sure there will be many who we don’t mention, who will play a blinder and make a name for themselves by picking up the Stanley Wainwright Memorial Trophy for being “Best Soloist”.

The soprano players have their work cut out and only the very best will possibly shine on “Les Preludes”. Peter Roberts, Alan Wycherley, Kevin Crockford are the usual high class performers, but keep a ear out for Steve Stuart from Kirkintilloch, Andrew Dallimore at Carlton Main, Michelle Ibbotson at Dyke, Steve Barnsley at Cory, Les Palmer at Ever Ready and Nigel Fielding at Grimethorpe.

Principal Cornets have less to do this year than of late, but all the bands have fine players heading their cornet sections. The likes of Messers Webster, Lingaurd, Marshall, Wilkinson, Porthouse, Morrison and Taylor are all well known, but keep ears peeled for the likes of Ian Williams at Cory, David Geoghegan at Marple, Angela Whelan at Glasgow, and Nick Payne at Brighouse. Plenty of other good ‘uns as well, including the return to the playing stage of Russell Gray with Todmorden.

Flugel players could be having some sleepless nights before the contest, but on the stage there will quite a few to look and listen for. Iwan Williams at YBS, Helen Fox at Fodens and John Doyle at Dyke are fine players as are Lucy Murphy at Marple and Joanne Dean at Tredegar and there are some hidden gems at Flowers, Fairey’s and Whitburn. Shelley Ball at Leyland is worth the entry fee alone.

The horns will be sorely tested as well by Bram Gay’s transcription so keep listening out for the likes of Sheona White at YBS, Sandy Smith at Grimethorpe, Owen Farr at Fairey’s, Leslie Howie at Dyke and David Cornelius at Cory. Others will be keen to make a mark such as Martin Armstrong at Fodens.

Euphs and baritones will have plenty of blowing to do and some individual stars obviously shine out. Morgan Griffiths, David Childs, David Thornton, Mike Dodd, Nigel John (the current holder of the soloist prize), Glyn Williams etc will be having a fairly quiet day at the office than of late, but keep an eye and ear out for Mark Hetherington at Flowers, Darren Morris at Tredegar, Jeff Lewis at Glossop and Peter Roberts at Todmorden. A real star could be Kate Tweedle, the Australian youth solo champion at Yorkshire Imps. As for our friends on baritone – they don’t seem to have a lot to do this year so watch out – someone from the baritone section may become an overnight sensation.

Troms are also very nearly redundant, but will no doubt be used to add a bit of colour and shine to most performances. Most of the top bands have fine players who need very little introduction, but Brett Baker at Dyke and Nick Hudson at Fairey’s are worth watching even when they are not playing. Keep a look out also for Simon Johnson at Todmorden, Andy Hirst at Marple and Stephen Turton at Tredegar.

Our friends on the Bass end will be kept busy throughout, but it’s a little unfair to single out any individual players as nether the Eb bass or Bb bass parts are truly memorable in terms of solo work. However, there will be more than a few groups of blokes willing to pike it out at a high volume to give their performances a foundation of good quality sound. Keep your hearing aids turned down at times, but there will be some real quality from the likes of the boys at Fodens, Fairey, YBS and Cory, whilst Grimethorpe have a team that includes the imperious Derek Jackson (ten Open wins to his credit) and Shaun Crowther to help give a wall of sound. Brighouse, Desford and Glasgow have big sounding bass ends, but it could well be the tuba’s who can play the delicate stuff the best that will get the rewards.

As for the percussion. Well – they won’t exactly be kept too busy with their parts for “Les Prelude” and the hardest part of their job in the past month or so may have been from falling asleep from boredom in rehearsals. Mr Gay has refrained from adding a marimba, xylophone or Tam Tam (unlike Epic Symphony or Pageantry, both of which were ritually desecrated), so unless any one in the percussion section goes bonkers at not having something to hit, they will be having a pretty quiet day.

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