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Nationals 2001: The Conductors Records

Here’s the list they don’t like you looking at. Each of the twenty conductors at the National Championships will have some sort of form at the Royal Albert Hall – some good, some nearly great and more than a few making up the numbers.

Of the twenty on show, Howard Snell leads the way and will be making his 19th appearance this year, whilst Catherine Underwood and Philip Harper will be the only ones making their debuts. Only Allan Withington has won the title more than once whilst four others have had their hands on the big pot just the once. 13 of the conductors on stage this year have made less than five appearances conducting at the Finals in their entire careers – so they may well be more nervous than their players.

Nigel Taken.
Aveley and Newham.
Appearances: 4
Debut: 1989
Record: No wins: 5th place (1989): 3 Unplaced (1998, 1999, 2000)

This year sees his fifth appearance at the Finals and his fourth in consecutive years. Made his debut in 1989 on “Odin” with Asphaltic Newham as they were then called and came 5th. Since then it’s been three years out of the prizes, but he took Aveley to 7th place last year.

Nicholas Childs
Black Dyke
Appearances: 7
Debut: 1994
Record: 1 win (1999): 1 Third (1997): 1 Fourth (1998): 1 Fifth (1994): 1 Sixth (2000): 2 Unplaced (1995, 1996)

A fine record since making his debut with Tredegar in 1994 on “Theme and Cooperation” when he led them to 5th place, but had two unplaced finishes in the following years. The move to Fodens in 1997 saw a 3rd a 4th and then victory in the band’s centenary year on “Concerto No I” by Derek Bourgeois, off an early number 5 draw. The early draw syndrome followed him last year as he took CWS (Glasgow) to 6th place off the dreaded number 1 spot. Black Dyke hope the trend won’t continue in 2001.

Allan Withington
Brighouse and Rastrick
Appearances: 8
Debut: 1992
Record: 2 Wins (1997, 1998): 1 Seconds (1999): 2 Fourths (1995, 2000): 1 Fifth (1992): 2 Sixths (1993, 1996)

A superb record at the Albert Hall since 1992, when he made his debut on “New Jerusalem” and came 5th. Since then he has steered Brighouse to become one of the perennial favourites for the National title. Two consecutive wins in 1997 and 1998 and just pipped in 1999. 2000 saw a solid 4th place return. The venue, unlike Symphony Hall is tailor made for him. Could 2001 see a third win?

Robert Childs
Buy As You View Cory
Appearances: 4
Debut 1996
Record: 1 Win (2000): 2 Unplaced (1996, 1997, 1999)

Robert Childs made his conducting debut with the EYMS band, which he himself founded, in 1996 when they came 8th on “Isaiah 40”. He came a disappointing 19th with Ever Ready in 1999 then appeared with the Welsh band to win the Nationals in sensational style last year and give Cory their 5th win and to follow his brother into the record books as National winning conductors.

Brian Grant
Camborne Town
Appearances: 2
Debut: 1997
Record: No Wins: 1 Fourth (1999): 1 Unplaced (1997)

Two appearances with The Ransome Band gave Brian Grant a 9th place on his debut conducting “On Alderney Edge” and a superb 4th place in 1999 on “Concerto No 1”. His third appearance may find him having to work harder with the West County band, but as he has shown in other arenas, the Royal Albert Hall won’t cause him any nerves.

James Gourlay
CWS (Glasgow)
Appearances: 6
Debut: 1988
Record: No Wins: 1 Second (1997): 1 Third (1998): 1 Fourth (1996): 1 Fifth (1999): 2 Unplaced (1988, 2000)

Made his debut way back in 1988 with the BTM band from South Wales and came 14th on “Seascapes”. An eight-year break and a return with William Fairey that saw a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th but no win and an 8th place last year signaled the end of their successful relationship. This year he’s got CWS (Glasgow) and they will both be hoping for better luck than at the Open.

Gareth Pritchard
Appearances: 2
Debut: 1999
Record: No Wins: 2 Unplaced (1999, 2000)

One of the hardest working band trainers makes his third appearance in a row this year with the North East band. Made his debut in 1999 with Bodmin when they came 16th at the Finals and he took them again last year when they came 15th on “Harrison’s Dream”. He always brings interesting readings to his performances and this year should be no different.

Ian Robinson
Appearances: 4
Debut: 1992
Record: No Wins: 4 Unplaced (1992, 1993, 1995, 2000)

Ten years since he made his debut on “New Jerusalem”, Ian Robinson makes his fifth appearance with the band at the Royal Albert Hall. The first appearance saw the band come 15th and the following year they propped up the table in 20th place. Together they returned in 1995 to come 16th and again 2000 when they were 19th. Could this year see a jump up the table?

Philip Harper
Appearances: Debut

We put the mockers on Mr Harper a bit during our British Open coverage when he led the band into last place, but some recent encouraging results has shown the man has the talent and the commitment to give Flowers a better outing. A very interesting style of conducting to say the least.

Bramwell Tovey
Appearances: 6
Debut: 1985
Record: No Wins: 1 Third (2000): 1 Fourth (1986): 4 Unplaced (1985, 1987, 1989, 1996)

Just six appearances since 1985 seems a cruel rationing of the talent for brass band audiences, and the Albert Hall hasn’t been the kindest of venues to the mastercraftman. His debut way back in 1985 was on “Cloudcatcher Fells” with the GUS band and he came 4th with them in 1986 on “Diversions for Brass Band”. In 1989 however he came last on “Odin” when he took the then Rigid Containers Band. 1996 saw him take Desford and last year he took Fodens to within a hairsbreadth of the title. What of 2001?

Catherine Underwood
Kidlington Concert Brass
Appearances: Debut

A daunting task for only the second woman to take a band on the stage of the National Finals at the Albert Hall. Betty Stone was the first and she managed it more than once, so there may be every expectation that this won’t be a “one cap wonder”. A very talented musician whose first teacher was Wilfred Heaton, she has been conducting the band for the past seven years.

Garry Cutt
Appearances: 4
Debut: 1994
Record: No Wins: 4 Unplaced (1994, 1998, 1999, 2000)

The highly talented Garry Cutt has already won two Opens, but has a record of unfulfilled promise at the Nationals so far. His debut came with the Marple Band in 1994 on “Theme and Cooperation” off the number 1 draw, and they gave a performance that came 8th. 1998 and 1999 saw Marple give solid performances but come 7th and 11th and he came to last year’s contest with Grimethorpe determined to do better. Again it was promise unfulfilled as they came 10th, so this year could see him finally break into the prizes. If the Open is anything to go by, it should be well worth listening out for.

Michael Fowles
Point of Ayr
Appearances: 3
Debut: 1997
Record: No Wins: 3 Unplaced (1997,1999,2000)

Michael Fowles made his debut with Point of Ayr band at the Finals of 1997, when as Welsh Regional Champions they came a very creditable 8th place playing “On Alderney Edge”. They both returned in 1999 but it wasn’t so successful an appearance and they came 18th. Last year Michael took Leyland at the contest but they too struggled and came 14th. This year he’s back for a second stint with the North Wales band and determined to better their 8th place of four years ago.

Russell Gray
The Ransome Band
Appearances: 1
Debut: 2000
Record: No Wins: 1 Second (2000)

It’s a pretty good record Russell Gray will have to improve upon in 2001. Last year saw him give a super reading and intuitive approach to the testpiece “Harrison’s Dream” that included real moments of drama and quick thinking. Second place, especially after the disaster that fell both conductor and band alike at the Open was so well deserved, but he will have his work cut out to repeat the success this time.

Stan Lippeatt
Thoresby RJB
Appearances: 3
Debut: 1990
Record: No Wins: 3 Unplaced (1990, 1991, 1994)

His debut with the same band occurred as far back as 1990 on “English Heritage” when they drew number 4 and came 16th. The next year he took the band to 9th place, which he repeated with them in 1994 on “Theme and Cooperation”. 2001 sees his fourth appearance and Stan will be hoping to repeat the success of his father who took the same band to 6th place in 1975.

Frank Renton
Travelsphere Holidays
Appearances: 10 (including 2 appearances at the 1998 contest)
Debut: 1989
Record: 1 Win (1992): 1 Third (1991): 2 Fourths (1993, 1997): 6 Unplaced (1989, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1998, 1999)

The 1992 win with Grimethorpe may seem a long time ago now, but Frank Renton will be going hell bent for a second victory at the contest this year. His debut came in 1989 on “Odin” when Grimethorpe were drawn 2 and came 9th and he followed this with 3rd place in 1991 and 4th in 1993. He’s also taken Kirkintilloch to 4th place in 1997 as well as 11th in 1998 and 12th in 1999, Sellers International to 7th place in 1995 and Desford to 15th in 1998, when he took two bands on the same day. Travelsphere will therefore be his fifth band at the Finals.

Steve Bastable
Appearances: 1
Debut: 2000
Record: No Wins: 1 Fifth (2000)

One of the most exciting conducting talents in the banding world made his debut at both Major contests with Tredegar last year and got 8th at the Open which was followed by a well deserved 5th place at the Albert Hall. He continues to impress many with musical readings that has seen him take the Welsh Regional title in 2001 to add to a series of other with the band.

Phillip McCann
Appearances: 4
Debut: 1990
Record: No Wins: 1 Third (1990): 3 Unplaced (1992, 1993, 1999)

A debut over ten years ago with the Sellers Engineering Band saw Phillip McCann direct his charges into a brilliant third place on the seriously difficult “English Heritage”. His other three appearances with the baton have all come with Whitburn with whom he has a long and successful relationship. 1992 saw them come 11th, 1993 saw them come 8th, whilst after a five year break the duo returned to gain 9th place in 1999. Could 2001 see a return higher up the standings?

Howard Snell
Williams Fairey
Appearances: 18
Debut: 1979
Record: 1 Win (1996): 3 Seconds (1988, 1990, 1991): 2 Fourths (1989, 1992): 2 Fifths (1983, 1985): 1 Sixth (1994): 9 Unplaced (1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1993, 1997, 1998)

The most experienced conductor at this years contest also has one of the very best records. He made his debut with Desford in 1979 on “Volcano” and gained his first top six placing in 1983 when he took Fodens to 5th place on “Ballet for Band”. The following years he alternated between the two bands, depending on who qualified and got a 5th with Fodens in 1985, before getting the first of three runners up spots with them in 1988 on “Seascapes”. He followed this with a 4th place in 1989 before two further second places with them in 1990 on “English Heritage” and 1991 on “Energy”.

He first took CWS (Glasgow) in 1992 when he got 4th place before he returned with them in 1996 to win on “Isaiah 40”. 1997 and 1998 saw the combination fall to 11th and 7th and the last two years he hasn’t taken a band at the Finals. Williams Fairey are the fourth band he has taken at the Championships.

David King
Yorkshire Building Society
Appearances: 9
Debut: 1987
Record: No Wins: 3 Seconds (1989, 1995, 1998): 1 Third (1994): 2 Fifths (1987, 1996): 3 Unplaced (1990, 1999, 2000)

The only contest that David King has yet to win. The Nationals have seen a wide variety of results for the Australian from 3 second places to 3 unplaced. He made his debut in 1987 with his band, Kennedy Swinton on “Harmony Music” and they give a scintillating performance to come 5th. His next appearance however was with the giants of Black Dyke and in 1989 they came runners up to Desford on “Odin”. 1990 saw him get 7th place with the band.

He returned to the Finals after a short break in 1994 when with YBS he claimed 3rd place. Runners Up for a second time in 1995 and 5th place in 1996 were close, but the band failed to qualify in 1997. 1998 saw him take his third runners up spot when they lost out narrowly to Brighouse and Rastrick.

The last two years in London have been a huge disappointment with 8th place in 1999 and the shock of 17th place in 2000. Surely 2001 will see a return to the very top.

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