Nationals 2001: The
Heres the list they dont 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.
Aveley and Newham.
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 its been three years out of the prizes, but he took Aveley
to 7th place last year.
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 bands 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 wont continue in 2001.
Brighouse and Rastrick
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?
Buy As You View Cory
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.
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 wont
cause him any nerves.
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 hes got CWS (Glasgow) and they will
both be hoping for better luck than at the Open.
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 Harrisons Dream.
He always brings interesting readings to his performances and this
year should be no different.
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?
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.
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 hasnt
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?
Kidlington Concert Brass
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 wont 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.
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 years 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
Point of Ayr
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 wasnt 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 hes back for a second
stint with the North Wales band and determined to better their 8th
place of four years ago.
The Ransome Band
Record: No Wins: 1 Second (2000)
Its 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 Harrisons 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.
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.
Appearances: 10 (including 2 appearances at the 1998 contest)
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. Hes 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.
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.
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?
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
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 hasnt taken a band at the Finals. Williams Fairey
are the fourth band he has taken at the Championships.
Yorkshire Building Society
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.