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Post Match Analysis:
Scottish Regional Championships 2002

Championship Section:
Motherwell Civic Centre
Sunday 10th March
Adjudicator: David Read
Commences: 2.00pm approx


1. Kirkintilloch (F. Renton): 191 6
2. Whitburn (P. McCann): 190 4
3. Newtongrange Silver (R. Farr): 189 8
4. Kingdom Brass (A. Morrison): 187 5
5. Unison Kinneil (E. Dunlea): 186 10
6. Dalmellington (R. Evans): 185 9
7. CWS (Glasgow) (D. King): 184 1
8. Bo'ness and Carriden (T. Swainson): 182 3
9. Johnstone Silver (R. Tennant): 179 2
10. Bon Accord Silver (T. Swainson): 178 7

Top two qualify

There’s always one isn’t there? Last year it was Wales and BAYV Cory’s fall from power, whilst those in Yorkshire will recall the horror year for Black Dyke and YBS when Carlton Main won the title against the odds on “Blitz” a few years ago. This time it seems it was Motherwell and CWS Glasgow falling quicker from the heights than Icarus with concrete wings.

As with Wales last year though, there was little to quibble with the winners result, although there were many in the audience who had Whitburn as the champions, but there were more raised eyebrows than even Roger Moore as 007 could manage as the news spread that CWS Glasgow had slumped to 7th place.

The pre match talk had been about CWS Glasgow and their array of new talent that David King would have at his disposal, whilst even after the draw had been announced that they were to play number 1, those in the know still thought that the reigning champions would be the band to beat. Less than an hour later though and those predictions were in ashes.

CWS Glasgow took the stage looking every inch the best band in the land, but left chastened after a performance that was riddled by splits and clips and bedevilled by a series of solo lines that ranged from the unfortunate to the awful. We don’t know what David King made of the performance, but it was obvious by the look of the players faces as they left the stage, that they had just had one of those awful days on the contest stage that even the very best bands will come across eventually. The band will not look back at Whitsun wakes with any fondness, although 7th place was still more than a little harsh.

The audience was still bubbling with disbelief as Johnstone Silver took the stage under Raymond Tennant, but they couldn’t really make a mark on the music and even though there were moments of good individual playing the overall picture was muddled and they sounded tired by the end. 9th place was a fair return for a band that is capable of better, but on this occasion seemed to be overcome a little with nerves.

Bo’ness and Carriden followed and gain they couldn’t make a real mark on the music and the technical passages seemed to be a blur of speed and lack of clear detail. Again, there were good moments from some of the soloists, but at this level there is a need to make more of the music than just playing the notes and they fell away to wards the end as tiredness crept in. 8th place was a fair return, but for us they were certainly more than two points behind CWS.

This meant at this stage CWS were leading the field, but within twenty five minutes their hold in the championship and a return to Bergen for the 2003 European was lost. Whitburn were up next at number four and under Philip McCann they produced a wonderful performance that was highlighted by superb individual playing from the solo players and a full bodied and rounded ensemble sound.

The flugel horn playing of Jim Chamberlain was a superb feature throughout, whilst the other corner men in Chick Cullen on solo cornet, Andy Digger on sop, Mark Boyd on trombone and Evelyn Bradley on euphonium was of the highest class. This was a top notch performance and one that owed much to the direction of Philip McCann that was clear and gave the music time to flow. 190 points and second place from David Read may have disappointed the band (and quite a few in the audience) but it confirmed that Whitburn are a very fine band indeed.

Kingdom Brass up next under Alan Morrison, and he was another conductor who gave the music in the slower sections time to flow and retain the musical pulse, whilst the cornet playing of top man Leigh Bathgate was very classy. The rest of the corner players were solid but it was the ensemble work in the quieter movements that let them down for us as they lost the rounded quality they had shown at the higher dynamic levels. They ended well, but in relation to what had gone on before, they just didn’t have enough security about the quieter playing to force themselves closer to a qualification spot.

Kirkintilloch and Frank Renton took the stage and immediately set out their stall, with a balanced rounded sound and neat work from the solo cornet in the echo motifs. It was the middle of the band that sounded so well balanced and the horn playing of Alan Wardrope and especially Colin Gallagher on flugel was a feature. His flugel cadenza was by far the best of the day. The music flowed through section to section, rather than as a series of unconnected musical statements and Frank Renton gave his players the time to express themselves through their solo lines.

The trombone playing of Marion Brackpool was excellent and ensured she was awarded the prize as best trombone of the day, whilst Steve Stewart on sop was a delight - a bundle of energy and brilliant playing. There was little doubt that this was a contender and for many it was the clear leader. Adjudicator, David Read thought so, and gave them 191 points and the title and trip to Europe for 2003.

Bon Accord Silver followed on stage and Tony Swainson brought a solid performance from the band that only fell away due to too many unforced errors and a lack of clarity in the technical passages that spoilt some good ensemble playing. It started well enough, but lacked balance and as a result seemed disjointed. Nothing to be ashamed of, especially in light of the standard of the bands on show, but 10th place was about right.

Newtongrange Silver were led by Ray Farr and he too decided on a less frenetic approach to the music that had plenty of detail and some excellent individual playing from his soloists. They started poorly, but recovered to such an extent that by the end they very nearly did enough to snatch a qualification place. The playing of the three brothers, Neil Phillip on Euph, John on fugel and Alec on trombone was a feature, whilst the soprano playing of Gordon Jenkins also won admirers. In the end the unsure start and a lack of detail in places just meant they couldn’t match the markers laid down by both Kirkintilloch or Whitburn, but third place was well deserved.

Dalmellington under Richard Evans also out in a fine solid, if rather pragmatic showing that had plenty to merit it, but somehow never quite suggested it would challenge for a qualification spot. The highlight was the duet playing of Eleanor Ferguson and Dave McKeller, whilst the ensemble sound was rich and full, but at times a little too overpowering. Richard Evans certainly brought a fine show out from the band, but it didn’t quite have the class of prize winners and they had to be content with 6th place.

Finally, Unison Kinneil took the stage and set out their attempt with strong and bold ensemble playing that at times was just a little OTT for the music. Solo cornet player Hugh Foster was a class act throughout, as was Ian Campbell on euph, but the good work was undone too often by a strident top end of the band sound. It was as if they were trying too hard at times, instead of taking the slightly more relaxed approach that David Read was looking for. Still, a good effort and 5th spot was about right.

So that was it then and the audience sat back to wait for the results. Before the contest had begun many thought it was going to be a straight fight between CWS and Whitburn, with Kirky pushing hard, but before the results were announced it was obvious that CWS were going to find it very hard to beat two top rate shows from their rivals.

There was very little to choose between these performances and they were a good length or two ahead of the rest of a quality field. In the end, David Read gave a model address that emphasised the need for the music to flow, and highlighted the dangers of the flugel libero cadenza and whilst he didn’t give the game away, the audience sensed that the fight was going to be a very narrow points win for either Whitburn or Kirkintilloch. In the end, the prize, and the trip to Bergen for 2003 went to a delighted Kirky and their first victory at the contest since 1990. Whitburn may have been a little disappointed, but they should take comfort in the fact that for the past year or more now, they are the band to beat north of the border. Both will be worthy contenders at the Royal Albert Hall later this year, whilst CWS will have to recover their form for the European in Brussels in May. They will certainly ensure they won’t suffer the same fate there as they did here.

© 4BarsRest

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