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National Finals 2002: The First Section

Test Piece – Leonardo - Philip Wilby
Riviera Centre, Torquay

The following information for the bands listed below was acquired by extensive telephone calls and/or researching websites. If it's incorrect - contact us and we'll amend it. If it's out of date - blame your webmaster!

Abergavenny Borough Band
Musical Director: Phil Harper
Principal Cornet: Kevin Powell
Solo Horn: Deb Bull
Solo Euphonium; Jason Harris
Solo Trombone: Phil Bull

There is evidence to show that Abergavenny Borough Band existed before 1884, however it is noted that other bands existed in the area and how much these became integrated is not known. It is generally believed that the one band that had most to do with the present group was that of the London and North Western Railway Band. An old sepia photograph of the LNWR Band was recently discovered and donated to the band cementing its roots.

The Band, who have played in championship section contests locally, have recently announced the appointment of a new M.D. Lyndon Price - BA (Hons) LRSM. Lyndon took over the baton from Eric Powell, who after conducting the Band for over 40 years decided it was time to hang up his baton. The band has also recently signed Geraint Barnes on solo cornet, having previously played for Cwmaman Institute and Ebbw Vale and Jessica Bowman on Percussion.
David Childs took Abergavenny in the Regionals at Brangwyn Hall in March however ,on this occasion Phil Harper takes the lead with this solid outfit who have plenty of good players in key positions.

Alder Valley Brass
Musical Director – David Barringer
Principal Cornet: David Beck
Solo Horn: Christine Fox
Solo Trombone: Chris Newton

George Prior, a trombonist from the Rhondda Valley, founded the band in 1961 with an original line up that included his own sons and daughters. Originally called the Aldershot Brass Ensemble, 1969 saw them through to the 4th section finals of the National Championship. In 1978 they were runners up in the area championship and so qualified for the top section National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall (playing Checkmate) and emulated this feat again (playing Energy) in 1991.

The band is based on the Surrey / Hampshire border near Aldershot and are graded Championship Section within
SCABA and 1st Section nationally. They came a creditable 4th at the area contest at Stevenage but with the withdrawal of Matthews Norfolk Brass, AVB were invited and now find themselves competing at Torquay.

Ashton under Lyne Band
Musical Director – John Maines
Principal Cornet: Debbie Woods
Solo Horn: Matthew Maines
Solo Euphonium: Nigel Lawless
Solo Trombone: Dave Priestley

Ashton under Lyne Band has a long history that unfortunately hit on some stony ground in 1996. In the face of adversity Nigel Lawless became a co-founder and secretary of a reformed and rejuvenated band that began an inexorable march forward to great contest success. With exceptional playing skill they cruised through three sections in as many years. With experienced players like BBb Ian Fieldhouse (ex British Aerospace) and trombonist Stephen Tighe (ex Leyland) on board, under the baton of Martyn Evans, they took their third consecutive National title in three years when they won the 1st section at the Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Sunday 19th September 1999.

Practising out of a wooden band room in the centre of the Town they enter this years competition with the much respected and vastly experienced GMR brass presenter and adjudicator John Maines at the helm. He conducted The BT Band in 1992 when they played and won the 1st Section Final at Wembley (when the 1st section first appeared) and a couple of the players in this Ashton Band were with him in BT at that time. The band has some talented soloists in its ranks, as outlined, and others playing on the day include Phil Ramsden on soprano, Eb bass player John Clough and two members of the Maines family, Matthew on Solo Horn and Danny on percussion.

Broxburn Public Band
Musical Director – Michael Marzella
Principal Cornet: Stuart MacAully
Solo Horn: Mike Doran
Solo Euphonium: Tommy Simpson
Solo Trombone: Mark Bell

Broxburn Public Band has a long pedigree stretching back to its formation in 1890. Their unity was demonstrated when the band enlisted en-block for the 1st World Ward and cemented this by marching 12 miles from its base to the centre of Edinburgh. Many years later, in the 70’s, it completed another most successful journey to take British Senior Quartet Championship title back to Scotland.

The band have been working hard in preparation for the Finals and they probably boast the widest in age span across the cornet ranks of all the competing bands. Tony Clucas is a most experienced 74 years whilst Katrina Marzella, daughter of the conductor, holds the distinction of being Scottish Junior Solo Champion.
The band have been in good form through 2002 coming runner-up at the Northern Charities Entertainment Contest in May 2002 and winning their Regionals with a superbly crafted performance.

Chichester City Band
Musical Director – John Williams
Principal Cornet: “Alf” Hughes
Solo Horn: Alex Stevens
Solo Euphonium: Renate Tracey
Solo Trombone: Kevin Webb

At a Council meeting in June 1897 it was suggested that Chichester should have its own band and from that Chichester City Band was formed within the year by Mr. Robert Bottrill, a well know coal merchant in Chichester and Bognor.

Chichester Band is a very friendly unit with strong family connections running throughout its ranks. 2002 saw the band become 1st Section winners at the Southern Counties Spring Contest (Hove) and at this contest they also scored with Best Bass Section, Best Trombonist and Best Bass Trombonist (Mike Saville).

The band play in Torquay in buoyant mood having also taken 3rd prize at the Swindon Entertainment Contest in the spring where the soloist prize was collected by trombonist Kevin Webb. Conductor John Williams took over the baton 5 years ago this month when the band were in the 3rd section and he is rightly proud of their achievements. In the lead up to Torquay they will benefit with a ‘tune-up’ of the contest piece in a practice with David Hirst.

City of Coventry Brass
Musical Director – Philip Bailey
Principal Cornet: Ian Rochester
Solo Horn: Val Bell
Solo Euphonium: Mark Smith
Solo Trombone: Chris Moore

Les Pepper, who is still President of the band today, formed City of Coventry Brass in 1965 from Coventry School of Music Band. Moving through the sections the band crowned their progress and Championship status by winning the Grand Shield in 1975. The band again moves into the Championship Section for 2003 having regional placings of 4th in 2000; 5th last year and it was little surprise that they claimed one of the three qualifying places on offer coming 2nd in 2002.

Essentially self-funding, a room above the ‘Flanker and Firkin’ in the centre of Coventry is home for the band. They were one of the first bands to receive a grant from the national Lottery Board, which they used to fund the purchase of a new set of instruments. They were rewarded with 3rd prize at the Buxton Contest in May when Paul Lay on soprano cornet featured in their confident performance of ‘Une Vie de Matelot’.

Derwent Brass
Musical Director – Keith Leonard
Principal Cornet: David Neville
Solo Horn: Karen Pitts
Solo Euphonium: Daniel Cheadle
Solo Trombone: Howard Else

In 1992 the band was formed with the determination of a few members, most notably Neville Eden. Their resolve and a merger with the local brass group Neville Brass saw the emergence of a new band Derwent Brass. To mark their 10th anniversary year 2002 the band released a CD entitled ‘Celebration’ recorded by Doyen on the Amadeus label and this will be complimented on 12th October 2002 with an anniversary concert featuring trombonist Chris Jeans (Ransome Band).

Derwent Brass have been successful on the contest scene. Originally a 3rd section band they are now firmly established in the 1st section. The route to this success has included holding number one position in both 2nd & 3rd section league tables consecutively and three appearances at the Boosey & Hawkes National Championship Finals, achieving the runner up prize in 1998.

The band's Musical Director, Keith Leonard, was appointed in 1993, one year after its formation. Under his continued strong lead the band came runners–up at the North East Midlands Summer Entertainment Contest at Belvoir Castle on Sunday 14th July this year. This was the first contest for new solo euphonium Daniel Cheadle who took the swing solo in ‘It Don't Mean Thing’. The programme offered soprano cornet Dai Roberts chance to shine but the highlight, in capturing the overall solo prize, was Ruth Fenner on Flugel Horn playing ‘Georgia on My Mind’.

Gateshead Brass
Musical Director – Robert Morton
Principal Cornet: Graeme Tindall
Solo Horn: Steve Perry
Solo Euphonium: Joe Ridgeon
Solo Trombone: Kev Chisolm
Soprano Cornet: Vicky Jones

The band is brand new. Gateshead Brass has risen from the ashes of the former Northumbria Police Band after the Force withdrew their financial support and all literally overnight. It was a devastating blow for the Championship Band but with help from many quarters; friends, family, supporters and the members of the Band a committee was formed and they have ‘worked their socks off’ launching Gateshead Brass.

The band rehearse in the concert room of the Gateshead Railway Club on Hudson Street, at the very end of the High Level Bridge in the very heart of the fantastic new developments going on along the banks of the Tyne.
Bob Morton the resident conductor is demanding and professional and as such expects high standards in their playing. The band became 1st Section Area Champions at the first attempt and has subsequently had confirmation that they will again compete in the Championship section in 2003.

The Harrogate Band
Musical Director – David Lancaster
Principal Cornet: Rob Illsley
Solo Horn: Elizabeth Rochester
Solo Euphonium: David Gall
Solo Trombone: Daniel Dickinson
Soprano Cornet: Andrew Jackson

The Harrogate Band was formed in April 1970 from a nucleus of the former Granby High School Concert Band pupils who wanted to continue playing after leaving the school. With its formation the band became the first in the Town, since the original Harrogate Silver Prize Band folded in 1956.

The band scored some good results in the last season, the most notable coming in second place in March at North of England Regional Championships in Darlington. At Buxton Brass Band Festival, playing ‘Spectrum’ (G Vinter), a fourth place certainly endorsed their good form. The band preparations for Torquay include holding a major fund raising concert on 7th September and a soon to be released recording "Made in Harrogate", featuring music written by composers associated with the Town, which they hope will prove popular.

Musical Director – Ian Colley
Principal Cornet: Nigel Derbyshire
Solo Horn: Anita Morrison
Solo Euphonium: Colin Moss
Solo Trombone: Jean Moss
Soprano Cornet: Faye Thompson

Kippax were formed around 1815/16 so are getting close to celebrating 200 years in existence. They have strong connections with the coal industry and have been associated with the industry through various bodies for the longest time.

Kippax are a very hard working band. Not content with working hard to achieve contest success they prepare for a concert series in their band social club every 2nd Sunday in the month. The band pride themselves in that this concert features a completely different programme of music on each occasion. Furthermore they feature regularly with other local music groups and are currently preparing an art and brass evening where a local artist produces works inspired by the music. On the last occasion that this was held ,the theme was that of ‘The Seasons”. The band has a website in preparation and its launch is pending.

Livingston Brass
Musical Director – Alan Samson
Principal Corne;t George Doherty
Solo Horn: Alan Edmond
Solo Euphonium: David Reid
Solo Trombone: Gerrard Duggan
Soprano Cornet: Jacqueline Symon

Formed in 1976 by Jim McAfferty whilst brass tutor for the area this band has had a real mix of fortune and have played through all the sections during their 26 years in existence. The band made a real highlight of their 21st birthday holding a celebration for all their present and previous members. This will be their third appearance at the National Finals in as many years. In 2000 at the Albert Hall in 3rd section; winners of the 2nd Section Preston Guild Hall 2001 and now at Torquay 2002.

Livingston Brass was placed third at the Regional Championships and received the invite to take part at Torquay in place of Clackmannan and District Brass. Conductor Alan Samson, also a brass tutor, was keen to take up the challenge to make this a 3rd consecutive Nationals appearance. The band are hopeful of a small grant from the council to help offset some of the travel costs to Torquay but the members are ‘singing for their supper’ in paying for their own accommodation.

Ocean Brass
Musical Director: Pete Curtis
Principal Cornet; Dave Gotts
Solo Trombone; Andy Verner
Soprano: Paul Short

Ocean Brass was formed in 1998 from the amalgamation of two Southampton based bands called Solent Brass and Southampton Central. Both bands had been experiencing falling membership levels and its was considered an amalgamation would produce a band with the potential for a strong and positive future.

Leighton Rich was appointed as it's first Musical Director and with his leadership the Band steadily developed. In March 2000 the Band became Second Section champions after winning the National Brass Band Association Regional Contest. This resulted in the Band qualifying to take part in the National Section Finals held in the Royal Albert Hall, as well as receiving automatic promotion to the First Section.

Conductor & Players
The band supplied us with tons of information unfortunately we couldn’t include it all.

The present Musical Director of the band is Pete Curtis. He joined the Royal Marines Band Service on solo cornet and was appointed Principal cornet player of the Royal Marines Band Dartmouth a position he held for five years during which time he was Musical Director of Totnes Brass Band. A distinguished career, under his direction, the Royal Naval Volunteer Band at HMS Collingwood became the 2001 Volunteer Band Concert champions, he arranged the Mass Tri-Service Display music for the Edinburgh Tattoo 2000 and his music is regularly featured at the Mountbatten Festival of Music and Royal Marines Massed Band Concerts at the Royal Albert Hall.

Dave Gotts, principal cornet has been playing since early childhood and has a long association with with the band whilst Paul Short, soprano cornet, was introduced into brass banding by Chris Jeans of the Ancient Order of Foresters and in 1991 joined Youth Brass 2000 on front row cornet. In 1994 he moved into the soprano seat with AOF where he remained until moving to the south coast. Andy Verner, principal trombone has recently signed with Ocean Brass having previously guested with them as solo trombone on several occasions.

Pemberton Old Wigan Band
Musical Director – Thomas Wyss
Principal Cornet: Joanne Ashley
Solo Horn: Brian Halliwell
Solo Euphonium: Matt Stringer
Solo Trombone: Stephen Breen

Pemberton Old Band has a long history that can be trace back to 1883. A group known as The Blue Jackets Band who later became the Wigan Rifles and subsequently a corps of the Territorial Army formed Pemberton Old Band in 1891. The band gained a formidable reputation all over the country winning the title British Open Champions under the baton of John Gladney in the year 1903.

They continued winning under the direction of John Greenwood ,however the most famous of all the bands conductors must have been William Rimmer. He scored many successes and during this time he wrote the march “Punchinello” as a 'gift' for the then principal cornet James Fairhurst for being awarded the best soloist at the Belle Vue Championships.

In 1995 a neighbouring band Wigan & District Brass fell on hard times and were almost defunct when Pemberton Old took over the running and so added the name of its home town to its name to become Pemberton Old Wigan Brass Band. Over the past ten years the band returned from the brink of extinction to work its way through the sections. It now holds a respectable position in the Championship Section of the North West Counties Brass Band Association and is also well placed in the First Section at National level.

In their bid to take the 1st section Championship at Torquay they have called on the services of Thomas Wyss which roughly coincided with the announcement that they had appointed Nick Sheppard as their resident conductor.
On the playing side they have been augmented on solo trombone with the signing of Steve Breen (formerly with Eagley Band) and Bernard Lyons joining the front row cornets from BMP Goodshaw Band.

The band had a year of notable success - Sunday 10th March at Blackpool saw the band placed first in the Areas. The Bass section Graham Furnell, Stephen Parfitt, John Hardman and George Fairhurst were awarded first place in the senior quartet at the Northop Slow Melody Contest and added to this they gained first place in the Senior Trophy at the Spring Festival. It was there that soprano cornet, Chris Ratchford had chance to shine in their sparkling performance of ‘Une Vie de Matelot’.

St. Austell Town
Musical Director – Melvyn White
Principal Cornet: Hannah Hawkin
Flugel: Leanne Harris
Solo Horn: Roger Nichols
Solo Euphonium: Stephen Osbourne
Solo Trombone: Graham Hooper
Soprano Cornet: Rachel Whittaker

The St Austell Town Band has a long history dating back to 1838. In 1852 they are documented as a "Sax Horn Band" and prior to the First World War references to the St Austell Volunteer Band were made. From 1919 to 1939 the band progressed well and in that period contested with success at the Crystal Palace. In 1940 they were forced to disband only to reform again in the early part of 1943 and three years later the band won the West of England Regional Finals in the Championship Section.
The band came into prominence again in 1972 with a 2nd place at the WD and HO Wills contest at The Royal Albert Hall following this in 1973 with a 5th place in the finals of the National Brass Band Championships.

The band have many success under their belt including the Pontins Championships (One of only two Cornish bands ever to win this prize), 3 times winners of the Yeovil Entertainment Contest and, more recently in 1999 becoming French Open Champions.

St. Austell Town Band has no sponsor. It is self-supporting by means of its own Social Club founded in 1969 that boasts over 2000 members. Rehearsal facilities were further improved with funding in part by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England and the Foundation for Sports and Art. The band have gone through a major rebuilding process in recent times and in the process developed a ‘School of Brass’ linking in and teaching in local schools (14 of the current Youth Band also play in the Senior Band). The band, promoted to Championship Section for 2003, has just completed a very successful tour to Paris and Belgium.

Musical Director – David Maplestone
Principal Cornet: Paul White
Solo Horn: Tracey White
Solo Euphonium: Mark Glover
Solo Trombone: Mark Spedding
Soprano Cornet: Steve Leigh

The Staffordshire Band can trace its roots back to before the turn of the last century, when it was known as the Walsall Wood Temperance Band. They have held many names mainly reflecting sponsorship and these have included Aldridge Colliery Band, Walsall Servis, Walsall Highgate, C.I. Group and the Staffordshire Building Society Band.

Winners at Burton Town Hall in the Midlands Regionals they figured in the frame twice more in 2002 - 3rd at Delph on Whit Friday and also at Blackpool in the Senior Trophy where they also came 3rd. Conductor David Maplestone, who played with many of top bands including Grimethorpe, has brought out some good playing in 2002 in performances which were characterised by plenty of spirit and detail. The band have a compact disc in production entitled ‘Something 2 Celebrate’ and this will be complimented with ‘Crown Imperial’ a live recording in October at Walsall Town Hall

Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda
Musical Director – Alan Gibbs
Principal Cornet: Andrew Smith
Solo Horn: Karen Fletcher
Solo Euphonium: Nigel Thomas
Solo Trombone: Kevin Gibbs
Soprano Cornet: Carol Flanary-Davies

The Mid Rhondda Brass Band are based in Tonypandy, South Wales. Founded in 1941 as the Tonypandy Silver Band the name was changed to the Mid Rhondda Band in 1949. In 1994/5 it received sponsorship from a local coach company and so became known as Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda Band.

The Band achieved Championship status in 1955 and has appeared in 9 National Finals, 5 in the Championship section and 4 in section one, the last being in 1998. Success has also been achieved in the Pontins, Blackpool and National Eisteddfod competitions as well as in major Welsh Competitions. In 1967, the Band won the HTV Band of the Year Award and appeared at the St David's Day National Festival Concert at London. In 1992, the Band represented Wales at the European Championship Challenge in Cardiff. The band takes the stage with a couple of new signings who will be playing with the band for the first time at Torquay.

Wakefield Metropolitan
Musical Director – Brain Dyson
Principal Cornet: Martin Hall
Solo Horn: Adrian Green
Solo Euphonium: Myron Thomas
Solo Trombone: Stuart White
Soprano Cornet: John Parkinson

Wakefield Metropolitan roots lie with the Youth Band that was successful straight from its formation in 1974. Under the guidance and tutelage of Les Hepplestone they moved forward and when, in 1978, the players wanted to continue playing after leaving school so the Senior Band was formed. Many top players were moulded in this unit including John and Sean Hudson (Grimethorpe), Chris Hirst (Grimethorpe) and Robert Blackburn (Brighouse/Black Dyke).
The band progressed through the sections and won the 2nd section Championships in 1987 when they were held at the Imperial College on a David Stanhope piece ‘ A Leadsman ; A Lady and a Lord’. The band entered the Championship Section in 1988 and became part of the National 1st Section when it was formed in 1991.

The Band are a most hard working outfit and give a lot of time to fund raising activities with donations raised going to Pinderfields Hospital, as well as local hospice units, among others.
The conductor Brian Dyson, ex-Grimethorpe cornet player, took over the band some 10 years ago and has built the band steadily to their current success with the skills of some talented players including principal cornet Martin Hall who is a pupil of Jim Shepherd.

Welwyn Garden City
Musical Director – David Stokes
Principal Cornet: Tom Eveson
Solo Horn: Elise Clark
Solo Euphonium: John Gafney
Solo Trombone: Ben Douglas
Soprano Cornet: Chris Melville

The Welwyn Garden City Band, formed in 1934, is almost as old as the town itself and as early as 1936 they registered their first contest success winning its section at the Crystal Palace National Brass Band Championships. Promotion to the third section in the early 1970's heralded the beginning of a new era and in 1976 they attained first place in the third section of the London and Southern Counties Regional Championships. The band continued to go from strength to strength and in March 1998 they were crowned London & Southern Counties Second Section Regional Champions playing in the Finals in Harrogate. This win also clinched promotion to the First Section from January 1999.

Welwyn Garden City came 4th in the Region in 2001 after coming 10th the year before and 3rd in 1999. A consistent band, who approach Torquay with confidence, they have scored a 5th at the Folkestone contest and 7th at Pontins last year and rounded out the year by winning the Aylesbury contest. The band is equally at home on the Entertainment front and took prizes last year, the first at New Triton Entertainment Contest in April and then runners-up at Crawley in May.

The band moves into the Championship Section for 2003 and they are not slow to acknowledge the conductor David Stokes’ part in their progression from 2nd Section in 1998, 1st Section 1999 to the Championship Section. David was a member of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force and, during that time, became a Fellow of the London College of Music and Associate of the Royal College of Music. He also played with a number of top bands in the Midlands and Home Counties, in particular the Rigid Containers Group Band, William Davis Construction Group Band and more recently, First City Brass.

Our predictions

1. Ashton Under Lyne
2. Harrogate
3. Gateshead Brass
4. Derwent Brass
5. Mid Rhondda
6. Livingston Brass

Dark Horse: Abergavenny Borough

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