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The 2002 4BarsRest awards:

Contest Performance of the Year

As in 2002 the standard of top-line contest performances bordered on the phenomenal, whilst at the levels below we were also treated to some outstanding playing from the competing bands. This was in no small part to the good choices made by such people as James Scott and the Music Panel of the BFBB, whilst the European once more showed the way with another good choice that gave a neat balance between challenge and enterprise.

The winners of the top contests during the year were worthy champions in anyone’s book and their performances will live long in the memory banks long after lips subside and tight diaphragms expand incorrect beer intake. We didn’t hear all the winners everywhere, so you can vote on just about any performance you wish, from Fourth Section to the European, Cornwall to Sydney, Pontins to SIDDIS. These are our top five nominations though.

Williams Fairey – National Championships 2002

A simply awesome performance of an exceptionally difficult work. All the technical challenges were met in full, whilst the players responded to the brilliant direction of Allan Withington in musical spades. The playing of Ian Porthouse, Kevin Crockford (another performer who shone in 2002), Nick Hudson and especially Morgan Griffiths was breathtaking whilst the ensemble playing topped just about anything we heard all year anywhere else. Bets are already on that they will use it again for the European in Bergen – any takers?

BAYV Cory – British Open 2002
The Maunsell Forts

A performance to savour and constructed to last just as long as the subject matter themselves. On the day BAYV Cory were two lengths or more clear of a very high class field, and that was down in no small part to the direction and understanding of the score by Robert Childs and the way this was projected by the players under his command. The very essence of the music was captured in full, from the menace of the German night attacks to the almost ethereal beauty of the abandoned structures 50 years after they were last occupied – mystical almost fictional as they stood as sentinels to our long lost military glory. No one else got close.

Yorkshire Building Society – European Championships “Own Choice” 2002
Concerto Grosso

We could have chosen YBS on “Chain”, but that performance, although exceptional was on a piece that didn’t tax the band to the full and was overshadowed by a touch of “showboating” from Mr King. No – the Bourgeois was the one, the MD gave everything and more and his players were as hot as the hottest red hot chillis you can find in a vindaloo curry. This was just something else – the soloists (although not all note perfect) were faced with perhaps the hardest of all works to make come off and they looked the challenge straight in the eye and knocked the bloody daylights out of it. At the end the were almost limp through the effort of giving their all – yet they knew, just as we wrote, that they had given an unbeatable performance.

Staffordshire Band – National First Section Finals 2002

The band took the stage at 11.30pm at night (yes - 11.30pm!) and had waited over seven hours before playing. The players looked knackered, the audience was half-asleep and God knows what state the two adjudicators were in.

Still – they performed as fresh as the proverbial daisies and gave a real corker of a performance of a test piece that was as difficult as you could get at this level. MD David Maplestone urged, demanded and then sang inspiration into his charges who all responded by giving the performance of their lives. It was heady stuff indeed and we would defy any band at any level to have done the business in such a way given the circumstances. Any celebratory champagne they could get their hands on must have tasted of liquid gold – it was so well deserved.

Fodens Richardson – National Finals 2002

Last year Fodens picked up this prize for a performance that was memorable yet ultimately unsuccessful when they got the nod from 4BR for their performance of “Les Preludes”. We don’t know if they will win again, but their performance at the Royal Albert Hall, although not entirely without fault was one of the great “hair raising” moments of 2002 for us – and we think for many more who were lucky enough to be there.

It was the closest we have heard a brass band sound like an orchestral brass ensemble, and even though it suffered from dodgy tuning at the start, the overall picture created by Bramwell Tovey and his team of top quality soloists and sturdy ensemble was quite exceptional. Just a touch too detached from the traditional for many, but still an experience few will forget in a hurry.

2001 winners:
The Fodens Band - Les preludes - British Open

How to vote....

Make sure you read all the articles for each category before going to the voting form.

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