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The 2002 4BarsRest "All Star" Brass Band

This has been one heck of a difficult decision we can tell you. In addition to all the players selected for the three home country bands, we have had to take into consideration players not selected (and there have been many from bands such as YBS, Brighouse, Dyke Cory, etc) but well worthy of a place in any band in the world, plus those players from our banding friends overseas.

Neither Iwan or Anthony had anything to do with those selected for the home country bands, but as the two owners of 4BR we have chosen the list for the “All Star Band” – it’s our site and we can therefore please ourselves!!!! If you don’t agree with us, then let us know – but we won’t change our minds!

As we have already said, the main criteria for selection in the “All Star” band has been form. As the great Bill Shankley once said, “Form is temporary, class is permanent” so therefore don’t lose your rag when you don’t see your particular favourite up there in our list – the selections are purely based on whom we thought we the form players of the past twelve months.

So here is the band we have chosen.

Musical Director: Bramwell Tovey

Given that he won our “Best Conductor” prize in our awards, it was only fair that the great man be given the opportunity to direct affairs. No other MD during the year had that undeniable bit of extra class that he had, even though he once more failed to get a major prize. It has been a pleasure to see him at work and we think the players in the band would just love to work with him.

Associate Conductors: Robert Childs and Russell Gray

Tovey will need two very fine associates to prepare the band and we couldn’t think of two better during 2002. Both have been outstanding in their separate ways and have that happy knack of preparing their bands to the right peak of perfection. Sectional rehearsals would be as intense as a contest performance.

Principal Cornet: Ian Porthouse (Williams Fairey)

The best top cornet player we heard playing during 2002 – and that against some brilliant competition is saying something. The quality of his playing was something else and he deservedly takes the end chair for our band for his exploits during the past twelve months.

Solo Cornets: Ian Williams (BAYV Cory): Mark Wilkinson (Fodens Richardson): Roger Webster (Black Dyke)

This was perhaps the most difficult selection of all. Nearly every principal cornet with all the top bands was on good form during 2002, but for us, these three just had the edge on the rest, and in this order. Ian Williams has been superb with Cory and Mark Wilkinson really raised his game to a new level during 2002. Roger Webster was class every time he took the stage, but the other two just had the edge on him for us during the past twelve months. Some top end though.

Soprano Cornet: Alan Wycherley (Fodens Richardson)

Who to pick eh? Peter Roberts was awesome in places (especially the European) and others also shone through during the year such as Kevin Crockford at Williams Faireys, Steve Barnsley at BAYV Cory and Alan Hobbins at Brighouse and Rastrick, but the “Wych” has be a man reborn and gets the nod to do the highwire business for the “All Stars”

Repiano: Stuart Lingard (Yorkshire Building Society)

Didn’t make it into the lineup chosen by the English panel, but we enjoyed his efforts throughout the year and we thought him unlucky not to get into that band. We have used our power of veto at 4BR and squeezed him into the rep seat where he can shine.

Second and Third Cornets: Richard Marshall (Grimethorpe), Kirsty Abbotts (Carlton Main,) Eleanor Ferguson (Dalmellington), Chris Bradley (Whitburn)

Four super players who could just as well swap seats with the top end without a problem. The top three have been performing excellently throughout 2002, whilst Chris Bradley continues to be one of the best players we have heard – plus he plays a very, very mean flugel – just in case the band play one of those funny Gregson works.

Flugel Horn: Helen Fox (Fodens Richardson)

Without doubt the star flugel player of the year at the major contests, with superb performances at the Masters and London in particular. Neil Hewson at Fairey’s, Ian Shires at Grimethorpe, Joanne Deane at BAYV Cory as well as Andrea Lewis at Tredegar and Julia Telling at Flowers could fill this seat with honour, but Helen Fox was just that little bit above everyone else.

Solo Horn: Owen Farr (Williams Fairey)
First Horn: David Cornelius (BAYV Cory)
Second Horn: Rose Crosara

Some horn section this, with two Welshmen and a Australian making up the trio. Owen Farr for us has been the outstanding horn player of the past twelve months whilst David Cornelius is a sup player with BAYV Cory and one who leads their middle of the band section so well. Rose Crosara absolutely stunned the audience at the recent British Open Solo Championships but didn’t get the final on a time technicality. However, all who heard her stated quite categorically that she is some player and somebody who we will hear a lot of in the next few years.

Euphoniums: Morgan Griffiths (Williams Fairey), Tormod Flaten (Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag)

This was an immensely difficult task given the quality we had the opportunity to chose from, but two players stood out for us during the past twelve months. Morgan Griffiths has been THE euphonium player of 2002 without a doubt, whilst Tormod Flaten created such an impression on us with his CD release, whilst both reports of his recent masterclass at the RNCM and his performances with Eikanger clearly showed that he is one heck of a virtuoso.

Baritones: Anne Crookston (Whitburn), Sue Thomas (BAYV Cory)

Two exceptional artists of the neglected art of baritone playing fill this section – and two ladies to boot. Not that has anything to do with it of course, but these two players have by common consent been two of the best during performances during 2002. Anne Crookston has long been regarded as Scotland’s premier baritone player, and confirmed her stature throughout the year with Whitburn, whilst Sue Thomas holds the same position in Wales with BAYV Cory. Both can blow like dray horses, so middle band power won’t be affected in any way and the technical stuff will be handled like water of a ducks back.

Trombones: Nick Hudson (Williams Fairey), Brett Baker (Black Dyke), Tobias Bannan (Grimethorpe Colliery)

Nick Hudson once more showed that he leads the trombone field in terms as both a soloist and section player, with some tremendous performances during the past twelve months. His return to Faireys for the Nationals gave them a cutting edge on “Masquerade” that wasn’t bettered all day. Brett Baker meanwhile didn’t make English Band, but we think he was a little harshly done by to miss out and he has been playing as well as ever for Black Dyke during 2003, so he got the nod over some fine players for us. Tobias Bannan is a super player and he has made his mark at Grimethorpe during 2002 after being a splendid player for Fodens. A player with a lovely plumb rich tone and the ability to “colour” rather than obliterate the bass end – although we are sure he can do that as well.

Eb Basses: Phil Green (Fodens Richardson), Gavin Saynor (Beaumaris)

Phil Green continues to be the best lead Eb we’ve heard in the banding world during the past year and he really did shine during all of Fodens performances, with a lovely rich tone and a technical clarity to his playing few could match. Gavin Saynor pushed him all the way though and don’t’ be surprised that he “only” plays for Beaumaris (although he has now transferred to YBS we believe). He is very well known on the “Northern” circuit and has been head hunted by all the top bands for ages – a superb tuba player.

Bb Basses: Dean Morley (Grimethorpe Colliery), Brett Wharton (Fodens Richardson)

Two players who know each other very well indeed from their days together at Fodens where they were just about the best Bb team in the business. “Deano” moved to pastures new, and has revealed a quieter side to himself, although his tuba playing has remained monstrously good. Brett Wharton however, has taken the opportunity to move into Dean’s seat at Fodens and has flourished during 2002, to the extent that he is now rightly seen as perhaps the best Bb player on the circuit.

Percussion: Alan Hathaway (BTM), Mark Arnold (Grimethorpe Colliery), Chris Wood (Black Dyke)

The lads in the percussion department are three tremendously talented guys who are “quiet” experts at their trade. None of the three are flashy players – those who catch the eye through their on stage antics, but they give each performance from their bands added class with playing that compliments and blends with the brass rather than just stands out on its own. They enhance everything their bands perform, and that is surely the sign of real class. We asked around and these three names just kept cropping up, So they are our three choices. Simple as that.

That our choice for 2002 then. Lots of superb players and a couple that we thought deserved to be included even though the national selectors overlooked them. It was all on form remember, so next year we could very well have a completely different line up. However, this lot will take some beating. Congratulations to one and all from 4BR and commiseration’s to those who didn’t quite make it. We could have easily chosen 28 more without a problem and still come up with one hell of a band.

© 4BarsRest

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