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2003 Midlands Regional Championships

Retrospective review:
First Section

Town Hall,
Burton Upon Trent,
Saturday 1st March 2003

At the end of the contest it was round the corner to the pub, a drink and a chat with the jubilant Kibworth crew. No digital camera but a couple of photo shots of John Berryman and players in celebratory mood in the old box brownie for posterity that will get developed in the course of time!

Some decent performances and some serious music on the way as well. Seventeen bands entered the competition and sixteen played so for Kibworth after a year of appeals and hearings in 2002 they, together with Riddings and Gresley Old Hall, became the first from the Midlands to find out that they were to head off to Dundee in September.

Thorntons Brass [1], under the baton of Martin Battersby, took the stage first and set things in motion. Not quite as alert or warm in texture as some, this was mainly due to the blips and blops that were in evidence in the earlier part of the piece, in fairness it would be wrong not to acknowledge that it built well to the final statements which went really well with good articulation and balance. Player of the day – Baritone.

The hall was quite full as Foss Dyke’s conductor Walter Ritchie [2] brought down his baton for their rendition. Again early on this performance, as for many a band given the swine of a soprano part, it had uncertain moments in the solo lines but as the piece unfolded the band certainly grew stronger. The band took 6th place from the adjudicator, we had it figured just a touch lower but not by much. Player of the day – Solo Cornet.

Kibworth [3] played exceptionally well and from their stylish opening the music was guided really nicely by the MD. The music had direction and a real sense of purpose and all through it was nicely flowing and effectively played. A band in control with confidence and not many in the hall that didn’t have them figured, if not 1st then certainly for a place in Dundee for the Finals. Player of the day – Flugel.

The time Keith Leonard had with Derwent Brass [4] after the Brass at the Guild contest was put to good use and they gave a very persuasive account of the piece. He used the time to direct the band in far more Brahmsian manner and Stephen Sykes rewarded them with 4th place. We felt that they had done enough to secure that third Dundee spot. Keith and the band weren’t too disappointed as they congregated outside the hall after the contest given that this result may well have secured them promotion for 2003. Player of the day – Soprano Cornet.

Perhaps some of the performances were bigger-boned and longer breathed but the differences between so many bands in this section were marginal and this was certainly the case with Shirland MW [5]. There were swings and roundabouts with so many performances finding good moments that then became undone in others but as with so many bands on the day their better music was produced once those early hurdles were overcome. Player of the day – Flugel.

Tintwistle [6] never quite found the spacious sounds that would have scored as they were bringing the music in crescendo and a few too many untidy moments undid some good cornet work all though. Player of the day – Solo cornet.

With so many performances of similar strengths and weaknesses it was not surprising that what would appeal to one would be a downfall for another and this was the case with the next two bands the Enderby Band [7] (Player of the day – Solo cornet) and Ibstock Brick Brass [8] (Player of the day – Soprano Cornet). We thought that they managed to produce some tension and electricity in the music but again not without loose moments so we were perhaps more forgiving of this as we rated their playing much higher than their actual placings.

Riddings Band [9] were different. Simon Jones their MD went for a weighty and concentrated performance which was not smoothed over at all and whilst not conveying a natural feeling of Brahms it was undeniably exiting. It obviously appealed to the adjudicator (and us) but another perhaps more ‘orchestral’ ear might have been less forgiving. (Player of the day – Euphonium)

Nottingham City Transport [10] (Player of the day – Solo cornet), Towcester Studio [11] (Players of the day – Trombones) and Bedworth Brass [12] (Player of the day – Euphonium) sat in that group of interpretations, which whilst carrying some conviction and towards the end could not help to create excitement, was in a middle group of bands that we have to say were much of a muchness.

Hathern [13] was a performance that got away. Placed in final position by the adjudicator we were in the complete opposite camp. Well in the top half on the day for us. Some may say “ah you would say that with Richard Evans at the front of the band. You listened with your eyes and heart not your ears.” Not true – I think we are too objective to fall for that one. The hallmark of this performance was in the interpretation. Despite odd blemishes for us the music had warmth, dignity and nobility and offered expressive power with a striking sense of spontaneity.

Brackley and District [14] once again held the middle ground (Players of the day – Trombones) before Gresley Old Hall under David Hutchinson [15] took the third qualifying spot to Dundee. This was a big blow with huge fortes and monstrous double fortes. We wrote on our notes ‘will dynamics effect the result?’ - obviously not but it wasn’t our cup of tea. There was a lot of bite in the playing but we felt their playing worked much better when the volume button was turned down. Player of the day – Flugel.

Wigston Band [16] were last up and they worked really hard but you got the feeling that this piece just didn’t work for the band. Obviously talented players they couldn’t get across an unforced naturalness and as such seemed to lose the balance that the music need. Player of the day – Flugel.

Our top six:

Kibworth, J. Berryman,
Riddings, S. Jones,
Derwent Brass, K. Leonard,
Ibstock Brick, P. Northey,
Hathern, R. Evans,
Enderby, S. Cooper,

Our spin doctor would like to point out that our predictions were 1st 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th and 14th so completely brilliant but no one said about them being in the right order !

Stephen Sykes in his summation called it a good contest but singled out for praise the top three and notably the winning band. He felt that there were 10 very equal performances that followed that were very close in merit and he had to dot many an I and cross many a t before he finally ranked them.

On a different tack there had been a deal of discussion before these Regionals about the use of signing on sheets and the printed registry forms. The Midlands Region chose to ask bands to submit both and John Slater, Chairman of the Regional Committee, before the results of this section were declared announced that 83 discrepancies had been noted between the registry and signing on sheets.

In talking to Brian Eggleshaw, General Secretary of the Region the following day he felt that the exercise of comparing both sheets had been shown to be a valid approach. He thought that in moving from a written to a ‘paperless’ system the ‘teething’ problems that were often thrown up when this type of move is made could be noted, discussed and appropriate action implemented. He explained that Colin Johnson had been contacted at the Registry over the weekend about some immediate problems and they would continue after the contest to maintain a close liaison and work with the registry in this regard.

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