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2003 North West Regional Qualifying Championships

Championship Section - Retrospective

If you’ve ever been there then you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like it. The buzz is terrific as everyone gathers, and this year Prague has certainly created plenty of talking points, but also provided a wonderful afternoons entertainment. Like many we were sceptical, but in reality this music provides excitement, intensity, deep emotion and plenty of lyricism and like all good test pieces it’s a real challenge. Mr Roe may not have been impressed by the standard of playing but on a personal note I would like to thank all the bands for a superb contest. Every single band offered something positive and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.

In first place were Fodens Richardson. This wasn’t the first shock of the day but it was definitely the biggest. When Mr Roe said that only one band had played the piece properly then we all naturally assumed he meant Williams Fairey - after all they seemed clear winners to all and sundry - we were wrong. Fodens were good, and very good at that, but too many little mistakes, balance problems and intonation in the bass trombone solo all took the edge off what was generally excellent.

In second place came Faireys and we think they’ll be asking the question, what do we have to do to win? Well, good question. They were superb. Top class direction and playing throughout and for us the most complete musical portrait of the day. Second place though.

In third were Haydock and a good performance from Ian Brownbill’s team. We have to be honest and say they weren’t in our top six but they certainly made some nice sounds. For us though, the colours weren’t quite vivid enough, the percussion lacked impact throughout and the solo cornet didn’t quite make it. The slow movement needed more space to have any emotional impact but, they will go to the finals with our blessing and congratulations. Well done and it shows that you don’t have to be a big name band to make it to the Finals – you get there by merit and not by right.

Fourth were Leyland. A little unlucky perhaps as they had a superb cornet and sop and were the first band to really play the piece. They may have suffered from “Loud Bass Trombone Syndrome” in the opening passages, (there were many who suffered from it on the day) but we felt it was good enough for second. They too can count themselves a tad unlucky, but they are at London and that is all that counts.

Fifth came Dobcross and there best ever position in the top section. This was a really solid performance from the band but lacked some shape and style in the slow sections where this music has so much to offer. The final movement of the piece showed the band at its best with some real quality and they thoroughly deserved their placing.

In sixth was BT. Though the opening seemed a little light the music flowed really nicely and this was a pleasure to listen to. As with so many other cornet sections on the day we heard the odd blip but nothing major and the slow movement was excellent. Good euph solo and good percussion helped to make this a super performance and sixth place was about right.

Freckleton came seventh from last band on and if anyone assumed that the contest was already over then they were wrong. This was a super performance, but as with so many others the cornets suffered a few slips, but the other soloists were super and it was thoroughly enjoyable. They too had a dose of Loud Bass Trombone Syndrome at the opening but the slow section captured the mood beautifully and seventh was no less than they deserved.

Lynda Nicholson and Besses can be pleased with their performance as it offered a lot of good music and shape but the opening lacked a little oomph and the basses were a little lumpy in the quiet sections. Euph and tromb played very well but the slow movement just needed more space for its sombre tone. Mainly we felt this performance suffered from the flugel playing straight out into the audience - very loud at times and causing some concern. Eighth seemed a little low for us.

Ashton once again played off number one and they obviously enjoyed the return to the top section as they gave themselves a big cheer at the end. It wasn’t undeserved. The playing was generally very clean, very tight and with the days best percussion section we thought they deserved a little higher. If anything, it was just a little too safe for us and lacked some intensity, especially in the bass section who seemed a little light throughout.

Mossley had the worst case of Loud Bass Trombone Syndrome. We believe it can be cured but it’s a long job. This performance did work and had some excellent moments with the cornet, trombone and euph all playing well but it just didn’t capture the imagination like some of the others. Tenth was about right.

Wingates certainly made there presence felt with a ripsnorter of a performance. As with other cornet sections there were a few slips but the music flowed well. Trombone played well, if a little 12/8 in style and the euph was good but generally the loud playing was a little too much. Lots of excitement but the detail was lost and that mayhave cost the.

Our top six on the day were then:

1. Fairey
2. Leyland
3. Fodens
4. BT
5. Freckleton
6 .Besses

Roy Roe didn’t quite agree with us but we think he got three of the four qualifiers right –if not quite in the right order. Fodens were champions again – they went all those years under Howard Snell not winning here and now they can’t stop, whilst Williams Fairey will be a touch disappointed they didn’t add the North West title to their National crown. These two heavyweights will clash again though at Cambridge, The Open and London. It’s one nil so far this season to Fodens, but Fairey’s will be keen to equalise in the next few months to lead to a show down at the Open and London.

With thanks to Simon Wood.




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