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2003 North West Regional Qualifying Championships

Second Section - Retrospective

David Horsfield

Test Piece: Celestial Prospect - Wilfred Heaton

Wilfred Heatons Celestial Prospect proved to be a super piece for section two, but also a super test as there was something to test the ensemble, the soloists and the listeners ears. Intonation however affected most bands.

In first place were Bollington and deserved winners they were. The opening was nicely controlled and clean and the cornets managed to play their long dim and keep it in tune. Not many did all day so well done. Flugel and horn played well and in tune and our main criticism was that there were some moments of bad balance, particularly the Bass trom who cut through the ensemble throughout the performance. But overall, well directed and well played and clear winners.

In second place came Manx Concert. We felt this was a good band with a good sound but the music suffered from being too fast throughout. The flugel overpowered in the horn duet but the playing is good and this band will do well at the finals though we had them in third.

In third came Delph. We felt that the sound was good but too many things were wrong for it to be third. The Scherzando was rushing throughout and lacked control. Flugel and horn were out of tune and the cornets were overpowered especially in the last movement where the speed was way too fast. Fourth came Lancashire Life. Again too highly placed for us, as the musical shapes were nice but any number of split notes spoiled the effect. The highlight was the flugel/horn duet, well played, but generally the quiet playing suffered from poor sound and poor ensemble and didn’t figure in the top six for us.

Haslingdon were fifth, and this was well directed with mostly sensible tempos and much control throughout. The atmosphere was good as the soloist all played well. We just lost some detail in the final section when the tempo got too fast for the cornets but generally a good show, should have been higher we thought. Propping up the top six were Wire Brass. We enjoyed this and the music has a solid feel with good sound. Some intonation problems hit the Flugel/horn duet but the Euphs played really well and the music was nicely shaped. The ending showed some good balanced playing with sensible tempos and clear lines. A good show for us and unlucky to be sixth.

Old Hall were seventh, and what a back row! Once we could take our my eyes off the ups and downs, ins and outs we then watched the band. A messy start didn’t help but once the music settled there was some good stuff, if a little fast at times. Solo cornet, flugel and horn all played well but the star section has to be the back row for their Hokey Cokey.

Eagley were eighth and they were the second band to try a new formation. It didn’t help. The solo cornet never really got going and their formation seemed to highlight any weaknesses the cornets had. There was some good tutti playing, but too many moments where the music was out of control.

Silk were ninth with one of the quickest interpretations of the day. It was a bright and lively start with the troms a bit too lively, but some good playing. The scherzando was too quick but the music settled and the slow section worked well. Nice flu/horn just had moments of bad intonation which spoilt. Euphs played well but the ending was too fast and scrappy. A performance seemingly full of potential, just didn’t work on the day. A little too low down for us though in the prize list.

Flixton came in tenth and a performance that definitely improved as it went along. Unfortunately, the damage was done at the opening, the first and second movements being much too fast, with split notes and intonation problems. The flugel and horn played well but there was too much ground to make up and they fell away.

Skelmersdale got a dose of the dreaded Loud Bass Trombone syndrome, and despite a good band sound and some nice shapes there were too many problems for it to feature and they came well down whilst BMP tried a new seating formation but it wasn’t enough to raise their performance and despite some good soloists there were too many moments of bad intonation and split notes.

So there it was. This music was lovely but it had to be controlled and balanced - sounds simple doesn’t it? If only it was!

Here’s our top six on the day though

1. Bollington
2. Haslingdon
3. Manx
4. Wire
5. Silk
6. Old Hall.

With thanks to Simon Wood.

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