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2003 Scottish Regional Qualifying Championships

Championship Section - Retrospective

Scotland never ceases to amaze 4BR. Just when you thought things were settling down and you could start taking things for granted up comes the Championship Section and throws a spanner in the works.

Over the years they have been the odd surprises – last year included but we felt that 2003 was going to go to plan – it wasn’t the case.

Scottish Co-op were declared the clear winners of the Hannaford Jubilee Trophy and the £200 top prize and although there were not many in the hall who would have disagreed with them winning, the margin of the victory – four clear points, did cause more than one set of eyebrows to be raised. What also caused people to take a sharp intake of breath were the rumours that the band had to search high and low to get a full team of players together. By all accounts they had to shell out quite a bit more than the £200 they won in return to get a top trumpet player to sit on the front row as fourth man down and a classy flugel horn. Sometimes you have to speculate to accumulate but rumours of payments in four figures to get a seat filled were doing the rounds.

Whatever money they spent on Nick Childs though was well, well worth it, as in addition to his clear and precise direction and interpretation he also directed the band to a victory that will mean that they will represent Scotland on home territory at next years European. They will also travel to Blackpool and the Grand Shield with renewed confidence of getting back to the British Open at the first attempt.

The contest started with Bo’ness and Carriden as band number one and they gave a solid performance that benefited from a very confident start but for us lacked detail and precision. It was loud and hard and there were a number of very evident splits. The second movement was much the same but the third had a nice shape and the euph did play rather well. The finale was untidy though and the troms sounded a touch strong. It ended well but it wasn’t for us a performance that really caught the essence of the music. 4th place was the result –a little high for us.

Two of the heavyweights up next and both gave strong accounts of “Prague” that in many ways were as different as chalk and cheese. Kirkintilloch opened neatly and all the detail was heard. There was some super sop playing and a stylish cornet solo but some of the triplet work didn’t come through. It had a huge ending though. The middle movements were excellent though and the trom was top rate with Frank Renton giving the music time to unfold. Nice and spooky we thought. The Finale was good stuff as well and there were plenty of impressive sounds from start to finish. Second place was the result and we agreed.

Glasgow made a real solid start with some great ensemble sounds, but there were some trombone tuning problems and the occasional fluff but it was impressive indeed right to the end. The middle movements also came over well with a stylish trom solo and neat horn sounds. The sop was fine and the flugel was classy. The finale was a romp and the confidence seemed to flood into the band as they reached the huge climax. It was the winner for us – but only by a point from Kirkintilloch.

After that came Dalmellington who never really recovered their poise after a shaky start. The middle movements went OK with a smooth trombone solo but he percussion were too loud throughout and there was an uneasy feeling before the end of the third movement. The finale was OK as well but the trom tuning was poor and there splits a plenty before a strong ending. It was a performance that had it’s moments but not enough of them and they came 8th – about right.

Newtongrange suffered the same fate and everything they did well was cancelled out by too many mistakes in individual lines and ensemble. The first movement was loose and there was a hint of swing in the cornet solo, but it needed something else. The second and third movements were OK but there were slips in the trom line, cornets and the sop and these started to rob them of their chance to impress. The finale was again spoilt by tuning and some missing parts towards the end in the bottom end, but it was big and bold. 9th place was harsh but t many things had gone wrong and they were heavily penalised.

Whitburn were the 4BR pre match favourites, and we thought they started well indeed. They were some uneasy moments but the solo lines were good and the sop was excellent. The middle movements had atmosphere but slips were of the costly variety and the cornets were not together in their ensemble playing. It didn’t quite come off as we expected but the flugel rescued things well at the end of the third movement and the start of the 4th had good shape. However there were too many blips in the final movement and they quite glaring in places and it cost them dearly. By the end it sounded a touch hard and the ensemble quality was lost. 6th place was a touch too low for us – we had them 4th but they couldn’t have had any complaints that they didn’t qualify.

Broxburn were number 7 and gave a rather unsettled performance that had its moments, but never quite sounded totally convincing. Bass rhythms were inaccurate in the 1st movement and the bell was lost towards the end but it had the correct style and shape. The middle movements suffered from poor tuning especially in the bass trom. The sop did well but the duplet effects at the end were weak. The finale was untidy and uneasy and we think they may have been disappointed by the overall performance. The judges liked it though and put it 5th – a few higher than we had them.

Kingdom also gave a curates egg of a performance but it did have a very confident opening and the solo cornet did well. The end was big but a little too hard. The middle movements were uneasy though and the trom sounded unsure whilst the ending was untidy. The third featured a good sop and euph but the underlying lines were muddy and didn’t add anything to the overall picture. The last movement had its moments but there were splashes and blobs and the intonation was poor as the band seemed to tire towards the end. 7th from the judges and that was about right.

Clackmannan started well but couldn’t quite come to terms with the music and it was loose in the ensemble throughout. The cornets lacked balance and the end of the 1st movement didn’t quite come off. The middle movements also had tuning problems but it had a nice musical shape. Again the tuning in the third spoilt the good work and the euph’s quality was lost amongst some struggling cornets. The flugel ended things nicely but the damage had been done. The finale was loose and lacked control and by the end they sounded tired. 10th from the judges and from us.

Finally Unison Kinneil and just when people thought the contest was over and done with they produced a fine account of the music that had you gripped from the first bar to the last. The opening was detached in style and the ensemble was fine but a few lumpy moments in the bass line cost them. It ended well and that was followed by a second movement that had lovely shape but suffered from some tuning problems. The third was much the same, and although the sop had some noticable help at 171 the flugel was excellent and the movement had a lovely atmosphere. It was a bit loose to start in the Finale but it was exciting. The tuning again cost them but the overall shape and style was spot on. 3rd from the judging duo and third from us.

So that was it then and the results came out with the order that mostpeople expected – it was the margins that people queried and we for one thought it a touch excessive. CWS are back though and will travel to Blackpool in particular with high hopes of making it a double celebration with a return to the British Open. Kirky meanwhile will travel to Bergen knowing that they are on good form, whilst Whitburn will have to have a good look at themselves and sort out some problems if they are to get back to the form of 2002.

With many thanks to Gavin Lindsay.

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