2003 Scottish Regional Qualifying Championships
First Section - Retrospective
John Berryman, Christopher Wormald
Test Piece: Passacaglia on a Theme of Brahms -
It was a day of extremes in the First Section with youth and experience,
first and last winning out, as Alan Duguid and Tony Swainson respectively
won the day and sent their bands on the trip to Dundee for the National
It was also a day when the test piece once more was found to be
an extremely difficult test for the bands at this level and to be
honest, not one band came away unscathed. John Berryman and Chris
Wormald certainly got the result right for us, but more tellingly
made the point that the test piece beat nearly all the bands –
The two qualifiers though were well deserved and were the only
two bands for us that found the right style and had the right amount
of musical restraint in their performances. Bon Accord Silver were
first band on and set their stall out with a very broad and rounded
sound with good bass end tones and a measured approach from Tony
Swainson. He has been around a long time at just about every level
in Scottish banding and his approach to the music showed that he
also had an understanding of what a Brahms piece should sound like.
Plenty of little errors, but none that spoilt the overall picture.
If they had been drawn a bit later they may have stolen the contest
but it was a real marker that the following bands simply couldn’t
Dunaskin Doon followed them on and put up a strong performance
under Craig Anderson that had lots of good moments but suffered
for us with some tuning problems especially in the horns and baritones.
It spoilt the picture just enough to place them a point behind Bon
Accord, but it was a contest performance of merit – more positives
than negatives and third place was bang on the money for us.
Another experienced man in the shape of Raymond Tennant directed
Johnstone Silver but their performance was bedevilled by errors
and blips that spoilt a good approach and some sections of quality
playing. Every time you thought – yes this is good, something
came along and just robbed them of marks. Too much of a curates
egg, but it showed that the band had quality. It just needed a bit
more consistency. We had them down for runners up before the contest
but 6th after, so 5th was fair enough return.
Much the same could also be said of Livingston who came 7th and
were our pre match favourites. Again there were good moments but
the approach for us was a bit on the sturdy side and the errors
started to multiply the further the piece went along. It was a bit
of a disappointment really as you could tell they had some quality
players but they didn’t come off on the day at all. We had
them 7th and so did the judges.
UDI Aberdeen certainly benefited from the experienced David James
being at the helm, but as much as they tried they couldn’t
get over a poor start for us and couldn’t quite make up the
ground on the bands above them. Again the style was right but the
errors just took the gloss off things too many times. If they could
have minimised those errors then they would have pushed higher we
thought but it made the task of the judges a bit easier when they
were so marked in places. 4th was right on the nail though.
Tayport found it hard going though and the approach didn’t
seem to help as it was too aggressive in style and needed much more
restraint in quieter dynamics. It had its moments but the band found
it hard going and the soloists also didn’t quite play to form.
8th was right we are afraid. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass were well
directed by Chris Bradley, but once more the blips and blobs robbed
them of marks whilst the band sounded tired towards the end and
a hardness of tone spoilt some of the better work. 6th place from
the judges was about right.
City of Discovery Brass came 9th and that was what they deserved
from us and the judges – not that they didn’t put in
a good effort, but the piece took too many causalities right from
the start and they never seemed to recover poise after that. It
made for a bit of a struggle from start to finish and although they
did prop up the table on a another piece they would have done better.
This one didn’t suit them at all.
Finally came the winners –last band on and with the youngest
conductor of the day if looks were anything to go by. This was a
fine performance though from Bathgate and although there was a liberal
sprinkling of blips and blobs the music had a lovely feel and flow.
The MD captured the style and the players responded – nearly
100% all the time and that made it a performance that stood out
from especially what had gone on before. It was slightly different
from Bon Accord – a touch lighter perhaps but it was from
a band that had control of the music.
It was a bit of a toss up then for us between the top two and there
were no real complaints when Bathgate were announced the winners.
Before hand we had opted for a top six of Livingston, Johnstone,
Bon Accord, Bathgate, Dunaskin Doon and UDI and in the end our predictions
meant we had five in the top six. Not the winners who we had 4th
before the day, but still a pretty good return. Well done to both
bands who qualified though. It was a very severe test of bands and
even though they didn’t come away unscathed both Bathgate
and Bonn Accord were more than strong enough to show that they will
travel to Dundee with an air of confidence that they could well
do very well indeed.