2003 Scottish Regional Qualifying Championships
Second Section - Retrospective
Frank Renton, Roger Webster
Test Piece: Celestial Prospect - Wilfred Heaton
We will lay our cards on the table with this one and
say that we were a country bleeding mile out with our pre match
predictions as to the winners and qualifiers from this section,
but after listening to the bands we couldn’t disagree with
the two adjudicators, Frank Renton and Roger Webster with their
choices to make the trip to Dundee later in the year.
Both Newmills and Galston directed by Craig Anderson and Arbroath
Instrumental directed by Micheal Roberston were well worth their
one/two placings and there can’t have been many complaints
from the other bands that on the day they were a length or two ahead
of the rest.
Newmills in particular were clear winners and fully justified the
praise given to them by both judges. Craig Anderson directed with
real musical appreciation of the score and with a clarity of style
that made his band respond with confidence. Some lovely playing
from the solo instruments was further enhanced by excellent tuning
(something that bedevilled others on the day – especially
flugel horn players) and the overall result was a very complete
and musical performance. They sounded a a good band indeed.
Meanwhile Arbroath also sounded a very decent band and although
they didn’t have the overall quality of Newmills they were
a clear neck and shoulders for us above the rest and fully deserved
their qualification spot. Once more the solo playing was of a high
class and the tuning was very nearly spot on throughout. They too
will go to Dundee with high hopes of making a real mark, as both
winning performances here were certainly on a par or above what
we had heard elsewhere around the country.
Below the top two though and things fell away a bit and the bottom
few bands really struggled to come to terms with bot the technical
aspects and musical shape of the music. The scherzando in particular
caused so many bands to rush away and become untidy whilst few managed
to grasp the lightness required to make the music come to life.
The top two certainly did, whilst Barrhead in third place also did
a lot of real good things with the music, yet never quite had complete
control over it. Brian Keachie brought some lovely moments out but
there were errors a plenty and that robbed them of pushing harder
for a qualification place. They ended up third and a point behind
Arbroath but they couldn’t complain that they just lost out.
Next year they will be stronger though.
The 4th to 6th places were filled by Renfrew, Clydebank and Irvine,
and all of them had their moments, but there was a lack of consistency
through the movements – one good one followed by a dodgy one
followed by a decent one etc. If any of the bands could have just
added that to their performance then they would have all challenged
much more strongly for a top three spot but none really mastered
the music throughout and too much went wrong too often for them
to come higher. There may have been a quibble over the placings
– we had them the other way around to the judges but there
were a good length off the pace of the top three.
Below the top six and it became a bit disappointing, although some
of the bands played a least one fine movement. Again there seemed
to be a lack of consistency and we had the thought that a lot of
time had been spent on trying to make sure the start was the thing
that would jolt the judges into thinking this was a top band, whilst
little time had been spent especially on the quieter moments. The
tuning in places was dire – and there is no excuse for getting
that wrong even at this level. There are bound to be some tuning
troubles, but at times it grated so much and the MD’s must
shoulder the blame. It certainly cost the bands any chance of coming
higher up the prize list.
Kilmarnock were 7th and made a good start of things before falling
away as the piece unfolded, whilst Annan and Dalkeith suffered much
the same fate. It is the quiet stuff that catches bands out at this
level all the time and it does make the judges task so much easier
when tuning and balance go out of the window. The soloists can play
as well as they can, but if the ensemble around them is falling
to pieces the points will be lost – and this is what happened
to both of these performances.
Finally the bottom three never quite got to grips with the technical
aspects of the music and found it a struggle. They had some nice
moments but overall they seemed a little out of their depth and
very nervous. All gave it their best but sometimes the pieces can
be just too difficult to get to terms with and we felt that Shott’s,
Tullis and Selkirk fell into that category. There was plenty of
raw talent there to work on, but at the moment it is raw talent
and will need some coaching to bring out its best form. The MD’s
though should be congratulated as it would have been easy for them
to just stick their heads in the score andget through the piece
without a hint of encouragement to their players but all three –
Simon Kerwin, David Neil and Colin Kemp made sure there was plenty
of eye contact, the odd smile and lots of encouragement. Well done
to them for that – it will prove invaluable for the bands
come next year.
As for our tips – we of course didn’t even bother to
consider the winners or runners up before hand so well done to them
for sticking two fingers up at us and gaining the trip to Dundee.
We did though tip Barrhead (to win and they came third), Renfrew
(6th and came 4th) and Clydebank (2nd and came 5th) so we had three
out of the top six and a 50% success rate. Not great but better
than we expected!
Well done to the winners and runners up though – they will
be good strong contenders come the Finals.