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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.


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