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2003 Welsh Regional Qualifying Championships

Second Section - Retrospective

Adjudicator: John Maines

Test Piece: Celestial Prospect - Wilfred Heaton

Llanrug under the excellent direction of YBS tuba player Gavin Saynor were the winners of the Second Section and gave a performance that adjudicator John Maines felt was a clear and worthy winner. The two point margin said it all and was set off the number two draw – a marker that the rest of a decent field couldn’t quite match.

Lewis Merthyr performed off the number one spot and gave a fair performance of Wilfred Heaton’s “Celestial Prospect” that gained them 178 points and 7th place, but that performance was placed into context by the quality of Llanrug who followed them on. This was a very well balanced piece of playing, with the bass section giving a solid foundation and the middle band sound ensuring that there was no stridency in the top cornets and soprano. This is what quality banding is all about at any level and Mr Saynor has certainly been keeping his ears open and has been learning lessons on his long trips to the YBS bandroom and David King. It was very good indeed and even though there were minor errors and mistakes the overall picture was very well constructed. Bands in higher sections should have taken note.

Penclawdd under the very experienced Tony Small were worthy runners up and will travel to Dundee for their second successive finals appearance as strong contenders as well. Theirs didn’t quite have the balance of Llanrug but they certainly sounded like a higher section band and had some wonderfully talented soloists especially on cornet and euphonium. The return to the top section has begun and Tony Small should be congratulated for once more producing a crop of youngsters that will do him proud.

Briton Ferry showed that the step up in class was not beyond them and under Mike Faro they once more showed the quality that had served them so well last year. They sounded a lighter band to the two above them but they have a sweet and balanced sound that will surely give them much success in the coming twelve months. Mike Faro also let the music flow and although they will be a touch disappointed at not securing one of the two qualification places up for grabs, coming third was a fine achievement.

Below the top three the standard did drop away, but the music of Heaton meant that all the bands could find something to enjoy and produced moments that had real quality about them. The standard of cornet playing was high, as was the euphoniums, but once more the flugel players sounded as flat as a welsh cake. Is this a problem nationally- it sounds like it.

Blaenavon had their moments but fell away after a promising start to come 4th, whilst Deiniolen came fifth after a solid enough show from last band on. Both had just too many uncomfortable moments that spoilt things and detracted from their overall performances. RAF St. Athan were much of the same, but did have a fine solo cornet player and could count themselves a tad unlucky, whilst Newtown did very well after a period of rebuilding to come home 8th. Finally Cwmbran struggled to make a real impression but gave a brave account of themselves to come 9th. The last few bands didn’t have the quality of sound to come higher and the tuning was not accurate enough – something the MD’s had to sort out prior to the contest stage.

Still, it was a good standard contest and John Maines for one was impressed. Llanrug were worthy winners and Penclawdd clear runners up. Both will make the trip to Scotland in with a chance of returning with some silverware.

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