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2003 Welsh Regional Qualifying Championships

Fourth Section - Retrospective

John Maines

Test Piece: Lydian Pictures - Simon Dobson

One of the real good things about having the Fourth Section perform on the same day as the Championship Section is that players from the higher section can take the opportunity of going in and actually listening to some grass roots banding. Quite a few did that on the weekend and they, like us, would have been very pleasantly surprised at the way in which the bands here got to grips with Simon Dobson’s fine test piece.

They would have also been very impressed with the winning band as well, and in particular a young cornet player who shone like a star in their performance.

Harelch were the winners – and clear winners they were too, whilst the young solo cornet player was called James Stone. Throughout the bands performance he led by example and produced a lovely pure cornet sound allied to a real feel for the musical line. Each little snippet he played was polished and shaped, and really enhanced a fine band show. If the talent can be harnessed and disciplined then this is a young man with a very big future ahead of him. It is not often you get to hear raw material like this and so we hope a lot of sense is taken over his musical development and that the sense of pure musicality is not lost. That would be a real pity.

The band were excellent and superbly directed by H. Evans who let the music flow without ever resorting to overblowing to make big sounds. Clear and enjoyable winners.

Second place went to Ogmore Vale who upset the form book to come runners up and book a place in Scotland under the wise and experienced direction of Ivor Barnett. It was a performance that had vitality and restraint in the right places and off the number 3 draw set the standard for the rest to follow on the day. Only Harlech beat it and they played exceptionally well, so you can see how good this one was.

Just missing out were Porthaethwy Menai Bridge who were last band on and gave an upbeat performance that just had one or two uncomfortable moments when things didn’t quite meet he levels of the other two top bands. C. Williams directed well and if they had just eradicated those little errors they could have been booking rooms in Dundee. It was close.

Below the top three the standard dropped away somewhat and echoed the sentiments and remarks of adjudicator John Maines who felt a number of the bands lack the consistency throughout the piece as a whole to make a mark on the prizes. The standard overall was good he said, but too many bands gave one good movement, one decent one and one poor one – not always in the order that they were written on the score. What they did well they did very well, but sometime should have been spent in the bandroom ensuring that the weaker moments were brought up to scratch. Still, he said he had been to a couple of other areas and the bands here more than held their own. The two qualifiers he felt would be in with a very good chance come the finals.

Outside the podium places came a while batch of bands that just lacked that consistency to make a stronger challenge – it was just like John Maines said – one good section, followed by a decent one and then a poor one (not always in that order). There were a great number of young players here though – a testament to the continued good support the Local Authorities give brass tuition in Wales and so inexperience may have been a cause. Overall though it was till pretty good.

Lower down the mistakes were more numerous and the quality of the sounds of the bands became less balanced and the tuning went a bit AWOL in places, but the raw material of good playing was still on show from every band.

As for our pre match tips here. Menai bridge came 3rd, whilst Harlech who we tipped to be runners up went one better and took the title. Radyr came 7th, Oakdale 8th, Abertillery 4th, Crwbin 13th and Gwaun Cae Gurwen came home 10th. A bit hit and miss maybe, but it was still a pleasure to hear them all giving it as god as they could on the day.

The top two though were deserved qualifiers and it was nice to report that 4th Section Welsh banding impressed an adjudicator who has been around the country assessing standards. It should bode well for the future.



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