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2003 North of England Regional Qualifying Championships

Second Section - Retrospective

Adjudicator: Colin Hardy

Test Piece: Celestial Prospect - Wilfred Heaton

Just as they had done in 2002, Langbaurgh Brass conducted by Tim Oldroyd were clear winners of the Second Section with a performance of “Celestial Prospect” that was shaped and styled in such a manner that it left no one in the audience and certainly not the man in the box, that they were the best band here.

It was a very well controlled reading from the MD and his players responded in a manner that suggests that they will be one of the favourites come Dundee later in the year. They will also on this type of form be a band that could well make a very impressive mark in the First Section. They really were that good.

Second place was taken by Houghton Brass under the excellent direction of T. Gibson who gave a performance that really caught the essence of the music and had the right amount of control especially in the tricky first scherzando section – the one that has been causing so many problems around the country. They didn’t quite have the quality or depth of tone of the winners, but all the technical demands were met for us and they fully deserved the opportunity to try and take the title in Scotland.

Close on the heels of both bands though were Spennymoor Town conducted by recently appointed MD Duncan Beckley. Duncan knows what it takes to coach bands in the basics, and this was a performance notable for its tuning and balance. It didn’t have the overall quality of the top two, but it was very close to them indeed. Just a few individual errors may have made it easier for Colin Hardy to have made his decision, but it would have been close.

Behind the top three came a close group of bands that we thought could have come in any order – all had their moments, but crucially lacked the consistency throughout the entire piece to make their mark. Just as elsewhere around the country it was a question of one good section followed by a decent one, followed by a poor one – but not always in that order. The standard of the solo playing was impressive but the overall ensemble was at times too loose and the scherzando section at the beginning time and again took casualties with players either too hesitant or too eager to lead or follow. Not one band from the group that eventually came 4th to 8th came through unscathed.

Felling were perhaps the most complete, but they had too many errors to push for a higher places, whilst both Peterlee and York Railway Institute lost points as their ensemble was too untidy and the balance became top heavy as they played at the higher dynamic levels. Both Cockerton and Lanchester couldn’t get the consistency needed throughout the piece and both sounded tired towards the end of their performances when hardness of tone spoilt things. All of these bands though had their moments and possibly with a bit more time in preparation and a few less nerves could have made it onto the podium. The difference was the error count.

Finally the bottom three couldn’t have too many complaints at their final positions, as they all approached the piece in a slightly too aggressive manner and didn’t catch the essence of Wilfred Heaton’s music. The technical aspects seemed to be just out of their reach and so they struggled to get the basics in place. Ferryhill tried manfully but couldn’t control the error count and the sound of the band was too hard and aggressive, whilst Flimby Saxhorn seemed ill at ease and very nervous from the start. Finally Barnard Castle seemed short on confidence and the errors were too plentiful for them to make it further up the points table.

As for the 4BR predictions, we seem to have done OK, but like many of the bands we lacked the consistency to get them all right. Langbaurgh did us proud and won in style whilst Spennymoor who we tipped for the runners up spot came third. Cockerton (tipped for 3rd) came 7th, Houghton (4th) came runners up, York (5th) came 6th and Flimby (6th) came 10th. Our dark horses Felling showed that they were worth a few bob each way and came 4th.

Colin Hardy was impressed by the top two bands and in particular the winners , and we think he won’t be far wrong when they both make it to the stage in Dundee later this year. Both will be in with a chance of taking the title.



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