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2003 North of England Regional Qualifying Championships

Third Section - Retrospective

Adjudicator: Stan Lippeatt

Test Piece: Northern Landscapes - Peter Graham

Wansbeck’s Ashington were declared Third Section Champions here on Saturday and worthy winners they were too with a super performance of “Northern Landscapes” that we think made adjudicator Stan Lippeatt’s job quite easy.

Right from the start there was a rounded balanced sound to the band and a lovely middle of the band tone that was controlled right through the dynamic range. N. Steadman directed with a sense of understanding and he was spot on with the tempos on a day when many MD’s sacrificed clarity for speed. The soloists played their part to the full with a top-notch bit of cornet playing and a fine euph. Off the number 4 draw they were never in danger of losing the winners slot after they played as the two other best performances came immediately before them from Stape and Ellington, whilst Murton followed them on straight after. In fact after band number 5 it was all over bar the results ceremony.

Dearham opened proceedings but fell into the trap of sacrificing clarity for speed and the technical aspects especially in the “Earth Dance” were never overcome. It was a pity as they had the basics sorted out but once the tempo increased so did the errors and lack of precision. The final movement was a bit of a mess and they ended poorly so 8th place was about right.

Stape under M. Breckon sounded like a band in control right from the start and the first two movements were really good indeed, but once more the “Earth Dance” for us lacked the clarity and was too messy, losing them a few too many points. It recovered in the 4th section “Flight” but by then that bit of damage that was the difference between them and the eventual winners was done. Overall though a very decent show and well worth the second place they were awarded by Stan Lippeatt.

Third place went to our pre match favourites, Ellington Colliery and they too put on a strong performance that only really wavered in the “Seascapes” and “Earth Dance”. Nothing too dramatic went wrong put those moments were uneasy and just robbed the music of the flow it needed in the former, whilst the latter had too much speed and the clarity which was evident in the other movements was lost. A good show though and third place was about right.

Outside the podium places and things fell away a little with speed once more being the main culprit. Murton Colliery put in a well-balanced performance under Black Dyke’s tuba player Joseph Cook but the error count was up and robbed them of valuable points. They did have the best bass sound of the day though (tips from the top we think) but the band faded at the end from the standard they set out at the beginning. A good effort though.

Fifth place was taken by Carlisle St. Stephens and they made a real good effort of the set work in each of the four movements. Tuning was their biggest problem for us – it grated at times, but they still managed to produce a good sound and MD, David Dye kept control of the tempos so the detail was heard. Well done.

6th place went to Swinton and District Excelsior directed by R. Rutter who like Carlisle produced a good quality performance that was spolit a little by tuning problems. Again, all four movemnts were well handled, but you just hoped that the tuning would rectify itself - it didn't and we think that may have been whythey were penalised, as the overall shape and style was pretty good from the word go. Unlucky.

Finally the bottom three bands, Hetton Silver, Dearham and Bearpark and Esh had their problems. We have already given the details of Dearham who played first, but it was much the same story with both Hetton and Bearpark.

Neither band really got to grips with the technical aspects of Peter Graham’s work and the tuning was too wayward. There was some spirited playting in the outer movements from both but the slow “Seascapes” and “Earth Dance” were a struggle and found them out. Still, the raw material was certainly there and all it will need is plenty of nurturing in the coming months.

That was that then and the top two should be in with a shout come Dundee. As for our tips – we had three of the top four, but not in the right order with Ellington (our tip to win) coming 3rd, Murton (2nd) coming 4th and Wansbeck’s (3rd) taking the top prize. Stape were our dark horse and proved us right by coming 2nd, whilst our other choices in Dearham (4th) came 8th, Bearpark (5th) came 9th and Hetton (6th) came 7th.

Not bad eh?


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