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2003 North of England Regional Qualifying Championships

Fourth Section - Retrospective

Stan Lippeatt

Test Piece: Lydian Pictures - Simon Dobson

Sandwiched between the top and first section the 4th section contest certainly didn’t disappoint. The music by Simon Dobson has some lovely moments and many varied styles but the piece is very long and by the time we got to the third movement the contest was won or lost. Generally most bands made a good fist of it and it was enjoyable throughout and we were also pleased to see a few famous faces (or were they just look alikes) performing at the Dolphin Centre. We wondered if anyone else spotted them!!

In first place came Lockwood Brass and we thought this was a good show throughout. Apart from one or two splits and some sloppy back row playing there was a good sense of shape and style, and it benefited from clear and sensible direction throughout by N. Barnes. Much to readers surprise though we didn’t have them in first place but knew it was one to beat. Lockwood, who are the amalgamation of two recently defunct higher section bands won by five points by Stan Lippeat and in general terms you couldn’t argue with that, but we felt it was a bit too beefy and lacked the lightness of touch that we felt the music required. It was a personal thing though, but there was little doubt they sounded like a band that would have been at home and challenging in the Second Section. They will be a short priced favourite for the National title itself.

In second place were Ripon City. Jim Shepherd will be delighted to have another trip to the Finals but in all honesty we had them out of the top six – again a personal choice. Intonation and ensemble all suffered though there was a good attempt at sound and style. The second movement was definitely their weak link. Poor intonation and balance all made this a bit of a struggle and the ending sounded forced. The third movement was much better, and had plenty of style. The soprano cornet who looked a touch like Russell Gray was excellent throughout and deserved a few beers afterwards for his efforts.

Billingham got the nod for third place and were very unlucky not to qualify we thought. It was good throughout, despite a glock blob, and all soloists played well. It was well directed by V. Evans with sensible tempos and time for the soloists to shine. First place for us as we felt it captured the real essence of the music – light and precise and with plenty of youthful vigour.

Stanhope under S. Robson came in fourth with a tidy performance, but one which sounded a little weak. We felt the music had good shape and style but lacked the quality to back it up. Intonation was the main problem throughout. A little too high up in the placings for us but the MD had got the shape and style just right and we think this must have got the nod here.

Askham Town came fifth, and they were pretty solid throughout, and all the soloists played well, whilst the music flowed nicely with some nice shapes and colours. There were a few moments of poor balance and intonation but generally the direction from D. Henley was spot on. The star player was the sop but the drummers were real show ponies – great stuff.

In sixth were Kirkby Lonsdale under A. Greenwood, and we felt this was a good performance. It had some dodgy moments, some rushing and hard sounds in the first movement and the triplets rushed throughout but the second movement was the best of the day. It really captured the style and had a beautiful calm feel. There was some super trombone playing which was a real pleasure to listen to – sweet and precise, but the solo cornet did have the sparkliest trousers we have seen for many a year. Plenty of good stuff though and a touch unlucky to come where they did.

Five Rivers came in seventh. We felt that they were a little hard done by too and should have been in the prizes. We felt it was well directed by T. Griffiths and well played throughout, sensible tempos and styles and a percussion section that really worked well adding lots of colours that other bands missed. Bad luck. Durham Constabulary were eighth and once again we had them well in the prizes. They drew number nine and when they had finished we felt it was the one to beat. It had a lively approach with a sense of style and nice shapes from their MD. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it was unlucky.

Dunstan Silver under A. Seymour came in ninth with a performance that was pretty solid throughout. A smashing young percussionist (give him some real sticks though) a good sop and solo cornet all made for a decent show. Marske Brass came tenth and summed up the day for a few bands. The outer movements were super with some really colourful, clean playing but the slow movement went to pieces and was a big let down. Stepping in to conduct for the day was Michael Fowles and he brought some real style to the music, the playing just couldn’t quite match it.

Ulverston Town under B. Seddon did really well with a somewhat depleted band. Only six cornet players were ready for battle and so eleventh wasn’t really too bad. The music struggled throughout. The third movement provided the bands best playing but it was never comfortable. Star player – flugel. Trimdon Concert never got going and though there is some future talent here the playing was never good enough on the day. As with others the slow movement caused the real problems. Plenty of effort but little reward we are afraid.

Burnside directed by R. Lincoln can feel disappointed to be thirteenth, as we thought they played well. There was some good direction but perhaps suffered form a lack of drummers and an ending, which was a bit rushed. Finally, Sacriston Colliery came fourteenth. We thought they deserved much higher. It was a performance that was safe rather than sparkling, lacking in warmth but most of the notes were there and that was more than a lot of bands managed. It was also nice to see some smiling faces (and shiny heads). Bad luck.

So there it was. We had some disagreements with adjudicator Stan Lippeatt, but we felt the piece was so long that it was impossible to keep a check on wrong notes, splits, bad intonation, balance etc because every band had so many. Thus, the results relied on a gut instinct. So well done Stan, it was a tough job.

Our one abiding memory though was the amazing number of look alikes there were – just about every band had one from a Leonard Rossiter bass trom to Michael Heseltine on euph to Gunner Graham from it Ain’t Half Hot Mam on horn with one band. After they were famous eh? It made for an even more enjoyable contest – fine playing as well.

Here’s our top six.

1 Billingham
2 Five Rivers
3 Durham Constabulary
4 Lockwood Brass
5 Burneside Brass
6 Kirkby Lonsdale

A bit different from the official result – and as we said, it was a personal choice. Still we weren’t in the box and the man there was very secure with his decision. We think he may well be proved correct come the finals. As for our choices – Lockwood were the winners (and proved that our tips are not always the kiss of death), whilst only Kirby Moorside who we tipped to come runners up came 6th. None of our other came in the prizes! They ended up 9th, 10th, 12th and 14th. Our apologies to them all and well done to all the other bands for proving us wrong.

With thanks to Simon Wood


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