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2003 London and Southern Counties Regional Qualifying Championships

Second Section - Retrospective

Adjudicator: Alan Morrison

Test Piece: Celestial Prospect - Wilfred Heaton

Unlike the other two sections above them, the Second Section was a much close run thing and we think Alan Morrison had has work cut out to decide between the bands. The winners were just a short head better than the rest and fully deserved their win, but behind them there were a whole raft of bands who made a really good stab at the set work and could have on another day just pipped Broseley Brass for the second qualification spot and the trip to Dundee.

Unlike the two higher sections all of the bands here were Second Section quality (and we mean that in the best possible way) – none seemed out of place even though there were a couple of performances that did struggle somewhat. Congratulations to all the MD’s who for us approached the music with an open mind and went for the music that was contained. There were plenty of uncomfortable moments, blips and blobs, but there was a near absence for us of crass overblowing and of sacrificing clarity for speed. Some might say that this type of music would be difficult to misunderstand, but unlike the other sections the MD’s here had a really belief in what they saw in front of them on the score and the result was a number of fine accounts. Well-done one and all and we hope a couple of MD’s in the higher sections cocked an ear to this contest - they would have learned a few lessons.

The winners were well directed by M. Pegram and benefited from well chosen tempos and a clarity in the busier lines (especially the scherzando at the beginning) which has just the right feel about it. The soloists played particularly well and you felt that they had been well drilled at rehearsal and more importantly enjoyed the experience of playing Heaton’s work. It was top notch stuff and won with a bit to spare. We didn’t pick them in our pre match preview and so they really made us eat our words – with extra topping on as well!

Behind them came Broseley Brass – who we did pick to come runners up as well before they played. This was another fine account of “Celestial Prospect” that benefited from the MD allowing the music to have a natural flow and not become forced or hurried. Plenty of good work from all around the stand and a fine end gave them the second spot for the Scotland trip. Paul Fensom was good value to watch as well – and his enthusiasm clearly rubbed off on his players.

Sometimes bands say they were unlucky when they know they didn’t deserve to come higher, but on the day, Brighton Silver, Cawston Horsham and BAE Systems could count themselves a touch unlucky. They may not have done enough to just pip Broseley but they could have come in any order really. Brighton especially played very well off the number 1 draw and set a marker down for all the rest of the bands to follow that only two very good performances beat on the day, whilst Cawston (low on numbers and good luck in recent months) produced a fine light and sensible approach. Horsham gave the music a more robust approach but had the energy and vitality that was required whilst BAE Systems we really liked. They had plenty of little errors but the music had a lovely feel about it and the slow section was excellently shaped. 6th place from Alan Morrison but 3rd from us.

Then came another group of bands that could really have come in any order. The good thing was that there was quality about all of the performances – the positives certainly outweighed the negatives and even though they couldn’t do enough to come higher, Crystal Palace, Becontree, St. Albans, Castleton Brass, Capital and Yiewsley gave very solid performances of the test piece and should be happy at what they did on the stage. Each of the bands had all the basics in place and the balance and tuning was pretty good – just the overall quality wasn’t as good as those above them. 7th to 12th from Alan Morrison and a point between them all – that was an accurate reflection of some decent bands playing well.

The last few bands struggled a touch though and couldn’t have complaints at where they came. Each did something positive with the music but the basics weren’t always under control and so they suffered and lost points. Unlike bands in the higher sections though they were not out of their depth so there will be plenty for them to work on for next year.

As for our pre match predictions? Becontree who we tipped for the top came 8th, whilst Broseley did us proud and claimed the runners up spot we said they would. Cantium dropped off to come 15th (tipped to come 3rd), whilst Capital (4th) came 11th. Castleton (5th) came 10th and Horsham (6th) cam 5th. Our dark horses were Grimsdyke, but they didn’t even make it to the starters gate and withdrew – perhaps they heard we tipped them. Not bad, but not too great either was it?

4BR enjoyed all the performances in this section and we think it helped to have such a fine piece for the bands to get their teeth into. None came a real cropper and the top two were good value for their qualification. Overall it was the best section of the weekend.



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