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2003 London and Southern Counties Regional Qualifying Championships

Third Section - Retrospective

Melvin White

Test Piece: Northern Landscapes - Peter Graham

The Third Section also had a great piece to get their teeth into on the weekend and we think the adjudicator Melvin White also enjoyed himself picking out the bones in all the 17 performances.

The overall standard was pretty good again although just as elsewhere the “Earth Dance” sorted out the best from the rest. Clarity seemed to go out the window too often here and lots of the good work that bands had done prior to this third movement was cancelled by MD’s taking too fast a tempo. It was a pity for many performances never recovered the poise they had shown in the first two sections and the last “Flight” usually ended up sounding overblown and harsh.

That couldn’t be said of the three bands that filled the qualification spots on offer and all three were worthy of their final placings. Ware in particular were very good and benefited from some super individual playing from their soloists and excellent direction from Ken Durbin. The tempos were right on the button and there was a rounded balanced sound to the band right through the dynamic range. Two points clear and clear winners.

After them there were two closely matched performances from Fulbourn and Teversham who came second and Sandhurst Silver who were third. Nothing really to choose between them – we had them the other way around, but two very decent bands putting in some fine playing. Well done to the MD’s, P. Mott and R. Burke as well for playing to their bands strengths and not opting for speed to generate the excitement needed. Both deserved the trip north of the border.

It was a bit of a much of a muchness after that and we liked Stantonbury who came 6th and East London who came 7th. They were beaten by Crydon who came 4th and Hitchin who came 5th and to be honest there wasn’t much to choose between them all. They all had annoying errors that just spoilt the overall picture and the quality of band sound wasn’t as good as the bands in the top three, but they were all fair to good performances of a pretty testing work. There was a lot of positives and all four can be pleased with their efforts.

Then the quality started to fall away and the negatives started to outnumber the positives. All the bands gave it as good as they could, but nearly all of them came a cropper on the “Earth Dance” to some degree whilst the bands lower down the order also had a poor final section that robbed them of coming higher. A lot of work had been done by these bands on the first two sections – creating the impression they were going to give a top class rendition, but the tricky quaver work found them out as did the lack of dynamic difference in the last movement. Nearly all of them went for it big style in the last “Flight” and it cost them dearly. It was usually overblown and hard and you could see the points being ticked off. A pity.

Chinnor and Hungerford were the best of the rest and were closer to the bands above them than they were from those below them but they both lacked the overall quality in the final two sections that those above them had. Below them then came a whole raft of bands that we found difficult to separate and to be honest we had them in no discernible order. Melvin White did though and placed Littleport 10th off the number 1 draw, followed by St. Sebastians Wokingham, Bradwell Silver and Hangleton. Fair enough, but three bands that could have done better if they had spent more time perfecting the shape and style of the final sections.

Finally the bottom four struggled from start to finish and were marked a little off the pace by the adjudicator. We agreed and it was a struggle indeed in places as the basics weren’t mastered. Nothing too drastic but tuning (especially flugels – in just about every band on the day) was absent too often and there was a lack of quality to the sound which wasn’t helped by a propensity to overblow.

Our tips didn’t really let us down either and we had three in the top five. We didn’t get the top two though and both bands showed us up – big style. Sandhurst played to form and came 3rd, whilst Croydon we tipped for 5th and came 4th whilst Hitchin who we tipped to come 6th came 5th. East London came 7th after we thought they may pick up the runners up spot in our pre match preview whilst St. Sebastian (tipped for 4th) came 11th and Bradwell (tipped to win) came 12th. Our dark horses never hit the track at top speed and Medway came 15th.

Still we enjoyed this section and three bands will be making the trip to Dundee with high hopes of doing well.


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Butterworth CD - available with 4BR shopping