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2003 Spring Brass Band Festival

83rd Spring Brass Band Festival
Winter Gardens, Blackpool
Saturday 3rd May 2003

Senior Trophy:
Spanish Hall – Draw 10:30hrs – Commence 11:30hrs

As we have written – it used to be the case when the old Belle Vue Festival was at it’s height of popularity that it was inevitable that you would miss at least three bands you would have liked to hear because somebody better was playing at the same time elsewhere. The Spring Festival is becoming that type of weekend again, where rest is not an option and with the resurrection of the Trophy in 2000 you have more choice of goodies than can be found on the QVC shopping channel. This is becoming the type of contest that makes you glad to be a Brass Band fanatic.

The Trophy will feature a whole batch of bands that on their day could walk away with the top prize and so the battle for the podium places and the promotion spots will be keenly fought. Looking at the line up, no one band stands out although there are possibly a few that really fancy their chances after their early season form. So, what are the important questions to be asked?

Will 4BarsRest eventually learn the true meaning of brass reporting and deliver the fact and not fiction again!!!! ?
Will our stomach and gastro-intestinal system withstand the copious amounts of liquid on offer at the Winter Gardens bar? (One would have to say yes given that we will be covering the Buxton Contest the following day!) Will our predictions prove to be as dodgy as usual? (Probably.) Will we succeed in not getting run over with irate comments in your post event remarks? Almost certainly......

Isn’t that what makes the Spring Contest a great contesting weekend? Well and truly Yes!

So on with more important matters – the bands.

Bo'ness and Carriden
Iain Davey

4BR Ranking: 68 (New Entry)

Principal Cornet: Craig Robertson
Soprano Cornet: Richard Tobin
Flugel: Diane Waugh
Solo Horn: Tam Eadie
Solo Euphonium: Scott Cameron
Solo Trombone: Gregor Stewart

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 4th
Aug 2002 – Troon – 6th
May 2002– Senior Trophy – 10th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 8th
Feb 2002 - Whitburn Invitation – 2nd

Form Guide here:
2002: 10th

First and last are probably draws that nobody wants to get. Bo’ ness drew the last here in 2002. Playing to a very crowded Spanish Hall did not unduly faze them but they will hope for a kinder draw this year. The band has some quality soloists around the stand and makes a warm ensemble sound so this piece may just be down their street. 2003 has started well for them with 4th place at the Scottish Regional Championships and they have moved straight into the 4BR rankings at 68. If they can carry on the form they could well be making a move for a promotion place.

Bournemouth Concert
David Hayward

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Erwin Dekempeneer
Soprano: James Cooper
Flugel: Felicity Danning
Horn: Janet Squibb
Euph: Christiaan Squibb
Trombone: Lloyd Bartlett

Form Guide:
Apr 2003 – Regionals (S1) – 3rd
Feb 2003 - Yeovil Entertainment – 5th
Apr 2002 – Regionals – 5th
Feb 2002 - Yeovil Entertainment – 4th

Form Guide here:
1997: 18th Grand Shield (N. Taken)

Bournemouth Concert will be hoping to carry on their good form. Well placed throughout 2002 they retain a good core of solid players they will be hoping to feature up near the prize list as they approach their debut in the new look Spring Festival calendar. They started 2003 well with 5th place at Yeovil and 3rd place at Torquay in the 1st Section - just missing out on the trip to Dundee, whilst they will be fronted here by David Hayward who replaces Lt. Col. Chris Davies who has military commitments. The last time the band was competing here was in 1997 when Nigel Taken directed them into 18th place in the Grand Shield and they dropped out until their chance this time around.

City of Coventry
Philip Bailey

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Ian Rochester
Solo Horn: Val Bell
Solo Euphonium: Mark Smith
Solo Trombone: Chris Moore

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 10th
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 17th
Sep 2002 – National Finals (S1) – 6th
May 2002 –Buxton – 3rd
Mar 2002 – Regionals (S1) – 2nd

Form Guide here:
Debut here at the contest

A famous name in the Open with that win back in 1981 under the direction of the great Arthur Kenney, the subsequent years haven’t been so great. However things have looked up a bit of late and throughout 2002 they were challenging strongly in the First Section. 2003 saw them come 10th at the Regionals so they will be keen to impress here.

City of Oxford
Jason Glynn

4BR Ranking: 92 ( down 8 places since the Areas)

Soprano Cornet: Ed Clarke
Flugel: Karen Burton
Solo Horn: Jackie Greensted
Solo Euphonium: Johnathan Crane
Solo Trombone: Phil Gurney

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 8th
May 2002 – Senior Cup – 19th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 3rd

Form Guide here:
2002: 19th Senior Cup (rel) (S. Sizeland)

A real record of consistency in the Areas since they won the 1st Section in 1997 but last year in the Senior Cup the band performance didn’t come up to their best and they came 19th and were relegated. They will be a determined band this time for sure, although they didn’t really make a mark at the London Regional Championships where they came 10th. A midfield place beckons we think.

Richard Evans

4BR Ranking: 84 (down 10 places since the Areas)

Principal Cornet: Eleanor Ferguson
Soprano Cornet: John Boax
Flugel: Maggie Trusdale
Solo Horn: Emma Richmond
Solo Euphonium: David McKellar
Solo Trombone: Derick Kirkwood

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 8th
Nov 2002 – Mineworkers – 5th
May 2002– Senior Trophy – 7th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 6th

Form Guide here:
2002: 7th (D. Hirst)

So close last year to promotion to the Senior Cup with a performance that had its moments under the direction of David Hirst the band they are consistent top ten performers. The band should have a real prospect of claiming a top six spot with Richard Evans at the helm. That could be the difference between them coming just out of the prizes and claiming one of those coveted promotion places.

Colin Hardy

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Richard Halliwell
Soprano Cornet: Robert Batty
Flugel: Martin Tromans
Solo Horn: Suzanne Stockwell
Solo Euphonium: Winston Sutcliffe
Solo Trombone: Ian Clough

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 15th
Nov 2002 – Malton – 1st
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 15th
Jul 2002 - Brighouse March and Hymn – 3rd
Jun 2002 - Marsden March Contest - 6 of the prizes available
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 12th

Form Guide here:
1994: 18th Grand Shield (A. Whitaker)
1993: 14th Grand Shield (C. Hardy)
1992: 11th Grand Shield (C. Hardy)

Drighlington are good band whose results in the National arena belie their true ability. At local level they always give a good account of themselves and the Yorkshire grit and determination could mean a determined band will show their true colours at the Trophy for 2003. Following this contest they will be in the recording studio playing in accompaniment to a forthcoming major release. Colin Hardy will feel more at home on this piece for sure and that could be shown in the final result. The band last played at the Grand Shield weekend in the three years 1992 – 1994 when their best result was 11th place under their present conductor. We think they may well take a step back in that direction this weekend.

Ian Brownbill

4BR Ranking: 30 (up 45 places since the Areas)

Principal Cornet: Mark Jones
Soprano Cornet: Ian Twiss
Flugel: Lisa Thompson
Solo Horn: Phil Lancaster
Solo Euphonium: Ian Scotson
Solo Trombone: Joanne Moss

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 3rd
Nov 2002 – Wilkinson Open – 3rd
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 8th
Oct 2002 – Fleetwood – 3rd
Jun 2002 – Rhyl – 1st
May 2002 – Senior Trophy – 11th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 6th

Form Guide here:
2002: 11th

The band didn’t compete here before last year.

Ian Brownbill and Haydock Band have matured into a real quality band over the past few years. After winning promotion to the top section in 2002 they put in a very decent show to come 6th in Blackpool. They continued to return some good results throughout however the best must be the 3rd at this year’s Regionals which was a fine result from a fine performance. The showing here last year was a bit of a let down and they will surely be looking for a major improvement on this occasion. They have climbed a massive 45 places in the 4BR rankings and at present are heavily involved with the production of ‘Brassed Off’ at the Liverpool Playhouse, so a heavy commitment for the band in a lot of departments at the moment may be distracting. Confidence will not be in short supply and one of the best up and coming conductors should see them set fair on Saturday.

Johnstone Band
Raymond Tennant

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Claire Thomas
Soprano Cornet: Caroline Tennant
Flugel: Fiona MacLuskey
Solo Horn: Laura Barker
Solo Euphonium: John Stark
Solo Trombone: Angus MacIntyre

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals (S1) – 5th
Nov 2002 - Whitburn Invitation – 4th
May 2002– Senior Trophy – 13th
May 2002 – WSBBA – 5th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 9th

Form Guide here:
2002: 13th

The band didn’t compete here before 2002.

The very experienced Raymond Tennant leads Johnstone Silver once more and they will be keen to get over the disappointment of losing their Championship status after just the one year in the top flight and improve on the mid table position in this Trophy last year. They came 5th at the Regional Championships so missed out on the trip to Dundee, but with the direction of a very experienced MD they should hold their own here. Mid table we think.

Ian Colley

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Nigel Darbyshire
Soprano Cornet: Faye Thompson
Flugel: David Jackson
Solo Horn: Anita Morrison
Solo Euphonium: Colin Moss
Solo Trombone: Jean Moss

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals (S1) – 8th
Nov 2002 – Mineworkers (S1) - 5th
Sep 2002 – National Finals (S1) – 10th
Mar 2002 – Regionals (S1) – 2nd

Form Guide here:
Making debut here this year.

Kippax Band are a solid 1st Section contender and have proved that over the last few years under the direction of Ian Colley. They may have to raise the stakes a little given some of the strong Championship contenders in this Trophy line-up but they have produced good performances in National Competitions throughout 2002 although they didn’t play particularly well at the Regional Championships in Bradford where they came 8th. Mid table on their debut would be a good return we think.

Brett Baker

4BR Ranking: 93 (New Entry)

Principal Cornet: David Booth
Soprano Cornet: Mathew Balson
Solo Horn: Chris Blaylock
Solo Euphonium: Martin Bridges
Solo Trombone: Billy Porter

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals (S1) – 3rd
Feb – 2003 – Brass at the Guild – 7th
Nov 2002 – Wilkinson Open – 11th
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 21st
May 2002 – Whit Friday – Micklehurst – 3rd
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 10th

Form Guide here:
2002 sees the bands debut back at the contest.

Longridge performed in the Championship Section last year and they have been rebuilding of late and there have been a number of important experienced signings. Brett Baker will have certainly done his homework on the piece and the Black Dyke man will be keen to show that the hard work he has invested in the band during the past 12 months is starting to pay off. 3rd place at the Regionals this year was a good start and it was noticeable that he is encouraging a warm and sonorous middle band sound contrasted with a bright but straighter sound in the upper band. This will be a good marker for their continued contest record and they could well feature close to the promotion places.

Martyn Evans

4BR Ranking: 98 (New Entry)

Principal Cornet: Nicky Longden
Soprano Cornet: Colin Myers
Solo Horn: Ian Wilkinson
Solo Euphonium: Neil Riley
Solo Trombone: Gavin Sever

Form Guide:
Apr 2003 – Tameside – 5th
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 10th
Feb 2003 – Brass at the Guild – 5th
Nov 2002 – Wilkinson Open – 9th
Oct 2002 – Pontins - 10th
May 2002 – Whit Friday –Hurst – 2nd
May 2002 – Whit Friday – Broadoak – 2nd
May 2002 – Buxton – 9th
May 2002– Senior Cup – 18th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 11th

Form Guide here:
2002: 18th (rel)

The band didn’t compete here before 2002.

Mossley Band have been a bit of a dark horse scoring some good results up and down the North West. On their day they play with tremendous style and it will be interesting to see if they turn around a disappointing result in the Senior Cup last year. They may well produce some sparklers as a prequel to their Firework Spectacular Concert on July 19th at Cholmondeley Castle in Malpas, Cheshire on July 19th. 2003 has started well enough so they will have high hopes of doing well here. Maybe not quite a top six place just yet though we think.

Craig Roberts

4BR Ranking: 52 (down 1 place since the Areas)

Principal Cornet: Stuart Parry
Soprano Cornet: Alex Humphries
Flugel: Jenny Stock
Solo Horn: Rob Fleming
Solo Euphonium: Richard Hird
Solo Trombone: Daniel Sheard

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 9th
Nov 2002 – Llandudno – 1st
May 2002– Senior Cup – 17th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 7th
Feb 2002 – Brass at the Guild – 6th

Form Guide here:
2002: 17th Senior Cup (rel)
2001: DNC
2000: DNC
1999: DNC
1998: N/K Grand Shield (T. Wyss)
1997: 4th Grand Shield (T. Wyss)
1996: 5th Grand Shield (T. Wyss)
1995: 3rd Grand Shield (T. Wyss)

Another of the bands that dropped from the Senior Cup last year but certainly a band that has turned the corner and is starting to get back on the road to better times. There have been a few hard years of late, but there are now encouraging signs that things are improving. The Regional Championships in Swansea saw them struggle a little, but they know have a good strong core to the band and plenty of young developing players. Last year was their first appearance back at the contest weekend since 1998 when Thomas Wyss directed them off the number 1 spot. Before that they were real contenders for a place at the Open itself with three years of results that saw them just miss out on a place by the narrowest of margins. The return back starts here.

Nottingham City Transport
S. Phillips

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Sharon Stansfield
Soprano Cornet: Geoff Hawley
Flugel: David Hill
Solo Horn: Janice Gregory
Solo Euphonium: Ian McCormick
Solo Trombone: Sharon Young

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals (S1) – 5th
Dec 2002 – Leamington Spa – 5th
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 14th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 11th

Form Guide here:
1994: 19th Grand Shield (rel) (J. Hudson)
1993: 9th Grand Shield (M. Heartfield)

Nottingham were one of the two bands relegated from the top section in 2002 but they were a little unlucky last year. They can more than hold their own in this section though and could well be strong contenders as they come fresh into this Festival. Their experience at Championship level could be invaluable so don’t be surprised if they feature here. There web site is due to be up and running shortly but in the meantime the band will be travelling North again on the 11th May to take part in the Whitehaven Contest. The band return to the Grand Shield weekend for the first time since 1994 when they came 19th. The year before they came 9th, which was their best effort so far. Another band hoping to start the climb back this weekend.

Pennine Brass
Ian Porthouse

4BR Ranking: 95 (down 9 places since the Areas)

Principal Cornet: JJ Lees
Soprano Cornet: Mark Wears
Flugel: Rebecca Cunliffe
Solo Horn: Laura Lea
Solo Euphonium: Mike Fox
Solo Trombone: Lisa Sarasini

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 12th
Nov 2002 – Wilkinson Open – 1st
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 6th
Jul 2002 - Brighouse March and Hymn – 5th
May – Senior Trophy – 12th
Apr 2002 - Holme Firth – 1st
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 10th

Form Guide here:
2002: 12th

Ian Porthouse has Pennine Brass right at the end of his stick. We have heard this band on a number of occasions and watched and heard their meteoric rise through the ranks, but when it has come to the crunch such as last year they disappointed somewhat and literally “blew” their chances. They are a good quality band though and with talent around the stands they certainly have the ammunition to do well. 12th place at the Regionals was disappointing but they will be keen to show that they belong closer to the Open. One to listen to without question and if they have learnt the lesson from last year and produce quality instead of quantity of sound they should be the band to beat.

John Davis

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Richard Mason
Soprano Cornet: Kevin Mantle
Flugel: Pam Davies
Solo Horn: Barbara Ostle
Solo Euphonium: Brian Hanson
Solo Trombone: Clare Bond

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals (S1) – 2nd
Nov 2002 – Mineworkers – 3rd
Sep – 2002 - NE Derbyshire Entertainment – 2nd
May 2002– Senior Trophy – 14th
Mar 2002 – Regionals (S1) – 9th
Feb 2002 –NEMBBA – 1st

Form Guide here:
2002: 14th

Didn’t compete here before 2002.

Riddings Band generated real excitement in their playing at the Midlands Regional and a look down their contest form since then gives enough hints to suggest that they should improve on the 14th place of last year. They seem to be a band on the crest of a wave at the moment and with the first target for 2003 already achieved getting a promotion place here to the Senior Cup will be an added bonus. Given their recent run, they should be there or thereabouts come results time.

Soham Comrades
Paul Filby

4BR Ranking: 89 (New Entry)

Principal Cornet: Nigel Bramley
Soprano Cornet: David Notley
Flugel: Richard Franklin
Solo Horn: Chris Pannell
Solo Euphonium: Duncan Wilson
Solo Trombone: Neil George

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 4th
Oct 2002 – SCABA – 8th
May 2002 – Senior Trophy – 9th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 4th

Form Guide here:
2002: 9th

The band didn’t compete here before 2002.

Soham have been making steady progress and they have more than held their own in competition nationwide over the past few years. The 9th place last year was about right on the day and led by Paul Filby, ex-Solo Trombone with GUS Footwear Band and winner of BBC Best of Brass soloist prizes, it could well be another year of being there or thereabouts in this company. This contest will see the last contest performance, for the foreseeable future by Chris Pannell who leaves the band to take up his studies at College leaving an inviting opportunity with this Championship Band for would be horn star. 2003 started well with 4th place at the Regional Championships so they will hopefully carry on that good form here and gain a step up the ladder towards the Grand Shield.

Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda
Alan Gibbs

4BR Ranking: 59 (down 3 places since the Areas)

Principal Cornet: Andrew Smith
Soprano Cornet: Carol Flannary-Davies
Flugel: Elaine Williams
Solo Horn: Karen Fletcher
Solo Euphonium: Nigel Thomas
Solo Trombone: N/K

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 8th
Nov 2002 – Treorchy – 4th
Oct 2002 - West Wales – 3rd
Sep 2002 – National Finals (S1) – 2nd
Jun 2002 - Ebbw Vale – 5th
May 2002 – Senior Cup – 16th
Mar 2002 – Regionals (S1) – 2nd

Form Guide here:
2002: 16th Senior Cup (rel)
2001: 7th Senior Cup

Mid Rhondda’s show here last year in the Senior Cup was a bit error filled but they put that disappointment behind them and went to the National Finals in Torquay where they came an excellent 2nd place. As we have commented before Alan Gibbs has been a fine servant to the band and to Welsh banding in general and he can take a great deal of credit for the band’s continued achievements. 2003 started off in solid fashion with 8th place at the Regional Championships in Swansea, but the band can really turn it on when it is in the mood and this piece could well suit them.

Nigel Seaman

4BR Ranking: Outside top 100

Principal Cornet: Tony Osborne
Soprano Cornet: Steve Harris
Flugel: Rob Perham
Solo Horn: Stewart Crawford
Solo Euphonium: John Moss
Solo Trombone: Peter Housley

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 11th
Oct 2002 – Pontins – 13th
May 2002 – Senior Trophy – 8th
May 2002 – Weston Super Mare – 1st
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 9th

Form Guide here:
2002: 8th

The band didn’t compete here before 2002.

Thornbury have had a few mid table results in 2002 and the result at the Regionals may not be a pointer to current form as they had a bit of an off day at Torquay and the piece didn’t suit the band or MD, Lyndon Baglin. This could be very different though and they played well in the Senior Trophy last year and may relish the opportunity to silence any doubters and fight for a top six place.

Unison Kinneil
Allan Ramsey

4BR Ranking: 38

Principal Cornet: Hugh Foster
Flugel: Andrea Casey
Solo Horn: Rebecca Barnes
Solo Euphonium: Ian Campbell
Solo Trombone: Colin Buchanan

Form Guide:
Mar 2003 – Regionals – 3rd
Nov 2002 - Whitburn Invitation – 1st
Aug 2002 – Troon – 1st
May 2002 – Senior Cup – 20th
Mar 2002 – Regionals – 5th
Feb 2002 - Whitburn Invitation – 3rd

Form Guide here:
2002: 20th Senior Cup (rel)
2001: 15th Grand Shield (rel) (J. Hinckley)

Didn’t compete at the contests before 2001

The drop from the Senior Cup last year was a surprise – real surprise given their form, but they were also relegated from the Grand Shield in 2001 so there may be something in the beer that doesn’t agree them. Allan Ramsey though has really worked the band hard and well since he has taken over the reins and that good work has paid off, especially at the Regional Championships where they came 3rd and were only a touch away from a trip to the Albert Hall. Since last year they have really hit a rich vein of form and that should hold them in good stead here. They should be good enough to claim a promotion place at least and a podium place is a real prospect – if they can rid themselves of the Blackpool travel bug!

Wakefield Metropolitan
Brian Dyson

4BR Ranking: 79 (down 11 places since the Areas)

Line up at the National Finals 2002
Principal Cornet: Martin Hall
Soprano Cornet: John Parkinson
Solo Horn: Adrian Green
Solo Euphonium: Myron Thomas
Solo Trombone: Stuart White

Form Guide:
Mar 2002 – Regionals (S1) – 5th
Sep 2002 – National Finals (S1) – 15th
Mar 2002 – Regionals (S1) – 1st

Form Guide here:
Debut this year.

Wakefield Met’ are another solid 1st Section contender. Like Kippax though these Yorkshiremen may also have to raise the stakes if they are to make inroads into the Trophy shortlist. We heard the band in Bradford and they put up a good show, if a little strident at times, but it was solid no nonsense stuff and that approach could serve them well here. They have dropped a few places in the 4BR rankings since the Areas, but they will be keen to show that they have made further progress since last year.

4BR Prediction:

There are plenty of good bands here on paper and if they all play to form the result is going to be hard to call. Pennine Brass with Ian Porthouse have the ability on their day to take this title but they could be given a run for their money by some high quality bands. UNISON Kinneil and Mid Rhondda will prove strong challengers and Haydock may well do the business if Ian Brownbill can reproduce the magic that gained them a place in the National Finals. We think perhaps Dalmellington and Soham will be battling it out for a top six place but in truth this one is a bit like the Aintree Grand National and could be up for grabs and an outsider may well shoot through the field and take the honours. Look out for the likes of Longridge, Mossley and Drighlington to upset our predictions!

1. Pennine Brass
2. UNISON Kinneil
3. Haydock
4. Dalmellington
5. Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda
6. Soham Comrades

Dark Horse: Bo'ness and Carriden

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