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2003 Remembered

John James continues his look back at 2003. May, June and July saw the Europeans, The Masters, Spring Belle Vue and contests galore.

May 2003

The busiest month in the banding calendar as contests were much in the news with the European Championships, All England Masters, Spring Festival and many local contests all taking place.

Yorkshire Building Society conducted by David King created brass band history in Bergen when they claimed their fifth consecutive European title which also meant, in making it his ninth victory, that David King became the most successful conductor in the history of the European Championships. In possibly the closest ever contest in the 26 years of the European Championships YBS pipped BAYV Cory conducted by Robert Childs by virtue of scoring one more point than the Welsh band on the set work.

Despite narrowly failing to oust the apparently unbeatable European Champions Yorkshire Building Society in Bergen, Buy as you View Cory moved to the top of the table in the 4BR rankings for the first time since November 2002

In other sections of the contest Brøttum Brass were crowned the First Section European Champions with the second place going to Arklow Shipping Silver Band conducted by John Bonner and, shortlisted from an initial 15 entrants, a full house in the Peer Gynt Hall witnessed Jesper Juul Sørensen (Denmark) win the 2nd European Conductor's Competition.

In the final analysis the contest was a resounding success and shortly afterwards Markus S. Bach, President and the other members of the Executive Committee were re-elected en-bloc for another period of one year.

With Musical Director Linda Nicholson moving away from Besses o' th' Barn they engaged Steve Sykes to direct their assault on the All-English Masters Championship held at the Corn Exchange, Cambridge. A new work was commissioned, ‘Chivalry’ by Martin Ellerby and on this occasion Leyland took the top honour with the best-aggregated score by the adjudicators. Fodens, playing last, came runners-up from YBS when a tie for 2nd and 3rd place was settled on the cumulative scores of the judges.

Inaugurated ten years ago to honour and recognise outstanding service and achievement in the field of brass bands the 2003 All England Masters Dedicated Service Award was presented to Phillip McCann. The presentation was made by Major Peter Parkes in a ceremony which preceded the announcement of the Results of the All-English Masters Championship and to complete the Masters proceedings the 4BarsRest Best Instrumentalist prize went to YBS principal cornet Stuart Lingard.

On calculating the points Fodens Richardson ended BAYV Cory's 3 week reign at the top of the 4BR World Rankings by heading the list once again and ensuring that they would embark on the Autumn Majors as the No.1 ranked band.

We were soon to know that the test piece for the 151st British Open Brass Band Championships would be two movements – “Venus” – The Bringer of Peace and “Jupiter” – The Bringer of Jollity” from “The Planets” originally composed by Gustav Holst and arranged for brass band by Stephen Roberts. In addition, the Open invited a band from the United States of America, Illinois Brass Band, who were formed in 1991. The North American Brass Band Champions for the six consecutive years up to 2002 were to become the first non-Commonwealth band to compete at the contest in its history.

Remaining over the pond plans were being finalized for a new brass band competition in North America – the U.S. Open Brass Band Championships. The inaugural U.S. Open being scheduled to take place in November 8 in Arlington Heights, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago.

At the Spring Festival Carlton Main Frickley Colliery took the Grand Shield on ‘Tallis Variations’, reward for their continued building progress through the early months on 2003. Nick Childs guided the strengthening Scottish Co-op to a place in the British Open alongside Carlton however it was a nervous time for bands finishing in the lower places as they waited for the calculations to be completed to see who would drop into the Senior Cup. In the final analysis it was to be B.T., Ransome, Burry Port Town, Desford Colliery, Bodmin, Freckleton & Thoresby Colliery.

The ever-popular Pagannini Variations (Wilby) proved a stern challenge for the Senior Cup entrants that was to see Rothwell Temperance take the Cup with Jaguar (Coventry), Hepworth, Redbridge, Newstead Welfare and Lindley all gaining promotion to the Grand Shield for 2004. Bands taking the drop into the Senior Trophy became Laganvale, Kingdom Brass, Staffordshire, Aldbourne, Stalybridge and Pemberton Old Wigan.

David Read and Alan Lawton adjudicated the Senior Trophy that utilised the Eric Ball work ‘Tournament for Brass’. The consistent Pennine Brass, with Ian Porthouse in charge, proved triumphant with Bournemouth Concert, Dalmellington, Haydock, Bo'ness and Carriden & Drighlington gaining the other promotion places. Dipping out of the Spring Festival for at least one year would be Mossley, Longridge, Johnstone, Wakefield Metropolitan, Nottingham City Transport & Kippax.

Soon after the completion of these Majors, the organisers for the Nationals revealed that it would be an Eric Ball arrangement – theme and seven out of eight variations from Elgar’s ‘Enigma Variations’ for the Albert Hall. Eric Ball always hoped one day that this music would grace the stage of the Royal Albert Hall on ‘Nationals’ day, however a new slightly abridged contest edition was to be used on this occasion and so began the round of discussion as to this choice. A topic that would grace our comments section a fair amount in the next few months.

May was, as usual a busy time in the contest arena in general.

Buxton Festival Contest Championship Section , adjudicated by Roy Newsome was won by Newstead Welfare followed by Cottingham In the second section Old Silkstone and Norman Law kept their winning formula heading Meltham & Meltham Mills. In the third section Whitworth Vale & Healey began a little trophy collection for 2003 ahead of Hazel Grove. Rivington & Adlington exhibited a bit of class taking the fourth section from Uppermill now conducted by Simon Wood.

The Cumbria BBA own choice test piece in Whitehaven was taken by Holme Silver ahead of Johnstone. Section 2 wasa North Eastern affair with GT Group Peterlee taking the title from Ellington Colliery. The Section 3 prize went to Lostock Hall Memorial ahead of Ellington Colliery Section once more. Five Rivers took the 4th section with Askham Town taking home a runners-up pot.

Much further down the west side of the country BTM claim victory at Ebbw Vale as ‘normally’ the Welsh Championship got under way. Burry Port claiming the second prize as the First Section went to Abergavenny Borough with a strong Penclawdd Brass running them close. Roy Roe oversaw Section 2 taken by Gwaun Cae Gurwen with Tylorstown – Valley Lines maintaining some good form in 2nd place. Briton Ferry and Crosskeys figured in the 3rd section with Llwydcoed and Crwbin picking up the top two spots in the 4th section.

News broke with a fair bit of incredulity that the accepted method of deciding the Champion Band of Wales through the series of three contests held in the Principality each year had in fact been scrapped. For over 25 years or more, the method of deciding which bands in each of the five sections in Wales who would be crowned champions was by aggregate scores from the contests held at various venues throughout the year held at Ebbw Vale, Ammanford or Burry Port and Treorchy. This was another in a series of topics to figure highly in feedback to our site.

Across the Severn Bridge the Weston-Super-Mare contest was held on Sunday 14 May. The Fourth section opened the day with a win for Pillowell with Bratton Silver in close attendance. Malvern Hills District captured the 3rd section from Portishead Town with the Second section going to Chalford ahead of Bath Spa. The Championship/First section was headed by Kiddlington Concert Brass with Rogerstone taking the first of their two runners-up trophies in 2003.

The East Anglian Brass Band Association Spring Festival Contest which was taken by Stansted Brass from Matthews Norfolk Brass with the Class 'A' section going to Fakenham Town from King's Lynn Town. Newmarket Town and Harwich RBL triumphed in Class ‘B’ with Bishops Stortford and Martlesham Brass taking the trophes in Class ‘C’.
The two Youth sections were both taken by players representing Fulbourn & Teversham.

Contests in the regions hadn’t been completed with those above as the Southern Counties Amateur Bands Association
Crawley Entertainments Contest Section B being captured by St. Sebastian Wokingham and Sandhurst Silver whilst the First & Championship (Section A) was taken over the channel by Noord Limburgse (Belgium) with Friary Guildford in runners-up place.

North of the border Scottish Band Week ran form Saturday 24 May with an aim to achieve the maximum possible publicity for brass bands throughout Scotland and to heighten the general public’s level of awareness as regards both their own local band(s) and the larger movement throughout Scotland. A concept promoted in Scotland all through 2003 and one they could claim to be righty proud of.

Staying in Scotland the Northern Counties City of Aberdeen Contest this year was the twenty third one to be held as an entertainment contest and was captured by UDI Aberdeen City Band.

The Carnegie Contest Entertainment Championship Section was once again most successful. The prizes being shared out between Unison Kinneil, Newtongrange. Section 1 - Bon Accord Silver A, & Kirkintilloch Kelvin : Section 2 Newmilns & Galston & Clydebank Burgh : Section 3 Lochgelly & Campbeltown Brass : Section 4 1. Queensferry HS & Penicuik Silver

Across the Irish Sea Ballyduff Silver Band (Northern Ireland), under the baton of William Hill won the Brass Band League Championships of Northern Ireland whilst across the North Sea at the Seventh Grenland Brass Festival Eikanger-Bjørsvik band won for the fifth time at their fifth attempt with the other sections completed with First Section - Askøy Brass Band : Second Division - Laksevåg Musikkforening : Third Section - Fagernes Musikkorps.

Stavanger Brass Band won the first ever "Knall Brass" which was a new concept entertainment contest held on home soil. Under the rules of "Knall Brass" bands from all different sections competed against each other with handicap points similar to the rules known from golf.

In the individual events Standish Band Slow Melody had a big set back when the venue Aspull Village Club had been broken in to and vandalised so badly that it would have been impossible to repair before the contest. They managed to acquire the use of New Springs Ex-Serviceman's Club Aspull and the Haydock Youth players that made the day returned a good set of results.

Over in Yorkshire Elland Silver Band held it’s 14th Annual Slow Melody but before we leave the contest arena the news broke in May with a press release from CISWO Chief Executive that the annual mineworkers contest in Blackpool would no longer take place but as the days unfolded the story was to take a most interesting turn.

There was slightly less movement in the principal positions in our top bands but congratulations went to Gavin Pritchard, Principal Percussionist for the Yorkshire Building Society Band became the 2003 winner of the prestigious Harry Mortimer £500 Prize and the newly crowned European Champions also announced the appointment of Chris Jeans to the position of principal trombone.

Mark Rodgers, principal cornet at Hepworth for 2½ years joined Black Dyke on the front row having previously played with BT, Stalybridge Old and Diggle, Mike Jones leaves the British Telecom Band to concentrate on work commitments and Rob Gill, the Principal Cornet of the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army declared his intention to leave his position with the band after playing his final concert weekend with them in early June.

In the greater Arts world Rainford Silver were at the cutting edge of contemporary art at the FACT Gallery in Liverpool being part of ‘Celebrations for Breaking Routine’ a contemporary video art work by Kirstin Lucas but on a slightly less groundbreaking but equally enjoyable footing a group of players from Matlock Band featured in an episode of 'Sweet Medicine,' a brand new drama series.

We at 4BarsRest were given truly wonderful overview of the production, recording and transmission of the BBC Radio 2 ‘Listen to the Band’ programme featuring Fodens and this came at a time when discussion about the dearth of brass band music in the media was being discussed at length in our correspondence from readers.

In celebration Bedford Brass gave a 15th Anniversary concert in Kempston whilst in the USA Green Mountain Band reached their mammoth 200th Anniversary at First Congregational Church of Littleton, New Hampshire.

New life was breathed into the movement when Terry Hext formed an original Band - 'Breakaway Brass'. Once a ten piece it subsequently grew into the three full bands plus a Ten Piece called ‘9 plus 1’.

To round out the month May probably featured one of the most light-hearted stories we were to carry all year when, to raise funds, Gweek Silver Band held a wonderfully eccentric plastic duck race on a small local river.

June 2003

One cannot start a review of June without traveling to Saddleworth and Tameside to cast an eye over the events of Whit Friday which saw unprecedented numbers turn out again to see the event. Black Dyke and Fodens Richardson played to almost perfection in taking the overall prizes in Saddleworth & Tameside.

A record 71 bands played in Delph secured by Black Dyke with Knight Templar where the best non-championship section band were Parr St St. Helens who once more excelled at this contest coming equal 8th with 95pts from a possible 100.
Denshaw set a record of 59 bands where Black Dyke again came out on top but bit of muddle up at Dobcross had the nerves on edge but it was soon sorted out after the event. A revived Stalybridge Celtic event was won by Fairey and the popular Station and Upper Mossley events were taken by Fodens and Grimethorpe respectively.

It was not unsurprising in the villages across the evening to see the form bands picking up a prize or two Boarshurst, Hebden Bridge, Carlton Brass, Silk Brass, Diggle, Utd NW Co-op Milnrow, Old Silkstone and Whitworth Vale & Healey all picked up trophies. It would be impossible in a review such as this to list all the prizewiners but Sunline International Navigation (Senator) again put in their appearance and won at Scouthead & Austerlands (61 bands) and Guernsey Concert Brass didn’t leave empty handed after their long but most enjoyable trip.

Staying in this area the famous Navigation Inn in Saddlworth had somewhat of a scare to find their concerts, which attract large crowds and raise hundreds of pounds for charity, were under threat of being cut in half as complaints about "the blast" was put in front of the local council.

March style contests, quite a regular a feature in the summer, were represented at both the Easingwold March & Deportment and the Lordsmere Cup March and Hymn tune contests.

The Yorkshire & Humberside Brass Band Association contest at Easingwold was taken by BHK (UK) Ltd Horden Band with the other sections being decided as Second Section - Old Silkstone : Best Third Section - Wansbeck Ashington : Best Fourth Section - Gawthorpe Brass. This win highlighted the rebirth of Horden Colliery Band renamed BHK (UK) Ltd. A laminated flooring and decorative panelling specialists BHK (UK) Ltd agreed to sponsor the Band with effect from the January 2003.

Boarshurst (Greenfield) Silver Band held the inaugural Lordsmere Cup March and Hymn tune contest that consisted of a short street march, followed by contest performance of a hymn and a march. Alan Lawton adjudicated at this new contest and in Section A (championship/1st section Bands) favoured the performances by Pennine Brass : Section B (2nd/3rd section bands) Meltham & Meltham Mills : 4th Section - Besses Boys : Youth Section - Shaw Youth

The popular contests at Bugle and Rhyl Festival of Brass results were announced and some familiar names were heard. At Rhyl the results went as follows Youth Section - Poynton Youth Brass Band : Fourth Section - Phoenix West Midlands Brass Band : Third Section - Beaumaris ‘B’ : Second Section - Wire Brass : Open Section - United Co-op Band (Crewe).

In Cornwall adjudicator Geoffrey Whitham awarded Camborne Town first prize at Bugle as the other sections went to Class B - St. Keverne : Class C - Lympstone South West Telecoms : Class D - Hayle Town : Class E - Hatherleigh Silver. St Keverne were further recognized when their Youth Band learned they were to receive the Queen's Golden Jubilee Award. The award, similar to The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, recognized the vital role played by the voluntary groups in the community.

Moving to South Wales there was noted to be a "tense" atmosphere as bands told of decision to scrap Welsh Championship was not speculation but had been confirmed to band representatives of the South East Wales Association.

The news that broke in May with the press release from CISWO Chief Executive that the annual mineworkers contest in Blackpool would no longer take place was quickly in the headlines again. The Butlins Skyline Resort Skegness revealed that they were to sponsor the former CISWO Mineworkers contest that would be administered by the North East Midlands Brass Band Association (NEMBBA) and in addition it would move to the new venue at the Skegness Holiday Centre. Further details were to emerge as the days went by but as part of the move the organisers reported it would have a new format for championship section and be renamed The Butlins Mineworkers National Brass Band Festival.

Although the Crawley Brass In Motion Contest was cancelled a number of other contests also populated the calendar namely Kirkby Lonsdale Brass Band Contest and the Sedburgh Invitation Brass Band Festival both open to 4th Section and unregistered bands together with the South East Wales BBA Welsh Solo & Quartet Competition and Bideford Town Band Solo & Quartet Contest.

Whilst Bestwood Welfare Black Diamonds played at the opening of a new Heritage Centre other bands were getting the smell of geasepaint in the nostrils as they were performing on the theatre stage.

The latest productions of ‘Brassed Off’ incorporated performances from three West Midlands bands (Jackfield Elcock Reisen, Sourport-on-Severn & City of Birmingham Brass) and three North West bands (Haydock, Port Sunlight Lyceum Brass & Wire Brass) took their turn to play in this revival, a co-production between the Birmingham Rep and the Liverpool Playhouse. 4Bars Rest were given unprecedented access to this production and an insight into its rehearsal, direction and staging were all featured on the site. Carlton Brass too completed seven consecutive performances of the staged version of ‘Brassed Off’ at the Nottingham Arts Theatre while also in Nottingham Kirkby Colliery Welfare band got involved in a stage production at the Playhouse Theatre. ‘The Day That Kevin Came’ a different play and production featured a fictional miners welfare of Eastead also highlighted the demise of a local mining community.

The 39th World Sea Angling Championships were held in Ireland in the the picturesque village of Downings in County Donegal and the three-day event with the sixteen participating nations paraded through the village led by St. Joseph's Brass Band

Again changes in personnel were relatively few apart from The International Staff Band of the Salvation Army announcing that Kevin Ashman had taken over as the new Principal Cornet following the departure of Rob Gill but the month did see the appointment of David King to the Professorial Chair of Music – Performance by Salford University.

On the continent Brass Band Schoonhoven won the Dutch Festival EuroBrass in Drachten with De Waldsang (Buitenpost) in 2nd place but the UK brought back a crop of awards form the French Open Championships as the Elite Division went to Thoresby Colliery UK Coal. Excellence Division 1 was taken by Brass Band Normandie : Premier Division 1 - Horsham Borough : Troisieme-Division - Lockwood Brass & the Junior Division 1 - Youth Brass 2000
Down under the Queensland State Championships were held in the Brolga Theatre, Maryborough.

In Scotland the West Lothian Festival of Brass winners of the Scottish knock-out competition final were Whitburn from Kirkintilloch and hot on the heels of this result came the announcement that the Scottish Brass Band Association had commissioned Kenneth Downie to compose the 2004 European Championship Test Piece with one of Scotland's most prolific arranger's and composers Alan Fernie commissioned to arrange a concert item for the 'B' section Contest

The British Open Brass Band Golf Championship was held at Dukinfield Golf Course and if the duck race last month was clean fun Darley Dale resorted to the old adage of "Where there's muck there's brass" to raise funds for Dundee. Their messy pot-luck event divided a large field into plots then released a cow into the said field & wait for it to plop! The owner of that plot then received a cash prize!

July 2003

If movement in the band world had been rather quiet in the previous two months it exploded in July 2003.

Andy Gillooly, after 21 years committed service with The Fairey Band retired as both player and band manager to be replaced by Andy Hirst and that only just headed news that Fodens Richardson and Russell Gray had parted company. It would not be too far from the truth to say the band world was "mystified" at these decisions. Mind you they didn’t stop there as it seemed that the season for a change of musical direction was in full flow all across the north of the British Isles.

Whitburn parted company with Philip McCann and appointed a new conducting team in the shape of Andy Duncan and Michael Marzella and furthermore one of the most successful and productive partnerships in recent years came to an end when Garry Cutt and Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal parted company. Before the month was out Blackburn and Darwen Band announced the appointment of Lynda Nicholson as their new musical director bringing officially to an end her partnership with Besses O’Th Barn.

The summer 4BR Rankings showed that Fodens Richardson were still the best band in the land and they wasted no time in announcing that Thomas Wyss had been appointed to their now vacant position. This left Tredegar Band urgent having to find someone to conduct them at both the British Open and National Finals. In a twist of fate Russell Gray took them at the Open before Steve Bastable headed their awesome assault on the Albert Hall.

The transfer of players was equally as busy to mention just a few of the major changes, former Principal Trombone Simon Cowen was persuaded to return back to YBS to help the band out on second trombone for the British Open Leah Williams returned to Sellers on solo horn from Fodens and Skelmanthorpe Band signed Fiona Casewell on Principal Euphonium. July also saw superb euphonium player, Natsumi Inaba and former solo horn player Martin Armstrong joining Fodens.

The Brighouse Lions March and Hymn Tune competition was held where first overall (March and Hymn Tune) were the Hepworth Band while in the Midlands Tony Wilson and Carlton Brass were in top form when for the 3rd year running they won 1st prize at the Brass 'n Trams entertainment contest.

The second Old Silkstone March and Hymn Contest first venue 'The Red Lion' 1st Prize went to Pennine Brass playing Ravenswood with the best hymn tune being Holme Silver (Maidstone). At the second station Silkstone Lodge Kevin Wadsworth gave 1st Prizes to Stocksbridge (Honest Toil & hymn In the Love of Jesus).

Chris Wormald and his youngsters did it again with a hat trick of wins in London taking the National Festival of Music For Youth 'Outstanding Performance Award' (School Section) with Newport Music Centre Brass Band, Greater Gwent Youth Band and four percussion members also winning awards.

The Durham Miners Gala and South of Ireland Band Championships rounded out the month in contest vein before details were being posted for a number of forthcoming events. With the National Lower section finals not that far away we learned the names of the 76 competing bands that would be making the long trip to Dundee for the contest due to take place on the weekend of the 20th and 21st of September with one change, Bratton Silver from the West of England replaced Calne Silver after they came 5th at the Regionals. We at 4BR again announced that we would be there in full force to give the best coverage possible.

Talking of the National Finals, London's prestigious Royal Albert Hall unveiled its new South Porch as part of a £70m development scheme. The porch being an entirely new structure containing a 60,000-piece mosaic the highlight of eight years of work to bring the 132-year-old venue up to the latest standards and then we were informed that there were some mistakes in the score of the Championship test piece. The round of errata sheets kicked in once again !!

The Besson National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. set test pieces were selected Open Championship: Philip Wilby: Partita (Postcards from Home) County Championship: Michael Ball: An English Suite Community Championship Michael Ball: A Cambrian Suite Schools Championship Peter Graham: A Haslemere Suite (Movements 1,3 & 4) and Junior Bands Own Choice, but must include at least one original work for brass band.

The National Association of Brass Band Conductors and Salford University combined to offer a new Licentiate Diploma in Brass Band Adjudication as they also announced the details of the Young Conductor of the Year competition whilst on Friday 18 July, Listen To The Band launched the BBC Radio 2's nationwide competition to find the Young Brass Soloist of 2004 with the winner given the opportunity to perform as guest soloist at the Gala Concert of the 2004 European Brass Band Championships

On a general band front Skelmersdale Prize Band celebrated their 125th Anniversary in 2003, Salvo Brass, the first band of Salvationists and former Salvationists to play as a ‘band’ came into existence and "The Haydock Youth Brass Band, changed its name to Valley Brass (Haydock) a name taken from the area of Haydock in which the band rehearses Grange Valley.

After more than 10 years continuous sponsorship Hebden Bridge (Walkley Clogs) Band reverted to its original name of Hebden Bridge Band when the link with the mill and their sponsor came to an end but on a lighter note members Skipton Brass represented the town in a national television programme "Every Home Should Have One" when they were asked to play various plumbing components!

The New Zealand Championships were decided over three separate sections - Dalewool Auckland Brass took top prize with B Grade victory going to North Shore Brass. The C Grade Championship was won by Timaru Municpal. The newly crowned New Zealand Champions Dalewool Auckland Brass got a Birmingham invite for 2004 and accepted the invitation from the organisers of the British Open to take part in the contest.

The community spirt of banding was recognised in the Italian Gardens, Weston-Super-Mare when local brass players were 'Banding together' to raise money for Children's Hospice South West. Goff Richards lent his support by writing a piece of music dedicated to the Children's hospice. 'A Special Place' that was heard for the first time at this event.

4BR continued to develop and now gave its growing individual readership of 25,000 the opportunity to shares in its news content by pasting a few lines of code onto their own pages.

John James
© 4BarsRest

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