2004 Yorkshire Regional Championships
The Championship Section:
Sunday 7th March
Adjudicators: David Read and Roy Roe
Test Piece: Tristan Encounters - Martin Ellerby
Malcolm Wood was there to see YBS set new standards in the qualification
stakes at Bradford.
King's thoughts [WAV 1.02mb]
- David Read [WAV 1.21mb]
At the end of Sunday’s Championship Section, composer, Martin
Ellerby informed the audience that he thought the standard of playing
of his composition was extremely high, with many committed performances.
Without doubt, the standard was just that, with four performances
really standing out from the rest of the field.
Within those four, two were strong contenders to win, whilst
one of them will consider themselves extremely unlucky not to
have won, due to the monumental interpretation given by the reigning
European & British Open Champions, Yorkshire Building Society
Band, conducted by Professor David King.
YBS didn’t just win the contest on Sunday evening; they
blew their opposition away in convincing style. The points difference
of three between themselves and second placed Black Dyke could
quite easily have been greater; such was the band's performance.
Afterwards, adjudicator David Read told 4BR that the YBS performance
of this world, and was worthy of a three point gap on the day’s
Over the past decade, the YBS/King partnership has produced some
terrific contesting performances. The band has patented the definitive
performance of Bourgeois’ Concerto Grosso, and you
can now add to that list, a second winning performance of Tristian
Encounters by Martin Ellerby. The band’s thirst for success
never wavers, and as Sunday night proved, when YBS is on the top
of its game, no other band can really touch them.
The draw of fourteen was kind to YBS, as the rest of their potential
rivals had played earlier in the contest. Grimethorpe and Sellers
received draws in the first third, with Black Dyke and Brighouse
being drawn close by in the middle, leaving a sizeable gap before
YBS took the stage. These five bands were the people’s favourites
to do well, and whilst no one knew it at the time, the real scrap
was for second, third and fourth prizes.
Carlton Main had the honour of getting the contest underway, and
they put on a real good show. The band seems to have come through
its uncertain times with a steely determination to do well - and
it showed. William Rushworth got from his band what he wanted and
it was pretty much a good steady show, without the band taking any
risks. The performance had slips and some of the ensemble playing
could have been better, but Kirsty Abbott on cornet was excellent
along with Ian Wright (euphonium), and the band should be pleased
with its continuing improvement. Eighth place was a good result.
Grimethorpe were the first of the big hitters to take the stage
having been drawn number two. Frank Renton was back at the helm
of Grimey and much was expected of them. Mr Renton’s demeanour
as he walked on stage was certainly determined. The early draw didn’t
suit them though and too many players had an off day. The MD was
up for the challenge of bringing out a real performance from the
band that would be hard to beat, but it just did not happen.
The start was certainly bold and aggressive but the performance
never really kicked on, which was a real disappointment. Every now
and again, we heard glimpses of real quality Grimethorpe, but it
wasn’t consistent throughout. The end of the performance was
exciting stuff, but you knew it wouldn’t be enough to win.
Come the end, the faces of the players and conductor were etched
with disappointment, as if aware that it was not one of their best
Stocksbridge under Derek Renshaw took to the stage looking to emulate
last year’s performance. The band looked confident, and they
started well, but you sensed that the Ellerby composition was a
real test for the band, and so it proved. The solo playing wasn’t
the best, and the ensemble playing could have been tighter, but
the band worked like Trojans to put in a performance of real merit.
We were only three bands in, but it was evident that any band that
would do exceptionally well on this piece would have to give a a
complete all round show.
Sellers International under Phillip McCann were the first band
to really put in a performance that would taking some removing from
the mix come results time. The new Principal Cornet of Faireys let
the music speak for itself and let the players shine. Nick Payne
on Principal Cornet had a great day, and was backed up on soprano
by Kay Mackenzie. In addition, the newly named Natalie Atwell was
terrific on flugel, and Mark Bousie on euphonium, was the first
euphonium player to really stand out.
The band kept things very tight, the tempos were sensible without
going over the top, and a symphonic sound was in evidence. The chromatic
scales that appear in the first transfiguration were the first to
come across as crisp and clean, and the performance just grew. By
the time the muted passage appeared at transfiguration IX,
you wondered just how good the performance was going to be. The
slips were minimal and certainly didn’t detract from a super
show. At last, a real marker for bands to beat.
Come results time though, they discovered they had missed qualifying
for the second time by the smallest of margins. Recent
showings from the band have shown that they are an ensemble on
the up, and they can take great heart from the performance as they
look to Blackpool and the Grand Shield.
Four down, eleven to go then with Sellers setting the mark for
the rest with Grimethorpe also in the frame for us. The next two
bands were making their debut in the Championship Section, Knottingly
Silver and Chapeltown Silver.
If they didn’t know it before hand, Knottingley Silver now
knows just how tough the Championship section is. Drawn number five,
the band will have learned a tremendous amount about themselves
from the contest. It was hard going for them, but experience is
only gained through contesting at this level, and although they
might be a touch disappointed to have been placed fourteenth overall,
they shouldn’t be too downcast. The step up from the First
Section is tough, and it’s a big learning curve.
The same can be said for Chapeltown. The band has waited a long
time to get into the top flight, and they clearly relished the challenge
as they walked on stage. Yes, the performance had that nervous feel
about it, but it was not a bad performance. All bands had slips,
some more than others did, and at this level, slips are costly.
The standard of the Yorkshire area is so good that it must have
felt like climbing Mount Everest for them on Sunday. One thing for
sure though is Knottingley and Chapeltown will come back stronger
for the experience of Tristan.
Black Dyke under Dr Nicholas Childs were the next band to take
to the stage. Pre-qualification for London counted for nothing
as the band were determined to put right the previous year's
result in Bradford. The large crowd was certainly not disappointed
though, as Dyke certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons with
its performance. Black Dyke does the classical stuff well, and
this was no different. The start was bold and assertive, and confident,
although some of the chromatic work could have been cleaner.
Roger Webster and John Doyle shared a lovely exchange in the early
part of the second transfiguration, and you sensed something magical.
The performance grew and all the principals were having a great
day. Michelle Ibbotson, Lesley Howie, David Thornton, Brett Baker
- everybody was doing their bit, and the MD was crafting something
that would be tough to beat. The nine bar muted passage in transfiguration
IX was terrific, with the players using practice mutes to create
the ppp effect. The final couple of transfigurations were top notch
and the performance finished in grand style. Black Dyke had nipped
into first place for us, but it was close on the half waypoint of
the competition, and yes, it was a winning performance that would
need something very special to knock it off number one.
Lindley Band drew eight, and struggled to be honest. It was not
there best day at the office. Plenty of errors, and not as together
as it could have been, it was hard work for the band. Tristan was
proving a real test for everyone on stage, and some found it harder
than others. Neil Jowett gave it his best shot but as we predicted
in our preview, the band found it really tough going in the top
section second time around. They will be disappointed with twelfth
but a few less slips would have perhaps seen then finish higher.
When it was over, we had them thirteenth.
Defending Champions, Brighouse took to the stage under new MD,
James Gourlay, and could not have done anymore than they did to
retain their title. The band’s performance was very much
like a Kevin Keegan football team. Passionate, committed, very
attacking and great entertainment, but as Manchester City fans
will testify at present, Keegan’s teams have a tendency to
make the odd slip which proves costly, and this was Brighouse
on Sunday. James Gourlay is a master of the classical score, and
Sunday was no different. B & R was perhaps the only band to
have a real classical brass band sound from start to finish.
The start was absolutely stunning, and had the audience pinned
back in their seats. It was so clean, tight, with a bit more flair
than had been heard all day. The tempos were at a fair pace but
it was not detracting from a compelling performance. James Gourlay
clearly loved every minute and the band was responding to his
enthusiasm. Alan Hobbins on soprano again showed what a real class
player he is, and some of the ensemble work from within the middle
of the band was top draw. All the principal players had good days,
from the experienced Alan Morrison, Steve Miles on euphonium,
James Stockdale on trombone and Melvyn Bathgate (horn), no player
let the side down; but credit goes to James Gourlay for masterminding
a terrific interpretation.
Come the final bars, you knew the audience would erupt and they
did. Alan Hobbins was so drained, he had to be encouraged to take
a bow from James Gourlay. For us, this had gone in front of Black
Dyke. It was extremely classical in the interpretation and the band
excelled in the ‘Wagner Quotes’ with just a touch more
clarity than anyone else. At this point people were wondering how
YBS or any other band for that matter would match B & R, but
the judges decreed third place on the day, and the West Riding men
can consider themselves unfortunate not to have come second. If
this performance is anything to go by though, they will be champing
at the bit for the Masters.
Pennine Brass under Ian Porthouse will be really chuffed with their
performance. It is never easy going onto a stage after a band has
just thrown in a corker of a performance, but you sensed that Ian
and his troops had become inspired. It was a good all round show,
nothing flashy, sensible tempos, and some fine clean playing. ‘JJ’
Lees on Principal Cornet is a player to look out for, and he had
a great day, and clearly benefits from playing under such a distinguished
cornet player. Ian was sensible; he never asked anything of his
band that they could not give him, and those that went out after
Brighouse missed a fine show. This is a young band, but a fine one.
A below-par performance would have been a disappointment, but this
is a band too keep a watchful eye out for in the future. We thought
they had just sneaked into sixth position but Messrs Read and Roe
Two thirds through then, and Brighouse, Black Dyke and Sellers
for us in that order with the likes of Yorkshire Imps and YBS still
Hepworth under Mark Bentham didn’t really do the business
for us on the day. Our ‘gut-feeling’ beforehand was
that they could take sixth place, but it just didn’t gel together
enough to be convincing. Mark Bentham’s flamboyant conducting
style produces energy, but the band on this occasion just could
not respond enough. Finishing in eleventh last year, they improved
to ninth this time round, but perhaps will be disappointed, not
to have made more of a mark.
Those who went out for a quick breather before the final furlong
missed a really good show from Rothwell. Under David Roberts, they
put on a show that was consistent with the past two years. Fourth
in 2003, and seventh in 2002, the band put in a performance that
was solid without any major thrills. The ensemble and solo playing
was good and the MD had the sense to let the music breathe. The
principal cornet, sop and flugel players had good days and sixth
overall was well deserved, although we had them seventh.
The most disappointing show of the whole contest was Yorkshire
Imps. It’s a touch difficult what to make of this band at
the moment. They have the players and the know-how to do the business
on the contest platform, but being placed thirteenth might have
shocked them a bit. The soloists didn’t have the best of days,
and come the finish we had them tenth. It had that feel of ‘still
in the rehearsal room’ about it, and the draw was such that
they had the opportunity to make an impact, but sadly didn’t
It was gone 8.30pm when YBS took to the stage, and many people
were tired, but the wait to see what the band would do was worth
it. It was a performance that had everything. The opening was
sensational, and for the second time in the day, we just sat back
and enjoyed the performance and forgot about any notes (the other
being Brighouse). Peter Roberts hit his top D with consummate
ease, and the tempos were effective. It was typical Professor
King; everything was precise, no clips, magical ensemble playing
the like that had not been heard all day, and the audience was
spellbound listening to a terrific performance.
If the standard continued, this was the winner without a doubt,
and it had that potential to become not just the winning performance,
but one of the finest contest performances YBS have produced in
recent times (and considering what they have done, that gives you
some idea how good it was). Overall, it had the odd blip, but these
were so minute it never affected the performance. All the players
were focussed, and every single principal played out of their skin.
Professor King milked the muted passage in transfiguration IX
for all it was worth with Iwan Williams performing out of this
world. It was clear that the YBS/King partnership wanted to get
back to London for a crack at the one title yet to have their name
on it, and three clear points from Black Dyke really didn’t
do it justice.
The detail that was pulled out from the score was incredible.
Many bands struggled with the fast-accelerated passages when it
came to clarity, but not YBS. Professor King knows what his band
is capable off and once again they produced the goods. Robert Blackburn
on baritone, Sheona White on tenor horn, Gavin Saynor on bass,
Chris Jeans (trombone) all had faultless days - the sort of days
that every player dreams of. The end was stunning and whilst Professor
King did take a few liberties, and it had the flair and charisma
that you associate with a YBS performance. The roof in St George’s
Hall has been repainted recently, but it probably needs another
coating as the audience took the roof off with its reception for
the band. As long as the judges liked it, then ten years after YBS
won the Yorkshire title (ironically by three points with Black Dyke
second on Partita), it was another title in the bag.
The last band of the day was Skelmanthorpe and you felt for them
coming on to stage after a performance from YBS. It was not the
best performance that was on offer, but it was certainly not the
worst either and the band finished in a credible tenth position.
So that was that. A contest that had kicked off at around 3.45pm
had finished at gone 9pm. Fifteen bands were too many, and it is
a long haul, but it was sensible to have two judges in the box.
Whilst the delegates and dignitaries made their way onto stage,
we had time to ponder our top six and look at our pre-contest predictions.
First we had YBS; second, Brighouse, followed by Black Dyke, Sellers,
Grimethorpe and Pennine. Our crystal ball had suggested, YBS,
Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Brighouse, Sellers, Hepworth with Yorkshire
Imps as the dark horses.
Composer Martin Ellerby made a presentation on behalf of the Worshipful
Company of Musicians to Sellers stalwart, David Johnson, which is
well deserved, whilst even the Mayor gave his observations. Peggy
Tomlinson and her team received thanks for their sterling work that
they do all year round culminating with a full weekends contesting.
The judges David Read and Roy Roe emerged from the box to explain
that they were comfortable that they had the bands in the right
order. Roy Roe commented that they had heard some great playing,
and commented that the solo playing was at times disappointing,
but those soloists who did shine, really did well.
Peter Roberts was awarded the Eddie Noble MBE, Memorial Trophy.
Sheona White claimed the Best Soloist award from Kirklees Music.
Rothwell came out in sixth place, followed by Grimethorpe in fifth.
Sellers were two points in front of Grimethorpe (191) in fourth
place. Brighouse were given third, and for a split second, you
wondered if as last year, a twist was yet to come. Black Dyke second,
and when it was announced that the winning band had been awarded
197 points, you could hear most people take a sharp intake of breath.
It was only going to be YBS - and it was YBS.
Everybody loved the music and it proved a real winner for the
bands and audience. Unfortunately for Black Dyke, Brighouse and
Sellers though, it was not their day, and quite frankly, they
really complain. The 2004 Yorkshire Regional Championship was
all about a truly magical interpretation of Tristan Encounters
from Professor King and his wonderful band.
Jubilee - ISB
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