2004 Yorkshire Regional Championships
Sunday: 7th March
Test Piece: Kaleidoscope
– Philip Sparke
Adjudicator: Sidney Swancott
Although they wouldn’t know it at the time, Yorkshire Building
Society Concert produced a performance of Philip Sparke’s
Kaleidoscope that was the first half of a YBS ‘double’
at the areas. Drawn seventh out of twelve, and under the direction
of Michael Hannan, the band qualified for Harrogate in September,
by two clear points.
Meltham & Meltham Mills had the honour of commencing a weekend’s
contesting on Saturday morning, and they could have been cursing
us here at 4BR as we predicted them to win prior to the contest.
The performance wasn’t a bad one, but on reflection, the band
will know they didn’t do themselves justice. Philip Sparke’s
piece is tuneful and jolly, but Meltham were not the only band to
struggle in some of the five variations as they did find it a little
tough going in places.
Wetherby drew number two, and having come up from the Third Section,
found out that the standard is certainly different. They had a nervous
start and opening flourishes within the score were a touch uncertain.
It took the band a little bit of time to settle, which was a real
shame. The band were not the only one over the full weekend to cope
with the acoustic of the hall, and whilst they will be disappointed
in coming last, will benefit from the experience, and build on it
for the future.
Hebden Bridge was another band that 4BR thought might make an impact
come results time. Under the direction of the experienced Ian Craddock,
the music started off with a nice feel to it, but lost its way a
little in the second variation, and unfortunately for the band,
they never really recovered enough to make a bid into the top six
and had to be content with eighth place.
Strata Brass with Brighouse resident MD, David Hirst was another
band fancied to do well. Bands were struggling to put five good
variations together, which would make their mark with adjudicator,
Sydney Swancott. Strata had the best start out of all the bands
that had tackled the piece so far, and David Hirst was the first
conductor to give the performance some space and let the music breathe.
The melodic lines were tuneful, but some of the supportive ensemble
work was not as tight and as sharp as it could have been. For us,
the band missed a higher placing in the last variation or two with
the clarity not being what the judge was looking for.
Elland Silver took to the stage after Strata and although finishing
just one point (and one place) above David Hirst’s band, this
was the first real marker for us. Fairey’s euphonium star,
Morgan Griffiths did a great job with the band. The young man looked
relaxed as he came on stage, and he has obviously learned a great
deal from the MD's he has played under. Morgan had control of the
band from the first note to the last, and the band knew who was
boss. The playing came across as relaxed and as though the band
were enjoying it, and they did have times where it didn’t
always click together, but it had enough in it to make its mark.
Sixth overall is something Mr Griffiths and the band should be happy
with. It wasn’t a winning performance, but it was a good interpretation
and having a player of Morgan’s calibre in front of them,
rubbed off on the band.
Armthorpe certainly didn’t have a good day at all and will
be disappointed after last year’s performance, that they couldn’t
make more of an impression. Going up a section has been a tough
call for the band, and they will look to do much better, next time
Yorkshire Building Society Concert were next, and what a crackerjack
of a performance this was. For the first time in the whole of the
contest, parts of the score were coming through that had not been
heard all day. It was confident, lyrical, and for anyone in the
hall unsure of who was on stage, they knew it was a good band. Michael
Hannan didn’t ask anything that his band couldn’t give
back in return, and although at times the performance had momentary
lapses, it was always going to take some removing from qualifying.
For the first time, we heard five variations where the standard
was constant throughout. Awarded 188 points, the band certainly
deserves a crack at the title in September - they were worthy winners.
Frickley/South Elmsall will be disappointed with their showing
having made a real impression in 2003. It wasn’t a bad performance,
but they were one of the few bands who didn’t look comfortable
with the test piece. They never really got going enough to make
a bid for qualification, but will hope for better luck elsewhere
West Yorkshire with the experienced campaigner, Barry Thompson
was the first of two bands to set themselves up on stage in a different
format. The band opted for the back row cornets to sit where the
euphoniums would be, and they had three rows in the middle of the
band. The horns had euphoniums and baritones behind, with the basses
in there normal position. Certainly a different sound and one that
the adjudicator liked as he awarded them fourth place overall. One
thing for definite, the playing was tight and compact, and with
this in mind, it worked. The formation raised a few eyebrows in
the hall, but it didn’t matter, Barry Thompson’s thinking
paid off, and fourth is a great result for them.
Rockingham made a welcome return to the areas and immediately made
their mark on the contest. This is a very capable set of musicians
and Frank Hoyland did a sterling job. It was not a winning performance,
but a comfortable one, and having been placed seventh at the Mineworkers
will use this performance as another stepping stone to making its
mark at contests.
The door was very much still open for another band to grab the
qualification spot for Harrogate and that’s exactly what Barnsley
Building Society did. Relegated last year, they looked full of confidence
as they came onto stage, and they pulled a performance out of the
bag. The playing was tight, and yet the music was given time to
breathe and in addition, the band coped with the different variations
very well. The band’s tempos and dynamics were well balanced
with the acoustic of the hall, and in the final variations; had
clarity that some bands didn’t match. Sydney Swancott had
his two bands for Harrogate unless South Yorkshire Police could
remove one of them.
The band certainly gave it a crack with a good opening, and again
sensible tempos with good solo and ensemble playing. It certainly
had potential, but lacked that extra punch needed to qualify. The
band should be pleased to have come in the top three after finishing
eighth in 2002.
Mention must be given to Rockingham’s soprano player, Max
Townsend. Max received recognition from the Yorkshire Regional Committee
for fifty years of playing with bands at the areas, a terrific achievement,
and congratulations from 4BR.
The first contest though belonged to Yorkshire Building Society
Concert and Michael Hannan, and its fellow Building Society friends
from Barnsley. Both bands deserve a crack at the title come September,
in their own county. They should do well.