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2004 Welsh Regional Championships - Retrospective

Second Section:
13th March

Test Piece: Kaleidoscope – Philip Sparke
Adjudicator: Melvin White

It was a real pleasure to hear Llanrug win the Second Section title here. Led by Gavin Saynor, the tuba virtuoso from the YBS band, they gave a most compelling account of Philip Sparke’s “Kaleidoscope” that had real hallmarks of quality from start to finish.

Melvin White was the man in the box and he was suitably impressed when we talked to him on the weekend. He thought both Llanrug and second placed Markham and District were a class apart from the rest of the field (there was a two point gap between second and third) and praised both MD’s for their approach to the music.

Where as most of the rest of the bands on the day suffered with basic tuning problems throughout, and played the first and last movements with far too much pace, the top two had a balanced tuneful band sound and took the outer two variations at a tempo that encouraged detail and cleanliness in the ensemble and solo lines. At times with some bands, some of the Waltz sections couldn’t have been performed to if the dancers were wearing ice skates greased with lard.

Llanrug are a band that has a solid core of experienced players who on this evidence wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the top section. In fact, the likes of Geriant Jones on cornet (ex Point of Ayr), Dave Roberts on euphonium (also Point) and Ian Davies were excellent and made their experience pay dividends. That said, Llanrug have also got a burgeoning crop of talented youngsters such as Aled Williams on 3rd cornet aged just 14.

Gavin Saynor let the music flow, and directed with a very precise and eloquent beat pattern that gave the ensemble real security yet allowed the solo lines the time to express themselves. Last year they were more than a little unlucky not to feature in the top prizes at the National Finals – on this evidence they will take some beating.

Just behind them came Markham and District who were directed by the experienced Nigel Seaman, and who benefited form having Phillipe Schartz of the National Orchestra of Wales on Principal Cornet. This was a fine controlled performance – the last movement in particular was spot on and had the right feel of controlled excitement. Second place and a hotel booking for Harrogate was just rewards.

Behind them the standard fell away somewhat from the remaining eight bands.

RAF St Athan had their moments and deserved their clear third place, but it was the tuning that killed off any chances they had of claiming a qualification place. They played the louder dynamics very comfortably, but when a little more reserve was required they were just caught short.

Mush the same could also be said of both Deiniolen and Conway who shone on places and made for uncomfortable listening in the others. The good points outweighed the bad though on both, and although they may be a little disappointed not to have pushed closer for a qualification place, they got what they deserved in the end.

Ynyshir Stack of Tiles and Cwmbran also had their moments of very good playing, but once more paid the penalty for poor intonation and a tendency to try and scurry through the first and last movements in an attempt to produce excitement. The piece didn’t need it and both bands didn’t have to do it as things were going OK in the middle section sin particular. 6th and 7th places were what they got and deserved.

Finally the bottom three bands came in for a little constructive criticism from the adjudicator – it would have been easy for him to have been destructive for sure. The performances of Briton Ferry, Lewis Merthyr and Blaenavon Town never got going – or did get going but with too much speed for their own good and there were some real basic problems with the intonation that grated at times and robbed some good individual playing of making more of a mark. We could have had the bottom three in any order really, but Melvin White knew exactly what was what and placed them in order and with the points he felt they deserved. No complaints we feel.

The top two will make the trip to Harrogate full of confidence though. The bands from around the other regions will also be looking to do well, but we think Wales could have two possible prize winners if they play like this there.

© 4BarsRest

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