2004 Welsh Regional Championships - Retrospective
Sunday: 13th March
Test Piece: Kaleidoscope – Philip
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
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
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
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
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.