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2004 North of England Regional Championships - Retrospective

Third Section
Saturday 20th March

Test Piece: Vizcaya – Gilbert Vinter
Adjudicator: David Read

Another fairly small field of bands took to the stage on the Saturday to try and catch the ear of the movements most experienced adjudicator David Read, and for the most part they did just that. In addition the winners here gave one of the best performances of the test piece, “Vizcaya” that we have heard from any of the regions and fully deserved their three point clear victory.

David Read knows the score on this piece in more than one way. He was the Principal Cornet player at the famous GUS Band when Gilbert Vinter came to them and produced a series of fine works, including his famous quartets such as “Fancy’s Knell”. “Vizcaya”, although written for light orchestra was amended by the composer after his sojourns to Kettering and his discovery that brass bands could break themselves down into balanced quartets. GUS at the time had one of the finest quartets in the business, headed by David Read, and so Vinter added the quartet section in the middle of the piece after he realised it’s potential. It pays to know these things it seems – as the conductors who really made an impression on David were the ones who had the good sense to ensure that this area of the piece was played in a balanced way.

Lockwood under John Roberts couldn’t be faulted. This was an excellent rendition of a difficult work from start to finish that benefited from a mature sound from the band that had depth and tunefulness. They did suffer one or two little moments, but none that mattered and theirs was the outstanding performance of the day. Even though they haven’t been around long, last years Fourth Section winners here should travel to the finals as one of the favourites if they continue to play to this form. They are certainly a band on the up.

Joining them will be Carlisle St. Stephens, one of the most famous banding names of the region and who put in a fine performance of the test piece that gave them a deserved second place. They were not in the dame class as Lockwood for sure – they didn’t have the depth of sound, but they had an MD who made the most of his resources and gave the music time to breath. It worked well, and the quartet section was particularly well handled. Congratulations to them.

Third place went to Feryhill Town who we tipped to come 6th pre contest, and who played quite excellently to come home in the top three. Again, there wasn’t the depth of sound that so stood out Lockwood, but they had a lovely sense of flow between the variations that suited their lighter sound. We did have them fourth, but again David Read rewarded their MD for giving the music the chance to come through and the fact that they didn’t overblow. He was right and we were wrong.

Behind them came Stape Silver who had too many unforced errors to have made a mark higher up the prize table (although they did have a super horn section and neat sop player), whilst both Swinton and District Excelsior and Dearham (who we tipped to win) just didn’t get to grips with the technical demands placed upon them. Tuning in both performances was wayward (especially the trombones) and there was a sense that it was a bit of a struggle in places.

Meanwhile both Bearpark and Esh and Kirkby Lonsdale found Gilbert Vinter’s “Vizcaya” hard going. Both again had their moments when things were settled and lively, but these tended to be in the movements when the dynamic markings were higher. The lower markings and some of the more exposed playing was where things went a bit awry. Still, in relation to other performances we have heard around the country these were no better or worse than anywhere else.

Lockwood were a class apart here and sounded a good quality Second Section band, whilst Carlisle seem to have enough about them to more than hold their own come the Finals. It will be interesting to hear how they do though.

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