2004 North of England Regional Championships -
Saturday 20th March
Test Piece: Vizcaya –
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.