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2004 North West Regional Championships - Retrospective

Fourth Section
Saturday 20th March

Test Piece: Partita – Edward Gregson
Adjudicator: John Maines

This really was an eventful contest to say the least. Twice during the proceedings the contest had to be stopped – firstly for a fire alarm going off during the performance of Aycliffe and Brancepeth and once when a lady in the audience fell in the hall and hurt her arm. In addition there was the hold up caused by the non appearance of the band drawn number 4, Askam Town (although they made it to the stage just when band number 5, Dunston Silver were taking their seats). It led to a hold up of around 15 minutes. Who said there was no excitement in the lower sections?

The top prize was awarded Billingham Silver who really did give a commanding performance of the Gregson set work, “Partita” that was powerful and consistent in equal measures, and which really caught the ear of the adjudicator John Maines. He had no problem in giving the band a three point wining margin, and there was no one on the audience who would have disagreed. We had tipped Billingham to come third before the contest, but after they had played there was little doubt they were going to be the band to beat. On the day, the remaining 10 bands couldn’t match them and they will be looking forward to Harrogate, after already starting the year well on the contest stage.

Second place went to the lads and lasses from Durham Constabulary who also put in a mature sounding performance that was well directed by Ken MacDonald. Theirs didn’t quite have the composure and control of Billingham, but it was nonetheless a very decent account of a difficult work.

After the top two, there were just the two other bands that really caught the ear and John Maines quite correctly placed them 3rd and 4th.

Barrow Concert were our dark horse choice and they put in a very decent account of the piece that benefited from some fine individual work from the solo cornet and trombones in particular, whilst Five Rivers Brass just had too many little unforced errors that robbed points from a neatly packaged performance.

The final two top six places were taken by Ulverston Town who played before Five Rivers Brass and suffered too many errors and some tuning problems and Ripon City, who were our favourites for the title in our pre contest preview. On the day though they never quite gelled on stage and the ensemble playing was too ragged and scrappy too often for them to challenge for a podium place.

After the top six the standard fell away somewhat. Trimdon had their moments whilst there was that hiatus in the Ayecliffe and Brancepeth show. The organisers gave them the opportunity to play their performance as a whole again (they were due to start the final movement when things went peetong), but on the advice of the adjudicator they started from the last movement. It was the sensible thing to do – the band were playing OK before the break so it would have been a bit cruel on them if they had started again and it went all wrong. In the end they were awarded 8th place, which was about right.

After them came the bottom three of Stanhope, Dunston and Askam, all of whom found it hard going on the test piece. No did anything too wrong, but he basics were not always under control and as a result the ensemble sound suffered too often. Askam and Dunston could justifiably point to the problems when each just about had to take eachothers places on stage, but we don't think it would have changed the result at the top of the table. No complaints on their final placings from us.

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