2004 London and the Southern Counties Regional
Championships - Retrospective
Sunday 21st March - Starts 10.00am
Test Piece: Vizcaya – Gilbert
Adjudicator: Dennis Wilby
This was a contest that was won at the beginning and the end. Three
of the top four played within the first third of the contest and
deservedly, Sandhurst Silver took the title by four clear points
having been drawn sixth. It might have been early in the day, but
Sandhurst would be hard to remove from the three bands that will
go to Harrogate and in the end, they proved nigh untouchable.
In his comments, adjudicator Dennis Wilby talked at length about
Vizcaya, and he explained that three bands stood out. In
addition, Mr Wilby also said that he struggled with a lot of performances
outside the top four, mainly placing those in the middle, as opposed
to those who finished at the bottom, as the test piece was difficult
for third section bands. From the eighteen bands that competed though,
Dennis Wilby made the point that eleven bands were ‘no where
near’ and whilst agreement is met that at times the standard
wasn’t that great, the comments could have been phrased a
little more tactfully.
Stantonbury Brass, Littleport Brass and Grimsdyke
Brass all set the standard for everybody to beat when they
drew 1-3 respectively. The quality of sound was good and the bands
coped were the music was exposed. Dennis Wilby decided that Stantonbury
would finish seventh, and he had his real markers with Littleport
(second) and Grimsdyke (fourth).
Jubilee Brass and Letchworth Garden City
were the first bands really to find the test piece, just too much.
Trombone and horn players were like frightened rabbits (throughout
the contest as a whole) but it was noticeable in these two performances.
This is of course affected, the overall quality of sound that suffered
enormously at times. The two bands suffered with balance and tuning,
and it never ever happened for them at all.
Sandhurst was our pre-contest favourites and they
didn’t let 4BR and most importantly, themselves down. It really
was as convincing a performance as the four-point margin they won
with, suggested. The trombone and horn players did very well early
on and the MD kept things tightly under control throughout. A nice
balance throughout with a quality of sound that was better than
anything else on the day. Having played in Dundee last year, this
band won’t fear anyone in the finals, and with a little bit
of luck, the journey home, they might just have a trophy with them.
St Sebastian’s, Jersey Premier, Hangleton and KM
Medway Concert Brass, were the next four bands on stage
and they all had days they will want to forget.
St Sebastian’s were expected to do well
and will be annoyed with themselves no doubt for coming ninth. The
soloists had an off day, and the overall sound lacked punch. It
certainly wasn’t the worst performance, but one that wouldn’t
threaten come results time.
Jersey Premier and Hangleton
really struggled with the score and they were placed thirteenth
and fourteenth respectively. The effort was there, but the musical
content not what the judge was looking for.
Someone has to come last and sadly this fell this year, to KM
Medway Concert Brass. The band has recently appointed Garrie
Harvey as its new MD recently, and sadly, it was a performance that
came too soon for the band. Unfortunately, it started uncomfortably
for them, and it got worse. No doubt, the band will want to bounce
back stronger after a couple of lean years in this section.
Great Yarmouth Brass, Epsom & Ewell, Hitchin and Hungerford
drew eleven to fourteen and it was clear why Mr Wilby struggled
with placing the bands in order. In some cases, it was solo problems,
balance, tuning, and for some all of them together being reasons
why they never got to grips with the score.
Many of the bands took to the stage without a full of compliment
of players. Sometimes it was cornets, horns, but more often than
not, a band would be a bass short, and whilst everybody should be
applauded for competing, those who were short of the odd player,
came unstuck at the end, which was a real shame.
The contest and qualification was still very much ‘up for
grabs’ and the last four bands that played certainly matched
the standard at the beginning of the contest.
Bradwell Silver produced a real good show and
hopefully will be chuffed to have come fifth after a disappointing
result in 2003. The playing was good, but a few slips around the
stand proved costly.
Woodbridge Excelsior followed them on stage and
it was much the same story. Some real good playing was on show,
nice soloists, good quality of sound, but slips again cost them,
and unfortunately, they didn’t quite match up to the top three.
Chinnor were aware that a qualification stop was
still a possibility, and they grabbed it with both hands. The band
seemed comfortable with the music, and they were not in awe of it,
in anyway. The MD used common sense and kept things simple but effective.
The solo work was good and in tune, and this made a big difference
to the overall sound. Without a question, it was a top three performance,
and Chinnor deserve a crack at the title in September.
The final band of the day was Fulbourn who will
be frustrated not to have come higher than eighth. After last years
result (second) the band knew they could cut it at this level, but
they sadly had just a few too many errors that counted them out
of the running for Harrogate early on, but recovered sufficiently
to be given a respectable placing.
Sandhurst deserved to be crowned winners and Chinnor along with
Littleport Brass will go to Harrogate with confidence.