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2004 London and the Southern Counties Regional Championships - Retrospective

Third Section
Sunday 21st March - Starts 10.00am

Test Piece: Vizcaya – Gilbert Vinter
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.

Malcolm Wood

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