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2004 West of England Regional Championships - Retrospective

Fourth Section
Saturday 27th March

Test Piece: Partita – Edward Gregson
Adjudicator: C. Brian Buckley

Apologies first and foremost. We were unable to get to hear all the bands in the Section as there was an overlapping contest in the other hall at the Riviera Centre on the Saturday. Still, we had a spy in the camp who also heard a fair few, so we did cover a good percentage of the runners and riders.

Brian Buckley certainly heard all the bands, and was an impressed man when he finally made it out of the tent. He gave a very precise and detailed address to the full Arena Hall at the conclusion of the contest that was full of good sense and constructive comment.

“Bands didn’t force their sound and didn’t overblow”, he said. “I was grateful for that. Each movement had its own pitfalls, styles and even joys. The First Movement really tested players under stress with the octaves, whilst I felt some of the pauses at the need of the movement were cut off too sharply. The Second Movement is a superb chorale, but the quaver pick up should be elongated and even lingered over. Most cornet players were uncomfortable with their obligato solo, whilst the tuning was poor with the mutes. The Third Movement is marked rhythmico and not everyone played it like that.”

Constructive and full of good sense – Brian is a popular figure in this neck of the woods and he later told us that he felt the future of banding in the West is very good. Initiatives through the education system that involves the bands themselves is starting to pay dividends, and this was patently obvious to the casual listener as all the bands had a fair percentage of pre teen youngsters in their ranks. The Cornish Revolution has started – it may take ten years to come to fruition, but it is a long term plan that certainly deserved to succeed.

The three bands making the long trip to Harrogate later in the year will be Pillowell Silver, Bratton Silver and Drybrook and District. All three will be strong contenders.

We heard Pillowell ourselves – they were drawn number 2 out of the 21 bands on show, and they certainly gave a wonderfully constructed performance. They had followed on a very young band in the shape of Porthleven Town who opened proceedings and who had a tremendous amount of young talent on show. The pick of their performance was the young girl on solo cornet, who appeared to be around 8 years of age! What a little star! Great pure tone and a lip made of cast iron – a future superstar for certain.

A couple of bands later and Drybrook gave another mature account of the Gregson set work that impressed Brian Buckley. Theirs was perhaps the most consistent performance through the three movements, but didn’t quite have the sheen to it that Pillowell certainly had.

There were many more good quality performances our mole said, from that point on with some fine youngsters playing exceptionally well. A special mention must go to the young soprano player of Okehampton Excelsior who was perhaps the best on day.

The contest came to a climax with the last few bands on the day. Downton put in a fine show from draw number 15 to come 6th, whilst Swindon and Weymouth off draw numbers 18 and 19 showed enough class about themselves to come 4th and 5th respectively.

Other performances to mention came from Calne Training who were placed 7th and Hatherleigh who came 8th.

Brian Buckley though was a very impressed man. 21 performances, all of which gave him something to praise – some had more little problems than others, but he was most impressed by the MD’s who used their intelligence to ensure that the lively acoustic didn’t rob their bands of clarity. Many others in higher sections could have taken note.

Iwan Fox
© 4BarsRest

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