2006 Tameside Youth Entertainment Contest - retrospective


John Stirzaker was one of just a few hardy souls who had a fantastic day's entertainment at the Tameside Youth Contest.

Anybody who regularly attends contests will know; If the Youth element is mentioned, then we are always told to support our future, and to look after bandings future.

So it comes as a disappointment that a Youth contest held in the shadow of Saddleworth Moor, had very little support from brass supporters. From the first band to the last, the 102 Tameside Hippodrome remained virtually empty, which was a pity as this entertainment contest set out and achieved what it was supposed to do - entertain!
The first band, Youth Brass 2000 kicked off at noon with a rousing fanfare, and we were treated to arrangements of 'Singing in the Rain', 'The Great Escape', and 'Mac the Knife', a great start that was to set the standard for the rest of the day. Conductor Chris Jeans, would have been pleased with a performance that earned them a fourth place.
Boarshurst, conducted by Dean Redfern followed, starting with 'Castle Caerphilly', oddly without their percussion section, and continued with the ever popular 'Irish Blessing',  the 'James Bond' theme, and a good presentation of 'Londonderry Air'. Uncertainess in some areas was  probably the reason for their seventh place. 
St Helens Youth Training, under the experienced baton of Linda Nicholson were next on stage, opening with Edward Gregson's 'March Prelude'. They continued with 'Moon River', a new arrangement of the 'Ugly Duckling', and finished with 'Toccata and Fugue'. The whole performance was well presented, with members of the band announcing each piece, and was generally a well disciplined performance, sadly only worth a disappointing ninth place.
Macclesfield were placed in eighth place, with their musical director Louise Renshaw. A varied programme included 'Westward Ho', 'African Funk', and the highlight for me, the flugel solo 'Concerto De Aranjuez', which was beautifully played, by a young lady who clearly will go far in banding. They closed with a little over ambitious performance of 'Kalinka'.
The days winners, Smithills Schools took to the stage next, under the baton of Chris Wormald. They announced themselves with a  'Mac the Knife', which really demonstrated their great sound. The programme included the cornet solo, 'Kissing a Fool', stylishly played, and the horn solo, 'Laura'.

Super Smithills: Chris Wormald leads Smithills to victory

All the programme had been arranged by the Musical Director, and he added yet another fine arrangement with the hymn 'Crimond'. The finale was Respighi's 'Pines of Rome', in places a bit of a challenge for this otherwise excellent band. The brilliant percusion section, especially the kit drummer, won a well deserved prize.
The Fred Longhurst School Band followed under the directorship of H. Robinson, and in a programme that included 'Youth in Brass', the euphonium solo 'Londonderry Air', and 'One Note Fantasy', they came a creditable sixth.
The top three bands were for many a long way ahead of the others, and third placed Stockport Schools were in fine form.

Second spot: Stockport head for the runners up place

With the smallest trombone section of the day (just two in number) but a bass trombone who more than made up for any missing players. The band quite rightly took two of the solo prizes; the beatiful sounding flugel, who played 'My Destiny', and for us, the best soloist of the day, the Eb bass who would not have looked out of place in a heavy metal band,  but played 'Carnival for Bass' quite brilliantly. The band concluded with the march 'Castle Caerphilly', which showcased the principal cornet's wonderful sound and technique.
Hair today - star tomorrow: Stockport's tuba star wows the hairdressers in the audience

Fifth placed Poynton Youth contained a  programme that included the well played cornet solo 'Malaguena', and Larson's 'Trombone Concerto', that won the skilfull soloist the trombone prize. The programme was concluded with 'Fantasy on American Spirituals', a good effort all round, under the directorship of Colin Duxbury.
Lions Youth from Cheshire, ended the contest, with for us, the best performance of the day. Their tight and tuneful playing opened with the march 'Home Again', the horn solo 'Caprice', which must have only just missed the solo prize, and the euphonium solo performance of 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair', handed the soloist a much deserved prize. There were a few slips however in this performance which must have cost them, which concluded with a new arrangement of the party favourite, 'The Music Man'. 
Lions roar: Lions Brass go through their paces

In the end adjudicator Paul Andrews picked the slightly more demanding programme for the first prize, and while all the competing bands showed their skills, and gave the tiny audience hope for the future, the top three bands were quite a way ahead of the rest of the field. The soloist prizes were all well deserved, although the competition for these was much tighter, and all the soloists delivered excellent performances.
This was a very enjoyable day, that was very well organised by the North West Counties Brass Band Association and Tameside Council. The changeover from one band to another went very smoothly, and the prize giving was a slick affair. If there was a gripe it was the closed adjudication, which really wasn't needed here.

Given that quite rightly, the contest was pre drawn, at least one Musical Director used their own arrangements, and presented their own band, it still didn't need the judge being incarcerated for nearly five hours. Would there have been any difference if Paul Andrews could also see what was going on?

While there are no points for the bands choreography, the adjudicator would have been able to see enjoyment the contestants were clearly having on stage. We would also have been able have names put to some of our future stars.
When Southport recently closed its Pleasure Park, the owners blamed Sunday shopping, for the parks demise. We don't know whether this was the reason for the poor attendance here, but if it was then those people who missed the great entertainment here should be thoroughly ashamed.

It may be that the audience were all at the Scottish Open, or over the Pennines at the Malton Contest, but there is still no excuse Next year's contest is on Sunday November 25th, at 12 noon, so put it in your diaries now, and give our future players some encouragement by filling the Hippodrome, and let them see what our top bands saw last weekend in Gateshead - a virtually full hall!

John Stirzaker


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