2009 Scottish Regional Championship - Championship Section - retrospective


Two into three doesn't go in Scotland - but you won't hear Scottish Co-op or Kirkintilloch complain about that this time around...

Scottish Co-op get hold of the winners trophy once again...

At every ‘Scottish’, interest is always high to see which one of the ‘Big Three’ of Kirkintilloch, Scottish Co-op and Whitburn will take the honours, or if one of the less-fancied contenders will cause an upset, as Newtongrange (deservedly) did in 2005.

In 2009 no upset was caused, with the traditional big guns north of the border claiming the first three places in a ‘Scottish’ of varying quality, which featured quite a marked difference in standard between the more successful ensembles and bands at the bottom of the table.

Pretty clear

Adjudicators Alan Morrison and Lt. Col. Graham Jones were pretty clear in their remarks regarding what they were looking for on the day, stating there were so many factors in Gilbert Vinter’s ‘Salute to Youth’ that needed to be considered in order to produce a cohesive musical performance.

Alan thought that the third movement had been the best generally from all the bands (as can be seen from some of the reviews below), and urged conductors to take full notice of the linking lines the music presents - something very few MDs on the day achieved fully.


Graham focused mostly on the second movement and on bands inserting musical directions that are simply not written in the score – an anomaly that has been something of an Achilles Heel to bands the length and breadth of the country, with a liberal sprinkling of added rallentandos being the main concern. Graham’s thoughts about sticking to the score were very simply put – ‘don’t add musical features that are not written!’

Boxes ticked

Scottish Co-op
claimed the Scottish title (their first since 2006) with a performance under Russell Gray that ticked all of the adjudicators’ boxes.

Co-op started with a confident first movement that featured excellent ensemble work with just a few slight moments of unease in tuning, whilst the second had a lovely start, with cornet soloist Simon Estermann a class act throughout.

Simon was the well-deserved winner of the ‘Best Cornet’ medal, and with the flugel and euphonium soloists contributing greatly this was starting to be a really good show.

The third movement however, was taken at a very fast tempo in which some of the detail was lost in the boomy acoustic of the Caird Hall.

The band had the players to cope with this though, and from an excellent opening from horns and first baritone, it developed into something of great beauty, with fine contributions from cornet and euphonium. Just a bit more space would maybe have been preferable in some areas, and whilst 4BR had Co-op third come results time, when the cornet, horn and trombone prizes were all awarded to the band everyone realised they would be in the mix for both London and Linz in 2010.

Full blooded

Second-placed Kirkintilloch, under Selmer Simonsen, gave a full-blooded reading of the work that was very different in execution than the other bands on the day.

Kirky’s first movement had some great moments, with the soprano/cornet duet working out perfectly and some great sounds from the middle of the band. The second movement was the most individualistic of the three, with a noticeable sense of  ‘flow’ being the MD’s intention.

There was again some wonderful playing and a nice build to the end, but a touch more space in some corners could have possibly reaped a higher reward. The solo cornet and flugel were both outstanding, and the movement built to an expansive close.

‘Relaxation’ had a controlled opening, and Kirky’s solo baritone Dr. James Corrigan impressed with his introduction to the euphonium solo. A barnstorming finish (with soprano Steve Stewart managing a cracker of a top C at the end) brought the curtain down on a performance that was enough to get the band to London, but not quite enough to be able to turn the tables on Scottish Co-op. 

Too many scrapes
4BR enjoyed Whitburn’s performance under Steven Mead, and thought the first prize was going to be a close run thing between the band from West Lothian and Kirkintilloch.

The first movement, though, did not give the band the best start, as too many scrapes and inaccuracies took the sheen off what was otherwise a nice bit of playing – augmented by some great side drum work.

It was the band’s second movement where they really started to shine however. Everything was so well-shaped and phrased, with moments of real beauty being created throughout, and 4BR thought that this alone would have secured Whitburn at least a qualification spot. The cornet and euphonium playing from Chris and Evelyn Bradley was sublime, and the movement ended with a real sense of majesty.

The final movement was taken at a sensible tempo, with fine contributions again from all of the bands soloists. The tambourine just got slightly out of kilter with the baritone soloist (one of the points the adjudicators said they were looking at especially), but this was a small blip on an otherwise impressive showing.

However, it was not to be for the 2008 Scottish champions, but on this form they should not be too far away at the other major events they compete at this year.


Fourth place went to a delighted Bon-Accord Silver, whose performance under John Maines was very similar to the one he gave with St. Keverne in the West of England - albeit one which reaped higher rewards in Dundee.

They started with a solid enough first movement, but without quite the level of playing the three bands that eventually finished above them displayed. Some nice cornet playing characterised the solid second movement, but the opening was slightly lumpy and some of the sounds seemed a bit strained in places.

Like many, the third movement was easily the best of their performance, with excellent contributions from Richard Kidd on euphonium (who deservedly won the Best Euphonium prize). It really shifted along at a great tempo, and although some of the quieter dynamics were notably marked up (particularly at the very beginning) Bon-Accord took a well deserved 4th place, which will give confidence for the remainder of the year.

Wonderful interpretation

If Kingdom Brass had had the players to fully respond to conductor James Gourlay’s wonderful interpretation of Vinter’s piece, they could well have expected to have perhaps got to London.

The opening fanfares were so well shaped, but little niggles and splits did take some of the shine off things as the first movement progressed. The second movement was a masterclass of musicality with excellent cornet and flugel playing, and the third romped along to a convincing ending, aided by some lovely horn playing.

However, there were shaky moments from the players throughout the performance, and if these weaknesses can be ironed out for next year Kingdom can expect to push for an even higher placing in 2010.


Sixth place went to Dalmellington, under the evergreen Archie Hutchison. The band put forward a classic interpretation of the work, but one that had its fair share of frailties.

The opening movement started with some steady fanfares, but the tuning in the middle of the band was not quite 100% throughout, although the movement ended nicely.

The second movement opened with some fragility, but recovered with some lovely cornet work and accompanying parts. A sensible tempo (this seems to be a recurring comment!) was chosen for the third movement, which featured some fine baritone playing, but the ending was a touch scrappy, and as a result the band would have to be content with 6th place.

Loss of tempo

Clackmannan District Brass’s
showing was unfortunately hampered by losses of tempo in many areas, and some quite awful tuning problems that occasionally reared its ugly head.

Under former Scottish Co-op trombone star Paul Kiernan, the band had a solid sound but too many of the aforementioned errors in key places spoilt the performance.

The opening of the second movement was absolutely wonderful and the band’s euphonium soloist was superb, but with tuning and lack of rhythmic drive all too apparent, 7th was the most Clackmannan were ever going to expect.

Did not quite deliver

Unison Kinneil
did not deliver quite to the level that would see them finishing any higher than 8th.

Under Andrew Duncan, the first movement was solid enough, but some misplaced brash playing was not really in keeping with the style intended, and the second movement saw too many important musical lines passed over, with harsh playing again spoiling the sections involving louder dynamics.

The third movement featured the band’s best playing, but it was all too, as there were still pockets of bad tuning that took the sheen off the overall picture. It was a shame, as the movement was taken at a very sensible tempo and featured some nice euphonium playing (although the top Bbs were horrendously flat in places), and 8th was a fair return.

No complaints

Dunaskin Doon
under John Boax can have no complaints about finishing in 9th. In common with every performance, there were moments to admire about Dunaskin’s playing, but the band was hampered by too many instances of poor tuning and nervousness from the soloists.

The same goes for Bo’ness & Carriden under Michael Marzella. Bo’ness had a great euphonium soloist and delivered some lovely musical moments (in particular the small baritone duet in the second movement), but again, instances of poor ensemble and tuning hampered the chances.

Why the bass section had to try and blast their way through in some places was a mystery, as this was a further barrier to Bo’ness being able to compete with some of the more polished performances on the day.

Mini contest

So Scottish Co-op return to the top of the banding tree in Scotland, and it will be interesting to listen to the mini-contest between themselves and Kirkintilloch at the Nationals in the Royal Albert Hall.

For the other bands who missed out on qualifying it is not so much a case of back to the drawing board, but more of a re-analysis of how they can mount a stronger challenge next year in what must be one of the most competitive contesting areas in the UK.

Robert Richardson


2016   2015   2014   2013   2012
2011   2010   2009   2008   2007
2006   2005   2004 (1)   2004 (2)   2003
2002   2001