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2011 Welsh Regional Championship — Postcard from Swansea

Despite the quality the quantity remains the problem in Wales...

Welsh
An illusion or reality?

The Welsh illusion remains; despite the hazy miasma of outstanding musical performances in Swansea almost masking the reality.  

Imperious victory


There was no doubting Cory’s imperious victory in the Championship Section, or the impressive standard of the other winners – but peer into that celebratory mist and the substance of Welsh banding still exhibited the crumbling texture of a Caerphilly cheese.  

Kid themselves all they like; padding out the Sunday with a short concert by the students of the Royal Welsh College and a leisurely lunch break was a neat bit of window dressing, but what was a few years ago a bit of a worry, has now started to take on the look of a full blown panic.

And the Welsh don’t panic very well.

Return home

Cory, Beauaris and Tredegar will hope to return home from the Albert Hall with at least an automatic qualification place for 2012, whilst the bands that travel to Cheltenham have realistic hopes of celebrating another batch of podium silverware.

Wales will be sending a strong set of representatives to the Finals, but even though there will be a great deal of pride in what they will achieve, back at home things are not looking so rosy.

Sobering experience

Talking to people connected with bands at the Brangwyn Hall was a sobering experience – and not just because the bar prices have been hiked up.

French retirement

At least one band in the top section had to call in no end of old favours to coax people out of retirement to be bale to make it to the starting line up, whilst a band in the First Section even had to drag one player out of their enjoyable French retirement to ensure they were able to compete.

Of the five bands in the Fourth Section, two were fledgling returnees in very fragile states of rebuilding, whilst a number of others in the Third and Second were unable to field full compliments of players.

Postcard
Well done Dad! Chris Turner and daughter celebrate Cory's win

Fragile state

4BR was sat with Paul Hindmarsh, one of the most respected commentators on the banding movement in the UK over the last 25 years or more, and although he was suitably impressed by the standard of the best bands in each of the five sections, he also expressed his concern over the lack of numbers and the fragile state of many of the other competitors on display.

Good news

The good news is that work is now being done to rescue Welsh banding from being added to the list of the endangered species of the musical world.

The Royal Welsh College is providing a lifeline of young playing talent that is being encouraged to join bands in the Welsh valleys, (although further North there are still great difficulties as seen by the reported demise of Pont of Ayr once again), whilst the Welsh League of contests is attracting more interest, and there is a Welsh Open contest for lower section bands in Porthcawl later in the year.

Trotman
Roll of Honour for John Trotman

Good price

Swansea Council still provides the superb Brangwyn Hall at a price not to be sneezed at, and the organisation as always over the two days remains slick and professional – and bi-lingual too.

Service

There were plenty of supporting families enjoying the music in what was an encouraging take up of paying customers, and there was a fine response to the annual ‘Roll of Honour’ award to John Trotman of Cory, for his dedicated years of service to Welsh banding.

He can only hope that there are to be many more bands for him to serve so well in the year’s to come.

Iwan Fox 



Grimethorpe Colliery Band -

Sunday 19 May • Prince of Wales Theatre. Church St. Cannock WS11 1DE


Contest: scaba Entertainments

Sunday 19 May • The Hawth in Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6YZ


Newstead Brass -

Sunday 19 May • St Wilfrids Church, Church Street, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham, NG17 8LA


Black Dyke Band - Stoller Hall, Manchester

Sunday 19 May • Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1DA


Grimethorpe Colliery Band -

Sunday 19 May • Prince of Wales Centre, Church Street, Cannock, Staffs WS11 1DE WS11 1DE


Chinnor Silver

May 19 • We are looking to add a few new faces and require Bb BASS and aTUTTI CORNET . Rehearsals are on a Wednesday and held in our own bandroom. Good mix of concerts and contests planned


Lostock Hall Brass Band

May 16 • LostockHall Band 3rd Section we don't need 76 but would welcome a Trombone to join our ranks (Solo or Bass) and a Bb bass We are a friendly sociable village band with a wide variety of engagements. Situated just off M6 junction 29 close to Preston


The Corsham Band

May 16 • Due to work commitments, a vacancy has arisen for a Tenor Trombone player. First or Second position available. We are a newly promoted Second Section band with a friendly and enthusiastic team.


John Maines

BA (Hons)
Presenter, compere and conductor