Ripper!!! Ripon City celebrate their Area title success
Picture: Steve Jack
It's fair to say they know a thing or two about what it takes to be an Olympian in the North of England.
The region has a very proud history of producing the type of performers who can more than hold their own at the very highest level.
Dedicating your time in pursuit of that ultimate goal is a huge commitment – and it was great to hear that each of the nine bands who made it to the starting line for this contest had put in the hard graft.
It resulted in a pretty good contest for adjudicator Mike Kilroy and the audience to enjoy.
Each of the bands will have left Darlington the better for having tackled Philip Harper’s cinematic work. ‘Olympus’ may have been bold, colourful and dramatic in its inspiration, but it still needed a fair degree of control of the basics of good banding technique.
Only two gained the all important qualification places that were on offer, but all nine delivered performances of note.
Fine if obscure
Mike Kilroy gave a fine, if slightly obscure, assessment of what he'd been listening to and gave those involved plenty of food for thought. He was complimentary, but not falsely so.
The analogy he drew with his son’s attempts to draw God was stretching things a bit perhaps, but the sentiment was appreciated.
Philip Harper's transparent score worked best when the MDs took full notice of the clearly marked instructions on its pages: Thankfully, most did just that, leaving the more esoteric considerations at arm’s length.
All in place
With all the basic requirements in place, Ripon City, conducted by Malcolm Dibb took the honours in fine style.
Full of energy, balance and solid technique, the North Yorkshire outfit produced an account that brought the colour out of the score without over egging the drama.
It was good see that the contribution of the excellent percussion team wasn’t overlooked either, as they added rhythmic clarity and well defined effect from start to finish. It was a classy winner.
Joining them in Cheltenham will be Kirkby Lonsdale, after Alan Greenwood’s band produced a performance of control, balance and solidity.
It didn’t quite have the high gloss sheen of the winners – more a classy matt finish, but all the essential elements were in the right place and played with considered musicality, especially from the individual soloists.
Just missing out was a well presented account from Marske Brass in third who delivered a spirited and colourful account, as did Billingham Silver who had to settle for fourth.
Neither band quite displayed enough consistency to have pushed for the qualification places but would have left Darlington pleased with their efforts.
Mix and match
The great mix and match of youthful vitality and level headed experience saw NASUWT Riverside Concert under the permanently smiling Bryan Tait come fifth, whilst Stape Silver produced a purposeful account to end sixth.
After these bands the standard did start to wane, although East Riding of Yorkshire may rue a lack of stamina as their promising account just ran out of steam, whilst Backworth Colliery and Bearpark & Esh Colliery couldn’t quite maintain consistent levels of execution in what were well planned out accounts under their experienced MDs.
Two solid bands head for Cheltenham, with perhaps a little more hard graft to out in if they are to claim a possible podium finish.