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2012 was a year when class mattered.
The familiar names of world banding topped the contest winning charts – from Foden’s and Black in the UK to Eikanger in Norway and Woolston Brass in New Zealand.
With just a few exceptions, the favourites tended to live up to their pre-contest tags at the major events – from Flowers at Butlins to Cory at Brass in Concert.
Lots of quality outfits to choose from then as a potential ‘Band of the Year’, with our five for consideration in alphabetical order: Black Dyke, Brass Band Schoonhoven, Co-operative Funeralcare, Cory and Foden’s.
Plenty of others to consider too such as Flowers, Leyland, Eikanger, Limburgse, Woolston Brass, Manger, Buizingen, Tongwynlais and Fountain City to name but a few – but these five for us, just popped their heads above the rest.
All the talk for half a year and more was about the possibility of the greatest Grand Slam of them all.
The Queensbury band won the Yorkshire Area, cashed in at Whit Friday, reclaimed the European in thrilling fashion in Rotterdam and pummelled the opposition at the English National.
It didn't quite happen.
They came mighty close at the British Open in coming runner-up, and even a lowly ninth place finish at the Nationals couldn’t disguise the fact that they had enjoyed a quite outstanding year.
Brass Band Schoonhoven
In 2011 this impressive, musically flexible ensemble gained recognition in being one of our five bands to consider as ‘Band of the Year’ - and in 2012 they deserve the accolade once again.
Winners of the Flemish Open at the beginning of the season and of the Dutch Nationals for a third successive year to close.
They also won the Euro Brass title and shocked the banding world to its core in coming third at the Europeans – including gaining 99 points for their performance of ‘Audivi Media Nocte’ in the own choice section of the contest.
Perhaps the most improved band of 2012.
The Scots put their contesting reputation on the line eight times during the season and came away with domestic wins at the Scottish Championship, West Lothian, Land O’ Burns and the Scottish Open.
However, it was their performances away from their homeland that really showed their renewed self confidence, with fine top six finishes at the Europeans and London and seventh place at the British Open.
They even managed to provide plenty of sugar coated entertainment at Brass in Concert too.
A year in which one era ended and a new one began for the Welsh champions.
Dr Robert Childs ended his record breaking tenure with victory at the Welsh Area and an emotionally fuelled swansong at the Europeans.
Then, Philip Harper dismissed any notion the critics had that he wasn’t up to the job.
He led Cory to podium finishes at the British Open and National Finals, before rounding off the year with victory at Brass in Concert and regaining their ranking as the World’s number 1 band.
Odd to think now that after two third placed finishes at the NW Area and English Nationals, people were asking the question whether or not the musical partnership between the Sandbach band and Allan Withington would ever work.
Not now they are not.
Historic wins at the British Open and National Finals coupled with some sublime recordings and some thrilling concerts performances (including one very special one with Howard Snell at the RNCM Festival of Brass) gave Foden’s a year to remember like no other for over a century.