2018 National Championship of Great Britain
First Section - As it happened

All the action from the 2018 National Championship of Great Britain First Section — As it happened

Section 1

Sunday 16, 22:17:51

Good night from Cheltenham

What a weekend

Oldham Band (Lees) victory brings to an end a terrific weekend here in Cheltenham.

Congratulations to Oldham Band (Lees), Middleton, Barnsley Brass and Stamford Brass on their National title victories and indeed to all the other prize winners.

We hope you've enjoyed our coverage this weekend. News reports will appear in the days ahead, but we bid you farewell from Cheltenham for another year.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 21:54:40

Second place: Staffordshire

Third place: Johnstone

Fourth place: Amersham

Fifth place: Dunaskin Doon

Sixth place: Ebbw Valley

Best Soloist: Helen Mitchell (soprano) — Johnstone (presented to the band rep)


Sunday 16th September
Test Piece: King Arthur — Scenes from a Radio Drama (Benjamin Britten arr. Paul Hindmarsh)
Adjudicators: Alan Bourne, David Hirst, John Maines

1. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
2. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker)
3. Johnstone (Martin Ramsay)
4. Amersham (Paul Fisher)
5. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley)
6. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)
7. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
8. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
9. Enderby (Simon Oates)
10. Freckleton (Paul Dalton)
11. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Howard J Evans)
12. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)
13. Harrogate (Dean Jones)
14. Foresters Brass (John Davis)
15. Burry Port Town (Gareth Robinson)
16. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)
17. Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates)

Best Instrumentalist: Helen Mitchell (soprano) — Johnstone

Section 1

Sunday 16, 21:18:12

Chris Thomas's Final Prediction

What an intriguing test piece Paul Hindmarsh has given us with his skilful adaptation and transcription of Britten's dramatic music.

The exposed nature of the scoring and the myriad challenges of the score have proved challenging indeed to many of the bands today, but the handful that really got to grips with the music were able to overcome its technical challenges to the point that the musical pictures flowed freely in the mind.

Chris Thomas goes for a top six of:

1. Oldham Band (Lees)
2. Staffordshire
3. Ebbw Valley
4. Sandhurst
5. Foresters
6. Amersham

Dark Horse Bournemouth Concert and Burry Port Town

Section 1

Sunday 16, 21:08:24

17. Amersham (Paul Fisher) London and SC

The opening fanfares are not totally comfortable but the dynamics are well controlled and there is some fine timp playing heard.

There is a good presence about the opening movement and it progresses into a Wild Dance that although slightly restrained in its tempo, allows the ensemble to be kept on the end of the leash. It just lacks that last ounce of excitement.

Galahad and the Holy Grail atmospheric in its sense of mystery but the playing is secure and relatively error free in comparison to many performances that we have heard today.

The battle commences in tight fashion but we just lack that last ounce of drama and the clash of steel. It's a majestic ending however and crowns a very solid, well executed account.


An exceptionally well put together account from Amersham. Not the most vivid in its picture painting perhaps but technically secure and with quality contributions from the band's soloists.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 20:39:42

16. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins) North West

What a fine opening. The fanfares are so tight and this immediately emanates both character and drama.

The Wild Dance is just that; wild and driving in its momentum but also played with precision and with a level of detail that impresses and excites.

The slow movement simply oozes character and there are gloriously atmospheric sounds. Any slips do not ruffle the musical picture and the haunting atmosphere permeates the music to the end of the movement where battle proceeds with a real clash of steel. This is vivid, powerful playing with so much detail and dramatic potency.

It's paced to perfection and in the final bars as the battle turns to an aura of mourning, we hear lovely sounds from solo tuba leading to a close of genuine majesty and pathos.


A performance of fabulous atmosphere, character and musical potency from Oldham (Lees). With just one band to go this has really thrown down the Arthurian gauntlet.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 20:32:53

15. Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates) Yorkshire

The opening fanfare is effective although the ensemble is not always as tight as it could be.

The Wild Dance is a touch unhinged at times as it propels itself forward, seemingly of its own accord. It's exciting but it's also right on the edge.

There are moments in the slow movement as tuning and a handful of wayward entries conspire to unsettle the musical picture.

And those flying entries continue during the battle where there are some grinding collisions that remain in evidence to the close.


A challenging test for Strata and a performance that never really got off the starting blocks.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 20:14:56

14. Houghton Brass (North of England) North of England

The opening fanfares emerge intact although the tempo in The Wild Dance is cautious, perhaps a little too much so as it robs the music of its inner propulsion and wild energy.

There are some uncomfortable moments in the slow movement as the exposed references to Britten's 'Piano Concerto' are all too often tentative.

The cautious approach returns in the battle scene which lacks the venom and sheer drama to draw us in.


An inconsistent account from Houghton that lacked real drama on a piece that posed real challenges to the band.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:59:33

13. Foresters Brass (John Davis) Midlands

The opening is almost understated but the cornet fanfares are tidy and the approach pays dividends when the band sound suddenly opens up. Excellent solo euphonium into The Wild Dance and this drives onward in relentless, impressive fashion.

Glowing in 'Galahad and the Holy Grail' and this captures the atmosphere of mystery so well. Quality individual entries and the musical approach is thoughtful and well considered.

The battle drives on in relentless fashion and the drama here is brought through to telling effect. This is thrilling stuff and the ensemble is as taut as any we have heard today leading to a majestic ending.


This has been a performance of high quality from Foresters. Musically intelligent and executed with a comparatively low error count.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:44:06

12. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley) Scotland

The opening cornet fanfares emerge intact and we hear fine sounds from the middle of the band with fine solo euphonium into The Wild Dance.

This has good momentum about it, although the tempo is kept on the leash. As result the level of detail impresses and this is proving to be a finely measured account.

There is a suitably haunting, dream-like atmosphere created in Galahad and Holy Grail and although there are minor clips this is a performance that continues to impress in its consistency and clear preparation.

The battle scene also takes a few musical casualties along the way with a handful of skewed individual entries ringing around the hall, but it remains impossible not to be drawn in by it.


A fine effort from the Scots. Not note perfect but highly musical and engaging in its approach.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:27:18

11. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker) Midlands

Leigh Baker gives us an antiphonal approach to the score with the front row to his right and the horns to his left. It makes for an effective opening and one which immediately grabs our interest.

The Wild Dance is impressively controlled; laced with real energy, yet with levels of detail that few bands have achieved today.

Galahad and the Holy Grail is impressively coloured. This is haunting and sets a fine atmosphere with just the odd moment of intonation detracting.

The battle is dramatic yet never overdone and the MD keeps things on a tight leash. Great sounds and those antiphonal cornets are used to effect. A measured, majestic conclusion caps a quality account from Staffordshire.


A performance of musical insight and quality from Staffordshire. This had real presence about it.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 19:11:12

10. Harrogate (Dean Jones) North of England

The opening cornet fanfares immediately get the performance off to an unsettled start, as clipped entries get in the way.

It settles, although The Wild Dance lacks the precision of detail that we are now craving, whilst issues of tuning cause problems in the ensuing slow movement...a shame as there is much to admire in the approach and interpretation.

The battle scene is more convincing as we hear the drama emerging through the music leading to a controlled, perhaps restrained, concluding flourish.


A highly engaging interpretation from Harrogate albeit one that again fell prey to mistakes and slips at crucial moments.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 18:59:04

Chris Thomas's Half Time Prediction

Chris Thomas talks to Iwan Fox about the First Section test piece and his halfway point opinion which he says is...

1. Ebbw Valley
2. Sand hurst
3. Burry Port

Section 1

Sunday 16, 18:35:56

9. Freckleton (Paul Dalton) North West

The opening fanfares are inconsistent as clips in the cornets unsettle the musical picture.

The Wild Dance is taken at a sensible tempo that although giving it the feeling of being somewhat restrained, also allows the band to demonstrate reasonably tight ensemble.

Galahad and the Holy Grail is tentative and cautious, with individual entries often sounding nervy and frail. As a result the atmosphere is all too often lost.

The final battle recovers to some degree as adrenalin takes over and this has so much more musical presence about it. The final bars are once again marred by nasty slips however.


An inconsistent account from Freckleton. It recovered to some degree in the final movement but a tentative slow movement.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 18:16:21

8. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter) Wales

A fine opening and the cornet fanfares preceed a majestic opening statement.

At last we hear a Wild Dance that is tumultuous yet controlled at the same time. This is so effective and we hear detail through the textures.

Galahad and the Holy Grail moves onwards amidst an atmosphere of haunted majesty. There are tiny slips here and there but this still sends a shiver down the spine.

There is so much drama in the final movement which is also laced with liberal doses of dark majesty. This is so effective and the drama builds relentlessly. The close is affected by some tuning issues but possesses an orchestral breadth that impresses.


A performance of real musical stature from Ebbw Valley. It wasn't perfect but this conjured with the music in magical ways.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 18:01:05

7. Enderby (Simon Oates) Midlands

Good opening fanfare and this is a boldly coloured and secure opening movement.

The Wild Dance sets off at a sensible tempo and although there are scrappy moments it's all the better for not rushing headlong out of control.

There are moments of uncertainty at the opening of Galahad and the Holy Grail, but the atmosphere of haunted mystery is found with aplomb.

The final battle is effective, although tuning wavers in the approach to the final majestic flourish as tired lips take their toll.


Moments of quality from Enderby, but slips and tuning issues also caused problems.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 17:46:04

6. Chalford West of England

The opening fanfare is secure, although maybe this just needs a little more breadth and space.

The Wild Dance once again proves highly challenging. No band has conquered this with absolute clarity amongst the early contenders, and the first band that does is certainly going to open the ears of the judges.

The band clearly strives to find a haunting, elusive atmosphere in Galahad and the Holy Grail, but the exposed nature of the scoring once again sees to it that there are victims amongst the corner players along the way.

We need a touch more darkness in the final battle scene as we miss that vital last ounce of drama and ensemble detail also.


Chalford is another band that has fallen prey to the treacherously exposed nature of the scoring in what is proving to be a tough challenge for the First Section bands so far.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 17:29:02

5. Burry Port Town (Gareth Robinson) Wales

A bold and arresting opening from Burry Port Town. Not without slips but stylistically this is highly effective.

The Wild Dance is perhaps a little too wild as it rushes on headlong, at times feeling a touch out of control as it hurtles along with detail all too often lost or scrambled.

Galahad and the Holy Grail — and the atmosphere builds but still there are occasional moments of imprecision and tuning that detract.

The battle and Arthur's subsequent death is so much more effective and the ending finds just the right degree of darkly hued majesty.


A musically compelling account from Burry Port Town although that tricky second movement certainly proved challenging.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 17:09:20

4. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield) Yorkshire

An uncomfortable opening as the cornets immediately come to grief in the exposed opening fanfare figure.

The Wild Dance that follows is somewhat scrappy, with the detail not always evident throughout the textures. It loses its momentum as a result and there are so many little clips and errors that get in the way.

The slow movement finds its feet and although there are still clips there are also wonderfully broad and glowing sounds that lend the music a fine sense atmosphere.

The battle scene is played with dark power and the band has now settled fully as the shackles finally come off, leading to a majestic final flourish.


Early errors are likely to count against Skelmanthorpe but this was a performance that truly found its feet in its latter stages.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 16:54:01

3. Sandhurst (David Johnson) London and SC

Excellent cornet fanfares to open and this has just the right call to arms feel about it.

Euphonium slips at the opening of The Wild Dance, but this is cleverly done with the tempo and dynamic allowing the detail to be heard without the music losing its vital momentum.

Galahad and the Holy Grail is painted in warmly glowing colours, but there are also some nasty little slips that undermine the musical picture with the occasional intonation issues also making an appearance. Such a shame as the music is so well shaped and musically informed.

The final battle scene is so well paced and the dynamics are used to potently dramatic effect. It makes for a powerful closing statement even though those persistent clips are still evident.


An impressive interpretation from Sandhurst that found such drama, colour and musical insight, but also fell pray to some individual frailties along the way.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 16:38:28

2. Johnstone (Martyn Ramsay) Scotland

An effective opening fanfare and the Scots get off to an impressive start.

Sadly however, that promising opening cracks a little in the The Wild Dance that follows. The ensemble here isn't always as tight as it could be, and Galahad and the Holy Grail is affected by tuning problems as well as a number of nervy, uncertain solo entries. It recovers to some degree but those passages of uncertainty are likely to cost.

There is drama in the final movement underpinned by quality bass sounds and the echoes of the opening fanfare are well projected leading to measured ending.


A promising opening from Johnstone was undone by a nervy slow third movement but there were also passages of colourful drama in what proved to be a somewhat inconsistent account.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 16:22:43

1.Bournemouth Concert Brass (Howard J. Evans)

West of England

The exposed opening fanfare is negotiated with reasonable safety, but as we head into The Wild Dance that follows the technical difficulties of the music are laid bare. The detail and clarity of articulation called for is not always apparent and at times this becomes something of a scramble.

The haunting hints of Britten's 'Piano Concerto' that inhabit the third movement are sometimes also haunted by tuning issues, although there is a carefully created atmosphere evident here that captures the imagination.

The drama of King Arthur's final battle and his death is portrayed in vivid fashion. Again the detail is not always projected with absolute clarity (something that is going to be a challenge for all of the bands in this hall) but the ending is captured in powerful majesty.


A colourful opening performance from Bournemouth Concert but one that also revealed the many challenges inherent in the score.

Section 1

Sunday 16, 16:02:38


Test Piece: 'King Arthur — Scenes from a Radio Drama'- Benjamin Britten arr Paul Hindmarsh
Draw: 2pm
Commence: at the conclusion of Section 3

Adjudicators:Alan Bourne, David Hirst, John Maines

1. Bournemouth Concert Brass (Howard J Evans)
2. Johnstone Silver (Martin Ramsay)
3. Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
4. Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)
5. Burry Port Town (Gareth Robinson)
6. Chalford (Steve Tubb)
7. Enderby (Simon Oates)
8. Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)
9. Freckleton (Paul Dalton)
10. Harrogate (Dean Jones)
11. Staffordshire (Leigh Baker)
12. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley)
13. Foresters Brass (John Davis)
14. Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)
15. Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates)
16. Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
17. Amersham (Paul Fisher)

Section 1

Saturday 15, 01:47:24

Runners & Riders: Section 1

Sunday 16th September
Test Piece: 'King Arthur — Scenes from a Radio Drama'- Benjamin Britten arr Paul Hindmarsh
Draw: 2pm
Commence: at the conclusion of Section 3
Adjudicators:Alan Bourne, David Hirst, John Maines

Amersham (Paul Fisher)
Bournemouth Concert Brass (Howard J Evans)
Burry Port Town (Gareth Robinson)
Chalford (Steve Tubb)
Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley)
Ebbw Valley (Gareth Ritter)
Enderby (Simon Oates)
Foresters Brass (John Davis)
Freckleton (Paul Dalton)
Harrogate (Dean Jones)
Houghton Brass (Lee Morris)
Johnstone Silver (Martin Ramsay)
Oldham Band (Lees) (John Collins)
Sandhurst Silver (David Johnson)
Skelmanthorpe (Martin Heartfield)
Staffordshire (Leigh Baker)
Strata Brass (Jonathan Bates)

Section 1

Saturday 15, 01:47:20

Preview: Section 1

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