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2019 National Championship of Great Britain
Championship Section - As it happened

All the action from the 2019 National Championship of Great Britain — Championship Section — as it happened.

  • Sunday 13, 10:32:24

    National 2019

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    Philip Harper and family celebrate a Titan victory

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    The Titans

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    Cory are crowned champions

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    2019 Champion: Cory

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    2019 Champion: Cory with the judges and composer

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    Best Instrumentalist: Steve Stewart of Cory

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    Ready to proclaim the new champion: The Prince of Wales Fanfare team

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    Second place: Black Dyke

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    Third place: Whitburn

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    Fourth Place: Brighouse & Rastrick

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    Fifth Place: Flowers

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    Sixth Place: Leyland

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    A word from the composer: Hermann Pallhuber

  • Saturday 12, 19:47:18

    Result:

    Test Piece: Titan's Progress (Hermann Pallhuber)
    Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Alan Morrison, Rob Wiffen

    1. Cory (Philip Harper)*
    2. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)**
    3. Whitburn (Garry Cutt)*
    4. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)*
    5. Flowers (Paul Holland)
    6. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
    7. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
    8. Foden's (Russell Gray)
    9. Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles)
    10. GUS (Chris Jeans)
    11. Friary (Chris King)
    12. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)
    13. the cooperation Band (Phillip McCann)
    14. Aldbourne (Lee Skipsey)
    15. Reg Vardy (Ray Farr)
    16. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr David Thornton)
    17. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen)
    18. Pemberton Old DW (Ben Dixon)
    19. Northop Silver (John Doyle)
    20. City of Hull (Stig Maersk)

    Best Instrumentalist: Steve Stewart (soprano) — Cory

    *Top four pre-qualify for 2020 National Final
    ** Denotes qualification to represent England at 2021 European Championship in Malmo

  • Saturday 12, 18:57:17

    Chris Thomas: Final analysis and prediction

    What a day it's been in the Royal Albert Hall. Hermann Pallhuber's Titan's Progress has not only tested the bands in every technical and musical direction, but has also drawn a plethora of stylistic and interpretative approaches from the MD's.

    It's been a long day in the box for Robert Childs, Alan Morrison and Rob Wiffen who now have the unenviable task of sifting through twenty performances which even at the very top of the pile (with one notable exception), all displayed differing facets of quality, with few escaping completely unscathed from the Mahlerian battle.

    For me there was one performance that stood head and shoulders above the field today in a remarkable display of technical and musical excellence that simply took the breath away.

    Chris Thomas goes for a top six of:

    1. Cory
    2. Fodens
    3. Tredegar
    4. Desford Colliery
    5. Black Dyke
    6. Grimethorpe Colliery

    Dark Horses: Flowers, Brighouse and Zone One

  • Saturday 12, 18:52:46

    Steven Mead's top -six

    1. Cory (Philip Harper) — 199
    2. Foden's (Russell Gray) — 196
    3. Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles) — 195
    4. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs) — 194
    5. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr David Thornton) — 192
    6. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse) — 191

  • Saturday 12, 18:45:22

    An audience perspective (Muth)

    With four bands to go this piece has been a definite grower — band especially with the audience.

    Unfortunately the odd phone call has begun to make an appearance in the auditorium — a great pity, but perhaps the rest of the world wants to find out who mat win. Oh dear, the phones are joined by the obligatory coughing, it really does need to settle down.

    It's been surprising how quickly the day seems to have gone though — its been a joy.

    Overall, the hall has remained pretty full with a good buzz around. There has been some lovely flugel playing and the technical ability of the players has just gone up leaps and bounds since I contested. Combine that with so many talented young players it seems to bode well for the future of brass banding.

    On to the last band — and the first standing trombone section — added to by the first sop with the euphonium and now the solo cornet — well that was different from Brighouse!

    I wouldn't want to be an adjudicator today,as the quality of playing throughout has been so classy and I wouldn't like to be in the position of picking a winner.

    I'll sign off now and leave the real appraisal to Chris Thomas and Steven Mead.

  • Saturday 12, 18:41:48

    20. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof David King)

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    On Stage — Brighouse and Rastrick (Prof David King)

    Not all is 100% comfortable in the opening bars and tuning takes a few seconds to settle in the opening cornet statement of the chorale.

    Once it's going though the sheer momentum of the playing carries us long with it, the dynamic control allowing detail to project with clarity.

    There are once again little slips and momentary issues of intonation though and for all its brilliance elsewhere, there remains a feeling that the performance is not completely settled.

    The introduction into the 'Farandole' is deftly done and the Farandole itself so full of colour, light and shade and little nuances and inflections that add so much to the music. Soprano rises to his feet ahead of the cornet and euphonium duet which is played from the side of the stage with sensitivity, yet even now there is still a sense that the performance isn't entirely at one with itself.

    The fugue is quick'very quick'and although it's impressive that the band can play it at the chosen tempo it feels there are still moments that don't quite click.

    Further slips creep in as we head towards the closing bars and as impressive as the ending is, this has been an out of sorts account from Brighouse.

    Overall: A curious one to finish from Brighouse. From the start this didn't feel entirely comfortable, with so many errors and minor slips accumulating during the course of what was musically a fine but flawed account.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Prof David King with Brighouse and Rastrick

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 17
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
    Control of full dynamic range: 19
    Ensemble precision: 20
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 19

    Total: 187

    Short Comment:

    With a mixture of moments of inspiration, and some uncomfortable moments, this rounded of today's contest with Dr David King and Brighouse and Rastrick. Without doubt this is a brilliant band, but unfortunately at least in my opinion, not a winning performance today. Just too many errors and uncomfortable clicks as the piece progressed. And they know it.

  • Saturday 12, 18:11:51

    19. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

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    On Stage — Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

    A high quality opening from Leyland that immediately stamps authority. The Allegro drives on in impressive fashion and although the detail is not always consistently heard, this has a real quality of energy about it that is later used once again to telling effect in the 'Con Fuoco'.

    The 'Farandole' could be more colourful in its light and shade and dynamics could also be more wide ranging but we sense the dance like style and at long last, a band has placed the cornet and euphonium players in the duet with cornet to the right and euphonium to the left. It's beautifully played and so much more compelling on the ear as a result.

    The fugue loses its way to some degree as it gets progressively more ragged as it progresses. It's also a touch one dimensional dynamically but its a triumphant ending to a performance that had moments of clear quality.

    Overall: Another performance that displayed moments of class that were occasionally offset by inconsistencies of execution.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Thomas Wyss with Leyland

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 18
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
    Control of full dynamic range: 17
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 19
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 18
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 18

    Total: 182

    Short Comment:

    Very strong performance from Leyland. Occasionally a little strong in style, but this seems to reflect the determination the band showed with this work. Some very brave and committed playing, and the word left in my mind at the end of the performance is: passionate. A little finesse missing at times, but it should be in the top half come closing time.

     
  • Saturday 12, 17:46:49

    18. Northop Silver (John Doyle)

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    On Stage — Northop Silver (John Doyle)

    The opening hits between the eyes and the initial airing of the chorale is nicely done.

    As we hit the Allegro there is both energy and drive about the playing but also a lack of the razor like accuracy that has provided the finest performances today with a further seam of both drive and spirit.

    The 'Farandole' needs a touch more poise and nuance to create the appropriate dance like character but there is abundant commitment about this. The playing of a band that is going to enjoy itself and its moment.

    The cornet and euphonium stay seated for the duet which is nicely done with the fugue driving on in determined fashion despite showing clear signs of tiring in its latter stages.

    Overall: A spirited performance from Northop that had its moments of quality although consistency ultimately proved to be the determine factor.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — John Doyle with Northop Silver

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
    Control of full dynamic range: 18
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 17
    Band sound quality: 17
    Balance/clarity of textures: 17
    Quality of soloists: 16
    Overall understanding: 17
    Total musicality from the band: 16

    Total: 169

    Short Comment:

    This was a very spirited performance that had moments of great elegance and style. Other moments were a little less refined and more detail was desirable. Soloists all did well, but the error account crept up as the piece went on. They should be pleased with this, as this was a full blooded attempt here at Royal Albert today. Well done!

     
  • Saturday 12, 17:26:14

    17. Friary (Chris King)

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    On Stage — Friary (Chris King)

    Always a band that can bring a performance of interest to any contest, Friary open solidly with wide ranging dynamics and a sensitively enunciated cornet solo.

    Once we hit the Allegro however it's immediately apparent that there's nothing sensitive about the faster music whatsoever. This is full blooded, high octane stuff that goes straight for the adrenalin factor with band and MD throwing everything at it.

    The 'Con Fuoco' offers more of the same. Powerful, full on stuff that really drags us along with it in its sheer weight of personality and excitement. So much so that it's easy to miss the fact that there is sometimes a lack of clarity in the ensemble.

    Euphonium and cornet stand together for their duet which is played with both warmth and sensitivity whilst the fugue is a force of nature in its onward energy. That energy is sometimes achieved at the expense of detail but the ending blazes its message of jubilance to an appreciative Albert Hall.

    Overall: Friary goes for it in the RAH with a performance that although not without flaws, took the score by the scruff of its neck. It's not Mahler as we know it but boy did it hit home.

    Chris Thomas

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    On Stage — Chris King with Friary

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
    Control of full dynamic range: 19
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 19
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 18

    Total: 185

    Short Comment:

    This performance had many fine attributes. Directed with great clarity and the musicians responded. Accurate, musical solo playing, and a performance of a style that suited the hall. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this performance was in the top 10 today.

     
  • Saturday 12, 17:24:32

    16. Foden's (Russell Gray)

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    On Stage — Foden's (Russell Gray)

    An opening that strikes home immediately. This has huge presence and authority. It's a beautiful statement of the chorale that follows and the Allegro powers its way on with both energy and clarity.

    There's just the slightest of clips on soprano but its enough to unsettle the picture as the 'Con Fuoco' comes into view, with the 'Con Fuoco' itself generating colossal power and energy, aided by dynamics of terrific width and control.

    The 'Farandole' is full of nuance and variations of colour and inflection, at the same time keeping its essential dance like character, with the approach to the cornet and euphonium duet being so well done.

    Mark Wilkinson and Gary Curtin stand together for the the duet which is so touchingly done, with the trombone interjections gauged and shaped to perfection.

    The fugue has such swagger and poise about it. The detail is always apparent and the approach to the concluding bars is brilliantly paced, with a final flourish that blazes triumph.

    Overall: A terrific account from the defending champion. We suspect it might not be enough to topple Cory today but this has been a magnificent account of technical command and majestic musicality.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Russell Gray with Foden's

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 19
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
    Control of full dynamic range: 19
    Ensemble precision: 20
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 20
    Overall understanding: 20
    Total musicality from the band: 20

    Total: 196

    Short Comment:

    Another wonderful performance here today at the Royal Albert Hall. There could not be a stronger defence of a national title. Beautiful playing, great characterisations of the different sections and outstanding solo playing. Is it enough? Quite possibly, but another band in red jackets produced something extraordinary about an hour ago. How will the judges compare the two? Let's see in a few hours!

     
  • Saturday 12, 16:40:32

    An audience perspective (Muth)

    We have reached band thirteen and once again we are hearing a different interpretation each time.

    I have to say that there is nothing better than hearing a band playing a final chord at 'fff' though — what a sound it is.- it gives me the shivers!

    A good way through the contest now and I have to say this is a fine to listen to and looking at the bums on the seats the rest of the hall must think the same. The centre of the auditorium has been full all day.

    Moving on we have now reached Flowers — with four lads and a girl on percussion. Guess who is doing all the running around though?

    The euphonium and cornet duet has been lovely to listen to and with every band trying different positions on the stage to make it sound 'distant'. Personally, it hasn't made an a'pth of difference to my listening at all — everyone has been great. Then again, I may just have cloth ears!

  • Saturday 12, 16:33:08

    15. Flowers (Paul Holland)

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    On Stage — Flowers (Paul Holland)

    A bold, confident opening that hits between the eyes but is followed by a beautifully shaped cornet solo that announces the chorale with a charming lyrical simplicity.

    The Allegro bristles with energy and although the dynamic contrasts are not quite as wide as some today, the levels of detail are impressive indeed.

    What a fine soprano cornet contribution that sits beautifully within the textures and is so delicate. The 'Con Fuoco' generates quite a storm in its power and detail although the 'Farandole' is possibly a touch on the quick side and despite fine playing, loses a touch of its dance like qualities as a result.

    The cornet and euphonium duet is sung with eloquence and punctuated by suitably tipsy interjections from the trombones, with the fugue setting off at just the right tempo.

    It just threatens to run on a little at times but this is impressively solid playing from Flowers leading to a triumphantly majestic conclusion.

    Overall: Impressive stuff from Flowers. This was a performance that displayed both confidence and quality in equal measure, with and sound that filled the Albert Hall.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Paul Holland with Flowers

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 19
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
    Control of full dynamic range: 18
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 19
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 19

    Total: 190

    Short Comment:

    Very impressive showing from Flowers. The Albert Hall suits the way this band plays, and their vibrant technique, full sound and strong rhythmic style communicated brilliantly today. Should definitely be top six by the end of the day. Bravo one and all.

  • Saturday 12, 16:07:56

    14. Whitburn (Garry Cutt)

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    On Stage — Whitburn (Garry Cutt)

    A quality opening and Garry Cutt immediately stamps his musical credentials on the performance. This has immediate purpose and it's a beautifully shaped announcement of the chorale theme on solo cornet.

    Just a hint of intonation on soprano later but the 'Con Fuoco' has good levels of detail with dynamics being effectively controlled.

    The 'Farandole' just feels a touch laboured at times and the band seems to be pulling in a different direction to the MD. The approach to the cornet and euphonium duet is beautifully done though and the duet itself is sung with eloquence by solo cornet.

    The opening to the fugue rocks to some degree and loses its shape as a result. It regains its balance though and there is some high quality playing on display here leading to an ending that has held back something in reserve.

    Overall: Whitburn give a reading of quality under Garry Cutt. It wavered at times but there was plenty to commend here.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Garry Cutt with Whitburn

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 18
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
    Control of full dynamic range: 17
    Ensemble precision: 18
    Tuning/intonation: 18
    Band sound quality: 19
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 18
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 19

    Total: 183

    Short Comment:

    Very consistent performance from Whitburn, and a clear sign of a return to form following the blip in Birmingham. Great determination, courage and sections of great beauty from this band.

    Missing something in terms of transparency and subtlety, but they will come off stage with renewed faith, and well deserved it is.

  • Saturday 12, 15:50:37

    An audience perspective (Muth)

    During the break the coffee and fruit was most welcome and there were good vibes listening to everyone discussing their thoughts and opinions.

    It's so interesting listening to the interpretations from the conductors at this level. You can pick out a different style and melody coming to the fore and it can seem like you are listening to a very different piece.

    Band formations are interesting too. It's as if they are trying to recreate the feeling in the bandroom — but on a vast stage.

    I'm surprised that the acoustics of the stage and the hall are so good — I'd forgotten how the quietest double piano can be clearly heard in this hall. There is no hiding place here.

    Is it a sign of old age when all the band players look like youngsters or is it just me now that needs new glasses? It's a young person's game now at this level — not like 40 years ago. Do some of the conductors practice their moves in the mirror though? I'm convinced some do!

  • Saturday 12, 15:43:01

    13. Cory (Philip Harper)

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    On Stage — Cory (Philip Harper)

    An incisive, purposeful opening flourish and the initial statement of the chorale is beautifully intoned but opens up so expansively and with such warmth. Wonderful stuff.

    The Allegro has so much inner energy and momentum, driving ever onward with both detail and spirit. The music that follows casts a spell with glorious solo cornet and soprano. This has a stillness, a sense of peace with the violent interjections and shards of sound cutting through like a knife.

    Excellent trombones into the 'Con Fuoco' which is savage yet with dynamics held on a tight rein. The effect is like a powerful combination of Mahlerian nature and Straussian Alpine scenery.

    The 'Farandole' is quirky, detailed and brings out details, nuances and stylistic inflections that we simply haven't heard before now.

    Tom Hutchinson casts another spell on solo cornet and Steve Stewart is simply sublime in his assistance. The cornet and euphonium duet simply takes the breath away. Wonderful, wonderful playing and the trombone interjections are perfect.

    The fugue has an immediate energy and drive but laced with such detail, such breathtaking clarity and transparency. My goodness, the things that are leaping out at us'.and the approach to the end is just something else.

    Overall: Words fail us. Can this band get any better than this? We doubt it. Remarkable playing from a band that is beyond remarkable.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Philip Harper with Cory

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 19
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
    Control of full dynamic range: 20
    Ensemble precision: 20
    Tuning/intonation: 20
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 20
    Quality of soloists: 20
    Overall understanding: 20
    Total musicality from the band: 20

    Total: 199

    Short Comment:

    Possibly the greatest performance that this magnificent band has ever given. Just sensational music making.From beginning to end just brilliant. An absolute masterclass from the world's no.1 brass band. Nothing else to say, but thank you!

     
  • Saturday 12, 15:16:15

    12. GUS (Chris Jeans)

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    On Stage — GUS (Chris Jeans)

    The opening statement has both presence and intent, with the opening statement of the cornet theme beautifully shaped.

    The ensuing Allegro gets a touch scrappy but there is also a sense of character about this that carries through.

    The 'Con Fuoco' is at times a touch out of control but it certainly has ferocity at its heart, with the introduction to the cornet and euphonium beautifully handled and marked by an excellent contribution from soprano.

    Solo euphonium falters at the opening of the duet but what gloriously florid, nuanced playing from solo cornet. Issues of consistency are starting to mount up though' a shame as there has been so much to enjoy and admire in the performance to this point.

    The fugue motors on at a good tempo although with not all of the details always apparent. A fine ending though and a performance that at its best was very fine indeed.

    Overall: GUS delivered playing of high quality in parts but inconsistencies bedevilled the band on numerous occasions today.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Chris Jeans with GUS

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 17
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
    Control of full dynamic range: 18
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 18
    Band sound quality: 18
    Balance/clarity of textures: 18
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 18

    Total: 178

    Short Comment:

    A very well organised and delivered performance from GUS. Not without small flaws and a few inconsistencies, but actually was delivered with confidence and soloists did their very best. Thomas Fountain on principal cornet was sublime. A nice reading by Chris Jeans, bravo to all.

     
  • Saturday 12, 14:52:46

    11. Aldbourne (Lee Skipsey)

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    On Stage — Aldbourne (Lee Skipsey)

    A convincing opening statement and this has both presence and purpose.

    A nicely intoned statement of the opening chorale theme by solo cornet and the the opening passages progress well. Ensemble is not always rigid in the faster music and as we hit the 'Con Fuoco' there is a feeling that it is becoming increasingly untidy.

    The 'Farandole' has a tendency to slow down and it's lost its way here as loose entries and slips begin to mount up.

    Solo euphonium and cornet do well in the duet although trombone interjections don't quite work.

    The fugue has energy in abundance but also needs greater precision and clarity of voices. The approach to the closing bars is well handled although by the final flourish, the stamina has clearly been sapped from the band.

    Overall: A bold performance from Aldbourne but one that ultimately fell some way short of the mark in key areas.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Lee Skipsey with Aldbourne

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 17
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
    Control of full dynamic range: 16
    Ensemble precision: 16
    Tuning/intonation: 18
    Band sound quality: 17
    Balance/clarity of textures: 16
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 18

    Total: 171

    Short Comment:

    A very tidy performance from Aldbourne, with most of the difficult hurdles successfully negotiated. Led with discipline and authority, although the band was stretched at times, in no way did they let themselves down. Actually, very impressive indeed, bravo.

     
  • Saturday 12, 14:33:32

    Steven Mead's halfway point top four

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    Chris Thomas and Steven Mead — Albert Hall 2019

    1. Desford — 195
    2. Black Dyke — 194
    3. Grimethorpe — 192
    4. Tredegar — 191

  • Saturday 12, 14:29:21

    Chris Thomas halfway top six

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    1. Tredegar
    2. Desford
    3. Black Dyke
    4. Grimethorpe
    5. Zone One
    6. the cooperation Band

  • Saturday 12, 14:06:17

    10. Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles)

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    On Stage — Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles)

    Desford take to the stage resplendent in new purple uniforms that replicate the band's glory days. And as if to further underline the seam of confidence that is running through the band at present, the opening is boldly confident.

    Immediately this has the ghost of Mahler hovering over it with the cornet and soprano melding the chorale melody together beautifully.

    Michael Fowles is a conductor that will have steeped himself in research and it shows as the band displays so much character, but character that is perfectly allied to technical accuracy and execution.

    Nothing is forced here, dynamics are so well controlled and balance is always at the forefront. The 'Farandole' has a lightness of touch and style that is so engaging and there's a witty, tongue in cheek style to the trombones as they punctuate a beautifully flowing cornet and euphonium duet.

    The fugue sets off at just the right tempo and the balance between the voices is excellent. There's just a touch of clarity lost as it progresses but it never loses either its shape or sense of dynamic proportions.

    The conclusion is one of majestic triumph, capping a performance of radiant musicality.

    Overall: What a fine show from Desford. The band has been on top form this year and on the back of a fine Open result, the Midlanders have delivered in spades here in what is Desford's spiritual home.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Michael Fowles with Desford Colliery

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 19
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
    Control of full dynamic range: 19
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 20
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 20
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 20
    Total musicality from the band: 20

    Total: 195

    Short Comment:

    Another vintage performance from Desford to follow up from their Birmingham performance. Musically it ticked every box for me, sound quality was great, soloists all delivered and there was an authority and understanding that permeated every section of the piece. I may be wrong, but I think it's nosed into the lead at the break now.

  • Saturday 12, 13:57:26

    An audience perspective (Muth)

    Do you know what? This is a great piece of music for basses and trombones who have seriously interesting and technical parts to play.

    When I was playing bands were very much a dominated by male players, but it's wonderful to note the change and see the really tremendous number of female players playing in bands and competing at this highest of levels.

    It's also amazing how the same piece of music can be given so many different interpretations, and it is a real credit to the conductors for the amount of work they have obviously put into this piece of music.

    It is a long test piece and takes massive concentration from all on stage. I was used to ten to twelve minutes and that was too long!

    I don't know if the general public realise how much guts it takes to stand up in front of an audience let alone at a contest and it is brilliant to see this showcase from all the soloists.

  • Saturday 12, 13:42:06

    9. Reg Vardy (Ray Farr)

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    In Performance — Reg Vardy (Ray Farr)

    A solid opening from Reg Vardy but perhaps a touch one dimensional in terms of dynamics. The opening statement of the chorale is nicely done although later on there are issues between cornet and soprano that unsettle the musical picture.

    The 'Con Fuoco' is big and bold but also a touch loose in ensemble at times, an issue that also affects the 'Farandole' which never quite settles, with the ensemble lacking a degree of rigidity.

    Euphonium and solo cornet are placed to either side of the stage as they should be in the duet and this is nicely done from both players with the trombone interjections quirkily tipsy in execution.

    The fugue sets off at bang on the tempo and makes good progress but as has been the case with numerous bands so far, some of the voices are concealed behind percussion and volume. By the end it becomes progressively more ragged and the close is more tired than jubilant.

    Overall: Something of a mixed account from Reg Vardy but one that at its best, displayed some classy playing, notably from solo cornet and euphonium.

    Chris Thomas

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    On Stage — Ray Farr with Reg Vardy

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 14
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
    Control of full dynamic range: 16
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 16
    Band sound quality: 16
    Balance/clarity of textures: 17
    Quality of soloists: 17
    Overall understanding: 16
    Total musicality from the band: 17

    Total: 161

    Short Comment:

    Some very attractive qualities to this performance, but the error account mounted steadily and there was some ensemble could've been significantly tighter throughout. Also a little flat in style. The euphonium and cornet duetists stood opposite to the direction in the score. (euphonium player should be next to the vibes! ) That said, it was a super effort by the Reg Vardy band.

  • Saturday 12, 13:11:27

    8. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

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    On Stage — Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

    What an opening. This has so much presence and hits us right between the eyes. The initial statement of the choral unfolds beautifully with an enveloping warmth and breadth that wraps around the hall.

    'Flowingly' does just that. There are just the tiniest hesitations on soprano but otherwise this has an atmosphere and aura about it that is entirely at one with Mahlerian heart of the music.

    'Con Fuoco' is a storm of raging ferocity but one that never loses its dynamic focus and control. Make no mistake though this is a band with a huge sound that is reaching every crevice and corner of the Albert Hall. What a telling grace there is about some of the nuances heard and the sound of the band opens up majestically once again as solo cornet and euphonium rise and place themselves as far away from the band as they can.

    The duet itself is beautifully shaped with both soloists excelling and the trombone interjections are both tipsy and cheeky in style.

    The fugue is so well balanced between the voices and although its muscular, it possesses both confidence in abundance and a brilliant grasp of the dynamics. The approach to the close is paced and measured so well and the ending itself blazes triumphantly. Woweee!!!

    Overall: Tredegar delivers a performance right out of the top drawer. This has pretty much everything. Drama, detail, character and a band sound that filled the RAH in every direction.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Ian Porthouse with Tredegar

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 19
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
    Control of full dynamic range: 19
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 20
    Band sound quality: 19
    Balance/clarity of textures: 18
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 19

    Total: 191

    Short Comment:

    A performance that really filled the Royal Albert with sound and great precision. One or two fragile moments earlier on, but the second half of the piece was flawless. Will be right up there in the mix come the end of the day.

     
  • Saturday 12, 12:48:44

    7. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr David Thornton)

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    On Stage — Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr David Thornton)

    A fine opening and this immediately has a presence and weight of authority about it that lends the music crucial gravitas.

    A nicely flowing statement of the chorale from solo cornet and what follows possesses the key elements of dynamic control, detail and Mahlerian drama. Impressive stuff.

    A suitably flowing atmosphere is created in what follows and solo cornet again figures prominently. Just the slightest hint of intonation between cornet and soprano cornet but the ensuing 'Con Fuoco' is certainly a storm of sound and one that is never allowed to descend into a dynamic abyss.

    The 'Farandole' dances at just the right tempo and when it does it all makes perfect musical sense. This has so much character and stylistically, it hits the spot perfectly.

    What a wonderfully shaped and nuanced cornet and euphonium duet is delivered from the back of the stage. The tipsy trombone interjections could perhaps be a touch more characterised but it's a small point.

    The fugue sets off well and the clarity of what is heard from the middle of the band in particular impresses. Arguably it just looses a touch of focus as it progresses though and as it heads to the final bars there are slips that creep in.

    Overall: One to savour from Grimethorpe. This was shot through with character, detail and control although it just lost a level of focus and perhaps concentration in the latter stages that could prove crucial.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Dr David Thornton with Grimethorpe Colliery

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 18
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
    Control of full dynamic range: 20
    Ensemble precision: 18
    Tuning/intonation: 19
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 20
    Total musicality from the band: 19

    Total: 192

    Short Comment:

    An outstanding performance from Grimethorpe. Was leading for me until about two minutes before the end where sadly the performance fell away at the crucial moment. Outstanding playing, balance, dynamics and musicality.
    So much to admire here, as it was such an integrated and intelligent performance.

  • Saturday 12, 12:26:24

    6. City of Hull (Stig Maersk)

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    On Stage — City of Hull (Stig Maersk)

    A solid opening and the chorale opens up with admirable warmth and breadth. What follows has drama certainly, but also lacks that vital clarity of detail that is so critical.

    Some uncomfortable moments between solo cornet and soprano and the 'Con Fuoco' rages without that critical textural transparency that is once again the life force of the music.

    The 'Farandole' progresses without real incident but is also a touch one dimensional dynamically.

    Beautifully intoned solo cornet from the rear of the band although there are slips on solo euphonium in the duet making for a rather unsettled feel to the atmosphere.

    From the start, the fugue never feels quite under control. The tempo expands and contracts and the inner clarity of horns, euphoniums and baritones is either scrambled or hidden behind a veil of other instrumental voices.

    Some nasty slips on soprano and at the top of the band generally take the gloss off what is an otherwise competent and well paced build to the concluding bars.

    Overall: Moments of insight from City of Hull but also a performance that lacked those key qualities of razor like ensemble and Mahlerian nuance and colour.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Stig Maersk with City of Hull

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 13
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
    Control of full dynamic range: 16
    Ensemble precision: 15
    Tuning/intonation: 15
    Band sound quality: 16
    Balance/clarity of textures: 15
    Quality of soloists: 15
    Overall understanding: 15
    Total musicality from the band: 14

    Total: 149

    Short Comment:

    A superb effort from the band from Hull, but this stretched them to the full. There were some superb gutsy sections where they really went for it, but other times the thin textures really exposed them, and the fatigue most definitely kicked in towards the end. A most noble effort at this great occasion.

  • Saturday 12, 12:14:20

    An audience perspective (Muth)

    Its so nice to see lots of young faces in the audience. Awwhh, one of the bass players in Zone One Brass is waving to someone in the balcony behind him.

    I love the percussion in this piece. With the ones in my early day you were lucky if there was much percussion at all (you made it up as you went along in places!). The tuned percussion playing is amazing. I can see lots of people reading the scores and taking in the difficulty of the music — especially former percussionists!.

    You can't help but praise the lads and lasses that are working on stage, it is so smooth and efficient getting the bands on and off.

    The one thing that hasn't changed is the audience taking an audible intake of breath when a soloist splits a note. I have done it myself and failed miserably in a solo, so I have the greatest of respect for anyone playing a solo with this kind of pressure.

  • Saturday 12, 12:02:19

    5. the cooperation Band (Phillip McCann)

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    On Stage — the cooperation Band (Phillip McCann)

    A well judged opening flourish and this immediately has a sense of musical authority about it. The initial announcement of the chorale is beautifully done on solo cornet and the dynamics are controlled with precision.

    Trombones not entirely in the groove leading into the 'Con fuoco' but what follows is again both measured in its dynamics and detailed, leading into a 'Farandole' that dances and glistens in its differing facets. It just loses its way a little in the latter stages and as we approach the cornet and euphonium duet, there are slight lapses in concentration.

    The duet itself is nicely done with a flowing lyricism that engages and the fugue sets off on a trajectory that allows the detail to be heard. It gets a touch untidy as it progresses as the ensemble isn't always entirely precise but the approach to the conclusion is well delivered, capping a technically competent account.

    Overall: A secure and solid account from cooperation and Philip McCann that although not the most engaging of the day so far, made its mark with no major incidents along the way.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Phillip McCann with the cooperation Band

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
    Control of full dynamic range: 16
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 16
    Band sound quality: 18
    Balance/clarity of textures: 17
    Quality of soloists: 18
    Overall understanding: 18
    Total musicality from the band: 17

    Total: 172

    Short Comment:

    A solid performance that didn't explore the wide range of different emotions in the work. The band by and large delivered, a few scrapes, but generally safe, organised and disciplined performance. More percussion detail needed.

    A big hall like this seems to demand more sound and impact. yet still demand clarity. Always tough choices to be makes.

  • Saturday 12, 11:34:24

    4. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)

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    On Stage — Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)

    What a magnificent yet controlled opening flourish and the opening cornet statement of the chorale theme is beautifully done by Richard Marshall.

    The Allegro that follows is dynamically taut, detailed and bristles with drama. There are a couple of uncomfortable moments at the top of the band that stand out but otherwise, this has a richly sonorous Mahlerian gravitas to both the sound and reading.

    The 'Con Fuoco' is a storm of sound that brings to mind Strauss's Alpine Symphony and my goodness, there's so much drama and here, allied with an underlying sense of the power of mother nature. Stirring stuff indeed.

    The 'Farandole' is imbued with a suitable dance like gait that has both deftness and lightness of touch where needed, before Richard Marshall and Dan Thomas position themselves together at the back of the band for a touchingly poignant duet, punctuated by deft tipsy interludes from the trombones. This is so engaging.

    The fugue sets off at just the right tempo and the dynamics allow the voices to be heard with clarity. Impressive inner detail but not without small but audible clips and the approach to the conclusion is handled with brilliance, giving an ending of majestic triumph.

    Overall: Not pristinely flawless but this remained a performance of musical stature and thoughtful stylistic nuance from Dyke that has struck a powerful Mahlerian chord amongst the audience in the RAH.

    Chris Thomas

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    On Stage — Prof Nicholas J. Childs with Black Dyke

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 19
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
    Control of full dynamic range: 20
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 20
    Band sound quality: 20
    Balance/clarity of textures: 19
    Quality of soloists: 19
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 19

    Total: 194

    Short Comment:

    A really outstanding performance by Black Dyke, and achieved on so many levels. Fantastic soft playing, some very imaginative shaping, great textures and totally convincing in delivery. The best I have heard them play here for several years. But a number four draw! Let's see. Should be remembered right at the end of the day.

  • Saturday 12, 11:10:20

    3. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

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    On Stage — Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

    A well judged opening flourish and immediately there is a feeling of understanding and ease with the music. Richard Ward keeps the dynamics on a tight leash, not allowing sound to mask the detail and immediately the music makes sense as a result.

    There's a lovely sense of line at 'flowingly' but also a couple of nasty slips on cornet and soprano that unsettle the picture. A shame as there is so much intelligence and character about this.

    There are wrong notes in what is an otherwise carefully shaped and coloured 'Farandole'. Again, it's frustrating when there is so much to admire about the shaping and nuance of the approach.

    Euphonium and cornet sing to each other antiphonally as it should be in the duet with just tiny hesitations and the fugue opens well with the dynamics again well controlled, allowing the lead voices to be heard throughout the band. Again, there is a thoughtful intelligence about the approach to this that both engages and impresses.

    The approach to the final bars is carefully measured, with inner detail audible over warm trombone sounds and a fine concluding flourish capping a reading of insight and balance.

    Overall: A reading of Mahlerian understanding from Richard Ward and Zone One that really got to the heart of the music. There was so much to admire about this musically despite occasional mistakes and slips.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Richard Ward with Zone One Brass

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
    Control of full dynamic range: 17
    Ensemble precision: 19
    Tuning/intonation: 18
    Band sound quality: 18
    Balance/clarity of textures: 18
    Quality of soloists: 18
    Overall understanding: 19
    Total musicality from the band: 17

    Total: 179

    Short Comment:

    A very enjoyable and controlled performance. Everything in balance, especially percussion and so many details heard for the first time today. Quite a few small errors which took off the gloss, but music was the winner in this performance, so well done, a first class effort from Zone One.

  • Saturday 12, 10:54:15

    An audience perspective (Muth)

    I took my seat just as the adjudicators went into the box and the hall was already pretty full. The first band on stage got away to a good start — and its not an easy piece by the sound of it!

    The audience showed great appreciation and it was a very quick changeover to band two. I hope it goes as smooth as this for the rest of the day. The euphonium and solo cornet left their seats for a bit of a walkabout to the back of the stage and it will be interesting to see where the others end up throughout the day.

    This was a well received performance and there was even some cheering and whistling. You suspect lots of bands will have that kind of support to back them today.

  • Saturday 12, 10:48:31

    2. Pemberton Old DW (Ben Dixon)

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    On Stage — Pemberton Old DW (Ben Dixon)

    An incisive opening flourish and there's some good old fashioned vibrato on display in the first announcement of the chorale theme.

    The Allegro that follows is an Alpine storm of sound that certainly creates an impact but also masks a good deal of detail behind over enthusiastic percussion when textural transparency is critical to the music.

    Trombones struggle to cope with the tempo and again, this is a reading that is going for the jugular in its effect, but as the performance pushes on there are increasing mistakes that accumulate.

    Tempi tends to the fast side and allied with strong dynamics, there are again issues with clarity of detail and textural transparency.

    There are also some lovely little touches and inflections however in the euphonium and cornet duet. It's not with out tiny blemishes but the style is so well done here.

    The fugue again suffers from a lack of clarity there's a feeling that it doesn't quite settle into a rigid tempo. The drive for home is well handled and leads to an exciting conclusion.

    Overall: Some lovely touches in the quieter sections from Pemberton Old, notably a finely nuanced cornet and euphonium duet. A lack of detail and errors elsewhere however took an increasing toll in the latter stages.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Ben Dixon with Pemberton Old DW

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 15
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 15
    Control of full dynamic range: 16
    Ensemble precision: 16
    Tuning/intonation: 15
    Band sound quality: 16
    Balance/clarity of textures: 14
    Quality of soloists: 17
    Overall understanding: 16
    Total musicality from the band: 15

    Total: 155

    Short Comment:

    Some spirited playing, particularly at the opening and the close, needed more detail all the way through the piece more transparency in the score. Quite a few errors sadly. That said there was a gutsy performance and for sure they gave it 100%. Some slower tempos and greater precision would've enhanced the performance considerably.

  • Saturday 12, 10:25:37

    1. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen)

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    On Stage — Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen)

    There is a degree of fragility opening the opening as solo voices don't speak with complete clarity in the initial chorale. There's a heroic feel to the ensuing Allegro although detail is not always totally pristine.

    The Sostenuto has a suitable flowing feel but there are one or two tuning issues between the soloists and the Farandole that follows is quick to the point that we don't hear all of the detail within what are sometimes dense textures.

    The return of the choral is beautifully shaped although there are again little slips and hesitances that fleetingly unsettle the picture.

    The fugue bristles with energy but its also fast and perhaps the tiniest bit more space would allow greater clarity to be projected.

    The build to the close is cleverly placed and measured although that vital clarity of detail is again not always rigidly taut as it has to be to be heard in this cavernous RAH acoustic.

    Overall: Bags of energy and character from Carlton Main to open but not without fragilities and a few morning cobwebs.

    Chris Thomas

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    In Performance — Luc Vertommen with Carlton Main Frickley Colliery

    Criteria Mark Sheet — Marks by Steven Mead

    Technical accuracy: 16
    Rhythmic precision and clarity: 16
    Control of full dynamic range: 15
    Ensemble precision: 17
    Tuning/intonation: 16
    Band sound quality: 17
    Balance/clarity of textures: 17
    Quality of soloists: 17
    Overall understanding: 17
    Total musicality from the band: 16

    Total: 164

    Short Comment:

    The audience enjoyed that first performance of the day. A few slips early on, and one or two fast tempo that didn't have the requisite clarity to make an impact. Good solid band playing, with a few beautifully controlled soft moments. From the fugue to the end, just not enough detail both dynamically or technically to reach to the back of the hall.

  • Saturday 12, 09:46:31

    Welcome from Steven Mead

    Once again I will be taking my seat in the grand circle of The Albert Hall, once more looking forward to another superb contest.

    I hope you enjoy the day with me and if you are following the contest in London you might want to see how you score each band using the criteria system sheets below.

    Compare your scores with those that I created previously and again post live online on the 4barsrest live page. It means nothing in terms of the 'actual' result of course but it might be fun for you to try to be a judge this weekend!!

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  • Saturday 12, 09:44:01

    Draw

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    Test Piece: 'Titan's Progress' — Hermann Pallhuber

    Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Alan Morrison, Rob Wiffen

    1. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen)
    2. Pemberton Old DW (Ben Dixon)
    3. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)
    4. Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)
    5. the cooperation Band (Phillip McCann)
    6. City of Hull (Stig Maersk)
    7. Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr David Thornton)
    8. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
    9. Reg Vardy (Ray Farr)
    10. Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles)
    11. Aldbourne (Lee Skipsey)
    12. GUS (Chris Jeans)
    13. Cory (Philip Harper)
    14. Whitburn (Garry Cutt)
    15. Flowers (Paul Holland)
    16. Foden's (Russell Gray)
    17. Friary (Chris King)
    18. Northop Silver (John Doyle)
    19. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
    20. Brighouse and Rastrick (Prof David King)

  • Saturday 12, 09:39:04

    An audience perspective

    Throughout the day we have asked 'Muth' to give her thoughts as the competition unfolds. Leaving "the north" after a long absence from the National Championships we will post her reflections on the contest throughout the day. So to begin:-

    "Hello Everyone — Notes from an ex-third section player. It's nice for me to be back in the Royal Albert Hall watching it slowly fill. I have participated in lower section finals in London, but a long time since taking a seat in this hall. I can already feel the buzz of anticipation for a great contest."

  • Saturday 12, 09:10:00

    Competing bands:

    Test Piece: 'Titan's Progress' — Hermann Pallhuber
    Draw: 8.30am
    Commence: 10.00am

    Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Alan Morrison, Rob Wiffen

    Aldbourne (Lee Skipsey)
    Black Dyke (Prof Nicholas J. Childs)
    Brighouse and Rastrick (Prof David King)
    Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Luc Vertommen)
    City of Hull (Stig Maersk)
    Cory (Philip Harper)
    Desford Colliery (Michael Fowles)
    Flowers (Paul Holland)
    Foden's (Russell Gray)
    Friary (Chris King)
    Grimethorpe Colliery (Dr David Thornton)
    GUS (Chris Jeans)
    Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
    Northop Silver (John Doyle)
    Pemberton Old DW (Ben Dixon)
    Reg Vardy (Ray Farr)
    the cooperation Band (Phillip McCann)
    Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
    Whitburn (Garry Cutt)
    Zone One Brass (Richard Ward)

  • Saturday 12, 07:50:04

    Good morning from Kensington...

    The city opens and early morning eye on the National Finals. Its a bit damp and wet, but you suspect the adrenaline levels will soon heat things up a bit as 20 bands fuel up for the day ahead.

    We will be heading to the hall before long to get set up and to await the outcome of the draw which takes place at 8.30am.

    We will post the outcome when we are given the go ahead by the organisers.

    It promises to be a cracking day as the Titan's clash.

  • Saturday 12, 03:28:22

    Preview & prediction

    4BR Editor Iwan Fox takes a closer look at Hermann Pallhuber's 'Titan's Progress' — a work inspired by a complex genius full of contradictions in its search of its heroic meaning of life.


  • Saturday 12, 03:27:52

    Test piece review

    4BR Editor Iwan Fox takes a closer look at Hermann Pallhuber's 'Titan's Progress' — a work inspired by a complex genius full of contradictions in its search of its heroic meaning of life.


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Black Dyke Band - Sheffield Citadel Salavation Army

Thursday 21 November • 12 Psalter Lane, Sheffield S11 8YN


Regent Hall Concerts - Symphonic Brass Ensemble of the Band of the Royal

Friday 22 November • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street Opp. RESERVED. London . W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ


Derwent Brass - Southwell Choral Society

Saturday 23 November • Southwell Minster, Church St, Southwell, Nottingham NG25 0HD


Woodfalls Band - Salisbury Chamber Chorus

Saturday 23 November • St Thomas Church St Thomas's Sq, SP1 1BA Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 1BA


Kettering Citadel S A Band - International Staff Band of the Salvation Army

Saturday 23 November • The Salvation Army,. 66, Rockingham Road,. Kettering, Northamptonshire NN16 8JU


Ibstock Brick Brass

November 18 • Ibstock Brick Brass are looking for cornet players to join their line up going into contest season. Position negotiable. Based in Coalville, Ibstock rehearsal on a Monday and Thursday Night.


Ascot Brass

November 18 • Principle trombone and Solo Horn required. Ascot Brass is a progressive friendly non contesting band rehearing Monday evenings in Maidenhead Berkshire. Details of the band can be found on our web site www.ascotrass.org.uk


Fishburn band

November 18 • We presently have a position for a Bb bass player and a Bass trombone. Friendly band with own band room close to the A1 motorway, junction 60 or 61 and handy for A19 Teeside. If you are looking to progress with your playing then get in touch.


Sandy Smith


Conductor, teacher, adjudicator and arranger


               

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