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2020 Regional Championships
North West - As it happened

All the action from the 2020 North West Regional Championships — as it happened.

  • Sunday 23, 20:58:39

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    Foden's with the silverware

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    A happy smile

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    2020 Champion: Foden's

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    Second Place: Fairey

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    Third Place: Rainford Band

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    Best Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson of Foden's

    Result:

    Championship Section:

    Test Piece: A Tale as Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)
    Adjudicators: Ian Brownbill and Alan Morrison

    1. Foden's (Russell Gray)*
    2. Fairey (Garry Cutt)*
    3. Rainford (Sarah Groarke-Booth)
    4. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
    5. Milnrow (Chris Binns)
    6. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
    7. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon)
    8. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)
    9. Wardle Anderson Brass (Sean Conway)
    10. TCTC Group (Jef Sparkes)
    11. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
    12. VBS Poynton (Ryan Watkins)

    Best Principal Cornet: Mark Wilkinson (Foden's)
    Best Percussion: Foden's

  • Sunday 23, 20:10:35

    Championship Section round up and 4BR Editor's prediction:

    A long contest that — and one that only hit the real heights once or twice.

    Overall the standard was pretty good with Foden's showing just enough of their undoubted class to pip their great rivals Fairey in what has been a straight battle between the two heavyweights. Leyland may miss out on this occasion — although they weren't too far behind, whilst Milnrow impressed alongside Pemberton, Wingates and our dark horse of Oldham (Lees).

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Foden's
    2. Fairey
    3. Leyland
    4. Milnrow
    5. Pemberton Old
    6. Wingates

    Dark Horse: Oldham (Lees)

  • Sunday 23, 20:02:23

    Championship Section:

    12. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)

    A determined, driven account to close the contest — just a little too determined and driven perhaps as the tautness seemed to rob the music of character.

    Can't fault the sense of endeavour, but it needed a slackening of the leash and the balances were occasionally wayward. That said, it was all there to hear — and it was delivered with such a confident air in the opening section.

    Could have done with a more reflective feel in the middle section — but again, it was played with bold confidence. The cadenzas were rather tightly framed, but given the full beanz to work well, whilst the chorale found a spot of tenderness that blossomed and faded so nicely to the close.

    The finale had pace and a touch of banzai about it — but again, it was so full of excitable verve that they just about got away with it. Great drive and an extra few volts of power surge to close a somewhat forceful but enjoyable performance.


  • Sunday 23, 19:20:41

    Results:

    Third Section:

    Test Piece: Endurance (Andrew Baker)
    Adjudicators: Nicholas Garman and Mike Kilroy

    1. Hazel Grove (Nigel Beasley)*
    2. Lostock Hall Memorial (Ryan Broad)*
    3. Pilling Jubilee Silver (Steve Hartley)*
    4. Darwen Brass (Len Charnock)
    5.City of Chester (Ewan Easton)
    6. Hoover Bolton (Craig Mann)
    7. Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
    8. Formby (Louise Hough MBE)
    9. Whitworth Vale & Healey (John Binns)
    10. Greenhall's ( J. Hall)
    11. Trinity Girls (Richard Evans)
    12. Rivington & Adlington (Malcolm Wilson)
    13. Parr St. Helens (John Ludden)
    14. Sale Brass (Matthew Hindle)
    15. Hawk Green (Neil Hewson)
    16. Douglas Town (Ken Mitchell)
    17. Thornton Cleveleys (Dave Houghton)

    Percussion Section: Hazel Grove

    *Qualify for National Final

  • Sunday 23, 19:19:20

    Championship Section:

    11. Milnrow (Chris Binns)

    So much to commend and enjoy with the musical approach and the vast majority of the execution with this one under the direction of Chris Binns.

    Controlled dynamics, warm, dark ensemble sounds edged sharply with precision — but just some expensive unforced errors and mistakes that could possibly cost them an outside chance of a podium spot.

    Cohesive sounds and detailed inner work marked an impressive first section, followed by a warmly hued, passionate, but not over-egged middle section that had a lovely yearning feeling of loss about it. Just those little moments when things didn't sit comfortably in the solo and ensemble, but you have to commend the mature approach from the helm and around the stands.

    A little frenetic to close, but it held its form and the pacing was so well judged. Sounded a little strained in places, but the gear change was flicked up a nonchalant notch to end with pacy fizz.

  • Sunday 23, 19:00:16

    Championship Section:

    10. Rainford (Sarah Groarke-Booth)

    A considered and considerate account this — not without is obvious flaws and anxieties, but one that was drawn together with an informed understanding of the score by the MD.

    That was obvious in the way the pace of the opening was marked and calibrated — so too the dynamics and balances. Not everything came off with the technical execution, but the internal structures supported the musical whole so well.

    The pattern was repeated in the central section — played with a meandering flow that supported solid solo lines (super cornet) and a tender chorale. The close held its nerve too.

    A little frenetic, unbalanced and robust at times in the finale but it certainly had that touch of sprite and sparkle — and it held its form and functionality right to a whizzer of a close.


  • Sunday 23, 18:59:15

    Third Section:

    The final four and Malcolm Wood's prediction

    It will be interesting to hear what the judges think at the end of the contest today. Nicholas Garman and Mike Kilroy who have the all important final say.

    The sound of the ensemble of Lostock Hall really caught our ears. Warm, confident and tidy (just a few blemishes) and it's one to think about when the results are collated for the two chaps in the box.

    Rode Hall was another not short of confidence in their 'endurance' today and managed to link the musical variations together with a sense of conviction and character.

    Thornton Cleveleys was also another that could be one to keep your eyes on when the results are announced. The MD deserves huge praise for shaping the detail to come through and whilst not flawless, who knows?

    The last band of the day have certainly thrown themselves into the mix. Darwen played with such conviction from start to finish to round off the contest in fine style. They may just have secured a Cheltenham berth with that one.

    A contest where an engaging piece has tested the bands to their limits at times today, but overall it was very good standard.

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Darwen
    2. Rode Hall
    3. Hazel Grove
    4. Lostock Hall
    5. Formby
    6. Thornton Cleveleys

    Dark Horse: Hoover (Bolton)

  • Sunday 23, 18:32:17

    Championship Section:

    9. Wardle Anderson Brass (Sean Conway)

    A band that continues to make solid, incremental progress under the baton of an excellent MD in Sean Conway — who once again musters, cajoles, directs and moulds music from his players without once resorting to crass effect.

    It's artisan music making in the best sense of the word — skilled, tempered, considered. It doesn't have the deep polish of the craftsmanship of more illustrious counterparts today, but all the basics are the same. The opening was steady, confident and detailed — all safely negotiated.

    It was the same with the middle section — confident solo lines played (and shared) with good musical sense. The chorale was shaped delicately and the close was rounded off with consideration.

    Just lost a little cohesion and focus in the finale, but that was understandable really. Even the change of gear was done with respect and there was just enough stamina left to give a rousing close.

  • Sunday 23, 18:09:47

    Third Section:

    Earning qualification the hard way

    If today is the benchmark for the next month, then one thing for sure is bands and conductors will have earned their qualification spurs through a lot of hard graft. 'Endurance' by name and by its nature.

    Hoover (Bolton) certainly made its mark under Craig Mann with a carefully considered account, that was not error free but was underpinned by a common sense approach from the middle, fine solos and ensemble work.

    Greenalls and Jay Hall was an offering that gripped you from the off. Again not error free, but an account where the character came through and one that could give judges food for thought.

    Pilling offered one of those accounts where they’ll have known that not everything linked in together and it just had too many errors, whilst tiredness creeping in for Sale could just rob them of a few places after such a fine collective effort.


  • Sunday 23, 18:05:11

    Championship Section:

    8. Foden's (Russell Gray)

    A typically sumptuous account from Foden's and Russell Gray — although by no means faultless in delivery.

    The colouring, textures and balances were at times stunning though — and the atmosphere created around the euph solo in the second movement was exquisite. It had followed a boldly portrayed opening section — dynamically healthy, but with an edge that was as sharp as a Samurai's sword. The detail was so transparent.

    MD moulded the central core to his will — never overdoing the emotion to cloying sentimentality, but just enough to put a lump in your throat — led by supreme euph. Cadenzas were surprisingly workmanlike in comparison, but what a climax and close.

    The opening of the third section was so delicate, but then the afterburners were deployed — building in torque and drive to the close, each dynamic step considered in its execution. Just the occasional niggle and bit of grit in the smoothness, but the control before the explosive end was a real touch of the classiest quality.

  • Sunday 23, 17:52:35

    Championship Section:

    7. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

    A highly polished rendition full of the usual Garry Cutt/Fairey hallmarks of finely balanced tonality and rich textures edged with sharply defined boundaries in precision and dynamics.

    The opening section had a shimmer quality to the filigree work but then built with intensity and drive. The definition in the solo leads was marked but so too the control in the ensemble. A great touch of old fashioned brass band playing that — so neatly conceived and executed.

    There was a yearning beauty to the central core too — shaped lovingly by the MD but not indulged. It made for engrossing music making — topped by lyrical cadenzas that were so, so classy. Just a hint of lack of cohesion in places and a few hard tongues in the ensemble chorale, but such a lively, tender close.

    The finale could have perhaps had a bit more bite, but the cultured air was maintained with a sprite-like drive and purpose. The gear change just took a little time to settle and the end was almost frenetic, but this was a top-drawer show from Fairey without any doubt.

  • Sunday 23, 17:24:16

    Draw:

    Third Section:

    Test Piece: Endurance (Andrew Baker)
    Empress Ballroom
    Commences: At the conclusion of Fourth Section
    Adjudicators: Nicholas Garman and Mike Kilroy

    1. Douglas Town (Ken Mitchell)
    2. Hazel Grove (Nigel Beasley)
    3. Formby (Louise Hough MBE)
    4. Rivington and Adlington
    5. Whitworth Vale & Healey (John Binns)
    6. Hawk Green (Neil Hewson)
    7. City of Chester (Ewan Easton)
    8. Trinity Girls (Richard Evans)
    9. Parr St. Helens (John Ludden)
    10. Hoover Bolton (Craig Mann)
    11. Greenhall's ( J. Hall)
    12. Pilling Jubilee Silver (Steve Hartley)
    13. Sale Brass (Matthew Hindle)
    14. Lostock Hall Memorial (Ryan Broad)
    15. Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
    16. Thornton Cleveleys (Dave Houghton)
    17. Darwen Brass (Len Charnock)


  • Sunday 23, 17:12:13

    Third Section:

    A test of Endurance

    We have reached the half way point in the Third Section where the piece is really putting bands the microscope to be scrutinised by judges Nicholas Garman and Mike Kilroy.

    The musical and technical test of linking everything together and balancing the sound in the acoustic of the hall is making for an demanding playing experience for these bands. Too loud and all detail is quickly lost — but the music still needs dynamism to come to life.

    Whitworth Vale certainly had their fine musical moments in the spotlight, but they just encountered a few fissures in the ice which took them off track at times. Hawk Green under Neil Hewson meanwhile delivered an account full of determination and one of great credit to the MD for the way he handled things. Another performance that held your attention,

    City of Chester held rich promise but suffered from unforced errors. What a pity as the musical picture was so well framed.

    Trinity Girls had opera singer, Amanda Roocroft on soprano and her musical nous was evident during an account where maestro Richard Evans brought the best out of his troops — bringing a rich flow of musicality to the score.

    And finally, Parr (St Helens) who dug deep into their reserves with their hard working performance.

    Formby and Hazel Grove are the two that stick out from others at the moment though.

  • Sunday 23, 17:05:58

    Championship Section:

    6. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)

    A fine communal effort from the MD and everyone around the stands here — as they were all tested to the limit by intricacies and more obvious challenges of the score.

    MD used his experience, keeping to solid stanchions and lines in the opening section. It was confident, solidly portrayed stuff, followed by an understandably more inconsistent middle section. Soloists were workmanlike and stable — enabling the MD to shape the music around them. The ensemble chorale was lovely too — as tender as anything.

    Just got a little tired and scrappy to close, but there was adrenaline in the tanks for sure — keeping the pace bubbling along with enough power under the bonnet to keep things honest.

    The approach of the MD and his players was admirable throughout — a performance of merit their just reward.

  • Sunday 23, 16:43:34

    Championship Section:

    5. VBS Poynton (Ryan Watkins)

    An enjoyable musical approach by the MD brought the score to life — even if the execution was at times inconsistent and the dynamics lost their calibrated focus.

    The opening movement flowed with purposeful intent and stylish endeavour — just those little niggles and unforced errors taking a veneer of gloss off the finished product.

    Much the same to report in the central section — some wonderful moments mixed in with the inconsistencies. Super baritone and the tenderest of flugels, but ensemble intonation grated in search of the lowest strata of dynamic playing. The musical intentions were always admirable though.

    Fleet footed finale maintained a persuasive pulse helped by the dramatic drive of the ensemble. Power reserves were controlled and only utilised when needed, but that razor edge of precision was missing to have made it really sparkle. Robust close put a firm lid on a performance that nearly but not quite came off.


  • Sunday 23, 16:33:13

    Championship Section:

    4. TCTC Group (Jef Sparkes)

    A performance that never quite sounded at ease both technically or musically from the word go.

    The opening movement in particular was dynamically incoherent and the lack of precision was marked. Nerves? Whatever the cause, it just never settled with some basic ensemble and solo errors tarnishing the approach.

    The unevenness continued in the second movement — the music stuttering in flow, the soloists lacking confidence (although cornet was excellent) and the ensemble losing cohesion. What a puzzle.

    The finale was their best playing — but again it was scrappy and uneven. The music had drive and urgency, the ensemble sound dark and menacing but still with the required lightness of touch. When it gelled we heard the band on the type of form that has served it so well here in the past few years — but it was too little too late today. A real off day for a usually solid and dependable outfit.

  • Sunday 23, 15:53:00

    Championship Section:

    3. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon)

    A hard working artisan account from Pemberton that owed so much to the intelligent musical approach employed by conductor Ben Dixon — utilising his resources with care and consideration from start to finish.

    The opening just lacked that extra level of deep seated dynamic and detail polish, but the respectful approach had care and attention in abundance, the detail heard the melodic lines phrased with neat observation.

    The central section was also delivered with confidence — with all the cadenzas portrayed with lucid musicality. MD took some risks with some phrase endings, but it didn't sound false and the close had a touching tenderness led by solo trombone.

    Just lost some of its neatness and precision in the finale — but kept at a flowing pace that had an energetic momentum and purposeful drive. The change of gear clunked a bit but there was a great deal of lean torque that was well employed. A moment or two when the rubber squealed but it finished with a blaze of dynamism.

  • Sunday 23, 15:28:09

    Championship Section:

    2. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)

    A performance led by strongly hallmarked artistic ideals and command from Thomas Wyss this.

    There was a richly woven fabric of security running through the first movement — not a single straggling edge out of place, backed by detailed ensemble and coherent dynamics.

    More quality in the second section, if occasionally some of the ensemble. phrases were kick-started in articulation. Lucid, confident cadenzas were delivered with a touch of classy aplomb and the close had a tasteful sense of deliberation.

    The finale was played with a waspish buzz but still had a neat, stylish delivery. The MD kept the pulse flowing and despite the occasional touch of scrappy ensemble it never lost taut brilliance. The build to the close was handled so well — driving at 1 in bar to a thumping close that was boldly exciting in intent.


  • Sunday 23, 15:24:49

    Third Section:

    Early Endurance thoughts

    We have had the first four of the 17 contenders in the Third Section where Andrew Baker’s ‘Endurance’ has shown its musical teeth. it does seem to be a stern test for this level of banding.

    Douglas Town opened up with a slightly uneven and not fully convincing account that just had a few too many inconsistencies.

    The marker though came from a solid Hazel Grove under Nigel Beasley. They really got inside the music and featured some excellent solo contributions.

    Formby kept you engaged right from the opening and was well thought out from the middle with excellent ensemble and solo contributions. It was a performance to keep in the memory bank as contest unfolds.

    The last of the opening quartet came from Rivington & Adlington with an account that certainly had its moments and a sense of adventure from start ti finish.

    It’s going to be interesting to hear how the bands fair on this work today.

  • Sunday 23, 15:19:00

    Championship Section:

    1. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

    A thoroughly engaging take on the score from MD Paul Andrews this — flowing with purposeful musicality from start to finish. No recourse to artifice or needless effect either — and all the better for it.

    The opening movement bubbled with nervous energy and well measured detail, so that the thick layer of melodic texture could lie on top with suppleness. It was confident and compact playing.

    The central section was also malleable in form although some of the functionality in the cadenzas wavered a little. The underlying pulse had a firm constant feel and allowed the MD to shape things on a solid foundation.

    It was rounded off with a sprightly finale — just a little scrappy and untuneful in places, but playfully effervescent nonetheless. It drew on firm reserves of energy and stylish intent with controlled dynamism all the way to a rousing close to offer the contest a quality marker.

  • Sunday 23, 15:01:02

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    All smiles with the silverware for Roberts Bakery Band

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    2020 Champion: Roberts Bakery Band

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    Second Place: Blackburn & Darwen

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    Third Place: Ashton under Lyne

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    Best Percussion: Freckleton

    Result:

    First Section:

    Test Piece: Legacy (Tom Davoren)
    Adjudicators: Andrea Price and Andrew Warriner

    1. Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)*
    2. Blackburn & Darwen (Daniel Thomas)*
    3. Ashton-Under-Lyne (Jamie Prophet)
    4. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
    5. Flixton (Matthew Ryan)
    6. Manx Concert Brass (Ian Clague MBE)
    7. Freckleton (Matt Shaw)
    8. Longridge (Mark Peacock)
    9. Mossley (Duncan Byers)
    10. Middleton (Kevin Gibbs)
    11. Bollington Brass (Peter Christian)
    12. Haydock (Mark Quinn)
    13. Silk Brass (Tony Wyatt)
    14. Marple (Stephen Curtis)
    15. Diggle (Alan Widdop)
    16. Haslingden & Helmshore (John Binns)

    *Qualify for National Final


  • Sunday 23, 14:56:43

    Draw:

    Championship Section:

    Test Piece: A Tale as Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)
    Adjudicators: Ian Brownbill and Alan Morrison

    1. Wingates (Paul Andrews)
    2. Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
    3. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon)
    4. TCTC Group (Jef Sparkes)
    5. VBS Poynton (Ryan Watkins)
    6. Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
    7. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
    8. Foden's (Russell Gray)
    9. Wardle Anderson Brass (Sean Conway)
    10. Rainford (Sarah Groarke-Booth)
    11. Milnrow (Chris Binns)
    12. Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)

  • Sunday 23, 14:18:56

    Third Section:

    Straight into Third Section in Ballroom

    A swift and slick turn around in the Ballroom with the Third Section now underway before the scheduled start time.

  • Sunday 23, 14:15:57

    A Legacy worth working to perfect... with predictions

    The legacy of the very best brass bands has always been their tonality — wonderful, warm, rich, balanced. That's what makes them stand out — not that they can rattle out notes like a Uzi sub-machine gun.

    There is no doubt the bands here today are much more technically impressive than bands of eras 30 or 40 years ago, but musically can we say the same thing. Not today. This was a very disappointing contest on a work's whose subtle nuances, calibrated balances and measured dynamics were lost in interpretation on the vast majority.

    Tom Davoren's test-piece has been a real wake up call today — and we suspect the same thing will occur all around the country over the next few weeks.

    There was an uneven account from Silk Brass which had its moments, with the same fate befaliing Haslingden & Helmshore. Robert's Bakery will have perhaps claimed a National Finals place after their colourful account that certainly had a touch of character, whilst Flixton fell into the same trap as far too many bands today — with the desire to create excitement seeing them lose compactness and coherence.

    4BR Prediction:

    Hard one to call, but Longridge set their stall out off the number 1 draw and it has more than held its own for us. Robert's Bakery may just sneak in ahead of Blackburn & Darwen with Eccles close on their heels. Mossley and Ashton make up out top-six with a dark horse of Middleton.

    1. Longridge
    2. Roberts Bakery
    3. Blackburn & Darwen
    4. Eccles Borough
    5. Mossley
    6. Ashton under Lyne

    Dark Horse: Middleton


  • Sunday 23, 14:09:03

    Third Section:

    Draw:

    Test Piece: Endurance (Andrew Baker)
    Empress Ballroom
    Draw: 1pm and 3.15pm
    Commences: At the conclusion of Fourth Section
    Adjudicators: Nicholas Garman and Mike Kilroy

    1. Douglas Town (Ken Mitchell)
    2. Hazel Grove (Nigel Beasley)
    3. Formby (Louise Hough MBE)
    4. Rivington & Adlington (Malcolm Wilson)
    5. Whitworth Vale & Healey (John Binns)
    6. Hawk Green (Neil Hewson)
    7. City of Chester (Ewan Easton)
    8. Trinity Girls (Richard Evans)
    9. Parr St. Helens (John Ludden)

  • Sunday 23, 14:00:43

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    2020 Champion: BMP Europe Goodshaw

    Fourth Section:

    Test Piece: Neverland (Christopher Bond)
    Adjudicators: John Doyle and David Roberts

    1. BMP Europe Ltd. Goodshaw (David W. Ashworth)*
    2. Skelmersdale Prize (Ben Coulson)*
    3. Littleborough (Sam Fisher)
    4. Brindle (Matthew Balson)
    5. Morecambe (Andrew Porter)
    6. Golborne Brass (Joshua Hughes)
    7. Dobcross Silver (Jason M. Smith)
    8. Stalybridge Old (James Atkins)
    9. St. John's (Mossley) (Paul Towle)
    10. Stacksteads (Fred Bowker)
    11. Ramsey Town (Robert Quane)
    12. Cadishead Public (David Holland)
    13. Red Admiral Brass (Stuart Barton)
    14. Blackley (Adrian Smith)
    15. Dobcross Youth (Seth Livingstone)
    16. Denton Brass (Robert Yates)

    *Qualify for National Final

  • Sunday 23, 13:47:47

    Fourth Section:

    The final trio of Neverland and prediction...

    Like the others before them, the remaining trio of ensembles have thrived on performing Christopher Bond's wonderfully engaging piece.

    Skelmersdale built a colourful momentum as it went along, whilst the mix of youth and experienced in Red Admiral Brass really went for it with such verve.

    Finally, Denton Brass with a bravura account full of commitment from the youngsters around the stand.

    Malcolm Wood's round up and prediction:

    What a great piece Christopher Bond has given us with 'Neverland'. If today is anything to go by, the next four weekends at this level will be an absolute treat. The piece has plenty of pitfalls but they are never placed to rob the music of its inherent character.

    Full marks certainly go to the team of volunteers who have made this contest go like clockwork today.

    Picking a winner and podium finishers won't be that straight forward but one that judges John Doyle and David Roberts will hopefully enjoy. Some bands could be heading home wanting to kick a few cats if they miss out on being in contention — they all played so well.

    The post comfort break accounts of Morecambe and Golborne really made an impact with us and could be heading to Cheltenham — but it will be a close run thing.

    4BR Prediction

    1. Morecambe
    2. Golborne
    3. Stacksteads
    4. St John's (Mossley)
    5. Skelmersdale
    6. Dobcross Silver


  • Sunday 23, 13:04:43

    A legacy of years of neglect...?

    Looking back through rose tinted glasses to an era of brass banding that perhaps never existed is a tricky thing to do at today's contests — but on the evidence we have heard we have seemingly lost the art (and it is an art) to build ensemble tonality of warmth, colour, balance and texture — and then link it to subtle nuance in phrasing and melodic line.

    Perhaps this is a type of music that we don't get to play too often either, because there has been a lack of comprehension on show.

    The playing has been solid enough — but its lacked subtle character, blend and tonal warmth — we don;t just mean overt vibrato either.

    In that respect 'Legacy' has been a very timely reminder of just how out of kilter the First Section has become.

    A solid showing from Blackburn & Darwen could well see them in the Cheltenham mix, alongside a confident if sometimes harsh sounding Eccles Borough with Mossley just behind. Marple gave it their best shot led by a super principal cornet.

  • Sunday 23, 12:45:08

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    More enjoyable Neverland stuff

    It's great to see the composer Christopher Bond here today, and he's giving his own thoughts on the performances via his twitter account.

    And after reading them, Chris, like ourselves and those in the hall have certainly enjoyed the quality of the playing on show.

    Terrific to see the Lancastrians of St John's (Mossley) back with a finely shaped account that benefited from solid contributions from all parts of the band.

    Stacksteads was efficient and precise, whilst a relaxed Joshua Hughes led an account that was as bold as his shirt with Golborne — and that is saying something. A really musical account that had so many neatly conceived touches, it could give the judges a lot of thought. One to look out for at the end possibly..

    And finally in this batch, Morecambe with Andrew Porter at the helm. This was another impressive account that just oozed music from the word go. It's right in there...

    Who'd be a judge today? John Doyle and David Roberts could have a tough job picking the order here.

  • Sunday 23, 12:27:02

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    Great to be back

    The contest today welcomes back Morecambe who not too long ago were mixing it with the Championship Section bands. They have taken some time out of the contesting arena and rebuilt under the knowledgeable and experienced Andrew Porter.

    It's also great to see the return to the stage of St John's (Mossley) from Tameside in Greater Manchester. On euphonium was Robert Sykes and whilst the name may not jump out at you, if we tell you that he is the father of none other than Melanie Sykes (above), star of the Boddington's Beer adverts and tv shows galore since... and a pretty good baritone player herself...

    Great to see both back here today...


  • Sunday 23, 12:24:12

    Getting ready for the Area test

  • Sunday 23, 12:15:22

    Legacy challenges expectations...

    Before a note was blown in anger in the First Section this year we were hearing how bands around the country felt Tom Davoren's work wasn't technically hard enough to test the bands.

    Well — that has been blown out of the water here.

    This is a piece that requires a great deal of nuanced thought and subtle appreciation of balance, timbre, texture, dynamics and flow — not simply playing the right notes in the right order. Few have really managed that so far today — few indeed. It has been disappointing — its as if there is a collective amnesia that has overtaken us with this type of music.

    Middleton, Bollington, Manx Concert Brass and Freckleton all produced performances that just about met the technical challenges, but all found great difficulty in blending the colour palette and bringing clarity to the rich balances. Plenty of passion and drive, but the tonality has been so harsh.

    This is a deceptively difficult piece of music, but the problems have been very transparent. The marker set by Longrdige may take some beating.

  • Sunday 23, 12:05:08

    Draw:

    First Section:

    Test Piece: Legacy (Tom Davoren)
    Opera House
    Commences: 9.45am
    Adjudicators: Andrea Price and Andrew Warriner

    1. Longridge (Mark Peacock)
    2. Haydock (Mark Quinn)
    3. Ashton-Under-Lyne (Jamie Prophet)
    4. Diggle (Alan Widdop)
    5. Middleton (Kevin Gibbs)
    6. Bollington Brass (Peter Christian)
    7. Manx Concert Brass (Ian Clague MBE)
    8. Freckleton (Matt Shaw)
    9. Blackburn & Darwen (Daniel Thomas)
    10. Mossley (Duncan Byers)
    11. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
    12. Marple (Stephen Curtis)
    13. Silk Brass (Tony Wyatt)
    14. Haslingden & Helmshore (John Binns)
    15. Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
    16. Flixton (Matthew Ryan)


  • Sunday 23, 11:48:25

    Full Draw:

    Fourth Section:

    Test Piece: 'Neverland' — Christopher Bond
    Empress Ballroomn

    Adjudicators: John Doyle and David Roberts

    1. Brindle (Matthew Balson)
    2. Littleborough (Sam Fisher))
    3. Dobcross Silver (Jason M. Smith)
    4. Ramsey Town (Robert Quane)
    5. Blackley (Adrian Smith
    6. Stalybridge (James Atkins)
    7. Dobcross Youth (Seth Livingstone)
    8. BMP Europe Ltd. Goodshaw (David W. Ashworth)
    9. Cadishead Public (David Holland)
    10. St. John's (Mossley) (Paul Towle)
    11. Stacksteads (Fred Bowker)
    12. Golborne Brass (Joshua Hughes)
    13. Morecambe (Andrew Porter)
    14. Skelmersdale Prize (Ben Coulson)
    15. Red Admiral Brass (Stuart Barton)
    16. Denton Brass (Robert Yates)

  • Sunday 23, 11:44:30

    Bands relishing a bit of Bond

    The name of Bond always captures the imagination when it comes to a battle, and the name of Christopher Bond and his engaging work has really done a bit of a Daniel Craig here — if Peter Pan drove an Aston Martin that is. It's been great.

    We have reached the half way mark with five more contrasting performances that all had plenty to admire in their stylish approach, execution and sheer determination.

    Blackley gave a well judged reading that just needed a few smoother edges to have really been a cracker whilst Stalybridge Old was an account that was full of graft, grit and determination. Just a couple of moments of unease, but another well judges effort.

    Over the next four weeks, we are sure to see lots of young players giving their all on stage. Doubt if any will match Dobcross Youth though. They all relished their time on stage with some of them the same size as Nick Nack in 'The Man with the Golden Gun'.

    Under Seth Livingstone they gave a cracking account with a mature sound that defied the age of the players. It’s one for the judges to ponder for sure.

    Two wise old heads led the last two bands before the break. David Ashworth’s BMP Goodshaw was admirably disciplined with great attention to detail whilst David Holland’s Cadishead was committed, confident and colourful — if just a little wayward. Plenty to enjoy though from all the bands.

    There is a comfort break now.

  • Sunday 23, 11:25:05

    Nice to know...


  • Sunday 23, 11:23:38

    Critics eh...

  • Sunday 23, 11:00:38

    Early trips to Neverland

    We have had four enjoyable, engaging accounts of Christopher Bond's 'Neverland' in the wide expanse of the Empress Ballroom. It's certainly a very accessible work that has a well balanced approach of the technical and musical challenges it poses. Each of the little cameo picture tales really do come to life.

    Brindle got things going with a measured and well thought out account, with a lovely cornet lead shining in the middle movement, whilst Littleborough with the experienced Sam Fisher at the helm provided an astute rendition — measured in balance, dynamic and pace.

    Dobcross Silver was a neatly drawn account too — just a few moments when things got a little awry, whilst Ramsay rounded off the opening quartet with a performance full of tasteful moments of musicality, especially in a lovely middle section.

    One thing that strikes us early on is how the bands have handled the lively acoustic and how the sound is transported to the judges box on the balcony upstairs. All so far have taken a notch off the top end of their dynamics it seems and it has paid dividends.

    All bodes well for a good contest here

  • Sunday 23, 10:52:37

    Full Draw:

    Second Section:

    Test Piece: The Golden Sabre — Tales of the Hussar-Poet, Denis Davydov (Kit Turnbull)
    Pavilion Theatre
    Commences: 11.00am
    Adjudicators: Annie Crookston and Howard J Evans

    1. Delph (Phil Goodwin)
    2. Allerton Brass (Adam Taylor)
    3. Poulton-Le-Fylde (A. Webb)
    4. Tyldesley (Robert Taylor)
    5. Valley Brass (Haydock) (David Chadwick)
    6. Besses o' th' Barn (Trevor Halliwell)
    7. Old Hall Brass (John North)
    8. Blackpool Brass (Max Stannard)
    9. Pemberton Old Wigan DW 'B' (Gareth Brindle)
    10. Crewe Brass (Matt Pithers)
    11. Cheshire Constabulary (David Woolam)
    12. Eagley (Chris Wormald)
    13. Uppermill (Dean Redfern)
    14. Greenfield (Phil Goodwin)
    15. Besses Boys (James Holt)
    16. Eccleston Brass (John Wood)

    Withdrawn: Farnworth & Walkden (Dan Price)


  • Sunday 23, 10:44:39

    Early Legacy impressions...

    It's still early days here in the First Section with the first four bands having taken to the stage in Longridge, Haydock, Ashton and Diggle respectively.

    A quartet of very different tinted accounts too — something that we think may be the case throughout the contest. The technical aspects should be well within the scope of the bands at this level (just a few clips evident so far), but the musical ones, in terms of colour, balance and dynamics are proving testing.

    The blending of the tuned percussion and cornets, especially when muted has been troublesome, as has gaining middle band clarity in the richer textures. Some notable cornet playing in the second movement — with a special mention to Angelo Bearpark on top man for Diggle. Years of experience shone through — with a sound like Jim Shepherd at his peak.

    The marker has been set perhaps by Longridge with Ashton on their tails — but this is a contest that may have quite a few twists and turns yet to come.

  • Sunday 23, 10:16:53

    embedded picture

    The ultimate legacy...

    Tom Davoren's First Section test-piece is inspired by the life of the great Welsh Labour politician Aneurin Bevan who died 60 years ago this year.

    He was the driving force behind the creation of the National Health Service in 1948, which was based in part on the Tredegar Medical Aid Society in his hometown, where residents would pay a subscription that would fund access for all of the town's inhabitants to have free access to medical services such as nursing or dental care.

    In 1947, Bevan stated: "All I am doing is extending to the entire population of Britain the benefits we had in Tredegar for a generation or more. We are going to Tredegar-ise you."

    It's a wonderful quote — but he didn't actually say it. It came from a film about his life made in the 1970s...

    Still, he did say: "The collective principle asserts that ... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means."

    And despite tweaks and challenges every since from different political parties — that remains the ethos of the NHS today.

    No wonder he is still regarded as one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century.

  • Sunday 23, 09:53:33

    Who will top the bill today?

    embedded picture

    There have been some pretty famous names who have topped the bill here at the Winter Gardens over the years — from the great Wilfred Hyde-White and Sir John Barbirolli to Gracie Fields and Shirley Bassey.

    There was also a very famous concert appearance here by a certain Jimi Hendrix in 1967. Now that would take some beating in any adjudicator's book...

    There are places up for grabs for London and Cheltenham of course, with 2 bands from the Championship and First Sections going through, 3 from the Second and Third and 2 from the Fourth.


  • Sunday 23, 09:42:39

    Draw:

    First Section:

    Test Piece: Legacy (Tom Davoren)
    Opera House
    Commences: 9.45am
    Adjudicators: Andrea Price and Andrew Warriner

    1. Longridge (Mark Peacock)
    2. Haydock (Mark Quinn)
    3. Ashton-Under-Lyne (Jamie Prophet)
    4. Diggle (Alan Widdop)
    5. Middleton (Kevin Gibbs)
    6. Bollington Brass (Peter Christian)
    7. Manx Concert Brass (Ian Clague MBE)
    8. Freckleton (Matt Shaw)

    Blackburn & Darwen (Daniel Thomas)
    Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
    Flixton (Matthew Ryan)
    Haslingden & Helmshore (John Binns)
    Marple (Stephen Curtis)
    Mossley (Duncan Byers)
    Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
    Silk Brass (Tony Wyatt)

  • Sunday 23, 09:33:51

    Off we go...

    So the first competitive notes are blown in this years regional championships with the Fourth Section underway here in Blackpool.

    Good luck to all and enjoy

  • Sunday 23, 09:24:04

    Draw:

    Fourth Section:

    Test Piece: Neverland (Christopher Bond)
    Empress Ballroomn

    Draws: 8.30am & 10.3am
    Commences: 9.30am

    Adjudicators: John Doyle and David Roberts

    1. Brindle (Matthew Balson)
    2. Littleborough (Sam Fisher))
    3. Dobcross Silver (Jason M. Smith)
    4. Ramsey Town (Robert Quane)
    5. Blackley (Adrian Smith
    6. Stalybridge (James Atkins)
    7. Dobcross Youth (Seth Livingstone)
    8. BMP Europe Ltd. Goodshaw (David W. Ashworth)

    Other competing bands:

    Cadishead Public (David Holland)
    Denton Brass (Robert Yates)
    Golborne Brass (Joshua Hughes)
    Littleborough (Sam Fisher)
    Morecambe (Andrew Porter)
    Red Admiral Brass (Stuart Barton)
    St. John's Mossley (Paul Taule)
    Skelmersdale Prize (Ben Coulson)
    Stacksteads (Fred Bowker)


  • Sunday 23, 08:11:34

    embedded picture

    Good morning from Blackpool...

    Good morning from Blackpool, where it's a touch wet although (at the time of writing) not as bad as the weather of Storm Ciara and Dennis.

    A warm welcome awaits inside the Winter Garden by the in-house staff along with Richard Milton and his army of volunteers who will run today's marathon.

    78 bands across five sections compete today, with the last notes blown and results anticipated around 8.00pm tonight.

    The action starts with the Fourth Section in the Ballroom at 9.30am closely followed by the First Section at 9.45am in the Opera House.

    Later this morning at 11.00am, the Second Section starts in the Pavilion. Later in the day the Third Section takes place in the Ballroom with the Championship Section in the Opera House.

    We'll post the draws later once the judges have gone in the boxes. There are a number of split draws today, so keep your eyes peeled.

    Time for a brew and see you in a bit.

  • Saturday 22, 21:04:58

    Runners & Riders...

    The first of the 2020 Regional Championship battles takes place at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool with places at the Royal Albert Hall and Cheltenham up for grabs.

    Championship Section:

    Test Piece: A Tale as Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)
    Opera House
    Commences: Following First Section results
    Adjudicators: Ian Brownbill and Alan Morrison

    Boarshurst Silver (James Garlick)
    Fairey (Garry Cutt)
    Foden's (Russell Gray)
    Leyland (Thomas Wyss)
    Milnrow (Chris Binns)
    Oldham (Lees) (John Collins)
    Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon)
    Rainford (Sarah Groarke-Booth)
    TCTC Group (Jef Sparkes)
    VBS Poynton (Stig Maersk)
    Wardle Anderson Brass (Sean Conway)
    Wingates (Paul Andrew)

    First Section:

    Test Piece: Legacy (Tom Davoren)
    Opera House
    Commences: 9.45am
    Adjudicators: Andrea Price and Andrew Warriner

    Ashton-Under-Lyne (Jamie Prophet)
    Blackburn & Darwen (Daniel Thomas)
    Bollington Brass (Peter Christian)
    Diggle (Alan Widdop)
    Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)
    Flixton (Matthew Ryan)
    Freckleton (Matt Shaw)
    Haslingden & Helmshore (John Binns)
    Haydock (Mark Quinn)
    Longridge (Mark Peacock)
    Manx Concert Brass (Ian Clague MBE)
    Marple (Stephen Curtis)
    Middleton (Kevin Gibbs)
    Mossley (Duncan Byers)
    Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
    Silk Brass (Tony Wyatt)

    Second Section:

    Test Piece: The Golden Sabre — Tales of the Hussar-Poet, Denis Davydov (Kit Turnbull)
    Pavilion Theatre
    Commences: 11.00am
    Adjudicators: Annie Crookston and Howard J Evans

    Allerton Brass (Adam Taylor)
    Besses Boys (James Holt)
    Besses o' th' Barn (Trevor Halliwell)
    Blackpool Brass (Max Stannard)
    Cheshire Constabulary (David Woolam)
    Crewe Brass (Matt Pithers)
    Delph (Phil Goodwin)
    Eagley (Chris Wormald)
    Eccleston Brass (John Wood)
    Farnworth & Walkden (Dan Price)
    Greenfield (Phil Goodwin)
    Old Hall Brass (John North)
    Pemberton Old Wigan DW 'B' (Gareth Brindle)
    Poulton-Le-Fylde (A. Webb)
    Tyldesley (Robert Taylor)
    Uppermill (Dean Redfern)
    Valley Brass (Haydock) (David Chadwick)

    Third Section:

    Test Piece: Endurance — narrative variations for brass band (Andrew Baker)
    Empress Ballroom
    Commences: At the conclusion of Fourth Section
    Adjudicators: Nicholas Garman and Mike Kilroy

    City of Chester (Ewan Easton)
    Darwen Brass (Len Charnock)
    Douglas Town (Ken Mitchell)
    Formby (Louise Hough MBE)
    Greenhalls (J. Hall)
    Hawk Green (Neil Hewson)
    Hazel Grove (Nigel Beasley)
    Hoover Bolton (Craig Mann)
    Lostock Hall Memorial (Ryan Broad)
    Parr St. Helens (John Ludden)
    Pilling Jubilee Silver (Steve Hartley)
    Rivington & Adlington (Malcolm Wilson)
    Rode Hall Silver (Nigel Butler)
    Sale Brass (Matthew Hindle)
    Thornton Cleveleys (Dave Houghton)
    Trinity Girls (Richard Evans)
    Whitworth Vale & Healey (John Binns)

    Fourth Section:

    Test Piece: Neverland (Christopher Bond)
    Empress Ballroom
    Commences: 9.30am
    Adjudicators: John Doyle and David Roberts

    Blackley (Adrian Smith)
    BMP Europe Ltd. Goodshaw (David W. Ashworth)
    Brindle (Matthew Balson)
    Cadishead Public (David Holland)
    Denton Brass (Robert Yates)
    Dobcross Silver (Jason M. Smith)
    Dobcross Youth (Seth Livingstone)
    Golborne Brass (Joshua Hughes)
    Littleborough (Sam Fisher)
    Morecambe (Andrew Porter)
    Ramsey Town (Robert Quane)
    Red Admiral Brass (Stuart Barton)
    St. John's Mossley (Paul Taule)
    Skelmersdale Prize (Ben Coulson)
    Stacksteads (Fred Bowker)
    Stalybridge (James Atkins)

  • Saturday 22, 10:22:03

    Blackpool first...

    There is a great day of competitive action to enjoy this weekend at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool as the bands of the North West Region battle it out to try and qualify for the National Finals in London and Cheltenham.


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March 28 • Players and beginners of any standard are always warmly welcomed, especially some more solo cornets and Eb horns. Feel free to drop in, even if you just fancy a blow or just want to try another instrument.


David Barringer

BMus(Homs)
Conductor and Adjudicator


               

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