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LIVE.

2022 Brass In Concert
Sage Gateshead
Saturday 19th November

Live comments by James McLeod and Iwan Fox. Photos by World of Brass

  • Sunday 20, 18:48:25

    Brighouse celebrations...

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  • Saturday 19, 20:59:06

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    2022 Champions: Brighouse & Rastrick

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    Runner-up: Tredegar

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    Third place and audience prize winners: Cory

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    Best Soloist: Kirsty Abbotts of Hammonds

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    The results

    Results:

    Howard Evans & Martin Winter (Quality of Performance)/(Quality of Performance)
    Frode Rydland (Programme Content)
    Kevin Hathway & Anne Crookston (Entertainment & Presentation)/(Entertainment & Presentation)
    James Fountain (Soloist and Individual Awards)

    Music/Music/Content/Entertainment/Entertainment = Total
    Evans/Winter/Rydland/Hathway/Crookston = Total

    1. Brighouse & Rastrick (Russell Gray): 51/60/40/16/19 = 186
    2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse): 60/54/38/14/15 = 181
    3. Cory (Philip Harper): 54/51/34/20/20 = 179
    4. Foden's (Michael Fowles): 57/48/28/19/17 = 169
    5. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Allan Withington): 33/57/36/12/18 = 156
    6. Grimethorpe Colliery (Ben Palmer): 36/45/30/18/14 = 143
    7. Krohnengen Brass Band (Dr Ray Farr): 39/42/24/11/16 = 132*
    8. Friary (Chris King): 45/27/32/17/11 = 132
    9. Flowers (Paul Holland): 48/39/20/10/13 = 130
    10. Hammonds (Morgan Griffiths): 42/33/18/15/12 = 120
    11. GUS Band (Leigh Baker):27/36/26/13/9 = 111
    12. NASUWT Riverside (Prof Nicholas J Childs): 30/30/22/9/10 = 101

    * Denotes Quality of Performance points take precedence in order of tied placings

    Main Awards:

    Quality of Performance: Tredegar
    Best Programme Content: Brighouse & Rastrick
    Best Entertainment & Presentation: Cory
    Winning MD: Russell Gray
    Audience Entertainment Prize: Cory
    New Composition/Arrangement Award : Adios Nonino (Piazzolla arr. McElligott) Brighouse & Rastrick

    Individual Awards:

    Best Soloist: Kirsty Abbotts (cornet) Hammonds
    Don Lusher Trombone Award: Chris Binns (Grimethorpe Colliery)
    Harry Mortimer Best Principal Cornet Award: Tom Hutchinson (Cory)
    The Fesa Trophy for Best Flugel Award: Helen Williams (Cory)
    The Gateshead MBC Trophy for Best Soprano Award: Richard Poole (Fodens)
    The Louis and Colin Johnson Trophy for Best Percussion Section: Foden's
    Best Euphonium: Gary Curtin (Foden's)
    Best Baritone: Ben Stratford (Tredegar)
    Best Horn: Jonathan Bates (Foden's)
    John Fletcher Best Basses Award: Brighouse & Rastrick
    Youngest Player: Ewan Rigby of GUS (aged 16)

  • Saturday 19, 20:33:15

    James McLeod's final thoughts and opinion

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    What a wonderful day of music making. Brass in Concert has turned into an opportunity for bands to really push themselves — and commission a whole heap of brilliant new music from new composers. And there have been some blindingly good playing from bands and soloists — a real spectacle. And, on a personal note, a joy to see the hall close to capacity throughout the day.

    But Iwan makes me do a prediction, even though I don't want to. But here it is:

    1. Cory
    2. Tredegar
    3. Brighouse
    4. Fodens
    5. Carlton Main
    6. Grimethorpe


  • Saturday 19, 19:42:42

    12. Grimethorpe Colliery (Ben Palmer)

    Legends of Middle Earth

    Gandalf (Johan De Meij)
    Riddles in the Dark (Andy Wareham)
    Euphonium soloist: Adam Bokaris
    The King Under the Mountain (Callum Au)
    The March of the Khazad (Martin Romberg)
    Hobbits (De Meij)

    Big sounds to open 'Gandalf' in Grimethorpe's Lord of the Rings based set. Ian McMillan's evocative narration also adds to the grandeur. Some balance problems between band and the multimedia with the narration being lost — but the band sounds that are hiding them are excellent.

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    Johan De Meij writes such effective music that doesn't seem technically difficult for the sake of technical difficulty. The big hymnlike melody is played with a feeling of occasion, excellent. The rolling hills in the multimedia presentation depicting 'Middle Earth' match the music so well.

    'Riddles in the Dark' is the euphonium feature, with Adam Bokaris as the soloist. The words of the 10 riddles that are posed in the chapter in 'The Hobbit' are set to music. This is such a technically demanding solo, handled seemingly with ease by the soloist.

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    Contributions from other band principals are well done — and the groove laid down by the percussion and basses is so stable. Super technical playing from Adam — absolutely breathtaking — literally at times! Very impressive.

    The King Under The Mountain — a set of variations arranged by talented trombonist and arranger Callum Au features the Hall of the Mountain King as the theme. The first variation, which features the cornet section in 'Harry James' inspired passages. A fine interlude from Jamie Smith on principal cornet leads to Chris Binns' trombone feature in the second variation before he is joined by the rest of the trombone section. Such stylish playing.

    There are some uneasy moments in the transition from this into the final variation, which features the introduction of Latin American rhythms to the jazz inspired rhythms — the 'Hall of the Mountain King' theme with whole band at quiet dynamics is so effective. Some great unison playing here as the piece builds to a well-choreographed conclusion. Very effective stuff.

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    "March of the Khazad" has the band donning their miners' helmets — depicting the dwarves of Middle Earth mining in the dark. You know Grimethorpe must have had those helmets in the bandroom already! The rhymical consistent marching tone being driven from the basses — with some very difficult multiple tonguing required from every section — some very tight articulations — well played.

    The way the music contrasts from lyricism to technical playing is well managed by the players.

    To close "Hobbits" from Johan De Meij and more from his Lord of the Rings Symphony. The frivolity of the hobbits is captured so joyfully here — it's such evocative, happy music — and well delivered. The balance between sections here is so well managed, it feels like every important detail is brought out of the score.

    It's a powerhouse ending (another one from the book of 4br standards) and well played.

    Some excellent playing and a very well-presented programme from Grimethorpe — certainly in the mix for me.

    James McLeod

  • Saturday 19, 19:02:50

    11. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

    The Ice Bird

    A Frozen Desert (Paul Saggers)
    The Penguin (Saggers)
    Ttrumpet soloist: Dewi Griffiths
    Birth (Saggers)
    You Can Go Out But Don't Go Near the Elephant Seals! (Saggers)
    Rise of the Ice Bird (Saggers)

    Atmospheric percussion opens 'A Frozen Desert' — focusing on the inhospitable Antarctica — with the multimedia presentation showing pictures of the 'Frozen Desert' with images taken by the Royal Navy, with whom the composer, Paul Saggers, is aligned. It is a strong opening piece, with the trademark Tredegar full band sounds on full display.

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    'The Penguin' is a trumpet solo featuring the band's principal cornet player Dewi Griffiths on the trumpet — with the big band sounds being set to images of penguins of various breeds. The percussion work here is great too. There is a cool bass groove throughout, which is rock solid. Dewi is so confident and clean with semiquaver runs, and full, round high notes — well played!

    A quartet of flugel, horn, baritone and euphonium is featured in 'Birth' — with imagery of the penguins making nests. More fine tuned percussion work underpins the quartet playing — who are so lyrical. The balance between the quartet members when they're playing together or in smaller groups of two or three is so well measured — and excellent bass notes from Siôn Rhys Jones on euphonium! This is beautiful playing.

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    The basses take the lead in 'You Can Go Out But Don't Go Near the Elephant Seals!' to open — along with some excellent trombone contributions and appropriately piercing 'bird calls' from the bird call whistle on the back row. This music is light and enjoyable, but it's tricky to play too — and it's being played very well. Sometimes the band is louder than the narration on the multimedia display, but not much is lost by this.

    There is an exciting almost 'chase' scene accompaniment to close — with the penguins being chased by their predators on the display. It would be easy to lose technically difficult this music is with the relatively light subject nature — but the technical display is superb, and Tredegar at their powerful best. Wow, what an ending to this!

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    'Rise of the Ice Bird' starts with more lyrical playing — no overblowing and rich, colourful sounds to begin. But the excitement starts back up — more fine percussion work as part of the build towards the close — the technique is on display is fantastic from the whole band.

    Strong performance from Tredegar, putting themselves firmly in the mix today. A strong programme theme, good multimedia, and great band and soloist playing.

    James McLeod

  • Saturday 19, 18:38:41

    10. Friary Brass (Chris King)

    The Musical Journey of George Gershwin

    A Gershwin Prelude (Sam Every)
    Blue Skies (Irving Berlin arr. Every)
    Someone to Watch Over Me (Gershwin arr. Turrin / Free — cornet soloist: Richard Straker)
    Riguadon (Ravel arr. Alan Fernie)
    My Favourite Things (Rodgers and Hammerstein)

    "A Gershwin Prelude" is the Gershwin megamix I never knew I needed. Our narrator, sat at the 'GG' bar portrays George's brother, Ira Gershwin. This piece has all the tropes of a big concert opener, packed full of Gershwin soundbites — very effective.

    The multimedia presentation showing the uber-style delivery while we hear of Gershwin's beginnings as a bike messenger is just right.

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    Richard Straker gives such a stylish cornet solo in the opening of 'Blue Skies' before a small ensemble of two cornets, two horns, euph and tuba heads to the front of the stage — the jazz and swing playing is tight and stylish — even for a brass band …

    'Someone to Watch Over Me' is such a fantastic song — and this arrangement is played by Richard Straker on cornet. The band accompaniment is quite active, but never hides Richard's fantastic sound. There are some moments of untidiness, but the majority is played in a such a simple, almost respectful way. Beautiful playing.

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    A story about Gershwin wanting to study with Ravel leads us into Ravel's Rigaudon. Of course, as we all know, a Rigadudon in a lively duple metre (thanks Wikipedia …) and this is just that. It's lively, and much to admire. There are some scrappy moments in some of the semiquaver passages — but is largely played accurately.

    A jazzed up arrangement by Sam Every of Rogers and Hammerstein's immortal 'My Favourite Things' — showcasing Neil Wharton on trombone, the bands euphonium section and the percussion team up next. The drum kit in this piece is so good. It ticks along nicely, with some fine band ensemble playing.

    The tuned percussion to open MD Chris King's compilation of Gershwin tunes 'Rhapsody in Gershwin' is so impressive. The band looks like they're really enjoying this. There's a moment of intonation problems in link between the opening faster section and the 'Rhapsody in Blue' slower section.

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    This is lovely, but once again in the transition between sections there are some slight problems. This faster section is tricky for the band, but largely well handled. Martin Britt on sop is pinging out the beginning of some descending runs which pass around the band so cleanly! The Rhapsody in Blue theme on euphs with 'I Got Rhythm' in the cornets is just great.

    Some excellent moments in this performance, but a few fragile moments too. A big change from Friary's previous 'panto' style performances, but full of interesting stories and music.

    James McLeod


  • Saturday 19, 17:29:21

    9. Foden's Band (Michael Fowles)

    The Adventures of Robin Hood

    Main Theme from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Michael Kamen arr. Iain McKnight)
    Merry Men (Marc Streitenfeld arr. John Barber)
    (Everything I Do) I Do It for You (Bryan Adams, Michael Kamen and Robert Lange arr. Barber, orch. McKnight)
    Duettists: Mark Wilkinson (cornet) and Melanie Whyle (flugel)
    Cruel Summer (Siobhan Fahey, Keren Woodward, Steve Jolley, Sarah Dallin and Tony Swain arr. McKnight)
    Euphonium soloist: Gary Curtin
    Escapade (Jonathan Bates)
    Duettists: Richard Poole (soprano cornet) and Jonathan Bates (tenor horn)
    Return of the Lionheart (Barber)
    (Everything I do) I do it for You — Play Off (Adams, Kamen)

    Immediately, there's a driving intensity and purpose to Fodens' performance. The 'Robin Hood' themed programme, of course, starts with the theme tune to 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' with the multimedia presentation showing the bands' principal players as the cast of characters which the band have also released on social media over the past week. There's a seriousness and power to the playing — but the fun from the multimedia presentation. Great start.

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    A reformation of the band to the sides of the stage, the bands narration leads us into an arrangement by solo trombone John Barber of Marc Streitenfeld's 'Merry Men' from the 'Robin Hood' film starring Russell Crowe. The lively jig tunes, underpinned with strong percussion are very effective — though sometimes the percussion overpowers the balance of the fine technical work being done in the band — but the playing is incredibly good.

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    'Everything I do (I do it for you)' the classic Bryan Adams track is next — featuring Mark Wilkinson and Melanie Whyle — with another arrangement by John Barber. There's a lyrical simplicity to the solo lines and the ornamentations that are then given by the soloists — it's all very nice.

    Gary Curtin is booed and hissed as he stands for his solo — some nice character work from the band and Gary. There's a strong groove from the percussion, while Gary is so at ease with the technical demands presented to him. This funky 'Cruel Summer' is expertly played — the band accompany so well, never overpowering the soloist while he's playing — but opening up when he isn't — great stuff. If anyone needs a dancer for their Brass in Concert set for next year, look up Gary Curtin's professional card!

    "Escapade" is another strong, driving number — written by Jonathan Bates, with himself and Richard Poole as the featured soloists. There's some very technically demanding moments — but Jonathan has nobody to blame but himself, he wrote it for himself! There is the odd blemish, but the overall playing of Jonathan and Richard is so strong, in particular how together they are with such difficult music — and a great last note!

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    'Return of the Lionheart' is an original work from John Barber — the band's rousing finale. This is more of a traditional 'full band' closing item — with some exceptional tuned percussion contributions. The band displays its full, colourful band sound and lyricism here. There's a breadth to Fodens' full band sound, lead from the basses up, that seems to make the ground shake.

    The curtain call is a reprise of 'Everything I do (I do it for you)' while the cast of soloists take a bow — it's a lovely little touch.

    Strong performance from Fodens, lots of fine band playing, soloists, and a strong programme theme.

    James McLeod

  • Saturday 19, 16:44:18

    8. GUS Band (Leigh Baker)

    Our Planet

    Planet Earth (Samuel Shelley)
    The Turtle Dove (Trad. arr. Leigh Baker)
    Flugel horn soloist: Rhys Cave)
    La Vie En Rose (Louiguy/Piaf arr. Baker)
    Cornet duettists: James Screaton and Jake Humphrey
    Drums of Thunder from Windows of the World (Peter Graham)
    Finale, Within Blue Empires (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)

    'Planet Earth' is a nice opener — some strong technique on show, and opportunity for the band to show a variety of tone colours. There were a few scrappy moments and untidy ensemble, but an overall effective start to their performance.

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    The band's new flugel horn player, Rhys Cave, is their soloist in the folk song 'The Turtle Dove'. Rhys has a clear and bright tone, and the band and MD give him lots of room for rubato — ably assisted with solo contributions from principal cornet James Screaton. This is simple music and is handled with care in the accompaniments. Well played.

    We're introduced to the 'Northampton Wombles' — the small delivery robots that are used in the band's resident Northampton and their connections to the Disney film Wall-E. James Screaton, with muted trumpet, ably plays the main theme to 'La Vie En Rose' — a tune featured in Wall-E.

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    Lead by the newly crowned Young Musician of the Year Jordan Ashman stylishly playing a green wheelie bin, the rest of the percussion section, in their high vis jackets, on recyclable bottle percussion instruments to accompany Jake Humphrey on trumpet this time. The playing is good, and rhythmical, and is silly and fun — you'll hear no complaints from me!

    'Drums of Thunder' from the Peter Graham suite 'Windows of the World' is something of a throwback now — the music is just as effective and full of life as it always has been — but it feels a little dated compared to lots of the new arrangements and composition we've been treated to so far today. There are a few rocky moments once the whole band comes in — but after it sticks together and the moments of difficulty are well managed.

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    'Within Blue Empires' from Paul Lovatt-Cooper brings the Gus set to a close — featuring the whale song tape too. The Eb bass solo is played so lyrically — there are moments of excellent delicate playing and control at the quieter dynamics. The demanding technical requirements are mostly met through the fast sections — with a strong, driving bass section — there has been some great sop playing throughout this whole performance too, and they are evident again here. Some of the details are missing and a little scrappy to close too.

    A mixed bag for GUS today — it was not without fault — but some moments of real quality, a well thought out and presented theme and some comedy.

    James McLeod

  • Saturday 19, 15:53:25

    7. Brighouse & Rastrick (Russell Gray)

    Tango: The Art of Seduction

    Viva Piazzolla! (Astor Piazzolla arr: Ian McElligott)
    Street Tango (Piazzolla arr. McElligott)
    Oblivion (Piazzolla arr. McElligott)
    Cornet soloist: Tom Smith
    Adios Nonino (Piazzolla arr. McElligott)
    Libertango (Piazzolla arr. McElligott)

    Wolf whistles greet Russell Gray in his tailcoat to conduct 'Tango — The Art of Seduction' — Brighouse's programme with music of Astor Piazzolla — the famed Argentinian tango composer.

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    'Viva Piazzolla!' is a concert prelude — and what a concert prelude! 'Comedy' Steve Lomas on bass trombone shines, as does the whole band with tight playing and vibrant sounds. An opening of real intent.

    'Street Tango' has the band joined on stage by two professional dancers, dancing a fiery tango. Brighouse make such a powerful sound when they open up. The music has a sense of ease and flow to it, which hides the technical difficulty of the music — which is so well played.

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    'Oblivion' written for the film adaptation of Henry IV — is arranged as a cornet solo for rising cornet star Tom Smith. What a smooth, rich sound Tom has — and when joined by Mike Eccles on Flugel they blend their sounds so beautifully. The band at all times accompanying so sympathetically, but also allowing their moments of interest to be heard — a trait of the finest band playing. Super stuff.

    'Adios Nonino' — Nonino being the nickname of Piazzolla's father — was written in dedication of his father who when he sadly passed away. Tom Smith is joined by the trombone section and a tuba, and their opening quintet is sublimely balanced and executed — the clarity of articulations through the opening band tutti is excellent. Mike Eccles and Chris Robertson feature with challenging lyrical solos which are well handled.

    "Libertango" opens with atmospheric percussion and the well-played groove of the tango leads into a euphonium solo — the band groove continues with some excellent solo contributions before members of the band join in a choreographed clapping motif and 'dance' towards each other.

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    The professional dancers return as the front row cornets, all on flugels, give a rendition of the main libertango theme — there are some great trombone section interjections too — so stylish. Andy Moore on tenor horn impresses with his solo contribution too, before the powerful basses take the main tune. There is so much good playing here — with the constant being that the difficulty of the music is being hidden by the quality of the playing.

    A super, stylish performance from Brighouse, which featured some excellent individual and whole band playing. The playing was top notch — stylish and accurate — but I'm left feeling like I wanted a bit more variety.

    James McLeod


  • Saturday 19, 15:30:56

    Halfway point opinion

    There is now a 40 minute break before we return with Brighouse & Rastrick.

    Such a strong six performances to open the contest, and six very different programmes and performances. A very enjoyable day so far!

    For this listener, Cory placed themselves ahead of the pack with an almost flawless performance from the band, and easily the best us of the multimedia facilities available to the bands.

    1. Cory
    2. Carlton Main
    3. Flowers
    4. Hammonds
    5. NASUWT Riverside
    6. Krohnengen

Contest: Swiss National Championships

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Dobcross Silver Band - The Hammonds Band

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Regent Hall Concerts - Band of the RAF Regiment Symphonic Brass Ensemble

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Bilton Silver Rugby Band

November 26 • Bilton Silver (Rugby) Band invites applicants for the role of MUSICAL DIRECTOR of the senior band. Contesting in the first section, the band has a varied programme of concerts throughout the year. The organisation also boasts a thriving training programme


Greenfield Brass Band

November 24 • We are a friendly, progressive 3rd Section Band based in Saddleworth and are looking to fill the following positions prior to the North West Area.. Bass Trombone,. Solo Baritone,. Percussion (Tuned or Kit) . . Rehearsals Mon & Thurs at Friezland Bowling Club


Mereside Brass

November 23 • Mereside Brass (Rudheath, Northwich) are looking for a front row CORNET, possibly PRINCIPAL for the right player. We are a friendly 4th Section band, currently not contesting but with a sensible calendar of jobs and band social events


Alan Widdop


Conductor, Brass teacher, Adjudicator (ABBA)


               

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