As was shown in Blackpool, Richard Evans thoroughly enjoyed putting his musical mark on interpreting some of the intrinsic elements of what would surely have been a memorable youth.
And after leading Dalmellington to a clear-cut victory in the Senior Trophy, it came as little surprise that he was also enjoying doing it more than half a century later as well, with yet more relaxation, romance and resilience to savour as he jetted off to Berlin with his wonderful partner Pam for a short post-contest break.
As 'Salutes' go, none was more appropriate or deserved as he led the Scots to the title off the number 1 draw.
"I first came in 1956 and lived here for a year,"he said, as 4BR finally caught up with him on his latest trip. "It's a fantastic city that brings back so many memories — and we are having a wonderful time of it!
We return home later this week, but before then we are going to enjoy the sights and especially the sounds. We are off to hear the Berlin Philharmonic on Thursday. I just hope they are on as good form as Dalmellington in Blackpool!"
Wit and generosity
The famous trademark wit that has made him one of the most popular conductors in the banding world is of course never far from his lips, but so too is his generosity towards a band that he has enjoyed a heartfelt association with for over 40 years.
He also had a point though, as the Scots produced a very fine account of Gilbert Vinter's classic work that certainly captured the attention of adjudicators Ian Porthouse and Tom Hutchinson — with the duo remarking that it was; 'â€¦very well prepared and delivered', where 'everyone played their role and so well constructed (by) MD', as well as 'â€¦a fine performance full of style, character, super sounds and great soloists.'
"I love going up to Dalmellington — they are such wonderful people,"Richard added: "We won the Scottish Championship together back in 1978 with Archie Hutchison on principal cornet. This weekend we won something together again — and Archie was still there on assistant principal third cornet!
That is what banding is all about for me — great friends who play for a band that works so hard together. The next generation is also maturing superbly too, thanks to the teaching they've received from the likes of Hughie Johnston.
I was sure principal cornet Rebecca Wilson would impress two great cornet players in the box — and she did. I'm thrilled for the band and everyone associated with them."
'Best Instrumentalist' Rebecca certainly made her mark on a performance that set an immediate high bar that was not to be beaten, despite some sterling efforts from rivals. Both judges stated that her playing in the 'Romance' in particular was 'beautiful' and 'poised' in the high tempo 'Relaxation' to close.
They also echoed the analysis given by Ian Porthouse to the audience before the announcement of the results.
"We had no preconceived ideas on the piece before we entered the box,"Ian later said. "Both Tom and I simply wanted to hear the best performances on what is still a fantastic piece. We got that, with the top four outstanding, and with the winners in particular. We felt they were clear cut. The band that came fifth was unlucky though."
He added: "The first movement caused problems with rhythmic accuracy and the underlying pulse, whilst the second needed flow. The best gave us that with those bands having very good soloists.
The 'fast as possible' instruction in the 'Relaxation' needed to be given some thought and working out though. The musical answer was there in the score. The MDs who used their experience made it work so well."
Chief amongst them was of course Richard Evans (who now added the Senior Trophy to his single Grand Shield win in 1981 at the Spring Festival), as he allowed the music to find a natural pulse that never raced away in the first movement.
The sympathetic handling of the 'Romance' was a study in composure and sensitivity, whilst the finale was classic 'Tricky Dicky' — waspish, light and bubbling with energy — with just a momentary pause for thoughtful reflection.
Although not quite in the same league the judges were also impressed by the efforts of the MDs from the trio of fellow qualifiers in Aveley & Newham (Alan Duguid), Lydbrook (Glyn Williams) and Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt), with Drighlington (Duncan Beckley) just a whisper away in fifth.
The quality of the ensemble playing revealed the evidence of solid preparation, the sense of style shining a light on their MDs considered approaches and the soloists (with a number of fearless youngsters amongst them) showcasing a degree of confidence that will hold them in fine stead for future tests, as they now move a step closer to the Grand Shield and even the British Open.
The smiles on the faces of their representatives when they came up to receive their awards at the results presentation told the story of why the Spring Festival captures the imagination of the bands that take part.
Just behind them came a well constructed account from Unison Kinneil to round off what a highly encouraging weekend for Scottish banding, whilst the colourful, if slightly more wayward efforts of the fancied runners such as East London Brass, Roberts Bakery, SPAL Sovereign and Downshire didn't quite resonate in the box as it did with many in the ornate and lively acoustic of the Spanish Hall.
Laganvale's second successive eighth place finish will have given them encouragement for their future trips across the Irish Sea, although other midfield finishers that overcoming the 50 year old elements of Gilbert Vinter's score was still a difficult ask — with a number of performances blighted by unforced errors, rhythmic inaccuracies, wrong notes and misplaced entries — even to the very last bar of the piece.
According to the judges, Eccles Borough, Medway, Newstead Brass, Bo-ness & Carriden and Longridge certainly fell into that category.
Not so the winners — and not so their truly remarkable conductor Richard Evans. As he showed once again — age will never weary an eternal youth at heart.
We are off to hear the Berlin Philharmonic on Thursday. I just hope they are on as good form as Dalmellington in Blackpool!MD, Richard Evans
Test Piece: Salute to Youth (Gilbert Vinter)
Adjudicators: Tom Hutchinson and Ian Porthouse
1. Dalmellington (Richard Evans) *
2. Aveley & Newham (Alan Duguid) *
3. Lydbrook (Glyn Williams) *
4. Hatfield (Stan Lippeatt) *
5. Drighlington (Duncan Beckley)
6. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant)
7. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill)
8. Laganvale (Metal Technology) (Stephen Crooks)
9. SPAL Sovereign Brass (Trevor Jones)
10. Roberts Bakery (Mark Wilkinson)
11. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)
12. Shepherd Group (Richard Wilton)
13. Downshire Brass (Prof Michael Alcorn)
14. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson)
15. Eccles Borough (Mareika Gray)**
16. Medway (Melvin White)**
17. Newstead Brass (John Davis)**
18. Bo'ness & Carriden (Thomas Wyss)**
19. Longridge (Mark Peacock)**
Best Instrumentalist: Rebecca Wilson (cornet) — Dalmellington
*Promoted to Senior Cup