Report & Result: 2018 Scottish Championships: First Section

Johnstone Silver and Dunaskin Doon qualify for Cheltenham in Section One.

Winners Johnstone Silver
  Johnstone Silver and Dunaskin Doon head for the final in Cheltenham in the autumn.

The last earthquake of any note in Scotland came near Oban in 1986, when a tremor of around 4.1 in magnitude was felt rumbling under the feet of unsuspecting locals.

Seismic activity

32 years later seismic activity of the same surprising strength seemingly had its epicentre under the stage at Perth Concert Hall, as the First Section contest was rounded off with something of a shock result as Johnstone Silver claimed the Archie Smith Memorial Trophy to head to Cheltenham alongside fellow qualifiers Dunaskin Doon.

James Curnow's 'Brass Metamorphosis' has certainly caused problems around the country — its effects have shaken the foundations of quite a few Championship Section aspirations over the last few weeks — and here it was no different as 10 bands found it a testing challenge of technique and musicality.

Shock waves

However, it was the sound of the shrieks of delight from the players of Johnstone Silver that were heard loudest after the shock waves of Michael Ball and Mark Wilkinson findings were revealed — ones that were in stark contrast to the overwhelming sense of surprise in the hall when it was revealed that Kingdom Brass had finished fourth.

Led by Ian Porthouse, the Fife band had seemingly delivered a performance that many believed had won the contest in some comfort, but it was not to be as the judge's musical seismographs found prize winning activity in the form of Johnstone, Dunaskin Doon and Newmilns & Galston instead.

However, they were very clear in their assessment of what they were looking for on the day, with Michael Ball giving a detailed pre-results analysis that spoke, with the use of a tailoring analogy, of the need for "accuracy", allied to "the musical qualities inside the score"to "caress every detail"to successfully "wear it like a suit."


The bespoke Saville Row tailoring for them therefore came from Johnstone's excitingly coloured account under Martyn Ramsay's carefully considered musical approach; one which will see them return to Cheltenham for the first time since 2013.

Not only did MD Martyn Ramsay become the first recipient of the Andy Smith Cup as winning conductor, but Laura Mullen took the 'Best Horn' accolade in a performance that carefully and intelligently kept its feet firmly on the shifting ground in each of the sections.

Little wonder Band Chairperson June Deans, was delighted when speaking to the local press. "We have worked hard on lots of different aspects of our playing and we did extra preparation this year by going to a contest down in Preston (Brass at the Guild), so it's nice that paid off. I couldn't believe it. The smile on my face when we won: I didn't realise how much I wanted it."

Dunaskin Doon

There was almost as much joyfulness of show with Dunaskin Doon led by Whitburn principal cornet player Chris Bradley (who certainly enjoyed a weekend to remember) as their considered approach saw them secure second place (and a second finals appearance in three years) thanks in no small part to the excellent personal contribution of solo euphonium player Fiona Waddington who claimed the SBBA Medal as 'Best Instrumentalist'

Behind them Newmilns & Galston rounded off the contest with a bold effort under Alan Cameron, although the main talking point even as the thrilled players of Johnstone started what was sure to be a long night of celebration, was the fourth place finish of Kingdom Brass.

Head scratching

They, along with many who heard their performance, were left to wonder just why it failed to resonate with the men in the box, whilst fans of Unison Kinneil (who played just before them) were also seen leaving Perth Concert Hall scratching their heads at their fifth place finish ahead of Granite City.

However, subjectively predicting the exact outcome of any brass band contest is a bit like trying to work out when the next earthquake may hit. Mind you, Johnstone certainly wouldn't mind if there was a rumbling to be felt beneath their feet at Cheltenham in September.

The bespoke Saville Row tailoring for them therefore came from Johnstone's excitingly coloured account under Martyn Ramsay's carefully considered musical approach; one which will see them return to Cheltenham for the first time since 20134BR


First Section:

Test Piece: Brass Metamorphosis (James Curnow)
Adjudicators: Michael Ball & Mark Wilkinson

1. Johnstone Silver (Martyn Ramsay) — 92*
2. Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley) — 91*
3. Newmilns & Galston (Alan Cameron) — 90
4. Kingdom Brass (Ian Porthouse) — 89
5. Unison Kinneil (Raymond Tennant) — 85
6. Granite City Brass (Bruce Wallace) — 86
7. Arbroath Instrumental (Michael Robertson) — 85
8. Dalkeith & Monktonhall (James Chamberlain) — 82
9. Lochgelly (Paul McKelvie OBE) — 80
10. Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman) — 78

*Qualify for National Final

Best Horn: Johnstone Band
Best Instrumentalist: Fiona Waddington (euphonium) — Dunaskin Doon

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