11 bands from the Durham County Brass Band Association made their way to East Durham College in Peterlee for the first contest of the year.
And with the North of England Regional Championships in Durham on the immediate horizon, adjudicators Mike Kilroy and Trainee Adjudicator Helen Douthwaite-Teasdale were full of praise for the competitor's efforts on what was a successful, well organised day.
Section B proved to be a cracking contest, with the Kippax Band constructing a well-shaped, dynamically contrasting portrayal of the Area test-piece, 'Endurance' under MD Stephen Tighe — one that was enhanced greatly by their award winning 'Best Euphonium', 'Best Cornet' and 'Best Trombones'.
They will now head to Huddersfield for the Yorkshire Regional Championships in March as one of the bookies favourites to retain their title.
Runner-up, Backworth Colliery Band opted to perform 'St Andrew's Variations' and were rewarded for their well-prepared performance with awards for the 'Best Bass Section' and 'Best Fourth Section Band'. Craghead Band, although depleted in numbers were not depleted in spirit and delivered a fine performance of 'A Malvern Suite'.
Following a short refreshment break there was a thoroughly well deserved presentation made to DCBBA President George Bramfitt on what was his 85th birthday.
Section A was a closely fought contest, with three First Section and three Second Section bands taking to the stage.
Mike Kilroy commented that it was encouraging that not one test-piece choice was repeated, and that he was impressed with the quality of the performances.
GT Peterlee opted to play Philip Sparke's popular 'Kaleidoscope' to impress with their musicality (and 'Best Percussion') under the baton of experienced MD, John Roberts to take the honours, whilst runner-up Houghton Brass gave an evocative rendition of Eric Ball's 'High Peak'. They also claimed the individual awards for 'Best Soprano' and 'Best Middle of the Band'.
Third place went to Bearpark & Esh also won the 'Best Second Section Band' prize with their rendition of 'Viking Age'. Ashington Colliery's performance of the area test piece 'The Golden Sabre' saw them come fifth ahead of North Skelton ('Trittico') and Ferryhill ('Dimensions').
The final section of the day saw two of the region's excellent youth bands perform.
Houghton Area Youth Band took the honours giving a super performance of 'Divertmento', whilst Egglescliffe School were hot on their heels with their rendition of 'Jubilation'. Helen Douthwaite-Teasdale commented on the excellent standard of the playing from both bands.
Mike Kilroy commented that it was encouraging that not one test-piece choice was repeated, and that he was impressed with the quality of the performances4BR
1. GT Group Peterlee (John Roberts)
2. Houghton Brass (Brian Adams)
3. Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Phillip Tait)
4. Ashington Colliery (Nigel Stedman)
5. North Skelton (Gareth Sykes)
6. Ferryhill Town (Tom Maddison)
Best Soprano: Michelle Meldrum (Houghton Brass)
Best Principal Cornet: Tina Mortimer (Ferryhill Town)
Best Percussion: GT Group Peterlee
Best Middle of the Band: Houghton Brass
Best Second Section Band: Bearpark & Esh Colliery
1. Kippax Band (Stephen Tighe)
2. Backworth Colliery (Calum Hartwell)
3. Craghead Colliery (Stephen Goddard)
Best Euphonium: Colin Moss (Kippax Band)
Best Trombone Section: Kippax Band
Best Cornet: Nigel Darbyshire (Kippax Band)
Best Bass Section: Backworth Colliery
Best Fourth Section Band: Backworth Colliery
1. Houghton Area Youth (Glenis Smith)
2. Egglescliffe School (Matthew Haworth)