The popular Durham County Brass Band Association 'Picnic in the Park' Entertainment Contest sponsored by the Geneva Group took place in the grounds of Houghall College in Durham on the weekend.
Thirteen bands across three sections competed for a their share of a generous prize fund of over £1,100, with GT Group Peterlee taking the Section A honours, Spennymoor Town winning Section B, and Houghton Area Youth claiming the Youth Section title.
Led by the experienced Graeme Tindall, GT Group Peterlee opened with the classic George Allan march, 'Knight Templar', followed by the suave sounds of Neil Hefti's 'Cute'. 'Prelude on Lavenham' led into the fine solo contribution of Richie Wallace on 'Caviliere del Euphino' arranged by Simon Kerwin, before the 'Finale' from 'Turris Fortissima' rounded off their set.
Defending champion Easington Colliery had to be content with second place this year with Westoe taking third place for the second year running. Ian Robinson of Cockerton Silver, who took the 'Best Second Section Band' prize, took the 'Best Soloist' award for his stunning rendition of 'The Nightingale'.
There was a fine victory for defending champion Spennymoor Town Section B, as Fiona Casewell led them to victory over rivals Bearpark & Esh Colliery with a set that opened with 'Punchinellie' by Jonathan Bates before contrast was shown with 'The Irish Blessing'. The flugel led 'Under the Boardwalk' led into the 'Longest Time' by Billy Joel before they closed with the vibrant 'Stage Centre' by Goff Richards.
There was some wonderful playing for adjudicator Sam Fisher to enjoy throughout the day — but none more so than the Youth Section which saw two excellent performances from the eventual winners Houghton Area Youth led by Brian Adams
and Hetton Lyons Training Band conducted by Glenis Smith.
Houghton opened with the famous 'Te Deum Prelude' by Charpentier, before 'Hymn to the fallen' and the march 'Star Lake' paved the way for a wonderful rendition of 'Share my Yoke' by 'Best Soloist' winnert Sophie Reed and 'Lord of the Dance' rounded things off in style.
Speaking about what he heard, Sam Fisher later said: "The day was packed with excellent performances from start to finish.
I particularly enjoyed seeing the youth bands round the day off in style, with some excellent choreography that gave us all food for thought when it comes to stage presence and performance choreography! My thanks go to the organisers and the bands who took part in a lovely day."
In response, Association Vice-President Hugh Stephenson told 4BR: "We are very pleased with how the day went. We had a large, appreciative audience who enjoyed the sunshine and some fine music making."
He added: "The Association is indebted to the Geneva Group for their financial support, and our thanks go to Tim Oldroyd, CEO and Simon Miller, UK Sales Manager for making that happen."
During the results ceremony, a presentation was made by the Association President George Bramfitt to Peter Lawson for over 50 years dedicated service to the brass band movement associated with Easington Colliery Band."
We are very pleased with how the day went. We had a large, appreciative audience who enjoyed the sunshine and some fine music makingAssociation Vice-President Hugh Stephenson
Adjudicator: Sam Fisher
1. GT Group Peterlee (Graeme Tindall)
2. Easington Colliery (Jonathan Fenwick)
3. Westoe (Aidan Hodgson)
4. Cockerton Prize Silver ( Andy Hunter)
5. Houghton Brass (Tom Gibson)
6. NASUWT Concert (Andrew Hall)
7. Felling (Tina Mortimer)
8. Durham Miners Association (Stuart Gray)
9. Ashington Colliery (Nigel Stedman)
Best March: GT Group Peterlee
Best Soloist: Ian Robinson (Cockerton Silver)
Best Second Section Band: Cockerton Silver
1. Spennymoor Town (Fiona Casewell)
2. Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Phillip Tait)
Best March: Spennymoor Town
Best Soloist: Mike Fisher (flugel) — Spennymoor Town
Best Fourth Section Band Spennymoor Town
1. Houghton Area Youth (Brian Adams)
2. Hetton Lyons Training Band (Glenis Smith)
Best Soloist: Sophie Reed (Houghton Area Youth)