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Results: 2012 London & Southern Counties Regional Championship

London joy for Zone One, Becontree, Thundersley, Hitchin and Amersham



There was something of a musical coup-d’état in Stevenage on Sunday evening as Redbridge’s five year reign of Area supremacy came to a shuddering end.

A performance full of excitement, colour and technical facility from Zone One Brass conducted by Richard Ward provided adjudicator Frank Renton with the early contest marker on ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ that proved more than enough to topple the reigning champions from their throne.


Such was Redbridge’s fall from power that they ended in sixth place—their worse result at the contest since 2000. It will be the first time since 2006 that Jeremy Wise’s band will not appear on the Royal Albert Hall programme.

Instead, joining Zone One in Kensington will be Staines Brass, after Melvin White celebrated 30 consecutive years of top section Area conducting, by leading the newly promoted band back for the first time since 2006.


The shock result also saw 2010 First Section National champion, Friary Guildford take the final podium place, with former winners Aveley & Newham showing a welcome return to form in 4th. Melvin White’s memorable weekend also saw him lead Medway into 5th place.

For Zone One’s MD Richard Ward, the victory celebrations had been a long time coming.

“It’s the band’s first Area success since our formation a decade ago. I couldn’t have asked anything more of the players. They all give as much as they can to Zone One despite leading very busy professional lives. We are a unique band in many ways—but this win shows we can compete against the very best on our own terms.”

Own terms

Those own terms meant just six intensive rehearsals—although one of those was almost scuppered by armed police who tried to stop the band practicing at the Royal College of Music.

“Yes, that’s true,” Richard laughed. “That sums us up really—but the quality of the players means that we can do a great deal of work in a short space of time.”

The early draw didn’t bother the band either. “It was a boost for most of us,” he added. “We don’t get hung up about things like that, and it gave us a chance to enjoy a quiet Sunday afternoon in the pub!”


Adjudicator Frank Renton was clear in his assessment of just what he was looking for in his pre-results analysis.

He emphasised the need to create excitement, although his assertion that ‘playing at the tempo marked makes it sound boring’, was tempered with the caveat that, ‘...although it still has to be played with clarity and precision...those bands that could do that were acceptable to me.’

He also emphasised the need for ensemble balance and flow, the contrasting dynamics of the opening and final sections and the command of intriguing 8 bar bridge between rehearsal marking 37 & 38, with its echoing trios of muted cornets and horns, which seemed to be a concise example of the difficulties he felt many MDs failed to address.


That was just what the experienced Melvin White revealed he tried to bring to the performance of Staines Brass on a day when despite 30 years of experience he still had his hands full coping with youthful exuberance.

“Our 18 month old daughter Amelia enjoyed every minute of being let loose to run around at the contest,” he chuckled. “That took my mind off any pressure that came with playing last on the day I can tell you. When we took to the stage everything was calm and confident. The players really stepped up to the mark and delivered an exceptional performance.”

Memorable weekend

It rounded off a memorable weekend for the man who racks up more miles on the M25 than a company sales rep. “To be able to get Staines back to the Albert Hall was special, but to lead Medway into the top six once again made it a contest to remember and remind Amelia about for a long time to come.”


Not so for Redbridge’s Jeremy Wise, although he was sanguine about the failure to qualify, when talking to 4BR.

“These things happen. We are disappointed of course, as I felt we delivered a performance that was both musically and technically precise and exciting. Every so often a band gets a decision that leaves it baffled. This is one for me, and I think, one reflected by many in the audience.

Our congratulations go to Zone One and Staines. Our priority now is to qualify for the British Open.”

With ‘The Devil’ certainly testing the top section credentials of a number of the 13 contenders to the very limit, there was delight for third placed Friary Guildford, directed by Chris King, who showed that they had certainly bridged the gap following their First Section National triumph in 2010.

We are a unique band in many ways—but this win shows we can compete against the very best on our own termsZone One MD, Richard Ward

First Section:

Becontree Brass carried on their fine run of form in the First Section, with a clear cut victory under Adam Cooke.

It gave the band their first Regional title under their talented MD, to add to their recent Butlins success. It also gave them something of a unique ‘Double’ too, with both victories coming on works of alpine inspiration—‘High Peak’ at Skegness and ‘Mountain Views’ in Stevenage.


“Of course we are all thrilled and hope the test piece for Cheltenham is ‘Of Men & Mountains’,” spokesman Alan Fowler told 4BR, with tongue firmly in his cheek.

“It’s very odd because we certainly don’t come from a very mountainous area, but our MD seemed to be inspired by the music.”

More mundanely though Alan revealed that success is down to hard graft, a great MD and a settled band. “Things have really come together under Adam’s direction. He’s so enthusiastic, extremely talented and has instilled a great work ethic. We also have a settled line up of players and a great atmosphere in rehearsals.”


The win sees Becontree head to Cheltenham buoyed by possible promotion to the Championship Section. “We don’t know yet, but that would be daunting challenge I’m sure we can meet,” Alan added. “We are building all the time—especially from Butlins, so we are confident of being able to do well at the Finals.”

They will be joined there by Milton Keynes Brass after the 2007 champion delivered a fine account under the baton of Craig Patterson to make an immediate impact following their relegation.

Wide range

The adjudicator was full of praise for the quality heard from the best bands on the day, as he told 4BR:

“There was a wide range of performances in such a large field, but there were four or five really strong performances and the two qualifies were very good. The winner in particular was sparkling and the second place band delivered a consistent, very reliable account.”


In a contest which tested the aspirations as well as the inspiration of many of the contenders, it was 2005 winners Alder Valley Brass directed by Roger Burke that just missed out with a performance described as, ‘solidly put together’ by David Lancaster.

The remaining top six places went to Bedford Town, Kidlington Concert Brass and City of Cambridge.

Second Section:

“A truly outstanding performance. Top class playing that was head and shoulders above the rest of the field,” was adjudicator Kevin Wadsworth’s appraisal when talking to 4BR about Thundersley Brass after they retained the Second Section Area title conducted by John Ward.

“The playing in the second movement in particular was quite beautiful,” Kevin added. “It was as good as I have heard anywhere this year. They were excellent from start to finish”


“I’m a bit overwhelmed by that,” John added, when told by 4BR of what Kevin had thought of the performance. “I was delighted by the way the band played, but even happier that they really responded to what I wanted to bring out from the score. I hope he’s judging at the Finals!”

John has been working with the band since January, and has been enjoying his journeys into deepest Essex from his home in central London. “They are a great band to work with. There are plenty of quality players in the ranks, and a cracking attitude to wanting to improve—especially after winning last year.”

He added: “They really built on their Butlins appearance. There is so much potential with this band, and I’m really pleased to be a small part of it.”

Ward double

The victory also gave the Ward family an Area ‘Double’, although neither John nor Richard was able to hear each other band’s play due to the draws of Thundersley and Zone One on the day.

“It was a bit strange,” John added. “We both congratulated each other but then spent five minutes asking each other questions about why we thought we won!”

Severe test

In a contest that saw ‘Cross Patonce’ once more prove to be a severe test of musical character, there was also a very fine performance from runner up Chalgrove, directed by Terry Brotherhood for Kevin to enjoy too.

“That was a very solid performance, with a flexibility of style that although not quite in the class of the winners, was still very impressive.”

Littleport Brass made up the trio of strong qualifiers for Cheltenham with a rendition directed by Nigel Bramley that Kevin felt, ‘was not quite as secure, but certainly brought the joyfulness out of the music.’

Looking for

Kevin Wadsworth enhanced his reputation for ensuring that no one left Stevenage not knowing exactly what he had been looking for in the box.

“I did ask whether one player could win or lose the contest for the bands on the day,” he said. “The answer wasn’t just the euphonium, as there were some fine attempts on the difficult cadenza. Some other leading lines did cause problems and many MDs didn’t do their bands any favours with their approach to the music either.”

Just missing out on Cheltenham was Ware Brass in fourth, whilst the remaining top six places were by Colchester and Denham Hendon Brass.

Third Section:

There were scenes of joy in the Third Section as Hitchin Town returned to the National Finals for the first time since 2005.

Conducted by Craig Patterson, the band gave adjudicator Kevin Wadsworth just the right mix of technique and musicality on Philip Harper’s ‘Olympus’ to claim the Area title and send the players and supporters wild with delight.

Sporting analogy

The band’s MD may have got his sporting analogy a little mixed up when speaking to 4BR, but there was no doubting the sense of pride behind what he said. “The band's performance on Saturday was magnificent. It was like driving a Ferrari on stage. The players have worked so hard for me. I am delighted they got the result they deserved.”

Meanwhile, Band President Richard Whitmore added: “Hearty congratulations go to Craig and everyone who played. All the supporters were so proud of the band on the weekend and of the performance.”

Secretary Tracy Gales was still full of emotion when she said: “It was a phenomenal performance. It made me very proud to be the band secretary!”

Gold medal

Kevin had little doubt about the gold medal winners either: “What a fine performance. There were plenty of good attempts on the day, but the qualifiers did stand out and the winners were very good—detailed and precise. They really did bring out the musical subtleties I was looking for especially in the quieter sections.”

Once more Kevin ensured in his pre-results analysis that bands were left in no doubt what he had been looking for.

“The key was the way in which they approached the central interludes. There was a real need to ensure that flame wasn’t blown out by a dynamic hurricane. All that was needed was subtle shaping of dynamics—a gentle breeze if you like. The best did that, but disappointingly, so many didn’t.”

Epping delight

There was a great deal of delight too at Epping Forest, after they claimed their finals place thanks to a compact performance of the set work under the direction of Denis Desmond.

Bandmaster Andy Brittin told 4BR: "We went into 2012 disappointed to have dropped down a section, so to come runner up and qualify for Cheltenham is a huge boost to our confidence."

He added: "Most of the band have never played in a National Final before, so everyone's excited. The Area test piece kept everybody interested in the run up to the contest, and we will certainly be using it in concert programmes through the summer as it's linked to a pretty topical theme for a London band."

There was also an added bonus too, as Andy revealed: "We were also pleasantly surprised to find that the band will go back up to the Second Section next year. The efforts of our MD, Denis Desmond to keep everyone motivated and move the band forward despite a disappointing couple of years have clearly paid off."

Fine account

Kevin felt that third placed LGB Brass provided a fine account of themselves under the baton of Ian Stewart, but that the qualifiers were a good length or two ahead.

“No doubts about the top two,” he added. “Third place was a fine effort, but the two qualifiers should be confident of doing well at the Finals if they can build on these performances.”

Fourth place in a varied contest went to Battle Town, with the remaining top six places claimed by Cold Ash Brass and Wantage Silver B.

Fourth Section:

Amersham lived up it 4BR favourites tag in the Fourth Section, by claiming their first ever Area title under the direction of MD Paul Fisher.

Their excellent performance of ‘English Folk Song Suite’ against a strong field of rivals brought rich praise from adjudicator David Lancaster when he spoke to 4BR.

Very good

“It was a very good contest,” he said. “There were five or six good performances that really captured the spirit and style of the music, but the best of them were excellent. The winners in particular were clearly ahead—consistent, controlled, stylish and very musical. They really did bring colour and texture to the music”


The winning MD was clearly delighted that his approach had worked so well in the box.

“I even felt we could have played a little better,” he remarked with a chuckle in his voice. “We had been playing so well in rehearsals, so we felt we may have left the door open when we came off stage.”

That certainly wasn’t the case, and a few hours later on his way to Newcastle to play trombone in the touring show with the legendary American groups ‘The Four Tops’ & ‘The Temptations’, he heard the great news.

Welsh win

“The early draw meant I could catch the train up to Newcastle, so by the time I got there the result had come through. I only wish I was there to enjoy the celebrations!”

However, the Welshman revealed that he enjoyed a quiet few pints later that night—buoyed by the Grand Slam celebrations. “We did play the hymn tune ‘Aberystwyth’ to get me in the right frame of mind before we went on stage,” he revealed.

Fund raising

Amersham will now start fund raising, with an appearance at Whit Friday to look forward to. “We all want to go and enjoy the atmosphere there,” he added. “It’s a great band with great people, especially now that after 140 years or so of history we can call ourselves Area champions!”


Joining them at Cheltenham will be Norfolk Wherry Brass and Bletchington Silver.

Norfolk booked their place by providing the early contest marker under Alan Craze, with Bletchington following later, directed by Nigel Hall.

“Both provided me with solid, well constructed performances,” David Lancaster said. “There was so much to enjoy with the way they brought the music out, especially as many bands found difficulty with ensemble balance with the thick middle of the band scoring.”

In what proved to be a highly entertaining contest, the final places went to debutants Simon Langton Brass, with Bradwell Silver in fifth and Woodbridge Excelsior in sixth.

Full Results:

Additional comments and thoughts on our twitter site:

Championship Section:

Sunday 18th March

Gordon Craig Theatre
Test Piece: 'The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea' — Derek Bourgeois
Adjudicator: Frank Renton

1. Zone One Brass (Richard Ward), 2*
2. Staines Brass (Melvin White), 13*
3. Friary Guildford (Chris King), 9
4. Aveley and Newham (Nigel Taken), 7
5. Medway (Melvin White), 8
6. Redbridge Brass (Jeremy Wise), 4
7. Wantage Silver 'A' (Philip Bailey), 3
8. Norfolk Brass (David Stowell), 10
9. Regent Brass (Alan Duguid), 1
10. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill), 6
11. Clacton-on-Sea (Peter Bassano),
12. Sandhurst Silver (Ian McElligott), 11
13. Haverhill (Mark Ager), 12

*Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Best Cornet: Zone One
Best Euphonium: Zone One
Best Horn: Staines

First Section:

Sunday 18th March

Gordon Craig Theatre
Test Piece: 'Mountain Views' — Bertrand Moren
Adjudicator: David Lancaster

1. Becontree Brass (A. Cooke), 11*
2. Milton Keynes Brass (C. Patterson), 8*
3. Alder Valley Brass (Roger Burke), 13
4. Bedford Town (A. Kershaw), 14
5. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson), 6
6. City of Cambridge (S. Philips), 15
7. Ipswich & Norwich Co-op (R. Morris), 3
8. Cawston (Leigh Sharpe), 7
9. Egham (Gareth Green), 2
10. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard), 16
11. Yiewsley & West Drayton (Chistopher Cole), 5
12. Horsham Borough (Linda Cole), 10
13. Soham Comrades (Kevin Schroeter), 1
14. Chichester City (R. Hunt), 12
15. Welwyn Garden City (David Daws), 9
16. Fairlop Brass (Kevin Jordan), 4

Best Instrumentalist: (Cornet)- Jersey Premier Brass

*Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Second Section:

Sunday 18th March

Main Hall
Test Piece: 'Cross Patonce' — Goff Richards
Adjudicator: Kevin Wadsworth

1. Thundersley Brass (John Ward), 14*
2. Chalgrove (Terry Brotherhood), 4*
3. Littleport Brass (Nigel Bramley), 10*
4. Ware Brass (Philip Littlemore), 3
5. Colchester Band (P. Ivey), 16
6. Denham Hendon Brass (G. Davies), 5
7. Hungerford (Tim Crouter), 9
8. St.Sebastian Wokingham (L. Woodward), 11
9. Fulham (Simon Jones), 6
10. Northfleet Brass (Melvin White), 8
11. Epson & Ewell Silver (J. Smith), 7
12. BAE Systems (Kevin Woodger), 15
13. Tilbury (Andrew Austin), 12
14. Waterbeach (D. Minchin), 2
15. St Albans City (Philip Littlemore), 1
16. Grimsdyke Brass (S. Broughall), 13

* Top 3 bands qualify for National Finals

Third Section:

Saturday 17th March

Gordon Craig Theatre
Test Piece: 'Olympus' — Philip Harper
Adjudicator: Kevin Wadsworth

1. Hitchin Town (C.Patterson), (13)*
2. Epping Forest (D.Desmond), (2)*
3. L.G.B Brass (I.Stewart), (10)
4. Battle Town (J.Penton), (14)
5. Cold Ash Brass (R.Middlebrook), (11)
6. Wantage Silver 'B' (D.Dullforce), (8)
7. Olney Town Brass (E.Keeley), (1)
8. Crystal Palace (M.Gray), (6)
9. Hangleton (R.Baker), (15)
10. Tadley Concert Brass (P.Chapman), (12)
11. Hemel Hempstead (Rodney Newton), (5)
12. Harwich R.B.L (A.Sanders), (4)
13. Brighton & Hove City Brass (M.Hackett), (3)
14. Jubilee Brass (Oxford) (C.Sadler), (7)
15. Watford (I.Graves), (9)

*Top 2 bands qualify for National Finals

Fourth Section:

Saturday 17th March

Main Hall
Test Piece: 'English Folk Song Suite' — Ralph Vaughan Williams
Adjudicator: David Lancaster

1. Amersham (P.Fisher), (4)*
2. Norfolk Wherry Brass (A.Craze), (3)*
3. Bletchington Silver (N.Hall), (10)*
4. Simon Langton Brass (D.Cutting), (12)
5. Bradwell Silver (Brian Keech), (11)
6. Woodbridge Excelsior (C.Lewis-Garnham), (19)
7. Great Yarmouth Brass (C.Swaep), (6)
8. Chatteris Town Band (M.Dawe), (7)
9. Letchworth Garden City (T.Welch), (16)
10. Royston Band (S.Earley), (2)
11. Witney Town Band (J.Button), (1)
12. Kings Lynn Town (S.Ingham), (15)
13. Snowdown Colliery (K.Twyman), (13)
14. Cottenham (P.Mackley), (5)
15. City of Oxford Silver (S.Sizeland), (20)
16. Charles Church Camberley (R.Cherry), (17)
17. M.K. Development (D.Johnston), (14)
18. Marsh Gibbon Silver (A.Allock), (9)
19. Martlesham Brass (A.Cable), (18)
20. North London Brass (C.Bearman), (8)

*Top 3 bands qualify for National Finals


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Jack Capstaff

Bmus (Hons)
Conductor | Composer