The Skelmanthorpe Band and B Band took part in this year’s contest on the weekend of the 3rd and 4th March. The chosen test piece for the Championship section was entitled ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ that lasted over 18 minutes. It was written by Derek Bourgeouis, a man with a great talent for Brass writing (Blitz, Diversions, Concerto Grosso). The band had been well rehearsed by John Roberts who was clear in his direction and understanding of the music.
We were drawn 10th out of 13 bands and followed Black Dyke onto the stage. The band arrived backstage at the venue and were greeted on stage by an audience jostling for seats, as some filtered out following the performance of one of the fancied bands. A comment was later read on 4barsrest.com’s twitter site claiming the band looked very confident before they’d even played a note.
The piece opened with a loud chord that faded to reveal a tricky pianissimo quartet on the Euphonium and Baritone line, as the music progressed the dynamic, texture and tension was built leaving the audience with that all too familiar feeling that something dark is stirring. As the band sound reached its climax the gloves came off and the tempo and heart rate was raised, the music motoring away at 152 beats per minute. Every player had something frighteningly difficult to play and every player stepped up to the plate as Skelmanthorpe band produced a performance that all could be proud of. 4barsrest reported the performance as one that was intelligently crafted by John Roberts who made the most of his resources. The performance drew to a positive close and the band left the stage equally as confidently as they had entered it, buoyed by the applause of an appreciative audience.
As the final three bands completed their performances the results were eagerly awaited and received happily. The band were awarded 6th place against some of the best outfits in the world, a look down the entire top 6 would see us finish just behind Grimethorpe Colliery, Carlton Main Frickley, Rothwell Temperance, Brighouse and Rastrick and Black Dyke. We had also beaten 3 bands ranked in the top 30 in the world as we were placed ahead of Marsden (8th), Hammonds Saltaire (7th) and Hepworth (10th).
Special thanks must go to Gareth Poole from Lockwood Band who made his 2nd contest performance with the band following his appearance at the English National Championships two years ago, as well as Richard Wilton who helped to fill the vacant Eb Bass chair. Sharon Swales should also be congratulated for agreeing to step into the breach and sit on the ‘end chair’, leading the cornet section brilliantly.
It is a great achievement for a band like Skelmanthorpe to finish above halfway up in a competitive championship section that consists of so many bands of a world class standard.
Skelmanthorpe B Band
In the Third Section, Skelmanthorpe B Band gave an impressive performance of Philip Harper’s test piece Olympus playing alongside strong competition.
Despite Elland taking first place, Skelmanthorpe B Band was rewarded with a magnificent fourth place, leaving them top of the third section for 2013.
With such a great spirit within the band and MD Phil Garlick’s motivational conducting, listeners were treated to a performance packed with vitality and substance. Despite the lengthy gap between settling on stage and the adjudicators’ whistle indicating the start of play, Skelmanthorpe B Band was not deterred and with a secure opening began their performance with fanfares and swells, depicting the 2012 London Olympics’ opening ceremony.
Without a break the music lead into The Chariot Race where, according to the adjudicator, Malcolm Brownbill, the Band had “Vibrancy and clarity”. “Energetic with good conversation” was the term used by the Second Adjudicator, Ewan Easton, to describe the performance. A slow, mystical passage followed, describing The Temple of Zues. Here the band played with security and a confident solo line. The next section, called Olympic Flame had a broad, lyrical anthem, where euphoniums played with a warm sound and a good tempo. The Olympic Truce (the final section) aimed to capture the co-operative spirit of the ancient practice of ending wars for the duration of the games. The anthem-like melody made a return here and the band played with “Good control, sound and rhythmic structures” along with “confident playing through to a firm close”. With so many young, focused players keen to put on a brilliant performance, Skelmanthorpe B Band was able to create the excitement needed to deliver an invigorated and inspiring performance. Well done to the Band and its Musical Director and let’s hope they continue their remarkable rate of progress.