Report & Results: 2021 Bolsover Festival of Brass
Easington Colliery produced a heroic performance to claim the top honours at Bolsover with section titles going to Milton Keynes, Shirland Welfare, Whitworth Vale & Healey and Matlock.
It wasn’t only at the Royal Albert Hall that ‘Heroes’ inspired a band to a well-deserved victory on the weekend.
Less than 24 hours after Foden’s claimed the National title on Bruce Broughton’s filmatic set-work, Easington Colliery secured the Bolsover Festival of Brass accolades with a programme based on a heroic theme.
Led by MD Danny Brooks, who took the Major Peter Parkes Memorial Trophy as the winning conductor, the band also made their way back to the north east with the Wilson Bowden Developments Trophy and the Warwick Music Group Viewers Award in addition to a cheque for £700.
It was a winning performance that certainly left its mark on adjudicator John Doyle, who called it ‘outstanding stuff’ in his written remarks.
‘A band in control and your MD has really considered the acoustic’, he wrote, whilst adding further praise for their ‘Best Soloist Award’ winner James McLeod, who gave a superb performance of ‘Metropolis’, written for him by composer Andrew Stevenson in 2014.
His contribution put the seal on a cleverly conceived set executed with ingrained confidence and polish — right from the opening bars of ‘Summon the Heroes’ by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, via ‘The Incredibles’, the euph solo, ‘Here’s to the Heroes’ from ‘Dances with Wolves’ and the PLC finale, ‘Walking with Heroes’.
Victory further boosts Easington’s collective confidence as they look towards their potential Scottish Open appearance next month, according to Band Manager Peter Lawson, and especially after a year in which the band has worked exceptionally hard to enhance their musical focus thanks to some jazz inspired help.
“We’ve been very fortunate over the last few years for the generosity of Michael Watt, the owner of the famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. That has given us such a great foundation from which to build with Danny at the helm.
Michael is the first person who wants to know how we get on and is a huge supporter of the banding movement through the Durham Miners Gala. He won’t mind me saying that he is also a bit of a hero to us all here, so this contest victory was for him.”
Although the festival suffered with a number of withdrawals, the competitive standard in each section was encouragingly high thanks to the relaxed registration rules and the approach by MDs who opted for programmes with musical variety and inventiveness.
Runner-up Derwent Brass certainly showed that with their ‘Musica de los Muertos’ set arranged by conductor Jack Capstaff.
It brought a new flavour to classic works from Mussorgsky to Saint-Saens via a Dave Brubeck inspired ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ amongst others, as it not surprisingly claimed the Margaret Allsopp Memorial Trophy as ‘Most Entertaining Performance’.
The final podium spot in a contest filled with interesting repertoire, excellent soloists and confident ensembles went to Skelmanthorpe led by Martin Heartfield with a well-worked reprise of the ‘Freedom’ inspired set first used in the UK by Flowers Band at Brass in Concert in 2018.
The final top-six places went to well thought out sets from Roberts Bakery, Staffordshire and Unite the Union.
Just before the results, adjudicator John Doyle gave a witty but telling appraisal of the nine performances heard on the day, pointing out that the bands that managed to control their dynamics, balance and tuning is the lively acoustic managed to enhance their well-chosen programmes further.
“There were lots of great performances,”he said, “but two stand out ones. The winner just had something more — something bit more musical.”
With the event allowing bands to compete in more than one section, it was heartening to see a number take the opportunity to test their musical stamina on the day.
Milton Keynes Brass had earlier opened the Championship Section, but returned a few hours later to give a reprise of their ‘Tales & Legends’ set under MD, Jonathan Mott to secure a clear cut First Section victory.
Opening with ‘The Tale of Czar Sultan’ by Rimsky Korsakov, they segued into the classy bass trombone solo ‘Friend Like Me’ played by Martyn Potts, before heading from the Middle East to Scotland for the ‘Lament’ from Peter Meechan’s ‘Macbeth’ which featured an evocative ‘Best Soloist’ contribution from flugel player Dave Lewis.
They rounded off with the exciting colours and rhythms of PLC’s ‘Tale of the Dragon’ to claim the £500 first prize, the ‘Most Entertaining Performance’ and winner’s trophies.
The Langley Band’s neatly packaged ‘Movies’ set — that packed in everything from Tom & Jerry to Dracula under the baton of Cliff Parker, came runner-up, with the Staffordshire Band (who also played in the Championship Section) in third under Craig Williams with their ‘Western’ theme which moved neatly from the opening ‘Silverado’ to the closing ‘Children of Sanchez’ with confidence.
Although there were only three bands in the Second Section, there was much for the audience in the Stubbinwood School Hall, the audience at home enjoying the live-stream coverage and adjudicator Ian Brownbill to enjoy.
The wonderfully conceived ‘Band Holiday’ set inspired by Shirland Welfare’s recent trip to the West Country resorts of Paignton and Torquay saw the Midlanders claim the £300 first prize under MD, Lynden Cooper.
The bold opener ‘On the Quarter Deck’ led into the witty Freddie Mercury fun of ‘Seaside Rendezvous’ before featuring their talented young trombonist Luke Newborough on ‘ti’l all the seas run dry’.
A cracking rendition of the popular sea shanty ‘The Wellerman’ led into the high powered energy of ‘Dance of the Russian Sailors’ to end.
It proved just enough to give them a narrow single point victory over their rivals, Audley Brass, who brought us a timeline set from ‘The Final Countdown’ to ‘Wall of Sound’, whilst third placed Rockingham featured a new commission from Philip Harper called ‘Out of the Ashes’ as well as a fantastic ‘Best Soloist’ award winning performances of ‘Stardust’ by trombonist Daniel Garland.
Whitworth Vale & Healey claimed the Third Section honours and the £250 first prize with an excellent performance under Richard Milton played with confidence from start to finish.
The north west band opened with ‘Starburst’, before showcasing their command of different genres with ‘Don’t Know Him Now’ featuring their excellent ‘Best Soloist’ award winner David Tattersall.
A classic bit of Elgar Howarth and his ‘Hogarth’s Hoedown’ contrasted with Peter Graham’s ‘Meditation from The Triumph of Time’ featuring soloists Rachel Dyson and Gillian Mastyla, before they closed with a great dollop of musical schmaltz and ‘One Voice’ by Barry Manilow.
It was super stuff — as was the bold set from Littleport Brass, who finished just a point behind.
They opened with the up-tempo ‘Valero’ before moving through diverse items such as the ‘Goldcrest’ march and Ben Hollings ‘Lake of Tenderness’ before closing with the finale from ‘Glorifico Aeternum’.
There was also further cause for celebration for the Ratby organisation on a memorable weekend as the ‘Mid Band’ took third place cheered on by supporters (and their MD) who made the trip back from London.
There was a great atmosphere to savour in the Fourth Section as the four contenders gave everyone an early morning lift.
In the end it was the Matlock Band led by Chris Banks that claimed the £200 first prize with a cracking set that opened with the exotic sounds of ‘Salsa tres Prado’ before their fine soprano soloist Trevor Milner led the way with ‘Spanish Eyes’.
Tom Davoren’s atmospheric ‘Embers’ showed great contrast before closing with the final section of Jacob de Haan’s ‘Oregon’.
Just a point behind them came an equally confident Golborne Brass (who played in two sections giving two separate programmes) who produced a fun packed ‘Contest Day’ themed set.
It featured the appropriate ‘How do you like your eggs in the morning’ as well as a quite brilliant ‘Me and My Shadow’ song and dance routine led by cornet players Gareth Jones and Mark Blakeson to claim the ‘Best Soloist’ trophy.
Third placed Ilkeston Brass were on fine form with a set that included a special ‘Fanfare for Ilkeston’ written for them by Paul Lovatt Cooper , whilst Loxley Silver also produced plenty of fine playing with a performance that included the Goff Richards favourite ‘Doyen’ and ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ to close.
Although overall competitive numbers were down for understandable reasons, the event continued to showcase its competitors to the widest possible audience thanks to the livestream broadcast sponsored by Warwick Music Group.
James Parkinson and his colleagues ensured that every performance was beamed across the banding globe with encouraging viewing figures and a great uptake in their interactive ‘Viewers Award’ prize.
And with some great food and catering outlets on site, trade stands and sponsor support, the new venture at Shirebrook Academy School proved to a be a popular new addition to the contesting calendar.
Adjudicator: John Doyle
1. Easington Colliery (Daniel Brooks) — 97
2. Derwent Brass (Jack Capstaff) — 96
3. Skelmanthorpe Band (Martin Heartfield) — 94
4. Roberts Bakery (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) — 93
5. Staffordshire Band (Craig Williams) — 92
6. Unite the Union (Jon Davis) — 91
7. Milton Keynes Brass (Jonathan Mott) — 89
8. Newstead Band (Jim Davies) — 88
9. Harrogate (Andrew Baker) — 87
Best Instrumentalist: James McLeod (euphonium) — Easington Colliery
Most Entertaining Band: Derwent Brass
Warwick Music Viewers Vote Award: Easington Colliery
Adjudicator: Ian Brownbill
1. Milton Keynes Brass (Jonathan Mott) — 93
2. Langley Band (Cliff Parker) — 90
3. Staffordshire Band (Craig Williams) — 89
4. Strata Brass (Alex Webb) — 88
5. Rolls Royce Derby (Graham Cardwell) — 86
Best Instrumentalist: flugel horn — (Milton Keynes)
Adjudicator: Andrea Price
1. Shirland Welfare Band (Lynden Cooper) — 87
2. Audley Brass (Tom Hancock) — 86
3. Rockingham (Adam Whittle) — 85
Best Instrumentalist: Daniel Garland (trombone) — Rockingham
Adjudicator: Andrea Price
1. Whitworth Vale & Healey (Richard Milton) — 87
2. Littleport Brass (Ian Knapton) — 86
3. Ratby Mid Band (Garry Perrin) — 80
4. Golborne Brass (Joshua Hughes) — 78
5. Ireland Colliery (Richard Windle) — 75
6. Cubbington Brass (Kieron Howe) — 70
Best Instrumentalist: David Tattersall (cornet) — Whitworth Vale & Healey
Adjudicator: Andrea Price
1. Matlock Band (Chris Banks) — 74
2. Golborne Brass (Joshua Hughes) — 73
3. Ilkeston Brass (Geoff Hawley) — 69
4. Loxley Silver (Thomas Mercer) — 60
Best Soloist: Gareth Jones & Mark Blakeson (Golborne Band)