This year the North West Brass Band Association Regional Finals were held on Sunday 24th February at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
The sun was shining with 17°C plus temperatures with clear blue skies compared to other years where it was put on your woolly hat and thermals if braving the bracing windchill of just above 0°C temperatures and the horizontal rain on the promenade. All boded well.
Having played at an invitation only Preview Evening the previous Saturday at Ruskin Community High school near Crewe and getting some very positive feedback our hopes were high.
A week of practicing the Rise of the Phoenix by Darrol Barry at various venues near Marple to try out different acoustics meant we were hopefully prepared for the acoustics of the Opera House at the Winter gardens. The band were as ready as they could be to play at the contest.
Sunday morning saw the band meeting outside The Marple Conservative Club at 8am for an early start on the coach to Blackpool. The 2nd section were to play in two halves due to the high number of bands in this group. We were in the 2nd half of the draw- due to play from around noon so we had booked a room at the Carlton Hotel to have a last blow before we played to try to get promoted into the 1st Section.
A 1st /2nd /3rd place would get us to the National Finals in Cheltenham. With 1st place giving us automatic promotion. No pressure then!
The band wearing their new uniforms for the first time at this competition, looked the part and certainly when they played did themselves great credit.
The venue was not an easy place to play in but this did not faze them as they always do they approach everything in a very professional manner. We were drawn as the penultimate band in the second half of the draw. This was not the best draw we have ever had but we were hopeful that being near the end we would make a lasting impression whilst the adjudicators made their decisions. No sooner are you on stage then after 11 minutes it’s all over for another year.
How did we think we had done? We felt we acquitted ourselves well but maybe didn’t play it quite as well as at the Preview evening. However, you can never tell, as when we won the competition in 2014 we didn’t think we had done very well! It is impossible to predict what the adjudicators are going to say or decide on the day.
As soon as their piece was over and they were off the stage , the players like all other bands, were soon on their phones checking to see what 4 Bars Rest were reporting.
4 Bars rest comments during contest
Second Section round up and prediction…
It’s been a highly enjoyable contest in the Opera House — aided greatly by all the bands being able to bring something out of Darrol Barry’s set work.
It’s one that certainly pays homage to all things John Barry and James Bond it must be said — but what’s so wrong with that, as it’s so cleverly put together.
The last two performances of the contest mirrored much that has gone on before today — bold, confident, at times a bit wayward and wonky, but full of colour and excitement. Bravo to both Marple who may just get a mention off the stage, as well as a bravura Besses o’th’ Barn.
After a nail biting wait, we found out we had achieved the following position
Piece: Rise of the Phoenix (Darrol Barry)
Adjudicators: Derek Broadbent and Brian Rostron
Bollington Brass (Peter Christian)*
2. Besses Boys (James Holt)*
3. Farnworth & Walkden (Luke Pallister)*
4. Eagley (Chris Wormald)
5. Blackpool Brass (Len Charnock)
6. Pemberton Old Wigan DW ‘B’ (Mike Golding)
7. Marple (Stephen Curtis)
8. Tyldesley (Robert Taylor)
9. Delph (Philip Goodwin)
10. Old Hall Brass (John North)
11. Poulton-Le-Fylde (Alex Webb)
12. Besses o’ th’ Barn (Trevor Halliwell)
13. Allerton Brass (Adam D.J. Taylor)
14. Formby (Louise Hough MBE)
15. Rivington & Adlington (Malcolm Wilson)
16. Hazel Grove (Nigel Beasley)
17. Greenfield (Patrick Marshall)
*Top 3 bands qualify for the National Final
As you are probably aware the promotion process is complex and is based on a 3 year average score of points. Calculating our points it looks like we may have enough to get promoted to the 1st Section in 2020 . However, nothing is certain and so we will continue to play the best music we can to entertain the public and improve our own standard of playing.
A big thank you must go to Steven Curtis who has led us to this stage in our musical development after 3 years as our Musical Director and to Helen Sutton the Contest Secretary who has had a challenging time ensuring all players who played had been registered and had all their paperwork in order. Thank you also to Caroline Andrews who as Chair of the band has ensured the band are fully committed to achieving the best outcome possible.
Below are some quotes about the band and their performance
Caroline Andrews- Chair
Congratulations to The Marple Band on coming 7th in the 2nd Section in the NW Regional Finals at Blackpool on 24th Feb. Subject to confirmation, the band has achieved enough points to be promoted to the 1st Section. Fantastic news.
Helen Sutton- Concert Secretary
It was a very enjoyable day. The whole band worked really hard. I would like to add my thanks for all the help everyone gave me getting registration documents together, particularly Claire. It will be an exciting time going forward.