Fantastic Four for WhitburnMonday 27 November 2017
Whitburn Band secured its fourth consecutive Scottish Open title at the weekend, rounding off what must be seen as one of the most successful contesting years in the band’s illustrious history.
Since winning the same event exactly a year ago, 2017 has seen Whitburn regain the Scottish Championship title in March followed by victory at the Grand Shield in Blackpool in May. The band’s return to the British Open led to a monumental runners-up spot followed by an excellent 6th place at the Royal Albert Hall in October.
Saturday’s triumph at the Besson sponsored contest in Perth, securing a hat-trick of wins for Musical Director (MD) Professor Nicholas Childs, was Whitburn’s sixth success at the event, firmly securing its place in the top ten of the world rankings.
Perennial foe Co-operative Funeralcare came closest to upsetting the Whitburn applecart in claiming the runner-up spot with American guests Fountain City Brass making up the podium in what was a thrilling contest from start to finish.
Given the choice of four magnificent Peter Graham works, Whitburn opted for Metropolis 1927, arguably the most difficult of the four tests on offer. The performance included moments of sheer quality from the band, not least the excellent solo contributions from around the stands. Soprano cornet Scott Forrest was awarded the 4barsrest Trophy for best instrumentalist, icing Whitburn’s cake.
Both Steven Mead and Alan Morrison, in their closing adjudicator’s observations, were impressed with the standards set by all bands on the day, making mention of the fact that the top end of the results table included some ‘world-class’ performances.
The Co-operative Funeralcare, still perhaps finding its feet after several personnel changes, was most impressive in its delivery of Harrison’s Dream from a late draw, the odd slip detracting from a thoroughly engaging performance. The Co-op will look to return to top form next year, but will have to do so without its MD Allan Ramsay who is set to move overseas in the New Year. The Scottish Brass Band Association (SBBA) presented Allan with a special award prior to the results, recognising his outstanding contribution to brass banding in Scotland over a number of years.
Approaching the end of an extremely successful UK tour, Kansas City-based Fountain City Brass also performed with a touch of real class, the middle section of its Metropolis 1927, in particular, highlighting the quality throughout the band. Fountain City didn’t quite do enough to convince the judges that its 2009 triumph should be repeated, but it was a pleasure to hear MD Dr. Joseph Parisi’s take on this difficult work.
One of the main reasons this year’s Scottish Open was so enjoyable for the vast majority of those who sat through all 15 performances, was the quality of test-piece on offer. Along with the aforementioned Metropolis 1927 and Harrison’s Dream, we also heard a number of bands tackling The Essence of Time and two taking on Montage, each posing its own set of challenges to soloists and sections alike. Peter Graham, composer of all four test-pieces, was a most-deserving recipient of the SBBA President’s Award, presented by Peter Fraser at the end of the contest.
Of those choosing to play The Essence of Time, a resurgent Kingdom Brass was placed highest and was leading the contest up until the top three took to the stage in the latter stages of the draw. Kingdom made a terrific impression from a number two draw, the Philip brothers Neil (euphonium) and Alex (trombone) both making notable contributions to a well-directed performance under Paul Drury.
Making up the top six were UNISON Kinneil (Raymond Tennant) and Kirkintilloch Kelvin (Charles Keenan), both of which produced lots to admire in their performances. Of the remainder, special mention should perhaps be made of Russell Gray’s Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel, their nightmare trip up north including a six-hour breakdown on the M6 and faulty hotel showers on arrival in Perth!
The day though belonged to Whitburn, a band which has had a year to remember, even by its own standards!
The full results were:
Adjudicators: Steven Mead and Alan Morrison
1. Whitburn (Professor Nicholas Childs) 195
2. Co-operative Funeralcare (Allan Ramsay) 194
3. Fountain City Brass (Dr. Joseph Parisi) 192
4. Kingdom Brass (Paul Drury) 191
5. UNISON Kinneil (Raymond Tennant) 190
6. Kirkintilloch Kelvin (Charles Keenan) 189
7. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) 188
8. Bon Accord Silver (Stephen Malcolm) 187
9. Dalmellington (Richard Evans) 186
10. Kirkintilloch (Ray Munday) 185
11. Fishburn (David Hirst) 184
12. Yorkshire Imperial (Russell Gray) 183
13. EYMS (Stig Mærsk) 182
14. Tullis Russell Mills (John Wallace CBE) 180
15. Bo’ness and Carriden (Kevin Price) 179
Best Instrumentalist: Scott Forrest, soprano cornet, Whitburn