Perth success for triumphant KingdomTuesday 20 November 2018
Kingdom Brass ran out a convincing winner at the 2018 Band Supplies Scottish Challenge contest in Perth at the weekend, adding the grand trophy to its substantial tally of silverware in the calendar year, having already emerged victorious at the Northern Counties Open and both Fife contests under Musical Director Paul Drury.
With a stirring performance of the fabulous Fraternity by French composer Thierry Deleruyelle, Kingdom took a firm grip of the event from a number nine draw, leading the contest by an astonishing seven points before Newmilns and Galston narrowed the gap as last band on stage.
Fraternity, arguably the most revered of recent additions to the brass band repertoire, is a composition which is full of complexity and colour, a lot of it dark given the subject matter, but none of it was beyond Paul Drury and Kingdom Brass. The performance was noticeable for its lack of slips and clips, while some of the solo work was spectacular - not least from principal cornet Dave Prentice, worthy winner of the Best Instrumentalist award.
Newmilns and Galston, drawn last of 19 combatants, plumped for George Lloyd’s Diversions on a Bass Theme as its contest choice, an often-underrated test which can run away from a band at any given moment. This was a fine rendition however, well controlled by Alan Cameron and well delivered around the stands, not least from an impressive bass section and precise trombone team. It has been an impressive contesting year from Newmilns with two seconds and two thirds – the band will no doubt be relishing another battle with Kingdom come the Scottish Championships in March.
Granite City and Bruce Wallace made up the podium with its account of Kenneth Downie’s Purcell Variations. It is encouraging to see the replenished Aberdeen outfit competing again at the end of a lean contesting year – this performance and result should keep the momentum going in the coming months.
While the announcement of the top three placings met with general agreement amongst the very few who sat through all nineteen bands, there was many an eyebrow raised when the full list of results was beamed up on the big screen at the back of the Perth Concert Hall.
Kilmarnock Concert Brass not only won best 4th Section band, it also claimed outright fourth place, ahead of all 2nd and 3rd Section bands as well as five 1st section outfits! Scott Walker’s choice of Brian Kelly’s Divertimento allowed him to demonstrate the band’s capabilities while showing off the talents of various soloists, especially tenor horn, flugel and soprano. This is a performance, and result, which will do wonders for the band’s confidence as it continues its resurgence after a few years in the brass band wilderness.
Defending champion Clackmannan District made a bold attempt to cling on to its title, finishing in fifth place and securing best 2nd Section Band, while Dunaskin Doon finished a point further back after an early morning draw. A fantastic 7th place was achieved by Dysart Colliery and Kenny Letham, winning the 3rd Section prize with Philip Sparke’s ever-enjoyable Music for a Festival. There was, genuinely, something to enjoy from each and every band which took part, the variety of test-piece (only three were played twice) ensuring that there was almost always something fresh just around the corner.
Both adjudicators, while highlighting the difficulty involved in judging multiple test-piece contests, were content with their unanimous decisions regarding the leading bands. Former Cory cornet star Jim Davies was keen to congratulate all the soloists involved during the day while Black Dyke’s former solo horn virtuoso Kevin Wadsworth commented on the “very fine playing” throughout the contest. The latter’s only real gripe was the lack of dynamic contrasts with too many bands failing to make sufficiently significant use of what is, undoubtedly, a fantastic acoustic for music-making.
Although a lot of the band’s performances weren’t overly well attended, there were thankfully enough bodies in attendance come ‘results time’ to show appropriate appreciation on two awards bestowed upon the contest’s principal sponsor and long-term supporter of brass bands in Scotland – Band Supplies’ Ronnie Tennant. Ronnie became the first recipient of the newly established President’s Award, presented by Carrie Boax, for his passionate service to Scottish brass banding while SBBA Honorary Vice-President Peter Fraser also presented Ronnie with his 50-years’ service medal, albeit, in Ronnie’s words: “Three years late!”
So, the stage is now set for a further nineteen bands to compete for the Scottish Open crown next Saturday which sees obvious pre-contest favourite Whitburn Band attempt an unprecedented 5-in-a-row. There will be eight other Scottish bands trying to prevent it, not to mention nine cross-border raiders from ‘down south’ and the most welcome American challenge from Atlantic Brass. Kingdom Brass has set a high standard; let’s see how many can emulate it.
Full results from Perth:
Adjudicators: Kevin Wadsworth and Jim Davies
1 Kingdom Brass (Paul Drury) 1 195
2 Newmilns and Galston (Alan Cameron) 1 193
3 Granite City Brass (Bruce Wallace) 1 188
4 Kilmarnock Concert Brass (Scott Walker) 4 183
5 Clackmannan District Brass (Ross Brotherston) 2 180
6 Dunaskin Doon (Chris Bradley) 1 176
7 Dysart Colliery Silver (Kenny Letham) 3 175
8 Johnstone (Martyn Ramsay) 1 174
9 Newmains and District (Michael Marzella) 3 173
10 St. Ronan's Silver (Kenny Letham) 2 172
11 UNISON Kinneil (Raymond Tennant) 1 171
12 Langholm Town (Chris Shanks) 3 170
13 Penicuik Silver (Iain Fleming) 4 169
14 Arbroath Instrumental (Michael Robertson) 1 168
15 Perthshire Brass (George D. Annan) 3 165
16 Coalburn Silver (Gareth Bowman) 1 162
17 St. David's Brass (John A. Dickson) 2 160
18 Buckhaven and Methil (Andy Shaw) 3 156
19 Barrhead Burgh (Alistair Gibson) 4 155
Best Instrumentalist: David Prentice, cornet, Kingdom Brass
Best 1st Section: Kingdom Brass
Best 2nd Section: Clackmannan District
Best 3rd Section: Dysart Colliery
Best 4th Section: Kilmarnock Concert Brass