Famous Five for Dominant WhitburnTuesday 27 November 2018
Whitburn Band made it a five-timer on Saturday with victory at the 2018 Scottish Open contest, cementing its recent dominance in both this competition and the Perth Concert Hall venue.
Thanks to a number of visiting Championship Section bands from England , Wales and the USA, there was a more than decent line-up at this year’s event but, at the moment, Whitburn seems to own the Perth Concert Hall stage – only once in its last nine appearances has the West Lothian outfit failed to win the first prize on offer at the iconic venue and, on that occasion, a number one draw didn’t do anything to enhance its chances.
It was difficult to find fault with the winning performance on Saturday. As is often the case in many top level performances, intricate detail and dynamic range were like no other and some of the solo playing and section work (super trombones!) was quite phenomenal. Professor Nicholas Childs was a picture of contentment as he drove the band to a thrilling climax of Edward Gregson’s Rococo Variations.
Yet again, even with a plethora of top-level English and Welsh bands and another high-class outfit from overseas in attendance, it was Co-operative Funeralcare which came closest to upsetting Whitburn’s applecart. The Co-op’s Scottish Open record in the last five years now reads 2-2-5-2-2 but the performance of Rococo Variations under Michael Fowles at the weekend must have given the players and supporters some hope of going one better this time around.
Although four fantastic Edward Gregson test-pieces were on offer, the more technically-demanding Rococo Variations and Of Distant Memories were always going to dominate bands’ selections. Indeed, only a re-structuring Kirkintilloch (Connotations) and first-timers Bathgate (Dances and Arias) chose to avoid them.
Another Scottish Open debutant, Wantage Silver, was one of ten bands to play ‘Rococo’ and, under the disciplined baton of Paul Holland, set the standard from a number two draw. Some of the solo playing from the Oxfordshire outfit, particularly from soprano cornet, was top-class and would have gone a long way to securing the eventual third place awarded by adjudicators Frank Renton and Steve Sykes.
Elland Silver Band had just gained promotion from Yorkshire’s 2nd Section when Danny Brooks took over conducting duties just over five years ago, and the Calderdale charges have continued to flourish ever since. Wins at Bolsover in 2016 and 2017 preceded promotion to the Senior Cup at Blackpool earlier this year so it came as no surprise that a fourth place was secured at Perth with the highest-ranked of seven accounts of Of Distant Memories.
2017 National 1st Section Champion band Pemberton Old Wigan DW has figured highly at previous Scottish Opens - 2nd in 2009 and 3rd the following year – but had to make do with 5th spot this time around. In sixth place, bouncing back from a disappointing result at Brass in Concert, was the welcome American guest band Atlantic Brass.
Apart from the American visitors and the top two ‘big guns’, English bands dominated their Scottish counterparts in the results table and it was refreshing to see so many take the trip up north, significantly enhancing the profile of the event. Their presence undoubtedly boosted audience figures too, with seemingly far more in attendance throughout the day than was the case at the previous week’s Challenge Contest.
However, for the fifth year in a row, the top two prizes stayed in Scotland, as did the Best Instrumentalist prize – awarded to a most deserving Chris Flynn, solo euphonium at Co-operative Funeralcare. Also, for the fifth year in a row, was the familiar sight of Whitburn celebrating on stage as the results were announced. Nothing lasts forever, but Whitburn is giving it a right good go!
The full results from Perth at the weekend were as follows:
Adjudicators: Frank Renton and Steve Sykes
1. Whitburn Band (Professor Nicholas Childs) 193
2. Co-operative Funeralcare (Michael Fowles) 192
3. Wantage Silver (Paul Holland) 191
4. Elland Silver (Daniel Brooks) 190
5. Pemberton Old Wigan DW (Ben Dixon) 189
6. Atlantic Brass (Salvatore Scarpa) 188
7. EYMS (Stig Mærsk) 187
8. Fishburn (Lewis Wilkinson) 186
9. Rainford (Gareth Brindle) 185
10. Rothwell Temperance (David Roberts) 184
11. Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass (Charles Keenan) 183
12. Bon Accord Silver (Stephen Malcolm) 182
13. Dalmellington (Nigel Boddice MBE) 181
14. East London Brass (Jayne Murrill) 180
15. Northop Silver (John Doyle) 179
16. Kirkintilloch (Raymond Tennant) 178
17. Newtongrange Silver (Andrew Duncan) 177
18. Bathgate (David Thornton) 176
19. Bo'ness and Carriden (Lee Skipsey) 175
Best instrumentalist: Chris Flynn, euphonium, Co-operative Funeralcare