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National Finals: Championship Section Runners and Predictions

Published in Contest on 2013-10-11 by Empty Chairs

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This weekend will see the final chapter in the National Finals for 2013 with the Championship Section Final at The Royal Albert Hall.

Twenty bands will be playing Edward Gregson’s “Of Distant Memories”.  Of Distant Memories was jointly commissioned by the Black Dyke Band and the Worshipful Company of Musicians (with funding provided by John Iles) to mark the centenary of the first original test piece for brass band, written in 1913 for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.

Edward Gregson described the music as a Symphonic Tone Poem for brass band:

"The first original test-piece for brass band (Labour and Love by Percy Fletcher) was composed in 1913 for the National Brass Band Championships, held at London’s Crystal Palace. As the centenary of that event approached, I decided to write a work which paid tribute not only to that particular work, but also to some of those other early test-pieces written in the first few decades of the twentieth century, and which still form the backbone of the brass band repertoire today. The list of the composers is a distinguished one of course, including well-known names such as Hoist, Elgar, Ireland, Bliss, Howells and Vaughan Williams, alongside other less familiar ones.

Of Distant Memories pays homage to these composers and theft music, and in the process summons up a kind of subconscious memory bank of the musical languages, styles and forms used by them. To this end my music is conceived in the form of a ‘traditional’ tone poem, reflecting certain aspects (e.g. melodic, harmonic, textural) of those early test pieces. Although I have kept to fairly traditional concepts in planning the architecture of the work, certain aspects of the instrumentation, or scoring, are more contemporary in colouristic terms, as befits a composer writing in the twenty-first century. The percussion requirements are fairly modest, however, similar to those used in the works of that period.

The brass band tradition owes much to the composers of that period, for through their music they established a truly homogeneous ‘British’ brass band sound which has spread throughout many parts of the world. That tradition flourishes today and remains important for today’s composers, even if their musical language is far removed from that of their predecessors. Of Distant Memories is my own way of repaying that gratitude.”

The Runners

Brighouse & Rastrick (Yorkshire) - David King

A stunning run of form for Brighouse at the Nationals with two firsts and a second in the last three years. You wouldn’t want to bet against them this time either…

Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Yorkshire) - Phillip McCann

Tenth in 2010 and sixth in 2011, the Yorkshire Champions missed out last year but Phillip McCann is going to be planning on another top 6 this time out. How high can they go?

Cory (Wales) - Philip Harper

Always the bridesmaid for Cory in the National Finals. Increible consistency at a third place finish. You know what, we think they will come third.

Flowers (West of England) - Paul Holland

Can Flowers bring their French Open form to London? The West of England Champions will be hoping to break into the top six this year.

Foden's (North West) - Allan Withington

The reigning champions will think themselves in with a shot at retaining the title. The shock “lip injury” to Mark Wilkinson might unsettle them however.

Friary Guildford (London and Southern Counties) - Chris King

First time in the Championship final for Friary Guildford. One thing for sure, it’ll be an experience for the band to remember.

Grimethorpe Colliery (Yorkshire) - Robert Childs

Grimethorpe are back after a long five year absence from the Finals. Can they bring back the glory years of 2006 and 2007 or are they just a distant memory?

Jaguar Land Rover (Midlands) - Dave Lea

The Midlands Champions tend to come fifteenth in this contest. And because that’s a clear pattern we can say with almost statistical certainty, well nothing really. Perhaps they can pull a (large) cat from the bag.

Kirkintilloch (Scotland) - David Roberts

They last made the long trek to the English capital in 2009. A disappointing seventeenth then, they’ll be hoping for better.

Leyland (North West) - Michael Bach

Leyland are back. The North West Champions came tenth last year and they will be eyeing the top six this time around. We’re going to mark them as a dark horse.

Milnrow (North West) - Mareika Gray

Mareika Gray has already achieved a Grand Shield win for Milnrow this year. Is Nationals Champions also a possibility? Some dreams do come true.

NASUWT Riverside (North of England) - Ray Farr

An inconsistent year for the NASUWT Riverside. The North of England Champions came a disappointing fourteenth in the Senior Cup. They certainly be hoping to beat their 2010 Finals appearance however.

Northop (Wales) - Thomas Wyss

Maybe the Welsh magic will rub off on Northop this weekend. Thomas Wyss will be hoping so.

Reg Vardy (North of England) - Russell Gray

They missed last year but Reg Vardy have had a consistent mid table run in the Finals over the last ten years. No reason to suspect they will not repeat the feat this year, with a bit of inspiration maybe more.

Regent Brass (London and Southern Counties) - Alan Duguid

The London and Southern Counties Champions have home turf advantage. Two first so far in 2013, maybe the home crowd can give them the third.

Tongwynlais Temperance (Wales)  - Steve Skyes

Welsh Champions. A common phrase this year. Who would be surprised if the phrase was uttered one last time as the trophy was raised high?

Tredegar (Wales) - Ian Porthouse

Welsh Runners Up. A common phrase… Ian Porthouse achieved British Open success with Tredegar last month. They are a band on form… get your flags ready.

Virtuosi GUS (Midlands) - John Berryman

The last outing for the Butlins Champions with John Berryman at the helm. They’ll be looking for their first top six finish since 2010.

Whitburn (Scotland) - Erik Janssen

Scottish Champions Whitburn have improved every year since 2010. If they improve again they are in the top six...

Woodfalls (West of England) - Nicholas Childs

Occasional National Finals attendees Woodfalls are on a high after their Senior Cup success.



Who do we think will be in the top six? Brighouse & Rastrick, Carlton Main Frickley Colliery, Cory, Flowers, Foden’s and Tredegar.

The dark horses: Leyland, Milnrow, Woodfalls

And do you want us to pick a winner? No! Well we’re going to anyway. We think…. Brighouse & Rastrick.

Sorry Wales.

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