Disappointment in Torquay!

Please remember that all the views portrayed on this website are Helen and Hadrian's only and may not reflect the views of Tewkesbury Town Band as a whole. Cheers!

Hadrian's thoughts:

The Band over the past few years has set itself high standards of achievement to be measured by. It has worked hard to achieve some great results under the musical direction of Nigel Morgan, results we would have dreamed of 13 years ago when I joined this highly sociable Band with an amazingly consistent player base (I make it at least 19 players with over 7 years membership of the Band, how many bands locally or even nationally can boast that statistic?). Our 25th Anniversary year in 1999 saw the Band achieve the honour of representing the West of England at the National Finals in Nottingham (an occasion I sadly missed), and in 2001 the Band was promoted to the Third Section for the first time in its history after a consistent set of results year on year.

We had a fruitful three years in the Third Section slowly developing our playing abilities together, to only be caught by the pure mathematics of the promotion/relegation system and be relegated back to the Fourth Section with four other bands on the same points. Obviously we were disappointed especially since it was our 30th Anniversary year, but we showed our character, stayed together as a team (even enhancing ourselves with several top quality players) and grasped the opportunity that relegation presented to us. This, as followers of the Band and regulars to our website will know culminated in our being placed first at a national contest in January, the Butlins Mineworkers Open National Brass Band Festival.

By now, you are probably asking why the long-winded introduction. I believed it necessary to not only reflect the reason for our immense disappointment following this years annual West of England Regional Contest, but to also put the result of 12th March 2005 at Torquay into context, it was a totally odd result that was caused by the bizarre opinions of one man and an acoustically poor hall. Fellow Tewkesbury Town Band members, remember we are a good band made up of a wonderful bunch of loyal players that has achieved wonders over the past few years. We are still the reigning Fourth Section Champion Band from a national contest, and as well as being a contesting band we do more than most bands to promote brass playing within our area!

On Saturday afternoon we took to the stage in a poorly disguised sports hall at the Riveria Centre in Torquay as band number 16 out of the 20 bands that had entered the Fourth Section contest to give our performance of Bryan Kelly's "Divertimento". Despite the cramped stage area, the acoustic of the hall and the inevitable contest nerves, the Band gave the performance it had been working on for the previous 6 or 7 weeks in the band room.

The opening movement 'Prelude' was played with great style and precision, the detail could be heard and the rhythm felt throughout with nothing over-stated. The frequent interlinking of parts around the band worked well and provided a great introduction to the testpiece. After the first movement, the tempi indicated for the remaining three movements are significantly slower yet no less rhythmic in nature, even the third movement which includes a tricky dotted quaver/semi-quaver rhythm that does not naturally fit with the mood of the movement. Inevitably this requires a lot of concentration and confident playing to both maintain the consistency of tempo and keep the musical feeling within the movements. The Band gave an admirable account of the second 'March' movement with that great Star Trek processional feel about it and the quiet solo horn finish was brilliant (Thanks Clive, I guess Flowers may be calling you next!!).

The third "Intermezzo" movement is the one where the soloists shine and the music flows. Sarah on flugel horn and Angie on principal euphonium, complemented by Martin on cornet, set the scene for the rest of the movement with some wonderful melodious playing. The baton was then passed to myself, Helen on Repiano and Sue & Ollie on 2nd Cornet (the moment I was dreading!) to set the rhythmic style for the aforementioned dotted quaver/semi-quaver statement.....thankfully all went well and I could feel comfortable that I hadn't let the Band down (at least not at this point!!). Our dynamic range was really shown during this movement, it may not have made the adjudicator go "Wow" but it certainly did me! Finally, there was the fourth "Scherzo" movement (a movement that many bands decided should go at least 20bpm faster than indicated on the sheet music). Again, the Band captured a good proportion of the detail (duplet rhythms against triplet rhythms) and gave the jolly bouncy feel that a Scherzo is all about.

Yes, our rendition was not perfect but on the day it was a good performance that we could be proud of, and that reflected well our hard work in the band room. Following the performance it was simply a case of snatch a pint before returning for the results ceremony. A ceremony that would have featured better on the stage of a seaside concert hall (rather than in a modified sports hall) due to its farcical nature. Sadly, like many sports referees, Mr Hurdley had taken it upon himself to become the star for the day....(for further details see Helen's review below, visit the comments page on 4barsrest, or visit the West of England Regional Forum at www.themouthpiece.com ). I am going to make no further comment, I was highly disappointed at being placed 12th based on the performance we gave on the day. Having followed the results in the other regional contests over the past two weeks the West of England is the "Yorkshire" of the Fourth Section! (based on the unsound logic that 11 bands beat us at Torquay, and two months ago at Butlins we beat two of the other Regional Winners; by the way our Congratulations go out to Matlock Band who pushed us hard at Butlins and were clear winners in the Midlands, and Congratulations to Five Rivers in the North).

Finally, hearty Congratulations to Verwood Concert Brass, Swindon Brass and AW Parker (Drybrook) Band on their placings. Good Luck at the finals in Harrogate, we hope all goes well for you!

Hadrian Walters

Helen's thoughts:

The  Band competed in the West of England Area Contest in Torquay this weekend (12th March) and were placed 12th out of 20 bands in the fourth section. Obviously the Band is very disappointed at the result, however, we are more disappointed it seems with the adjudicator, Bryan Hurdley. In my opinion, the unprofessional manner in which he remarked on the section on the stage before the results were announced, and the manner in which he commented on our own performance in the written remarks was unbelievable.

What's the story?
Well this is how I saw it. He came out from his tent in the early evening on Saturday and announced that tempi don't matter, detail is not that important, and that if you have a soprano player that can play in tune then you must have been cheating! He claimed that it must have been played by a Bb Cornet. In that statement he is also saying that if you do this then he regards it as cheating - it's not - there's nothing in the rules that says you cannot do that - what if you don't have a soprano player?! He also went on to make hurtful comments about the bands that came last and to top it off, said that he had not necessarily given the top spots to the best performances but to the bands he thought would represent the area best at the National Finals! Does that mean that he knew which band was which? Did no-one tell him that he was there solely to adjudicate this contest, these performances? He's been in banding long enough to know how it works.

It was then unbelievable to read his written comments where he singled out one player in an unfair and unjustified manner and when he was forced to praise the player he was sarcastic in doing so. No professional would write in this way. He couldn't even find that much wrong with our performance, yet he felt that we deserved to be placed 12th!

After our 1st place at Butlins, a lot of hard work and lots of positive support, the band really felt that we were in a good position going in to this contest. We still believe that we played well, that we gave a good performance of the piece and that had it been another adjudicator in another venue on another day then things might have been very different. How anyone can think that that hall is suitable for such an important contest I don't know. The acoustic is awful and there wasn't even enough room on the stage to fit the band on comfortably. The horns had to overlap their music stands, the trombones nearly lost their teeth playing 6th position and the conductor had to hold his breath all the way through!

However, congratulations to the bands that won and those that have subsequently gained promotion as a result of this contest. Good luck to Verwood, Swindon and Drybrook in Harrogate later this year.

Helen Walters