North West Area Championships 2002

As with everything in life, Brass Band Contesting is a learning process and the lessons can sometimes seem a little harsh. Thus it was for Manx Concert Brass in the recent N.W. Area finals of the Brass Band Championships of Great Britain held on Sunday 10th March in Blackpool. This was the band's first contest in the 2nd section of the Championships, having gained promotion from the 2nd section at the turn of the year. Obviously the chosen test piece is more difficult than that for the 3rd section and the players put in many hours of rehearsal, right up to the very afternoon of the contest.

Despite putting in a fine musical performance, the Band was understandably disappointed to finish in 9th place out of the 14 bands which played. The adjudicator, Roy Roe, drew the band's attention to the many complexities of the test piece, Symphony for Bras by Victor Ewald, and it really did take the best of the most experienced bands to impress him. There were a number of special points which he was looking for in this difficult piece and his remarks proved that Concert Brass still had a number of things to learn to compete even more successfully at this higher level.

This is, however, one of the main purposes of band contesting, to take part to the best of your current ability and to lean lessons to take you further on the ladder to the top even though this is always a little hard to take. Another plus is the sense of team spirit that contesting produces, whether you win or not. On this score, Concert Brass must be top of the league. You have to accept the adjudicator's decision, (if you don't win you never agree with it!!) and get on with enjoying the rest of the weekend, which the whole party certainly did.

As an aside, it was very heart-warming that the winning band, Moston & Beswick (Manchester), had as one of its bass players. Stephen Somers who, until his recent move to study music at Salford University, was a most proficient and long serving member of the Manx National Youth Band and Manx Concert Brass - he also plays a mean guitar in Scruffy Murphy's, a well know Blackpool watering hole. Congratulations Stephen!!

There is nothing like regular competition for sharpening up any band's performance and it is somewhat of a shame that Concert Brass has to limit its off-island trips to about two per year due to cost restrictions.

May we pass on our congratulations to Douglas Town Band who have hopefully begun their climb up the Championship ladder by finishing second in the 4th section and thus qualifying for the Nationals in Torquay, where we wish them every success.

Malcolm Magee
Press Officer