Cheltenham 2017: Retrospective

A grand total of 74 brass bands (the best of the best after having qualified from the eight regions earlier in the year) made the trip to Cheltenham to compete at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain on the weekend of the 16th & 17th September 2017.

Proceedings began the afternoon before with Kapitol Promotions voluntary staff and the stage crew from Eventz, making sure that all competitors and their supporters would be looked after over the weekend. Working closely with the staff from the Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse, changing facilities, warm up room and the all-important registration area were all set up and the stage set for the competing bands. All the traders were also allowed access to the venue to ensure they were ready for the early start and arrival of competitors and supporters on the Saturday morning.

On Saturday morning the first draw for order of play took place at 8.15 am prompt with the inimitable Peggy Tomlinson as Contest Controller. The contest began at 9.30am with the National Anthem in honour of the patron of the event Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and continued with 18 bands performing the very well received “Music of a Legacy” by Steven Ponsford, competing to win the title of Section 3 Champions. The adjudicators were Paul Holland and Tom Davoren.

By around 2pm the contest was over and the eager audience was treated to a pre-results mini-concert by Tuba Soloist Steve Sykes, who entertained both with his music and his humourous repartie.

The First Champions of the weekend were crowned shortly afterwards and a delighted Boarshurst Band from the North West lifted the first place trophy.

The draw for Section 4 had taken place at 1pm under the eagle eye of Contest Controller Peter Bates and the contest was able to commence almost immediately after Section 2. In the largest section of the weekend 20 bands performed Eric Ball’s classic “Petite Suite de Ballet” hoping to impress adjudicators Mark Wilkinson and Stan Lippeatt.

By around 8.15pm the results ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook (as had been the Section 2 results earlier in the day) with the title of Section 4 Champions heading North of the Border to Newmains & District Band.

Sunday morning saw the draw for Section 3 take place at 8.15am and adjudicators Glyn Williams and Mark Wilkinson were treated to 19 performances of Gareth Wood’s “Hinemoa”. By early afternoon Steve Sykes gave a repeat performance of his musical talent and wit and the results followed immediately.

The adjudicators mentioned in their on stage remarks (all broadcast live) that they had no trouble in picking out the winners, and BD1 band conducted by Lee Skipsey were obviously ecstatic to take the title of Section 3 Champions back to Yorkshire.
So, in a quieter venue as many competitors were heading home on the Sunday afternoon, there was just Section 1 to go.

John Slater was Contest Controller and had overseen the draw which took place at 2pm. Band number one took to the stage shortly after 4pm and the 17 bands tackled the deceptively difficult “Tournament for Brass” by Eric Ball. It became apparent that this music has not grown any easier with age and the adjudicators Michael Fowles and Paul Holland noticeably took their time in between bands and when making their final decision at the end of the contest.

By about 9.45pm the results ceremony was able to begin and the North West took yet another 1st prize with Pemberton Old Wigan DW being crowned as Section 1 Champions.

Kapitol Promotions thanked all the competing bands from the weekend for impeccable behaviour and fantastic conduct, and Director Philip Morris also thanked the Kapitol Promotions crew & regional secretaries who had worked tirelessly over the weekend to ensure the smooth running of the contest.