A Triumphant 'Brass Metamorphosis' at the Midlands Area - Saturday 10th March 2018

The Staffordshire Band won the Midlands Area Brass Band Championship (First Section) title once again on Saturday 10th March 2018 with a resounding performance of James Curnow's Test Piece - 'Brass Metamorphosis' at Bedworth Civic Hall under the Musical Direction of Leigh Baker.

After a run-in punctuated with sickness, unavailability and, unusually, severe snow storms across the country paralysing the whole transport infrastructure and meaning several important rehearsals were lost due to the white stuff in the last two weeks before the Contest, the Band arrived in Bedworth on Saturday 10th Match in very good spirits, having made up much of the lost rehearsal time, thanks to our friends at St. John's Church, Walsall Wood and Forest Arts Centre. In a very relaxed state of mind and body, together with stomachs full of Tea/Coffee and very welcome bacon sandwiches, the Band were clearly up for the challenge of a much maligned test piece, but with, nonetheless, many pitfalls for the unprepared and severe tests for the soloists. The atmosphere at the start of the rehearsal was so relaxed, but totally focused, that maestro Leigh Baker had very little to do in order to get the Band ready......................

Liz Butler had been given the task of attending the important Draw at 10.00am, although a pre-draw had already put the band into the first half (again), so any draw from 1-9 was possible for us. The call came in soon after 10.00 to confirm that we had drawn number 3 - not as bad as it could have been, but another challenge to face. This however, clearly made no difference to the players at all, as shortly after the call, a convoy of vehicles left Bulkington to park up at the venue for the Contest - Bedworth Civic Hall.

Ushered into the 'Holding Room', the Band were again, very relaxed and focused - the Registration Cards were handed out, uniforms were donned and within a very short time, the Band were downstairs signing the Contest Form and remembering the words of Chairman Shaun Elliott from the morning's rehearsal (omitted from this Report due to the language involved!).

Then onto the stage and into the performance, punctuated by huge grins from conductor Leigh Baker and including stunning individual and band performances from everyone - you can always tell how good a performance is by the length of time it appears to take - the shorter, the better performance it was - and this one was over in a flash!

And that was that - how best to fill the next 5 hours until the results were announced?

Bit of a quandary - Bedworth on a Saturday has only marginally got more to do that Bedworth on a Sunday which has nothing! However the Band managed to do it and the players left joined together for the results, with the best saved for last, as the Band once again became the First Section Midlands Regional Brass Band Champions, with a performance described by the adjudicators as outstanding with superb soloists, band sound and music interpretation.

The full results were:-

1. The Staffordshire Band (Leigh Baker)*
2. Foresters Brass (John Davis)*
3. Enderby (Simon Gresswell)*
4. Rushden Town (Adele Hudson)
5. Oddfellows Brass (Rob Boulter)
6. Bedworth Brass (David Maplestone)
7. Burbage Buxton (Steve Critchlow)
8. Kibworth (John Hudson)
9. Bilton Silver (Rugby) (David Stowell)
10. Carlton Brass (Gary Wyatt)
11. Shirebrook MW Unison (Colum O'Shea)
12. Ibstock Brick Brass (Simon Willis)
13. Leicestershire Co-op (Graham Jacklin)
14. Gresley Colliery (David Purkiss)
15. Glossop Old (Duncan Beckley)
16. Harborough (Brad Turnbull)
17. Wigston (Chris Small)
18. Shirley (David Hirst)

*Qualify for National Final

So that was the cue for 'wild' celebrations by everyone involved which went long into the night (although the writier does not know just how long for some!).

Chairman Shaun Elliott said, 'Despite all the negative aspects of the preparation for the Contest, including sickness, absence, adverse weather conditions causing the cancellation of much needed rehearsals, and so on, the players of The Staffordshire Band once again showed what an incredible group of people that they all are, by putting all the negatives aside and concentrating on the mission in hand - that of regaining their crown of Midlands Regional Champions (First Section) - and, by golly did they all work hard! My heartfelt thanks go to all the very talented conductors who lead the rehearsals - Alan Gifford, Jonathan Pippen and, of course, Leigh Baker and to all our friends old and new for helping us out. Our challenge is now to go to the National Finals in September, in Cheltenham with the same focus and determination, and win the National Title once more!'

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