Irvine and Dreghorn Brass Band recently attended one of the biggest contests of year in the Scottish banding world. This was their first year in the second section following last year’s promotion from the third, the chosen test piece this year - "Ex Terra Lucem" composed by Jonathan Bates. Originally composed for St Helen's Youth Brass Band, the title translates into English as "From the Ground, Light" which is believed to be the 'motto' of the Merseyside town. The piece pays great tribute to the rapid growth of the town throughout the industrial revolution and it is believed that the title was a large influence on Danny Boyle's opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games held in London.
IDB welcomed their two young players Charlie Boax and Fraser Waddington to their first ever Scottish Championships! Both Charlie and Fraser thoroughly enjoyed their time during the lead up and on stage saying that they found their first Championships “really good” and “quite fun actually”.
Irvine and Dreghorn Brass Band would like to congratulate them on their performances – regardless of the result – and hope that they continue to be a part of the band in the years to come.
In total, eleven bands competed in the second section on March 10th 2018 - each giving their own interpretation of the test piece. With Irvine and Dreghorn being drawn 9th, I managed to catch musical director Scott Kerr before the band went on stage to perform where I asked him how he felt the lead up to this contest has been.
"The lead up to the Scottish has been rather sporadic for the band, with some lower attendances than I would like. But, the piece itself really isn't a difficult piece to get your head around - where the difficulty came was really just familiarity alongside interpretation of the piece and what detail we wanted to bring out of it. It wasn't really until the final fortnight that we really started to nail things to the floor, organising exactly what we want to do and perform as we want to on the stage getting comfortable with the piece. Overall just now, the band are feeling quite relaxed and ready to give it everything on stage."
After the band had performed, I was able to speak with a few of the players to ask them their thoughts on the performance.
Dawn Spence, Principal Euphonium - "I enjoyed playing Ex Terra Lucem at Perth Concert Hall. With so many exposed entries throughout the piece I felt the band played very confidently. Although, that last chord isn't a pretty one – just how it’s been written (!), it felt like a solid close. I exited the stage happy with my own performance, as well as the rest of the band's, just need to wait and see now.”
Derek Leitch, Principal Cornet - "I thoroughly enjoyed todays performance and it really felt the most comfortable performance the band has had on stage in a while - just need to wait and see what the adjudicators think now."
I also managed to catch Scott Kerr again to get his thoughts on how the band played on stage.
"Everyone did great! Was it a perfect performance? Probably not, but we did what I had wanted to do and I think that overall, the band are happy with how they played in their own personal performance as well as the band performance as a whole. We played really well on stage, it was exciting, there were lots of contrast in terms of dynamics, style and technique. As I said, it probably wasn't perfect but it’s never going to be. A perfect performance would have been boring in my opinion. I was great fun - but, it is a contest so we just need to wait and see what happens. Overall, I'm delighted with how we played."
Disappointment for Irvine and Dreghorn
Unfortunately, adjudicators Anne Crookston and Mark Wilkinson had a difficult decision to make with all eleven bands having presented some great performances. Irvine and Dreghorn were sadly placed last with 82 points behind close friends Renfrew Burgh Band who were placed 10th with 83 points.
Anne, who is a distinguished Baritone player in the banding community having held the solo Bartione seat at Whitburn Brass Band for a staggering 18 years before moving to begin her conducting career in 2010, praised the bands "bright sounds" and "solid solo contributions". Anne gave some feedback to the band saying:
"Thank you, [this performance] had some really nice moments, particularly in the muted section at letter U. And good work from soloists. Tuning became a bit of an issue along with tempo's. Always work hard to find balance in the tutti band sounds. Percussion, you know what Perth Concert Hall is like - don't overdo it."
Mark Wilkinson, an esteemed cornet player who is in demand all over the world have competed in, and won, several national and international contests during his time as principal cornet with Fodens Band, gave some terrific feedback to the band in his notes picking out the bands "confident opening", "Full and secure sounds" and "good balances" stating that the band had allowed the music to "flow well" with "good style and balance" giving a good "strong close" to the piece. Mark rounded up his comments with some constructive feedback similar to that of Anne:
"Lots to admire here, intonation caused some problems today. Good balances generally and well done to soloists"
The band were extremely disappointed with the result, and I managed to grab a few words from Solo Horn, Anne Taylor, which I’m sure the majority will agree with.
“I think all of the bands would have played the piece to a high standard. Unfortunately, the others just found something extra to give them the edge. IDB played the piece well but it's all down to the opinion of the adjudicators and it was probably a difficult one to call really.”
Campeltown Brass and Annan Town achieved 1st and 2nd place and we wish them every success when representing Scotland at the National Finals later this year.
Irvine and Dreghorn Brass Band would like to extend our congratulations to our MD Scott and Whitburn Band on winning the Championship Section. We would also like to congratulate our friends at Johnstone Band, Dunaskin Doon and Newmilns and Galston for achieving the 1st, 2nd and 3rd spots in the First Section. Fantastic weekend for local banding!
Although not the most ideal start to 2018, IDB look forward to building the band and performing again throughout the year. IDB would like to thank the our MD, the band and all supporters on the lead up to the Scottish Championships.