Drogheda Brass Band are top of the pile at Al­lIre­land fi­nals

Drogheda Independent - - FRONT PAGE -

THE Drogheda Brass Band claimed top hon­ours at the Na­tional Band Cham­pi­onships at the week­end, win­ning the cham­pi­onship sec­tion of the contest for the ninth time in the past 11 years.

Un­der the ba­ton of Mu­si­cal Di­rec­tor Michael Maher, the lo­cal band stormed to first prize with a fan­tas­tic per­for­mance of two pieces of mu­sic, Cal­i­for­nia Leg­end and Three-Part In­ven­tion.

The vic­tory was a lovely birth­day present for band Pres­i­dent Tony Collins, who cel­e­brated his 77th birth­day on the day of the vic­tory, and who per­formed with the band on stage at the Sol­stice Cen­tre in Na­van.

The band beat stiff com­pe­ti­tion from lo­cal ri­vals Lour­des Brass Band, who came in sec­ond place af­ter a great per­for­mance un­der their con­duc­tor Michael Al­corn. In third place was The St­ed­fast Band from Dublin con­ducted by Brian Daly.

Drogheda Brass Band has a fab­u­lous record of suc­cess in this com­pe­ti­tion. This was their ninth suc­cess at the top level in the past 11 years.

Ad­ju­di­ca­tor for the week­end com­pe­ti­tion was Archie Hutchi­son, con­duc­tor of Dalmelling­ton Band in Scot­land, and a long-time friend of the Ir­ish band­ing move­ment. Mr. Hutchi­son awarded the tro­phies for the best own choice piece and win­ning band to Drogheda Brass Band Mu­si­cal Di­rec­tor Michael Maher. The band was awarded 48 points out of a pos­si­ble 50 for their own choice piece, Cal­i­for­nia Leg­end by Bruce Broughton, and 93 points out of 100 for the test piece, Three-Part In­ven­tion by Kenneth Downie.

Band spokesman An­thony Mur­phy said the week­end had been a mem­o­rable one for Drogheda, and paid trib­ute to the ded­i­ca­tion of Michael Maher and in­deed all the band’s play­ers who had worked very hard over the past three months to de­liver a contest-win­ning per­for­mance.

“Michael will cer­tainly go down in his­tory as one of the best brass band con­duc­tors this coun­try has ever known. His record speaks for it­self. He has 12 vic­to­ries with Drogheda Brass Band in this com­pe­ti­tion, nine of them in the past 11 years. We are proud of his com­mit­ment to the band. He has been in­volved in the or­gan­i­sa­tion for decades as a player, men­tor and con­duc­tor. He’s a leg­end,” An­thony said.

“The band is a ter­rific group, and the play­ers are both tal­ented and ded­i­cated. We have a great bunch of young play­ers too who are a fab­u­lous as­set to us. We couldn’t have done it with­out them.”

It was a great week­end for lo­cal bands. Drogheda and Lour­des came first and sec­ond in Cham­pi­onship Brass, while Ardee Con­cert Band won best brass sec­tion and sec­ond prize in the Cham­pi­onship Con­cert sec­tion. The Ir­ish Na­tional Foresters Brass Band from Na­van won first prize in the Sec­tion 4 Brass com­pe­ti­tion, while neigh­bours Kells Sil­ver Band came sec­ond. St. Mary’s Brass and Reed Band Kingscourt came sec­ond in the Sec­tion 3 Con­cert sec­tion. St­ed­fast Shoes Brass Band from Car­rick­macross won first prize in the Sec­tion 3 Brass com­pe­ti­tion un­der the ba­ton of Drogheda man Mark New­man who plays with Lour­des Brass Band.

And in Sec­tion 2 Brass, Na­van Sil­ver Band won first prize un­der con­duc­tor Stephen Mur­ray from Drogheda, who plays with Drogheda Brass Band. Drogheda-based con­duc­tor Harry Kelly, who has con­ducted many bands in the re­gion over the years, was awarded hon­orary life mem­ber­ship of the IABCB, as was ad­ju­di­ca­tor Archie Hutchi­son, for his con­tri­bu­tion to the Ir­ish band­ing move­ment over the past num­ber of decades.

There was a mov­ing trib­ute at the cham­pi­onships to the late Christy Smith, who passed away sud­denly last month. Christy had been heav­ily in­volved in brass bands in Drogheda and the wider re­gion for most of his life and had been awarded hon­orary life mem­ber­ship of the com­pe­ti­tion’s or­gan­is­ing body, the Ir­ish As­so­ci­a­tion of Brass and Con­cert Bands (IABCB), at the same com­pe­ti­tion in the same venue last year.

IABCB chair­man Stephen Mur­ray led the trib­ute by ask­ing ev­ery­one at the cen­tre to stand for a minute’s ap­plause in mem­ory of the great con­tri­bu­tion Christy made to the brass band move­ment.

Mean­while, if you’d like to hear the champions in con­cert, the Drogheda Brass Band will be play­ing at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, on Bank Hol­i­day Easter Mon­day, (April 17th) at 2pm.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the band, see their web­site www.droghedabrass­band.ie or on Face­book at https://www. face­book.com/droghedabrass/.

Drogheda Brass Band Mu­si­cal Di­rec­tor Michael Maher (right) and young cor­net player Grace Camp­bell ac­cept the tro­phies from ad­ju­di­ca­tor Archie Hutchi­son af­ter win­ning first prize in the Na­tional Band Cham­pi­onships at the Sol­stice Cen­tre, Na­van, on Sun­day.

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