Plenty to play for at National Championships
AUTUMN is a serious time for brass bands who are involved in band contests.
The National Finals for lower section bands took place in September at Cheltenham and Abertillery & District and Newport Borough managed to keep the Welsh flag flying by finishing 3rd and 6th respectively in Section 3.
We now have the second of the three competitions of the Welsh League system who decide over three contests who the champion band of each section will be.
This second contest organised by the West Wales Brass Band Association is this coming Saturday.
The winners in May were Oakdale Silver and 2nd was Gwaun Cae Gurwen in Section 4.
Section 3 winners were Cwmtawe & District Youth and 2nd were Upper Rhondda.
Section 2 winners were Mid Rhondda (Thomas Coaches) and 2nd were Abertillery & District.
The winners in Section1 were AW Parker (Drybrook), but they are not eligible to be granted Champion Band status so the leading band is 2nd placed Ammanford Town and next placed was Abergavenny Borough.
The Championship Section was won by Llwydcoed and 2nd was Tylorstown.
These are obviously the front runners to gain Champion band status for this year. It will be an interesting contest on this Saturday, October 7, starting with Section 4 at 9.30am.
Order of play is as follows: there will be three bands competing in Section 4, five bands in Section 3, six bands in Section 2, the Junior/Youth section has six bands taking part while there are seven bands in Section 1 and eight bands competing in the Championship Section.
The Junior/Youth Section seems to be going from strength to strength. In addition to the bands appearing on Saturday, who are Burry Port Juniors, City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) Youth, Gwaun Cae Gurwen Juniors, Milford Haven Juniors, Rhondda Fach and Upper Rhondda Juniors, there are other junior bands being tutored and no doubt will be making an appearance sometime in the future, for example, Abergavenny Juniors, Melingriffith Beginners, Cwmtawe Training, Blaenavon Town Juniors, Llwydcoed Juniors, BTM Learners and Abertillery Training.
This is good news and the future seems to be looking good as all these young players continue to make progress..
Unfortunately, Abertillery band will not be competing as they decided that preparation for the National Finals was a priority which proved to be a good decision for that contest.
The National Finals contest and the Autumn Festival of the Welsh League are very close together and while some bands would prefer dates to be further apart others consider that competing at both is an advantage if the band plays the same test piece at both.
However, it is a fact that bands taking part in the National Finals are often missing at the Autumn Festival. Bands who this year took part in the National finals and who will be competing at Burry Port are Abergavenny Borough, Newport Borough, Penclawdd Brass and St Athan Voluntary.
A band who is hoping to repeat its success of May’s Spring Festival is Llwydcoed who, in addition to winning the Championship Section, also had Evan Key gain The Best Horn Player award and they also had the award for the Best Back Row Section.
Having experienced the recent excitement in Birmingham of the British Open being won by European band Valaisia, the Swiss Champions, we now have the National Championships of Great Britain taking place at the Royal Albert Hall on October 14.
Representing Wales will be world number one Cory Band, Tredegar Town Band and Tongwynlais Temperance Band.
Cory has won The British Championships on the last two occasions and is going for the hat-trick. What an incredible position to be in and what an achievement if the players succeed.
In 2013, Tredegar was runner up to Cory to create a Welsh record of having the best two bands in Great Britain.
Can Tredegar surpass their previous achievement and take the British title in 2017?
There is certainly plenty to play for at this year’s National Championships for our Welsh bands!
Llwydcoed players celebrating May’s success
Abergavenny at the National Finals