On Sunday afternoon the voices of TSB members were hitting the high notes following the news that they had been awarded first prize in the B section of the MK contest held at Stantonbury Leisure centre.
Many years ago this contest was a fixture in the calendar of midlands, home counties and southern based Bands. After a long break, it was last held in 2004, through the efforts of Jeremy Wise, the event was resurrected last year and was well supported by Bands from this region. Jeremy was encouraged to keep going and this year saw the number of Bands increase and the geographical coverage was as far apart as York to the north and Brighton to the south. Add in Ipswich and Wantage and all points of the compass were represented!
The B section is for Bands that play in national sections 2 – 4, with the A section for Band’s in the first and Championship sections of the national ‘league’.
TSB are currently in national Section 3 and were taking on eight other Band’s including local rivals and defending champions, Olney Brass. Bradwell Silver Band were also participating. ‘Own Choice’ refers to the Test Piece that each band plays and in this instance the Musical Directors of each Band has the freedom to select their own choice piece of music. For the listener this is a good thing as they can hear several different pieces of music. In many Brass Band competitions the Test Piece is determined by the organisers and every Band in a given Section has to play the same piece.
Neil Brownless, MD of TSB, chose a challenging piece called ‘Kingdom of Dragons’ composed by Philip Harper. One other band in the B section also chose this piece so it was with much interest that the players of TSB listened to Amersham Band’s interpretation of the piece prior to having to perform it themselves. TSB were drawn to play seventh, two after Bradwell and immediately before Olney. Onley performed ‘Fire in the Blood’ by modern and popular composer Paul Lovatt-Cooper. They had great success with the same piece the previous weekend at the Leicester Brass Band Association Contest, coming second in the 3rd section, so on form they were one of the favourites!
Another Band who were expected to do well was Wantage Silver B Band. They currently play in national Section 2 but next year have been promoted to national Section 1. They chose to play ‘Purcell Variations’ and were the last Band to play in Section B and certainly received rapturous applause from the audience.
So with all the playing finished it was the turn of the Adjudicators to present their remarks. Paul Fensom and John Ward officiated and announced the result in reverse order. Olney Brass came fourth, Wantage Silver were third, Soham Comrades filled second spot and Towcester Studio Band were the winners!
This was the third time that Neil Brownless has taken first prize with TSB this year. Neil was expecting a good result at MK but not at all confident that TSB would continue its superb form on the contest platform. The Band took the honours in the Oxford Association contest back in February, followed that with first place at Bolsover Entertainment contest in October and now further success in this local MK event.