2008 BYBA Championships Report

| |

Sunday 5th October 07.30am the rain was pouring down and I had a two hour trip to Coventry for the 2008 British Youth Band Association Championships, where six British Champions would later be crowned.

I hoped that the weather would clear ready for the first band but on arrival the weather was just as bad as when I left Doncaster. The venue, Butts Park Arena, was ready for the day’s competition with the staff on duty, field markers in place and a 30 foot by six foot lake where the pit percussion should be setting up! It wasn’t looking good for the bands. However, in those famous words “the show must go on”, and so it did at 10.19 am with the first band of the day finals got underway, and rain wasn’t easing off!

Junior Division

Cadence D&BC ~ Superman, Shrek, Batman

Cadence, Guildford, Surrey (Drum Major 1, Brass 16, Percussion 12, Frontline 9, Guard 7 = 45) resplendent in red & white uniforms were already soaked to the skin. A very young corps, they were determined to give a great performance. They started with a Superman opener projecting their brass well and making good use of dynamics. They followed up with Shrek with trumpets taking centre stage using a stool each to raise them above the band, the mellophones & horns followed suit using the same stools after the trumpets had finished their highlight. It was evident that it was very slippery under foot but it had little impact on the show. The colour guard struggled with the conditions, but were doing their best to complement the corps, which I think they achieved well. During Batman, their final piece, the drums seemed overpowering which did infringe on the brass line, and the overall dynamics. This was a great start to the day, and with this quality with the junior division the stage was set for a very entertaining competition.

6th Hove B Corps ~ High School Musical

6th Hove B, Hove, East Sussex were to perform musical items from the Disney original musical, ‘High School Musical’. The members dressed in light green uniforms played pat-a-cake and other playground games to set the scene. They got the show started with All in this together which was played with confidence. This was followed by the school bell ringing and a seamless transition into their next piece of music. The colour guard looked the part in their cheerleader style outfits they made good use of props, including a basketball workout that the Harlem Globetrotters would have been proud. 6th Hove B really got their heads in the game applying really effective transitions during their marching show. They then burst into song singing All in this together which seemed to be a good place to finish the show, but they pulled their trump card and finished with Schools Out for Summer.

Coseley Comets ~ Mamma Mia

The Comets, Coseley, West Midlands (DM 1, B 13, FP 6, FL 4, G 7 = 31) may have won the league but were today rightly crowned as BYBA’s Junior Division British Champions. Coseley performed Abba hits made even more famous by the film ‘Mamma Mia’. The corps lined up front to back on the 50 yard line and started the show with Money, Money, Money – this was to become their link phrase between different tunes. They wasted no time in playing Supertrooper and other hits, including Take a Chance on Me and Waterloo. It was a little like “name that tune” and very reminiscent of a James Last-style compilation. There was good percussion work with dynamics well evident. The colour guard was dressed in striking Abba-style outfits, complete with very Swedish looking knitted hats. The guard like the band struggled with the wet slippery conditions, but managed to keep their balance enough to give a great performance. I’m sure after their performance they were all saying “Mamma Mia”! Thank you Junior Division. The first three corps had really whetted our appetite, if that was an apt phrase to use in this awful weather.

Division III

Downsmen Corps ~ Four Seasons

Downsmen, Crowborough, East Sussex promoted from the Junior Division were to start Division III. Their show took us through the seasons of the year. Very much in keeping with the day their first piece was to be Singing in the Rain which was well mixed into being Raindrops keep falling on my Head. The audience showed their appreciation with a round of applause for this apt moment. They took us into winter with Frosty the Snowman. By now the 50 line area between the front line and first hash was becoming very muddy, at which point the corps had to kneel. With only six members on the field, and rest in the front line, it gave many limitations to the show but the corps played with confidence and looked very smart throughout even with muddy knees. As they played Here Comes the Sun, the weather seemed to ease off. Could the power of music change the weather?

Halifax Boys Brigade/Girls Brigade ~ Jesus Christ Superstar

Halifax BB/GB, Halifax, West Yorkshire (DM 1, B 15, FP 5, FL 3 = 24) were looking splendid complete with new Shakos and were set to perform a Lloyd Webber classic. Spread across the field the band started the show playing facing backfield then turned to face the audience with a blast of the main Jesus Christ Superstar theme. The show content and design had that little bit more than the basic Junior Division shows. It was evident that we had stepped up a division. Although the euphonium was over compensating the band demonstrated good articulation. The demand level was high with maneuvers requiring more individual demand. Earlier in the season the band was hesitant and seemingly not fully committing, but the artistic push and pose at the end of I don’t know how to love Him was fully committed. Maybe now they had more confidence. King Herod’s Song which had the makings of a light hearted element to the show was too serious though. I enjoyed the show Superstar, being one of my all time favourite musicals, and this was well presented with cleaner drill and clearer transitions. Still my pet hate, please do something about the music cards, it masks the players’ faces, looks untidy, and spoils the hard work being done in the show.

Centurion Show Band ~ Past to present

Centurion Show Band, York, North Yorkshire (DM 1, Wind 12, FP 8, FL 5 = 26) as I have said before, always have a good selection of music, this year was no different You Really Got Me by the Kinks, Another Saturday Night by Sam Cook, Bring Me to Life by Evanescence and Monkey Wrench by the Foo Fighters. Adrian started the band and the music built unlike earlier in the season, the brass gave it everything and really interpreted the music well. The percussion was well executed throughout with a no emotions, stern faces – they were here to do the business and they did just that in fine style. The trumpet solo was solid bringing the whole program to life at the start of Bring Me to Life. The band seemed to have nailed Monkey Wrench both with the show design and the music. The Centurion “umphh” from past seasons was more evident. The trumpets no longer dominated the brass line delivering a better balance than earlier this season, and Centurion Show Band was fizzing and bubbling, well done.

Marxmen ~ The Movies

Marxmen, Braintree, Essex (DM 1, Wind 11, FP 5, Guard 13 = 20) were up next. The rain was fine drizzle and the field much worse for wear. Too avoid the mud at the front of the field the corps decided to set up using the front hash as their front line. It was appreciated why they had done this, but it did affect their show putting them too far away from the audience. They started with Rocky ~ Gonna fly Now. This was followed by Pink Panther theme by Henri Mancini, the guard treated us to some very feline dancing strutting around with their pink tails and shocking pink flags. The Mancini hit was excellent for their sax section. The James Bond For Your Eyes Only contrasted well after the sultry Panther Theme. The band played the musical segments in “pods” of two’s and three’s taking over from each other during For Your Eyes. Marxmen finished off with Hot Stuff from the ‘Full Monty’, here the brass line could have been had more punch but the saxes were the dominant voice. The show was highly entertaining with good marching content and a good choice of music.

Lanesfield Boys Brigade/Girls Brigade

Lansefield BB/GB, Bilston, West Midlands (B 15, FP 9, FL 4 = 26) the only non-vale Bb bugle band in the class! The show started with a Reveille to which the band assembled, drums to the front and brass behind, up goes the tempo and giving a swing version of the reveille, fast paced and tuneful; next to the front line with a rock style riff, then back to the swing/rock original tune. Transitions from one piece of music to another were excellent with full use of bugle drill. The show delivered great energy evident of it being well rehearsed and what’s more the members of the band enjoyed themselves. The band changed tempo with ease and made good use of the bells with Ghost Riders in the Sky. The well played tenor bugles helped give a deeper voice to the brass line. Lanesfield promoted bugle playing to the full, adding energy and confidence to present a very enjoyable show, stacked full of highlights with lots of visual. Although the rain had just about stopped, by now the field was terrible. Lanesfield had marched their show back from the first hash but unlike previous bands they pushed forward for the finale. The percussion showed their ability with a lively drum tattoo and brass members become added effect with silks. The show climaxed with the band’s front finale which was met with tremendous applause.

4th Uckfield (Holy Cross) Scouts ~ Willy Wonka

4th Uckfield, Uckfield, West Sussex were to take us on a tour of ‘Tim Burton’s Willy Wonka’. I had not seen them this season so looked forward to their show. They had an excellent stage set complete with factory, chocolate river & chocolate fall. They even had red & white striped three feet long candy canes! Low and behold after the first note was played the set blew down, but this did not deter the band. As with a lot of Danny Elfman music at times, it wasn’t easy to play or easy to listen to. The band did well to interpret the more unusual pieces. By using plastic drain tubes they had constructed a glass elevator which was cleverly used to signify the trip in the very same. The crowd not fully following the show were roused by the Augustus Gloop song and seemed to enjoy the rest of the show which was completed by playing the Willy Wonka tune.

Beeches Cadets ~ Roy’s Music

Beeches Cadets, Great Barr, West Midlands (DM 1, B 13, FP 6 = 20) were to play a tribute show to their former bandmaster using musical items from previous seasons. They began with Begin the Beguine and it was very noticeable that they didn’t have a pit or marching bells. They were very co-ordinated and played with feeling. The Gladiator Theme was very moving and was played with a real understanding of the music

The audience received the corps with great enthusiasm, were encouraged the Beeches Cadets to play well.

Midsomer Norton Marching Brass ~To Live to Love

Midsome Norton MB, Midsomer Norton, Somerset (DM 1, B 11, FP 3, FL 1, G 5 = 21) set out to entertain us with a show on the theme of love. The production started with the drum kit player beating out a heart beat, the corps emerged from boards set around and in front of centre spot and playing their first movement. The corps marched a brass line and guard, with all percussion in the front line. I have to admit I couldn’t get into the show and felt lost throughout, possibly because I didn’t recognize any of the pieces being performed. I found the drum heart beat more annoying than anything else. I would have to apologize to the corps for not fully understanding their show. The visual said love story but the music didn’t to me. However, it was evident that the corps had worked hard to produce this original show and the audience reaction was extremely positive, so on this occasion I guess I should have paid more attention to Love.

Stafford Lancers ~ Evita

Lancers, Stafford, Staffordshire (DM 1, B 18, FP 6, FL 5, G 10 = 40) on next, were putting on a full production of Evita. From the start with the funeral procession and the Evita theme the corps was firing on all cylinders. The brass was quite together on what was a demanding show with non-stop transitions and tempo changes. The guard performed the story, well dressed in costume for full effect. They really captured the Evita style. However, by the end of their performance the brass struggled due to the demand placed on them with the high paced show and at times the equally high pitched music. Throughout the program, the front line played exceptionally well adding depth and sensitivity. The show finished on a light quiet air, subtle and effective. The show wasn’t as clean as I would have expected at finals, and I think the Lancers are capable of better. I don’t think that the condition of the field helped, the guard did especially well to stay on their feet with the fast paced direction changes being slip opportunities. At times the brass line and came over quite flat, cold playing without feeling. Evita is a musical that needs to demonstrate the passion that Eva Peron had to succeed in life at whatever the personal cost, and that of others she left behind in her climb to success. The show was enjoyable and great to watch for its entertainment value.

Spirit of Coventry ~ A Night at the West End

Spirit, Coventry, West Midlands took to the field with six brass marching and six guard. Of the line, the program started with a pit opening building into the whole corps playing the hit number I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables. Next followed Luck Be a Lady from Guys and Dolls – a real up tempo crowd pleaser. Sun & Moon from Miss Saigon provided a ballad starting with a mellophone building to a peak before fading away to a soft ending. The fast paced production then continued with Magical Mr Mistofelees from Cats, which gave way to One Short Day from Wicked. The closer, a Les Miserables Reprise, finished the show very well. The marching members did an excellent job although the guard need a special mention having worked their socks off, and were absolutely covered in mud, occasional damp grass is probably what they have been used to but this was full mud bath. Well done girls for your dedication to a great show.


Black Knights Cadets ~ Knights in Space

Black Knights Cadets, Gravesend, Kent (DM 1, B 6, FP 3, FL 1 G 3 = 13)

The theme was space Battlestar Gallactica, Planet Krypton, Imperial March.

The cadets played exceptionally well. The drums gave us all a treat by playing xylophones very well. The two guard cadets were very impressive and have shown great improvement since I last saw them at Academy Brass in July, well done.

Atherstone Cadets ~ Animals

Atherstone Cadets, Atherstone, Warwickshire (DM 1, B 1, FP 7 = 9). The cadets got underway playing Pink Panther, the trumpet who had played very well oozing confidence during the warm up struggled on the field initially but this soon passed. The drums had their moment and played very well, which was certainly a hit with the audience. They rounded off with Batman from the ABC TV show ‘Batman’. Again well played for such novice bandsmen certainly talent for the future.

37th Kingswood Cadets ~ SPECTRUM: The Art of Colour

37th Kingswood Cadets, Bristol, Avon. An exceptionally strong corps probably would do well in the junior division alongside 6th Hove B corps. The percussion, front line and brass played Over the Rainbow to a very high standard, and marched a very good co-ordinated show, which was equally matched by the guard. The Godfather was great with a key change. The 37th have got some great youngsters to join their senior corps in the next few years.

All of the cadets were given rousing support from audience and older players from other bands and corps’, it was thoroughly deserved with such confident performances.

After the Olympic Retreat of 16 units from the Junior Division, Division III and the Cadet Division it was time for the Division II, Associate Division and Division I. To help the corps the field moved 10 yards to the audiences’ right for Division II, and the competition field was renumbered accordingly. This would be repeated again prior to the start of the final division. The weather by now had brightened up. The move also created a challenge for the professional video team who had to adjust all their cameras for the field change.

Division 2

Revolution Show Corps ~ Rock & Rail

Revolution, Queensbury, West Yorkshire (DM 1, B 14, FP 4, FL 7, G 4 = 30) started the ball rolling having been promoted during the season they were now in Division II. They got things going with their Rock n Rail show. All aboard and the percussion gave a steam train effect and the show pulled away from the station with Coronation Scot, which was overtaken by the main corps playing a strong bass intro to Crazy Train. They traversed the field several times locking in formations then exploding in different directions. A clean, crisp and strong wind performance, the music gave itself to the full on power. The colour guard complemented the corps and didn’t mask them or distract from the main show. The front line was integral to the corps and added some delicate touches. Breadfan sounded good with the wind and mallets playing off each other. Then Paint It Black referred to the black colour of the old British Rail steam loco’s was played with plenty of vigour and gave a great finish to the show

Warwick Girls ~ Mika

Warwick Girls, Warwick, Warwickshire (DM 1, B 14, FP 6, FL 4, G 2 = 27) also now playing up a division from the early season, played exceptionally well. Their maneuvers were smartly executed, and their interpretation of the music of Mika was excellent. The clarinet solo was a treat in Let me down Easy and quite audible, too. The marimba complemented the solo well two good voices, especially the volume achieved by the clarinet without squeaking. The guard was especially colourful in their mixed colour outfits using a variety of flags and streamers. Although I knew it was coming I still enjoyed the false ending! The band demonstrated how to use woodwind voices to best affect choosing the right tunes, tempo and moods for the saxes and the more “brash” moments for the high brass.

Upton Youth Band ~ Classical Music

Upton YB, Upton upon Severn, Worcestershire (DM 2, B 9, FP 6, FL 3, G 3 = 23) another promoted unit from Division III started their 2008 finals show facing backfield, then a quick turn blasting into Carmina Burana with great dynamics. I’m sure you know the tune from ‘Excalibur!’ Into Flight of the Bumble Bee the band had certainly taken on some tough compositions. More classical hits followed Nimrod, Hall of the Mountain King were very dynamic, making the most of the variations on a theme. All parts of the ensemble seemed to work well together with a smashing finale of Nimrod. Upton YB was in the best form I have seen in a while. Their single guard worked very hard and for her efforts slipped racing to her silks landing square on her bottom, which knocked the wind out of her. The audience gasped and in true BYBA style she got up and continued her performance, fantastic! The show brought out the sunshine and was a great performance by the band.

Pacemakers ~ Bohemia

Pacemakers, Bromley, Kent gave their program a real drum corps feel with large bold chords to start their show. On a theme ‘Bohemia – Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Love’ they started at a racing pace and had corps members jogging to positions on the field dropping back to the second hash. This gave the corps opportunity to play Nature Boy towards backfield then swing round with an impressive blasting chord in the audiences’ direction. The frontline softened the atmosphere leading into a horn duet of the Queen hit, The Show Must Go On. The corps moved at breakneck speed with the occasional park and play. Strains of Bohemian Rhapsody were complemented by the cymbals in the pit giving highlight crashes. The corps was locking the shapes pretty well throughout the show. It was very dramatic and captivating, a real entertaining show

Staffordshire Knights ~ Classical Music

Staffordshire Knights, Newcastle-under-Lyme Staffordshire (DM 1, B 12,FP 5, FL 8, G 7 = 33) started with Nessun Dorma, very expressive and full of light and shade. We were then taken into the Hall of The Mountain King with contra leading and mallets accompanying, going upbeat the arrangement was accompanied by a fast paced marching element. Mercury the Messenger was a well played solo added to by the full corps. The solo was passed around the voices before again being taken on by the full corps finishing off with gentle mallets. Jupiter introduced a well scored percussion item then more music from the ‘Planet Suite’. The corps then built up to a dramatic ending with crashing cymbals, violent waving red flags and strong well controlled last push by the brass. Not the easiest of shows it was well presented by Staffordshire Knights and was a pleasure to watch and by the look on the members faces a pleasure to perform. With the colour guard in all white it won’t be long before they need to take the ‘Daz Challenge’ for whiter whites!!

Phantom Knights ~ No Strings Attached

Phantom Knights, Nuneaton, Warwickshire (DM 1, B 20, FP 9, FL 9, G 10 = 49) presented us with their show ‘No Strings Attached’. The show features music from the hit TV series Thunderbirds, Stingray, Space 1999 and UFO all products of Jerry Anderson. Starting from the right of the field the brass played a series of chords before getting into their first item of music which moved into Thunderbirds theme. The corps demonstrated excellent drill patterns and moved well across the front of the audience, though not going back much further than the first hash. Unfortunately the Staff shouted throughout the show which ruined the highlights and more delicate moments. Controlled playing with a dramatic build up was topped with a staff member shouting at the top of his voice “watch your control”, shame he couldn’t practice what he preached. Overall the corps show was very good with plenty happening on the field.

Cheshire Cadets ~ Dreamgirls

Taking to the stage literally were Cheshire Cadets, Warrington, Cheshire, setting up their own stage on the 45 yard line, side 2. The Cadets used colour material blocks to close down the performance area. After a shy salute from the drum major, dressed in a suit looking very Motown, the corps started their show with music from Dreamgirls. A big show opening then gave way to a more controlled performance with plenty of movement across field to then muster on and near the stage for highlights near the end of the first tune. The corps seemed to be more at home with the musical content than the last time I had seen them. The field percussion were certainly getting it together, in particular the bass drum line were very good. The guard used the colour blocks as changing areas, and came out with different silks which effectively changed the show with splashes of colour. The mellophone solo and solo dancer was very effective especially with a well co-ordinated mallets section supporting the solo. The show as ever was extremely demanding and the Cheshire Cadets delivered a good show with a lot of improvements. The solo sop had his Maynard Fergusson stamp of approval reaching some super high notes during the performance. Cheshire Cadets were certainly giving their best of season show. Even though the clouds were clearing, as the field wind judge proved to the crowds delight, the grass was still slippery and he took a major tumble. He recovered immediately with no noticeable injury only pride, falling in front of so many people.

Trinity School Show Band ~ Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue

Trinity School Show Band, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (DM 1, Wind 39, FP 12, FL 10, G 17 = 79) always step up a few gears for finals. Still the largest marching unit in BYBA, they kicked off with Don’t Rain on My Parade. Making good use of the voices in the band they moved quickly around the field, which they really filled, with a strong air of confidence. The guard looked ready for a wedding in their white wedding dress style costumes. ‘Something Old, New, Borrowed and Blue’ indicated the big day! For the Bjork hit, the guard introduced staging to the field and gave a great interpretation of the music with a wind up music box ballerina. Having such a variety of instrumentation and the excellent musicianship, a big band feel was delivered through the production numbers. During the percussion feature the woodwind and brass raced around the backfield with a fast paced drill routine. The Way We Were was terrific with all sections listening to each other, no evidence of mis-timing at all. The guard were none stop and full of energy, adding another element to the already full visual show. The Trinity members enjoyed performing the show, giving a lot of passion as well as getting the show right. Again it seemed only a short time and the show finished. But it finished on a high with the staging rearranged into one large stage, everyone got their moment of glory, and the ‘bride’ tossed her bouquet into the waiting bridesmaids. It left me wanting more, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

East Coast Elite ~ From Heaven Above

East Coast Elite, Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire (DM 1, B 22, FP 7, FL 5 = 35) went back to their roots with and gave us ‘From Heaven Above’. The scenery included varying sized crosses to close down the arena initially in Canon in D, plus three stained glass windows, 4 church pews and a lectern. The theme took us ‘inside’ a church, through well known hymns and choral pieces. The show began with the brass line seated on the pews playing, the soloist took position behind the lectern, then the brass moved to centre of the field leaving the confines of the church to combine into a large corps front as a highlight, then reprise. To the rear of the tunic, an ornate cross had been added from when I saw them last, this gave a very effective choral look. The percussion feature Heaven on their minds gave the corps chance to show off their drill and use the pews to good effect, this lead into Jesu, Joy of Mans Desire. With a well known hymn sewn through the arrangement after Morning has Broken, the corps displayed some more neat drill resetting the crosses, moved by the brass section to create a powerful image with the sun streaming through. The crosses were then returned to their original places in time for Ode to Joy. This was a thoroughly entertaining show, which made good use of some hymn book standards and classical elements. The show finished on a high with the brass returning to their pews. The props were of excellent quality and are to be donated to a small church in Lincolnshire, which is a great gesture and good example of marching music in the community.

Associates Div & Div 1

Onto the last five competing units, and with the floodlights on, it was the battle of the BYBA titans. The top five units from the 2008 league were to go head to head as a mix of Division I units with 3 members over 25, and the Associate Division which is open age. These units of a similar standard are judged on the same tolerance.

Poynton Commodores ~Tapestry of Life

Fresh back from the DCE Finals, The Commodores, Poynton, Cheshire (DM 2, B 15, FP 5, FL 5, G 3 = 30) took to the stage with their show ‘Tapestry Of Life’ playing the music of Samuel Haze ‘Ride’ and Walt Disney album ‘Millennium Celebration’. The centre piece was a huge globe which the corps used to march around; much like the planets round our sun. The music was rousing and varied, it was technically very difficult and the entertainment was there with awe value. As would be expected from a top corps, the show was intricate and artistic with lots of posturing and body movement. After a whirlwind of Earth’s creation, adding the elements the show continued at a tremendous pace covering the field creating many varied sets and formations. The balance between the sections was very well maintained and controlled. The movement in the show complemented the music. The stamina of the corps was put to the test and I think they passed with flying colours finishing as strong as they had started. The centre piece globe had been transformed into the earth with blue seas and green land. The guard finished the show running through the corps with very long coloured long silks from the front line to the front hash – very effective ending.

Distant Thunder ~ Awakening of the Elements – Earth, Air, Fire, Water

Distant Thunder, Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire calmed things down with a more sedate show playing their show based on music from Blue Horizon. The elements Earth – Majesty of Mother Earth, Air – Flower Duet, Water – The Storm and Fire – Firebird Suite Finale. Thankfully the elements didn’t stir and the corps continued to wow us with their performance. They were marching several gaps which did affect the overall look of some of the sets and I’m sure the harmonies in places were missing voices. Compared to Commodores I didn’t find the show as exciting. The brass seemed to struggle with some of the compositions and they were not as clean as I have heard them play before. They certainly had issues on the field but didn’t let them detract from completing their show. I did enjoy the duet during Claire de Lune a highlight of the show for me. Again the show suffered from technicality over entertainment, at this level ticking the judges’ boxes counts rather more than entertaining the audience. It goes with the territory so there’s no use worrying over it, after all the corps are here to win a championships and the audience getting a show is a by-product, however great that by-product is for us.

6th Hove Scouts ~ Glorious

6th Hove Scouts, Hove, East Sussex (DM 2, B14, FP 8, FL 4, G 4 = 32) in their 2008 sharp looking dark green and white uniform started with a corps front fanfare then into their first piece of music. The show consisted of Gloria, Make His Praise Glorious, Wolaver, Rhythm of Life, Oh Happy Day and Amazing Grace. I thought that 6th Hove had regained their accuracy on brass which was evident in the Rhythm of Life with clean notes and no squeaky passages. The corps bursting into song was a surprise the 6th Hove Choir! Then they soon played again. The tuba solo in the Spiritual before Oh Happy Day was a treat complemented by the guard with shimmering blue silks. I really enjoyed Oh Happy Day especially the trumpet solo, very well played with feeling and the tune went on with a real bounce plus tempo changes as the trumpet gave way to the full corps in up beat mode. The strains of Amazing Grace in New Orleans-style made me think of those bands playing spirituals and the oppressed slaves singing their way out of the misery using their brand of gospel music. After one more time through Amazing Grace the show finished with a large cross formed by the corps and colour guard in unison. A fabulous show well presented.

Black Knights ~ The Young Musicians Guide to Rock

Black Knights, Gravesend, Kent (DM 1, B 18, FL 11, G 13 = 33) were to give us ‘The Young Musicians Guide to Rock’. The show started gently from the front line, joined by the brass gradually building up to a crescendo with three drum kits kicking in and upping the pace, the Knights were really rocking. From the trumpet staccato introduction of Sweet Child of Mine the energy was unlimited both from corps and guard everyone was fully immersed in the show. With BK there was “no going through the motions” every member was giving 110%. I said for an earlier unit that the technical side of the show was at the cost of the entertainment, this show proved it wrong, it was marched to a very high standard and I found myself buzzing with the energy which they had given out and shared with the whole audience. Although Black Knights didn’t do anything anarchic, the music interpretation felt that they had captured the raw power of rock and at times that anti-establishment element. Not marching a field battery didn’t detract one bit from their excellent show. They finished with all the brass gathered in front of the podium and really rocked out the climax with an explosion of sound.

37th Kingswood Scouts ~ The Curse of a Pharaoh Queen

37th Kingswood, Bristol, Avon (DM 1, B 15, FP 8, FL 5, G 12 = 41) were the final corps at the end of a long day. I hadn’t seen them all season and was looking to be entertained by my favourite corps. Being a scout band at the top of the game I have always been inspired by 37th and the way they have adapted to remain a top flight corps over the past 20 years or so.

37ths show was an original called ‘The Curse of the Pharaoh Queen’, a show made up of three movements. Triangles were laid out on the field which represented pyramids these were to be used later during the show. The guard had Egyptian-style costume very much Cleopatra clones, in all white outfits. The guard rolled around to a solo trumpet player praying to the gods in the Temple. The music was distinct in style with a stereotypical Egyptian theme, reminiscent of the sand dance and sabre dance. The drum corps element was evident with the large impressive chords thrown in for good measure. The 37 drumline was awesome and lived up to its reputation. The second movement saw the corps in hieroglyphic poses much gentler composition and the brass standing on the triangles during their ensemble playing. I was a little bemused that the guard used rifle drill a little out of place in ancient Egypt. The final movement and the end of the show built up to a frenzied finish. This was captivating throughout, in fact so much so, I thought we were only half way through. All aspects of the production were outstanding. They didn’t rely on gimmicks, large props or fancy dress, this was a great show performed at an outstanding level.

During the day, Geoff Bailey, Wendy Bawden, Pat Dalton and Roger Ash were ordained into the BYBA Fellowship, and it was announced by Championship Director Paul Cartwright, that BYBA Founders Glen Carter and Dave Loader would also join the BYBA Fellowship.

Association President, Bob Girvan, paid tribute to Association Chairman, Tony Patrick, who will be standing down at the AGM in November, and also to Douglas Caldwell, who will be retiring from judging.

In completing the National Championships report, John Green, Bandmaster Doncaster Danum Scouts, said “This has been an excellent day, it was a true showcase for BYBA, member bands & corps, and the association. I’d much rather be out there playing, but I’ll settle for watching bands and corps of the caliber shown here at the 2008 National Championships”. He went onto say, “I hope you have enjoyed this taster of what happened at finals, at least on the field. To really get the best review of the day purchase a copy of the Adivision finals DVD, and no, I’m not on commission. Along with all of the 2008 finals staff, they worked their socks off in the background so that we could have an event to remember for the right reasons. Thanks to you all. Here’s to 2009 season”.

All in all, in spite of the weather, a great day for BYBA, and the marching arts in the UK and Europe.

Posted by on Saturday, October 18th, 2008. Filed under British Youth Band Association.