The regional qualifying contests across the UK tend to become the most competitive and important competitions in a brass band’s calendar as not only do they provide the opportunity to perform at the National Finals for the winners, but they also determine which section bands are graded in for competition purposes for other events. This year at the London & Southern Counties Area Contest however was particularly special for the band, as for the first time Regent Community Brass were competing after having been formed only 9 months ago in June 2012.
Competing in the 4th section under conductor Alan Duguid, the band were performing the set-work “Devon Fantasy” by Eric Ball alongside 16 other bands at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. Despite many of the members having never played at the area contest before, the band took to the stage full of confidence and delivered a musical performance which drew praise from many members of the audience. Fortunately, the performance also caught the ear of adjudicator Chris Davis who praised the band for it’s sound and soloists and placed them in 4th place overall, which was a huge achievement for the band and puts them in a good position to build on over the next year.
While this was Regent Community Brass’ first competition, Regent Brass have competed at the area contest each year since their formation in 1985 and were performing the very demanding “Harmony Music” by Philip Sparke in the Championship Section. Having only been promoted to this very competitive section in 2011, the band had recieved varied results over the last two years, coming 7th in 2011 and 9th in 2012, however with well-attended rehearsals, a stable and full membership and a very busy rehearsal schedule, the players were confident that we could improve on these in 2013. After a very productive mid-day rehearsal, the band took to the stage full of confidence and delivered perhaps their best performance of the piece which the players and conductor were very happy with.
At the end of the day, many members of the band were hopeful that they had done enough to perhaps achieve a placing in the upper-half of the results table, but satisfaction soon turned to euphoria when it was announced that Regent Brass had been placed 1st by adjudicator John Berryman and principal cornet Barbara King had won the “Best Cornet” prize. As London & Southern Counties Area Champions, the band also recieved an invite to compete at the National Finals in the Royal Albert Hall in October against the very best bands in the country for the first time since 1994 and only the second time in it’s short history.
The band understandably are absolutely delighted with the result and would like to extend their warmest congratulations to the Friary Guildford band who will be joining them in Kensington later in the year.