Many thanks to Charlotte for stepping forward and volunteering to review the first half of our 2017 National Championships.
Cadence Juniors – ‘The Golden Ticket’
4th Place 49.68
It is always hard to be first onto the field, however considering the younger age of majority of the members there didn’t seem to be any nerves from the members, just the buzz of excitement for their performance and the day.
Before a single note was played, Cadence started their show with some very creative gymnastics from their Drum Major, Marc Knight, before taking the salute. All the members were confident in their playing in all the musical movements. The young girl playing the glockenspiel in the 2nd movement was very focused and kept fantastic timing whilst playing the iconic ‘Pure Imagination’ motif.
A massive well done has to be said to the soloists at the beginning of the 2nd movement, the pace of the piece contrasted with their opening movement and they approached this really maturely and created a lovely tone with their respective instruments.
My eyes kept being drawn throughout the performance to the very hard working ‘Oompa Loompas’ who were working on Willie Wonka’s river of chocolate that was placed towards the back of the design field, this was really well supported by the guard’s use of less conventional equipment that included lollipops and candy canes!
All the guard members worked hard to add colour to the show and produced a smiley and cheerful performance that suggested they enjoyed working in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory.
Overall it was a very enjoyable performance that left me smiling about the mature level of performance for a corps of such a young age.
Warwick Corps of Drums – ‘Disney Villains’
3rd Place – 60.95
I was intrigued at the start of this show with the use of 2 portrait screens that had been painted black, placed towards the back of their design field, alongside the landscape screen at the front of the design field with their show title clearly displayed.
As their show progressed and I saw the screens in use they are a fantastic design feature to their show as they were used not only to ‘hide’ the members to enable a focus on the soloists at the start of the show, but also as visual clues to the music being played by the members throughout the performance. The soloist at the start of the show playing the main theme from ‘When you wish upon a star’ was clear and confident and set a high standard for the duets, solos and whole corps performances that followed.
It is rare to start a performance with a ballad, but this was insightful and worked really well for Warwick. The percussion section were used effectively between the frontline in the ballad and as a marching battery on the field for next 2 movements, they had a good sense of rhythm and timing with each other and really pushed the corps forward. The lone member of the frontline during their 2nd and 3rd movements was very confident in her role and added a lot of depth to the performances with a range of auxiliary instruments.
A big mention has to go to the guard….I do not think I have seen such a smiley guard, who were literally grinning from ear to ear throughout their performances and demonstrated their love of what they do in their performances. In addition to the guard equipment work, there were two small ‘dalmation puppies’ who performed their tails off! It is lovely to see a range of equipment and character work in such a young group.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to Warwick’s performance and I was left humming ‘Be Prepared’ to myself even as the next corps was entering the field.
Stafford Lancers – ‘Beauty and the Beast’
1st Place – 66.20
As a Disney fan, I was excited to watch a second performance that included such iconic music and Stafford Lancers did not disappoint in any way, shape or form.
I had chills running down my spine by their use of the overture from the film to set the scene with character work on the field and the vocals from a member of the frontline to start their show and was eagerly anticipating where they would move to next. The trumpet and mellophone duet was well balanced and very sweet in its tone with the two brass members playing confidently and really feeling the music.
This was supported not only by members of the brass and percussion, but also with the colour and movements seen in the guard with the use of the flags in this aspect of the show. Often in performances we see the Drum Major engaging well with their corps, however not so much with the audience, it was lovely to see their Drum Major, Heather Hughes, address and engage the audience in ‘proudly presenting’ their 2nd musical movement ‘Be Our Guest’.
The members clearly particularly enjoy this piece of music, the bass drummers were confident in their timing and kept a strong beat enabling a strong brass sound and guard members to perform with their cutlery props, flags and rifles whilst all the time smiling and engaging with the audience and judges.
The ending of the performance gave me goosebumps with a sweetly haunting duet between trumpet and baritone of ‘Tale as Old as Time’ with a superb accompaniment by the young girl playing the marimba.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to such a balanced and well thought out performance that played to the strengths of the members, but has also challenged them in different ways.
Christ Church Ashton CLCGB
2nd Place – 62.67
This was an enjoyable contrast to the previous three corps who had a ‘drum corps’ theme, and I fully respect the challenge and difference in the physical and musical movements of a more traditional band.
All sections were confident in what they had been asked to achieve and put out a superb performance. The range of dynamics presented by this unit were fantastic and really helped to shape their music and allow lead sections to be heard clearly no matter where they were staged on the field.
I loved the range of music presented combining a mixture of traditional music for Bb cavalry bugles alongside more modern pieces played confidently and with great timing on the marching mallets. Although smaller in numbers the drum line clearly demonstrated that they can by mighty in sound!
The drum cadence in particular demonstrated the high level of skill these individuals have not only with the cleanliness of their buzz rolls and syncopated rhythms, along with the wide range of dynamics they demonstrated throughout their performance.
Visually I loved the accuracy of the counter marching and the change of pace from different sections at different times. Alongside this the performance visuals from the cymbalist really added the final touches to what was a fabulous performance.
Warwick Community Band
I will be honest and say I was not sure what to expect from Warwick Community Band, what instrumentation will they be using? What style of music will they be performing? However when they marched single file onto the field and I saw the range of brass, woodwind and marching percussion that would be included alongside the kit already on the field I was impatiently anticipating their chosen opening number.
I loved seeing and hearing the use of the soprano saxophone, as this is not an overly common instrument that you see in community or marching bands. The marching percussion were sympathetic in their dynamics and added a traditional feel to a range of music genre choices.
Throughout all the musical movements I really enjoyed listening to the intricate counter melodies played on the clarinets and the flutes that added extra depth to the performances. My toes were tapping away to their 2nd musical movement ‘At the Hop’ with a very cool, laid back kit drummer leading the way. The warm tones from the alto saxophones gave that ‘doo-wop/rock and roll’ feel that was supported by the tenor saxophone and trombone.
No band repertoire would be complete without ‘Sing, Sing, Sing’, the kit drummer gave a fantastic solo introduction to this particular piece enabling the solo clarinettist to really ‘get into the swing’ of the music, with some fantastic ‘growls’ from the trumpets to give that authentic Benny Goodman sound. I was having a good dance in my seat to this particular movement, which continued with Warwick’s finale and crowd pleaser ‘Sweet Caroline’, it was a beautiful rendition that was well supported by the audience.
Overall after not being sure what to expect from the instrumentation and repertoire of Warwick Community Band, I thoroughly enjoyed their performances and the range of music that they played.
Alderley District Scout Band
I was looking forward to once again hearing a different style of music coming from Alderley District Scout Band, and they did not disappoint!
It was a very confident group of people who took to the field in the afternoon and rightly so as their movement and playing was clear and strong from every member on the field.
It was superb to see more traditional military movements from the band as a whole with single and half time marching alongside some really close knit counter marching demonstrated towards the end of their performance, but also the military style visuals on side slung snares with the high stick heights. I particularly enjoyed the ‘jazzy’ feel to their performance of ‘The Entertainer’ alongside the stark contrast of traditional movements gave their performance a satisfactory juxtaposition that as an audience member I found exceptionally engaging.
The articulation of the brass line was fantastic, however in the brass feature it was superb and challenging at the best of times, even more so on valveless cavalry instruments, they had me smiling and cheering them on throughout.
The drumline throughout the performance added a lot of depth to the performance and kept a steady pace throughout, however at the same time demonstrated a good level of dynamics that enabled the main voice to be heard at all times. However that being said they really went for it and were very impressive with their impeccable timing changes between their rudiments during their percussion feature and their visuals during the same section.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching again another contrasting more traditional performance and seeing the versatility of the instrumentation and the individuals involved.