2008 has seen Carlton Brass in the First Section for the very first time in its history, and so the band was expecting a tough task at this year’s area contest in Bedworth. The chosen test piece, James Cook Circumnavigator by Gilbert Vinter, was a difficult piece and we had spent many extra rehearsals polishing our performance.

It would be fair to say that every band had its problems with James Cook on the day and the winners, the excellent Glossop Old, were clearly superior to all the other contenders in the section. However, we somehow managed to produce a polished, sympathetic performance of the test piece and were rewarded with a superb fourth place. Considering that this was our first year in the higher section this was an outstanding result and something that we’re all very proud about.

The only disappointment was the fact that, yet again, we had missed out on a trip to the National Finals by a single place. This has happened four years in a row now and you have to wander what we have to do to get that extra place higher up!

This was only a minor disappointment, though, as we were not expecting to be doing quite so well. Our fellow debutantes, Phoenix West Midlands Brass, also did superbly on the day and finished in an impressive second place. Carlton Brass congratulates the prize winners (not forgetting the talented Hathern Band in third) and wishes them well in Harrogate.

4barsrest, the excellent Brass Band news website, had this to say about our performance:

In fourth place and just missing out on a trip to the final it was another First Section debutante in the form of Carlton that succeeded in achieving a highly impressive transition to the higher level. From this point in the results it is fair to say that the quality of playing was considerably more variable with Carlton’s strengths lying in astute direction from Walter Richie, an admirable attempt to capture the atmosphere of the score and an excellent contribution from the band’s solo cornet player.

The band sound did tend to the brash at times and there was some occasionally shaky ensemble on display but this was a brave attempt that more than proves Carlton’s capability of competing at this level.

An encouraging review and with some good bands finishing below us at the contest we will be taking some extra confidence with us to next year’s Area. Bedworth Civic Centre has proven to be an excellent venue for the Midlands Area and we shall be looking forward to our return in 2009.

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