Last Sunday, 28th May, Ware Brass took part in the prestigious All-England Masters International Championship at The Lighthouse Theatre, Kettering. A contest that has, in the past, attracted such great brass banding names as Brighouse & Rastrick, Grimethorpe and Fodens.
Over recent years the contest has drawn in bands from the continent, hence the insertion of International into the Championship title some years ago. The contest is one of the brass band calendar’s finest, and so for Ware Brass to be invited was both an honour and a challenge. The test piece for the occasion was The Torchbearer by Peter Graham. Peter is one of the finest composers writing for the brass band medium at the moment, and his piece was a tribute to one of the all-time great brass band composers, Eric Ball. Taking a theme from the march Torchbearers by Eric himself, Peter took both the theme, and sections within in it, to create a very demanding work of some 13-14 minutes (depending on how brave bands were in taking the quick sections!). He also took snippets of other Eric Ball pieces and interwove them in to the work.
Ware Brass did not underestimate the task ahead and spent a number of weeks rehearsing this difficult piece – the hardest the band has ever encountered. As Phillip Littlemore, Musical Director, commented: “We entered this contest knowing that a high placing was beyond us. However, we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could enter a competition alongside some of the great competing bands and give a creditable performance. We achieved that, and I am proud of the band for all their hard work. I also want to add how impressed I was with our soloists who all played their technically demanding parts with great aplomb. Our final placing was not unexpected, but every one in the band was a true master on the day!”
The competition was won by Milnrow from the North West, with Brass Band Willebroek form Belgium taking second place and City of Bradford in third. Last year’s Champions and hotly-tipped pre-contest favourites Virtuoso GUS were fourth.