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Cheltenham 2019

National Brass Band Championships

A Festival of Music in Cheltenham

Many of you will already know that Kippax Band, as a result of becoming 3rd Section Yorkshire Regional Champions last March, qualified to compete in the National Brass Band Championships of GB at the iconic Cheltenham Racecourse, which took place on Sunday 15th September.

The test piece chosen by Kapitol Promotions was “Viking Age”, by Thierry Deleruyelle. The work is based on a series of four notes that appear in different forms, consisting of 4 movements: Northern Men, Explorer, Raids and Heritage. It is an impressive and spectacular piece, with lots of interesting and quite demanding parts for all sections of the band.  

For a snippet of the music try this link 

The band spent weeks preparing for the finals and had to deal with absences during the busy August holiday period. However, we had a good run up period and the team spirit was excellent as the band boarded the bus for Cheltenham on the Saturday 14th. We stayed at the Holiday Inn arranged by Stephen Rowley, which we shared with the eventual winners, the Uppermill Band and the England 5 a side football team. Our final rehearsal took place Saturday evening before sitting down to a group meal and the odd tipple.


The next morning we were drawn to play number 8 out of the 18 qualifying competing bands. This boded well for the first National Finals appearance of the band in many years. In fact the last time the band had won the Yorkshire area was 40 years ago. We made our way to the venue and prepared ourselves for our performance. The Music flowed well and was shaped nicely. 

4 Bars Rest (The Brass Band online magazine) said of our performance:-

“A well-judged opening section, with the MD bringing out the drama and tension in 'Northern Men'. There is impressive playing being heard here.

Percussion adds colours and textures to the adventurous 'Explorer' section which is well structured by the MD.

The cornet has a refined sound that really makes an impression in 'The Raid' and as we head to the 'Heritage' section, the conductor brings out not just the lyricism but also a sense of emotion within the music”.


“A very impressive show this, with lots of quality on display and a fine interpretation from the MD”.

Star Player:

“We'll go with the united percussion section, who brought plenty of colour, style and precision to the performance”.

Stephen Tighe also got a personal message from the editor of the British Bandsman Magazine and the CEO of Brass Bands England, congratulating us on a “lovely performance”, as well as a well done hug from the Yorkshire Regional Doyen and old friend of his Peggy Thomlinson. 

Playing against the best 18 bands at our grade in the country was always going to be tough, but we gained a 5th Place in this National Championships. The full results were:-

Section 3:

Sunday 15th September
Test Piece: Viking Age (Thierry Deleruyelle)
Adjudicators: Philip Harper, Paul Holland & Melvin White

1. Uppermill (Dean Redfern)
2. Taff Vale (Gareth Ritter)
3. Poole Borough (Lloyd Bartlett)
4. Gosport Solent (Colin Garner)
5. Kippax (Stephen Tighe)
6. Chichester City (Rom Stanko)
7. Stamford (Julian Bright)
8. Raunds Temperance (Jonathan Pippen)
9. Hawk Green (Marple) (Neil Hewson)
10. Bearpark & Esh Colliery (Phillip Tait)
11. Trimdon Concert (William Harrison)
12. Wetherby Silver (Derek Warley)
13. Epping Forest (Keith Schroeter)
14. Perthshire Brass (George Annan)
15. Usk (James Jones)
16. Valley Brass (Haydock) (David Chadwick)
17. South Molton Town (Gil Taylor)
18. Irvine & Dreghorn (Lewis Bettles)

This was a great experience for all the members of the band and everyone enjoyed our weekend. A bit of nerves uncharacteristically crept into our performance and we could have easily been a few places higher, but the result further confirms the progress the band has made since Stephen Tighe took over last September. We look forward to qualifying again next year and improving.

We must mention two people in particular who the weekend was eventful for. Firstly, Euan, who with his girlfriend caught the Eurostar Train to be with us on stage. Thank you Euan.

Also Paul Barrass, who sadly suffered a small heart attack after the contest. We must say we were impressed with the security staff at Cheltenham, who swung into action and the Cardiac Nurse who happened to be passing by and a fellow bondswoman, who assisted. We are extremely pleased with Paul’s recovery and he is back playing again.

So, what did we learn from this experience? Well, Stephen Tighe believes that we need to do more contests to solve the nerves issue. Onward and upward.

Listen to the recording of Kippax Band playing 'Viking Age'

Kippax Band-0292.jpg
  • YouTube
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