Sound of top 
brass in Selkirk

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Selkirk came top in the Borders’ brass bands as more than 400 musicians descended on the Royal Burgh’s Victoria Hall last Saturday for the 11th annual Borders Entertainment Contest, organised by the Scottish Borders Brass Band Association (SBBBA), writes Sandy Neil.

Twenty-one bands from both sides of Hadrian’s Wall battled it out – including six local bands – with entries from Fife, the Lothians, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire, as well as a couple of Border raiders from the north-east of England, and the Rushen Silver band from the Isle of Man.

The Victoria Halls rang with the sounds of brass throughout the day, with a great atmosphere and sense of competitive enjoyment, as the bands tried to impress the two judges for this year’s contest – Gordon Evans, from Couper Angus, well known in band circles for his work with the National Children’s Band of Scotland, and the talented young arranger and conductor, Paul Drury.

The overall winner was the Coalburn band from South Lanarkshire, which played Citius, Altius, Fortius, by Alan Fernie, Chuck Mangione’s Children of Sanchez (which also gained their flugel soloist the best instrumentalist prize), Vaughan Williams’ Prelude to the 49th Parallel, and finally, Dundonnell, by Philip Sparke.

The Coalburn band, conducted by Gareth Bowman, headed home with the Scottish Borders Trophy in their grasp, as well as the awards for best second section band, best percussion and best instrumentalist, all topped with £250 in prize money.

Narrow runners-up were debutants Kilmarnock Concert Brass, conducted by Raymond Tennant, who also picked up the best soloist prize for their soprano player, and best solo cornet.

Defending champions Tullis Russell from Fife had to make do with overall third place, but had the bonus of picking up best basses.

All three bands will now lock horns at the end-of-year battle at the Scottish Challenge Shield Contest in Perth Concert Hall on December 2.

In fourth place were Durham Miners Association band, whose authentic singing of The Blaydon Races won them the Entertainment award.

The two remaining prizes went to the host, the Selkirk Silver Band, who were judged to be not only the best third section band, but also took the much-coveted award of highest-placed band from the Borders.

SBBBA chairman Alan Fernie commented: “The band were declared excellent hosts, helped in no small way by the support given by many local businesses.”

The placings for the Borders brass bands were: Selkirk Silver (6th), Jedforest Instrumental (9th), Langholm Town (10th), St Ronans Silver (13th), Peebles Burgh (14th), and Hawick Saxhorn (19th).

The date for next year’s event is November 2 in Jedburgh Town Hall.