2022 British Open Championship — Contest Overview — 4barsrest


The 168th British Open Championship was always expected to take place under more considered circumstances this year, but there is always the opportunity to rejoice in respect and admiration.


Queen Elizabeth II had been patron of the British Open Championship since 1952

Even before the news of Her Majesty The Queen’s death, the 168th British Open Championship still took place against a more considered backdrop of circumstances than would have originally been contemplated when she returned from her two-year hiatus.

Thoughts

Events of any kind at the present time are invariably accompanied by thoughts of individual loss as well as community struggle – those of loved ones through Covid-19 as well as the economic pressures of a cost of living crisis. life at the top of them.

It may seem like a somewhat uncomfortable musical anachronism, then, that the variations on the Lutheran chorale, Edward Gregson’s “Nun danket alle Gott,” which will pit all 18 bands against each other and entertain a packed Symphony Hall audience, is titled “The World Rejoicing “.

However, this is not the case.

The original text by 17th century pastor Martin Rinkart certainly renders joyful thanks to God “with hands and hearts and voices, who has done wonderful things”, yet, as Catherine Winkworth’s 19th-century translation reveals, it also touches on more troubling concerns.

“And keep us in his grace,
and guide us when we are perplexed;
And free us from all evil,
in this world and in the next.

Rinkart was the only surviving pastor in the German town of Eilenburg from the plague of 1637 – one which saw him conduct up to 50 funerals a day.

How well he knew that any celebration of life was always accompanied by an acceptance of the ephemeral nature of mortality – whether of constitutional monarchs or of the poorest family members of our society.



The iconic Golden Shield awaits…

Premonitory text

Whatever your religious beliefs or political leanings, it’s a remarkably prescient piece of what’s happened in the past 24 hours or so.

This was certainly the reasoning behind the decision made by Martin and Karyn Mortimer and competition controller Frank Hodges following detailed discussions with Symphony Hall management.

With protocols, guidance, legal and financial ramifications to consider, their response focused the event on one of celebrating a lifetime of dedicated service to the nation – and which had seen the Queen offering its patronage of the Centennial Contest in 1952 to date.


Hopefully the atmosphere of the competition will reflect this too – the ever-joyful celebrations as the players and their conductor grab the golden British Open Shield, but perhaps on this occasion a bit more measured and respectfully restrained.



Title holder: Cory

Respectful Battle

Who it will be on this occasion is an intriguing question – one based less on year-on-year form than perhaps ever before.

That said, few would bet against Cory and Philip Harper to retain the title – the one they last celebrated in 2019 with victory over another work that celebrated life and loss, in Peter Graham. ‘Dynasty’.

Hat tricks?

They could well become the first band since Black Dyke in 1974 to claim a hat-trick of victories (albeit with that two-year break), although unlike the Queensbury band they won’t be barred from defending the title in 2024.

Philip Harper could also emulate history – becoming the first conductor since Leonard Lamb in 1964 to claim a personal treble of wins.

Philip Harper could also emulate history – becoming the first conductor since Leonard Lamb in 1964 to claim a personal treble of wins.

As they showed by retaining the European title here in May, they remain the group to beat, their record in this contest being remarkable to say the least.



Foden’s will look to add the British Open title to the national silverware

European rivals

However, there are rivals who are hot on their heels, including two who impressed a lot during these European championships. Both national champions Foden (who last won here in 2012, and Tredegar (2013) showed the full range of their considerable talents in May and will be confident of being in for a mix of titles again.

It’s been eight years since Black Dyke brought the trophy back to Queensbury, but having recently recorded the work for an upcoming CD and with Professor Nicholas Childs having a close affinity to Gregson’s major works, the Pondashers are quietly confident.

It’s been eight years since Black Dyke brought the trophy back to Queensbury, but having recently recorded the work for an upcoming CD and with Professor Nicholas Childs having a close affinity to Gregson’s major works, the Pondashers are quietly confident.

Amazingly, it’s been 44 years since the trophy traveled to Brighouse – although their doctor, Professor David King, certainly knows what it takes to get your hands on a Mortimer Maestro statuette as the winning conductor . The Australian already has four to his name with room we suspect for a fifth on his living room sideboard.

Impressive Yorkshire

Yorkshire certainly provides some impressive challengers.

Grimethorpe being Grimethorpe have been doing things their own way in recent months as they eye a partnership with thrilling Swiss conductor Michael Bach to claim a sixth victory – and a first since 2015.

Carlton Main Frickley is also looking overseas for a third Open title (1922 and 1958). Allan Withington won here ten years ago and his enlightened approach could well see them claim a first top six finish since 2011.

Be careful

Meanwhile, two black horses from Yorkshire should do well are Grand Shield winner Rothwell Temperance and Hammonds. Both were good value for their Albert Hall qualifiers at Huddersfield earlier in the year, while Rothwell was even more impressive winning at Blackpool.

Packed with young and more mature talent, David Roberts and Morgan Griffiths have built strong, high-quality outfits under their command. Which ones to watch?

Both were good value for their Albert Hall qualifiers at Huddersfield earlier in the year, while Rothwell was even more impressive winning at Blackpool.

Two other good-value back and forth bets for a top-six spot come in the form of Flowers, who is a remarkably consistent major championship contender under Paul Holland, and Desford, who benefits greatly from the us and the insight of Michael Fowles.

It could be a tight field neck and neck at the top of the scoreboard if all of these groups play at their best.

Past winners

Former WFEL winners Fairey and Leyland have had some ups and downs in recent years, but have solid records of success here over the past decade.

Swiss conductor Arsene Duc has a young band under his command (dotted with a few older heads), eager to impress, while Thomas Wyss showed him at the North West Area earlier this year, Leyland retains a veneer very persuasive music when the mood takes it.



Arsène Duc is one of eight overseas-based doctors taking part in the competition this year

In class

If Aldbourne play as well as they did winning the West of England region title earlier this year under the talented Ivan Meylemans then they will be confident of adding a second consecutive top 10 to their name, while a busy Northop was given a facelift last year.

This was shown in their qualification for the Grand Shield, but also by winning the National Eisteddfod of Wales title and qualifying for the Royal Albert Hall.

Meanwhile, NASUWT Riverside have shown they have progressed in class to the British Open (and Albert Hall) over the past two years with bold confidence, and although they have work to do to retain their status here, they won not lose it for lack of determination.

Scottish and French

The only Scottish and French representatives travel to Birmingham, also looking to impress – with the co-op group also needing a good result to stave off fears of possible relegation to the Grand Shield.

They’ve tapped Belgian-Swiss euphonium star Glenn Van Looy to lead them in an ambitious show, and it’s one that could stand them in good stead.

Paris, meanwhile, is making its long-awaited debut at the British Open.

Paris, meanwhile, is making its long-awaited debut at the British Open. They qualified after being runners-up at the 2019 European Championships and have undergone a number of personnel changes since, including their conductor.

After some contest uncertainty, Laurent Douvre got them back into shape by winning the Roland-Garros title, so they will be keen to show they can make their mark against their British rivals.

It’s worth rejoicing

The British Open Championship has faced many challenges over its history, including the cancellation of its event as early as 1859 and again in 1997.

And while 2020 and 2021 will also be marked in the record books with an asterisk, 2022 will hopefully remain for a very long time as the day when the oldest and most prestigious event returned with a show of respect and of community determination that echoed the finest values ​​embodied by its much admired patron.

It is certainly worth rejoicing over.

Iwan Fox

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