Courtesy of 4barsest
The North West will send a brace of strong contenders to Cheltenham after Vernon Building Society Poynton and Rainford produced 'Essays' of technical and musical character to gain the qualification marks from judges Colin Hardy and David Hirst.
Edward Gregson's work proved a deceptively transparent ask of the fourteen contenders; each of its three sections requiring the mastery of contrasting styles and technical security - especially the central 'Soliloquy' with its tranquil echoes of Gilbert Vinter.
As a result, by the time many gave a rousing 'Epigram' to close, qualification chances had long been lost, whilst others could not match execution to intent as nervousness and a litany of unforced errors proved fatal.
The judges gave concise pre-results remarks - noting the challenges and pitfalls encountered, although they didn't mention the surprisingly poor levels of intonation which must have undermined a number of accounts.
Red letter Essay
However, for Vernon Building Society Poynton, 'Essay' proved to be a red letter day; with victory sending them to the Finals for the first time since 2004 as they captured a first Area title since 1975.
"We're thrilled to have won such a hard fought contest," MD Neil Samuel told 4BR. "We put the hard work in to master the difficult basics - especially note lengths and tempos, and we were lucky to have such gifted players to pull off the difficult solos with ease."
He added: "The piece appears easy, but it isn't. The tempos dictate the need for accuracy and clear, non-aggressive articulation. That's what we aimed to achieve. I'm a very proud conductor, as we have continued to move in the right direction and are making massive steps forward with every contest."
Those steps also enabled Poynton to overcome an excellent number 1 draw marker from rivals Rainford.