1996 - Most Successful Year

Winning the World Championship flute section at the Ulster Hall in Belfast on Saturday 19th October 1996 completed the most successful year in the long history of this well known band. This success meant that Ballygowan and their Musical director Dr. Windsor Hylands L.T.C.L. had gone through 1996 and won every major prize and every competition in which they had taken part.

The first contest was held at Carrickfergus Leisure Centre on the 24th February 1996, in one of the best Own Choice of music competitions ever held. Ballygowan won the Senior Championship in masterly fashion, and also won the interpretation prize and the percussion prize. In addition to the trophies awarded by the Flute Band League, the band also picked up a set of orchestral drums and a concert flute. The adjudicator was Mrs. Jean Savage L.T.C.L.

The Solo and Small Ensemble Contest was held in Cultra in April with more success, winning the May Trophy for the overall best band.

A trip to the Isle of Man Championship, held in the beautiful Gaiety Theatre on the 5th May 1996, the adjudicator being Mr. Andrew Rowan from Armagh. Again it was another first for Ballygowan, with prizes of £1,000, a trophy, a souvenir photograph of the band, and a plaque of Douglas presented by the Mayor and Mayoress of Douglas, Isle of Man.

Later in May, the Open Air March Competition, organised by the Flute Band League, was held at Taylers Avenue, home of Carrick Rangers Football Club. Ballygowan chose to play the march "True Comrades in Arms" and were awarded first prize by the adjudicator Mr. Fergus Cobain.

On the 19th June the Music of the Masters Contest was held in Portrush. This contest is organised annually by the Ballywillan Flute Band, and this year Mr. Russell Gray, Bandmaster of the Royal Irish Regiment was the musical judge, and Mr. Wilson Shields, conductor of the First Old Boys Silver Band was the entertainment and stage presentation judge. Ballygowan returned home with every prize open to them winning the march, musical performance, best entertainment, best stage presentation, best interpretation and the conductors award.Ballygowan Flute Band founded in 1876 now had one more hurdle to surmount to complete their year of success, this being the World Championship Flute - this year's music being "Suite for Jazz Orchestra No. 2" by Shostakovich, arranged for flute by Mr. David Heaney. The adjudicator was Mr. Fred Frayling-Kelly. Born in Glasgow and for the previous 20 years had been a lecturer in the Department of Music at Napier University, Edinburgh. Ballygowan finished in first place with 93 points. The icing on the cake was the fact that they also won the cup for the best piccolo player (Richard Douglas), best percussion, and best interpretation.

First prize for musical performance merits a cash award, the N.I.B.A. Cup, individual medals for the players, a framed certificate and two radio broadcasts on BBC radio Ulster Broadcast during 1997.This level of success requires very gifted musicians in every section of the band, dedication and determination to do justice to their performance on the day. Quality of tone, balance, clarity and intonation are essential. The task of the musical director is to blend all this together and communicate to the players his interpretation of the composer's intentions (especially those not given explicitly by notation).Ballygowan and Dr. Hylands certainly got this all together during 1996, and as stated, it was a very successful year.

Reported at the time by Robert McMurray (Senior)