The X Factor? - 10 who have it, want it or need it in 2010


These X Factor people and events could well provide the reading on the barometer of the brass band movements general good health in 2010.

RNCM1. RNCM Festival of Brass

Not so much the bands or even the music that is being played – but the audience that it attracts.

This year’s event takes place at the same time as the Butlins Mineworker’s Championship – so is there more of an appetite for highbrow brass music making in Manchester, or the fun and games and big pay days in Skegness?

It will be interesting to see where the great and good decide to go and listen – the RNCM has not been awash with too many of the banding movement’s traditionalists in recent years. 

And is there enough of a brass band loving audience in the new decade for both events (and others for that matter) to compete against one another we wonder, or will organisers finally realise that they may need to talk to each other in the years to come if they such diverse events are to survive?

plc2. Paul Lovatt-Cooper

He certainly has his fans – and his critics, but will PLC suffer from the brass band equivalent of a pop group’s ‘second album syndrome’ – so that ‘Sleepless Cities’ will become the equivalent of Musical Youth’s follow up release to his chart topping ‘Within Blue Empires’.

Opinions are divided so far we hear in the bandrooms up and down the country – from it being yet another audience winner to a piece of over familiar regurgitation.

So is PLC in danger of being milked dry by demand, or has one of the most popular brass band composer’s done it again and given the public just what they want? 

Has he still got the X Factor in fact? The result will be announced at Skegness.

Greighall3. Open Adjudication

Has the last taboo finally been breached? The Elite bands at this year’s Norwegian Championships will be judged in the open - not a box, tent, screen or old bed sheet to be seen.

Could the Norwegians be setting the agenda for the way in which we judge brass band contests in the next decade?

It may take a while for the Brits to follow suit, but this could well be the first move towards the judges being in the open in the lower sections at the Regionals in the next ten years.

King4. David King at Brighouse

If ever a conductor had the X Factor then David King was the Leona Lewis of the banding world.

Time waits for no man though and despite the encouraging start, there have been rumblings and rumours that not all has been plain sailing on board the good ship Brighouse.

If he gets it right then he will be able to take over from Simon Cowell, marry Cheryl Cole and live in a golden palace in West Riding for the rest of his life - but if he gets it wrong, and it doesn’t work out, where next for the Wizard of Oz?

Has he still got the X Factor then?

rah5. The Regionals

Numbers, numbers, numbers. 100 bands gone in the past ten years, bands struggling with finances and players, a lack of quality conductors and adjudicators, the lower sections down to the bare bones in entrants in many areas?

All this and we have four area contests on the same weekend this year. 

The numbers will tell us all if the whole Regional contesting structure is in need of a desperate X Factor overhaul. Some contests this year could be as enjoyable a concert by the Jedward twins.

Lippeatt6. Stan Lippeatt

Some may say adjudicators never had the X Factor in the first place, but the appointment of Stan Lippeatt as the new Chairman of the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators could well signal the start of a quiet revolution from the tent.

In addition to Stan, there is a new executive is in place too, each with strong opinions and with plenty of recent contesting experience.

ABBA has come under fire and has been found wanting of late, but could the second decade of the 21st century see them take a lead role in shaping brass band contests for the years to come?

rah7. The Nationals Music Panel

Will the Music Panel continue to give its X Factor votes to the likes of Percy Fletcher, Vaughn Williams, Denis Wright etc, or can the movement’s premier National contests survive another year of pastiche and reheated second hand dog’s dinners of test pieces?

Will the judgement panel of Morris, Evans, Hope, Buckley and Maines finally look forward instead of back when it comes to the future of brass band test piece composition? 

There is plenty of young X Factor talent waiting in the wings for a chance to be thrust into the Nationals spotlight at regional or finals level.

We will wait and see…..

Symphony Hall8. The British Open 

The Grand Dame of the contesting movement in the UK appears to be at a crossroads – an event that despite its grandeur has started to look a little frayed around the edges and is fast reaching its sell by date. 

Can the contest accept the need for change and reinvention – as a talent show goes its as dated as 'Opportunity Knocks'.

Will the organisers be brave enough to make the British Open ‘open’ to all the banding world, not just the dominions and the USA, or will it retain its 'Little Britain' outlook as the rest of the world looks on?   


EBBA9. European Championships

Linz in Austria could well be a defining moment in the history of the European Championships.

With spiralling costs for competing bands (from travel to own choice commissions), can EBBA reign in its more grandiose ideas of expansionism? EBBA needs European Union money if it is to build on its core strengths for the championships and for its organisation, but as yet it has failed to get a single Euro to help fund its plans.

Will they therefore be forced to hold future events only in countries where governments give a helping financial hand – and not worry too much about which bands actually can afford to compete?

bfbb10. The British Federation of Brass Bands

Can the BFBB finally wake up to the fact that it needs to change and change quickly, or will it continue to run on its inevitable course of decline?

The opportunity is there for it to set the agenda for banding in England, but is there a real appetite to do just that? Being a contest organiser is surely not a blueprint for future prosperity?


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