ABBA's Waterloo? - The judges get new leadership and homework


C Brian Buckley reports from the AGM of the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators, where new leadership and plenty of test piece homework were on the wintery agenda.

ABBAThe Annual General Meeting of the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators (ABBA) was held at the Cleckheaton Sports Club, near Bradford on Sunday 3rd January.


The convenient venue is located almost alongside Junction 26 of the M62 motorway, but the extremely wintry weather conditions experienced in the UK during the New Year festivities contributed to a lower attendance than usual for the early morning AGM.
The current Chairperson, Derek Broadbent had held the post for 4 years, so was due to retire at this meeting. His nominated and duly unanimously elected successor to the important role was Stan Lippeatt, who paid tribute to the manner in which Derek had steered ABBA during his  term of office, before presenting him with a small gift for his unstinting work on behalf of the organisation.


Of course, Stan Lippeatt (below) is yet another well known personality to be elected to lead ABBA and he made it clear that he was keenly aware of the need to consider the concept of beneficial change to aid transparency of the adjudication process and succession planning for the future.

Alan Morrison was re-elected to the Executive Committee and was joined by two high profile appointments in Peter Roberts and Jim Davies, both of whom have extensive and successful track records to support their input to the leadership of ABBA. They join the current members of the Executive Committee, Major Peter Parkes, Simone Rebello and Kevin Wadsworth.

The remaining Officers; C. Brian Buckley, Colin Hardy and Malcolm Brownbill continue in their existing posts of Secretary, Treasurer and Public Relations respectively. 
Self Categorisation

Changes to the Rules and Constitution of ABBA were also approved to enable the important ‘Self Categorisation of Members’ initiative to proceed without undue delay. 

The afternoon session saw a ‘Test Piece Workshop’, held in conjunction with the National Association of Brass Band Conductors (No.2 Area).

The test pieces for the three lower sections of the 2010 Regional Contests were studied, which was open for all enthusiasts to attend, (free of charge) and take an active part.

ABBA member Ian Brownbill introduced Philip Sparke’s ‘Saint-Saens Variations’, the selected music for the Fourth Section, before the band played the piece in its entirety.

There followed a prolonged discussion on many aspects of the music; with tempos, dynamic contrasts and the negotiating of musical linkages being discussed and demonstrated by the band and conductor at some length!

It was generally considered that the piece provided a stern test for Fourth Section bands.

Labour style

Major Peter Parkes introduced the Third Section set work, ‘Labour and Love’, Percy Fletcher’s first original music for brass band contests.

Taking the baton to emphasize his approach to this well-worn score, it was obvious that the preparation for this music needed a full understanding of the composer’s written instructions that convey the style needed to succeed.

A great deal of attention was given during the discussion and repetition of sections of the music that will certainly challenge Third Section bands in the requirements for contrasting soloists and the accompaniments. Rhythmic accuracy and phrasing will also need close attention.
Beware Dragons 

Philip Harper, the composer of the Second Section set work, ‘Kingdom of Dragons’, introduced his music, explaining that this was a commissioned work to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Greater Gwent Youth Brass Band.

Written in four linked movements, each movement portraying the history of the geographical areas of the four Unitary Authorities that now support youth music in this part of South East Wales. 

In direct contrast with the other test pieces studied this music has considerable percussion input, in particular to reflect the mining and heavy industry of Blaenau Gwent. To advise and assist in explaining how to resolve queries from inexperienced percussionists, Simone Rebello gave a fascinating insight into the techniques needed to play brush rolls on a snare drum, how to extract the optimum ‘sizzle’ from a sizzle cymbal and the correct beaters to use for tom-toms.  

She also expertly revealed just the sound needed to portray a metal beater on metal blocks without totally overbalancing the rest of the band!


This very well attended workshop was extremely helpful to the delegates.  There is an obvious need for this joint approach to help competing bands raise their standard of performance at Regional Contests and other similar events too.

Derek Broadbent, who chaired the workshop, and Ted Griffiths (Chair of NABBC -No.2 Area), expressed their appreciation to the delegates who had braved the wintry weather to make this event worthwhile, and to Skelmanthorpe Band who were resilient and tolerant of the many suggested approaches to performing the test pieces that were made during the event.

Minimum of fuss

MD John Roberts had prepared the band in his usual thorough manner, so that the ideas put forward by delegates could be tried with the minimum of fuss.

This was a successful, well prepared and well attended joint venture that surely pleased the delegates and the joint sponsors - 4BarsRest and Kapitol Promotions Ltd.

C. Brian Buckley


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