Comments ~ 2001: September


Comments from September 2001

Doctors examination...
I enjoyed reading your review of last Sunday's "Best of British Brass" concert in Birmingham, including your comments on my new piece which BAYV Cory Band premiered. I am delighted to be described as "insouciant" - especially since I have now looked the word up in the dictionary!

Regarding my piece, it is understandable that you and the audience were a little taken aback by the abruptness of its ending: this was actually intentional, as I was asked to write a short "curtain-raiser" to the rest of the programme. If you are raising the curtain you don't want to bring it crashing down as soon as it has been lifted do you? I deliberately tried to write something that would seem unfinished - the prelude to bigger things.

Your review called the piece "Fanfare" and, indeed, that was how the programme-book described it. The real title was "Invocation" - a word perhaps less likely to arouse false expectations than "Fanfare". Sadly this was yet another inaccuracy in what you rightly criticise as a sloppy publication. Even assuming (charitably) that the information submitted by the bands was incomplete or inaccurate, that's no excuse for the compilers producing such an incompetent mess. The first rule of all publishing should be "check, double-check and check again". How would it be if I put an error-laden new score of mine in front of performers without properly checking every note? They would rightly question my professionalism.

I have just attended the new Welsh National Opera production of "Leonore". Their 61-page programme-book includes six wonderfully informative articles on the work, together with many illustrations, eight of them in colour. All for 2.50. If WNO, with all their financial problems, can produce such a fine booklet, how can the compilers of the "Best of British Brass" programme-book justify charging 2.00 for their rag?

Symphony Hall seats 2,000. On Sunday most of those seats were sold and I think most of the audience had bought a programme. Even allowing for printing costs, this suggests to me that someone somewhere made a rather nice profit. As it quite clearly failed to serve its purpose (namely to give accurate information about the concert), perhaps those who bought programmes should demand their money back!

Dr. John Pickard

4BR reply:
Many thanks for the e mail. We must agree with you concerning the programme and its contents - it was more than a little sloppy of the organisers not to have confirmed with the band the title of two of the pieces BAYV Cory were to perform, and to get their name right to boot!

The Battle Song was a very worthy inclusion from a composer we think just about no one in the audience had even heard of - what an output though, especially after he was 80 years old!

Many thanks for confirming the correct title of your own work. We too were sloppy in not reporting it correctly, especially after Robert Childs announced the correct title from the stage. Apologies. Very interesting it was too - will there be more from your pen?

As to our description of you - well it just seemed to be the right word we could think of for your bravura performance! It's nice for an audience to actually learn something about a piece of music for a change before it's actually performed.

Preston praise...
Give us a break, the Guildhall at Preston has a cracking acoustic and is set amongst thousands of pubs and curry houses. I can see little more other than the beer being free that anyone would want! We recommend the Naseeb on Church Street for food and the Stanley next door to the Guildhall for a good selection of beers at Northern Prices.

Dave and Jannine Aston, Besses o' th' Barn and Proud Prestonians!

4BR reply:
Neither of us had ever been to Preston before the weekend and it came of something of a pleasant surprise to us. The Hall was great, and the beer tasted OK as well. We had a very nice Chinese meal and the hotel was very comfortable! We can't say we'll book our holidays there for next year, although we did meet the snooker player Fergal O'Brien who told us he was there with his wife as a treat - but you never know.

Technical problems? - yeah, right!
Hi lads. Excellent site, I'm really enjoying your coverage of the Nationals. The band I won with at the Yorkshire Area 3rd Section contest in March played yesterday. Unfortunately I couldn't be there, but I was following proceedings from work. The technical problems that you encounter are a bit frustrating though. Wouldn't have anything to do with spilt beer on the keyboard would it??!! All the best to you, and keep up the good work.

Martin Smith

4BR reply:
Thanks Martin. We did encounter a few minor glitches over the weekend, but only in the bar in our hotel did we encounter problems with beer on the keyboard! Hope it didn't spoil your enjoyment of what was a great weekend's banding - the glitch is something to do with the amount of information we try to send down a mobile phone or something. Anyway, we'll try to get it right in time for the Nationals in London.

Percussion shortage...
Just a quick email to point out, and I may be wrong, that West Mercia Constabulary had 4 percussionists on stage that I counted and not two as you stated in your article, the fact that they were not very good might have made you think that there was only two. I played the timp part for Bearpark & Esh and noticed that their timp player didn't do very well, and it was all too quiet. Please note that I am not having a go at him or sour grapes, just pointing out that you may be wrong in your article.

Alan Beaumont

4BR reply:
Apologies if we were wrong, but we thought there were only two we could see. (Were they small policemen?) We pointed out that we felt that there were some problems in the percussion because in the last movement the cymbal part went missing after the first four bars. If we are wrong then apologies all round. As for Bearpark - it was a pretty good effort and we did mention the bongo player! Was it you?

Technical problems...
Well done on keeping us all informed on what was going on. You did however admit to certain a human weakness by conveniently developing a computer problem and thus leaving your posts for the call of the bar after listening to only 35 bands. What is banding stamina? Playing one test piece, listening to 35 test pieces or staying in the bar until closing? Thank you again for your dedication to all the various 'e-banding' duties. What no reports of the bands' performances in the bars!!!

Chris B

4BR reply:
We did have a few problems on the technical front (as those of you who logged in about halfway through the 4th Section found out), but it wasn't anything to do with us sneaking out for a pint and a pie! We get a problem with the transfer of the information to the site through a mobile phone, but we still managed to get the information about each bands performance up within an hour. We made our opinions within a couple of minutes of the band playing and we don't change them. They go up on the site as soon as possible (complete with spelling mistakes) and they are done in the hall and not in the bar (even though we were gasping for a pint or two) Many thanks for the kind words on our stamina - both our girlfriends feel it an area we must improve upon!

More Preston praise...
Just to say thanks for keeping us all up to date during the last couple of contests, and for your honest opinions on performances. Great to see you in the Guild Hall at Preston listening to every performance, not an easy task! You must have listened to nearly 80 performances this weekend, probably more than enough for the year! Andy Cattanach

4BR reply:
We did hear all 68 performances and at times it was great and at others like pulling teeth, but at least no one can say we didn't hear their band. We stick by what we said, even though it scupperred most of our pre contest predictions. We enjoyed the whole weekend and the atmosphere was great, especially in the Fourth Section. We sat with Alan Jenkins of Brass Band World who also did the full 68 bands so you should get a fair picture of what we both thought if you read us and then read the BBW. Many thanks for saying hello. Once a year is more than enough for us.

Preston again...
Well done on your coverage of the Nationals at the week-end. Maybe it would be better if you good people were in the box with your clear and un-biased comments. Although I'm sure you didn't mean to put the "Jinx" on my band (making us one of the favourites in Section 4) maybe we should call you the Trevor Brooking of the Brass Band world!! Thanks for all the interest in our lot at Nottingham but please don't tip us for Pontins!!!

Paul Watson, Carlton Brass

4BR reply:
Thanks Paul. We don't know if we are as good or as useless as Mr Brooking, but we certainly enjoyed the 4th Section as a whole and thought the standard was very good. There were some super shows from the bands that came in the prizes, but please don't put us in the box - we want open adjudication! As for Pontins - we can assure you that we won't tip you for the title. Perhaps that will give you the little bit of luck you need.

Harsh words...
Your website is fantastic and I'm sure of great interest to all brass band players and fans. There is so much news and information, far better than some brass band magazines I could mention! Thank you for the coverage of the National Finals. To get the results of the contests the same night was great although I'm not sure about your predictions and your comments about each Bands' performance!!! My Band, United Co op Crewe competed in section 1 and I would like to think your comments were a little on the critical side!!! Keep up the good work.

Heather Smyth

4BR reply:
Many thanks for the kind comments about us and we hope you continue to enjoy what we are trying to do. Sorry you felt we were a bit critical, but we thought it was all a bit up tempo from the word go and that a bit less sped would have given the band a higher placing. We were a bit disappointed in the standard of playing in the 1st section and the bands that did well seemed to have taken their time a bit more. Hope you have better luck next time.

Thanks for the comments...
Just to say I enjoyed your comments on the band (Shirland Training Welfare) See you in the third section next year!

Emma, Shirland Training Band

4BR reply:
Thanks Emma. As you are such a young band, we hope the celebrations didn't go on too long into the night. Well done to you all though and especially your conductor who deserves a real pat on the back for the way she prepared the band. All that and she wore the best spangly top we've seen for a while. We hope to see you again next year at the Finals in Section Three.


Unfair play?
Interesting to note that the rep - Mr. Guy played the solos for Cory - Just wondering if this mention would get Cory disqualified in some way from the contest. Is there some rule which says that the players for whom the parts were written must play them. I'm thinking of the no manuscript rule - poss better not to mention those little facts?

M Pickin, East Sussex.

4BR Reply:
There's no rule as far as we know that stops any player performing
another's part on stage - if that was the case we think just about every band on the day at the Open would have been disqualified. Cory did no worse than any other on the day, and in fact it worked very well. As it was only two small parts we don't think it really made much of a difference. Theirs was a superb performance in defence of their title
and could have been worthy winners on any other day.

Putting us straight...
Hi Chaps - many thanks for your excellent page and the write up on John Doyle. Is it possible for you to amend the name of John's first band to Lostock Hall Memorial Band near Preston and not Lockstock and also Ronnie Heyes not Hayes. Ron is my husband and he will be very proud when he reads this about John but I thought it would be nice to get spellings correct. Thanks for your help.

Jean Heyes - Sec. Besses o'th'Barn Band

4BR Reply:
Many thanks for pointing out our mistake Jean. We did the interview over the phone on Sunday morning when neither myself or John were quite at our best so we apologise due to circumstances beyond our alcoholic control.

We did know that John was delighted he won and was very insistent that we made full mention of the debt of thanks he owes Ron.

A big thank you to all of your crew from someone who was stuck at home on the day of the Open! It was great to follow things as they happened through the day. I must however have missed something .......... why were there no points?

Jim Corrigan

4BR Reply:
The reason for not awarding points we understand is that over the years it has become a rather pointless (excuse the pun) exercise. All we really need to know is who are the winners, and this year we had James Scott explain what the adjudicators were looking for from the stage. This made so much more sense and was a welcome occurrence. Lets hope it can now be done every year - it made things so much clearer.

A Yanks thanks...
From a Yank who still remembers fondly the 5 months he hung around the Grantham Concert Band and the quick blow he had with the Band in Aberystwyth. Twelve years ago, but still fresh in the mind. Glad I stumbled upon your site...the style is fresh and not stodgy ... very entertaining and informative!! The live summary of the Open was particularly welcome.

You're all so bright & clever that I would have thought all of you were euph players. Surprised to see that you aren't ;-)

Jim Williams (Indianapolis, Indiana, USA)

4BR Reply:
Many thanks Jim for kind comments both about the Open coverage and for your time in Wales. It's nice to know we have some fans in the USA - you are always most welcome. Our kindest regards and thoughts have really been with you and your fellow countrymen and women in the past week.

Cheers Moira!
Thank you very much for making me feel that I was sitting in the contest hall listening to all the performances. I was online most of the day checking on your comments. I could feel the atmosphere in your very words and really felt I should be there. This was next best but must make an effort to go next time. I even poured myself a morgans and coke and toasted YBS. Really chuffed they won as they are coming to Aberdeen in December to play in our Music
Hall. Thanks again to the whole team - excellent work and much appreciated.

Moira Ross

4BR Reply:
Thanks Moira - hope you didn't get too drunk on the result! We tried to make the contest come to life for those not able to attend, and although we had a few problems towards the end of the day, we think we gave it a good stab! We were knackered though!

Davies v Williams...
As a supporter of Cory Band for the last 30 years I was rather shocked by your suggestion in your Welsh fantasy line up that Ian Williams (a superb cornet player in his own rights) could ever surpas the virtuoso of all cornet players Jim Davies with his un-matched quality contest performances and glittering concert appearances over the last three decades !
Principal cornet playing of Jim's calibre was greatly amiss at last Saturdays Open - and Brighouse and Rastrick have greatly missed the sparkling, warm, rich sound that Jim brought to their otherwise robust sound.

I recently purchased the now rare Jim Davies solo CD 'Evergreen' and hold it amongst the best soloists albums ever - it shows a master technician with a unique lyrical sound which will never be matched. I was privaledged to meet this most modest of our musicians and Wales owes him a big debt of gratitude for his sevices to the movement. I know that he is still in great demand as a soloist and conductor - but to me will always be the star who led Cory to their 80s hatrick and the sound that moved the great Albert Hall to tears 'On Alderly Edge' to win his 5th National with Brighouse in 97.

I wish Ian Williams a sparkling future and if he only manages to achieve half of what Jim has in 30 years he will have achieved greatly! Thank you for a most interesting site.

K.Thomas. (Gwent)

4BR Reply:
Our article about the "Fantasy brass bands" did in fact have some ground rules to it which we did in fact advertise right at the beginning. All the players chosen for any country had to be still actively playing, and also playing for bands in their home country. This is why we could not pick Jim Davies (as much as he deserved to be in our Welsh squad).

Jim Davies has been a superb player for over 30 years and has been a
credit to Welsh banding - his non inclusion was in no way a slight upon him. Ian
Williams for us is the best Welsh cornet player since Jim left to do some missionary work in Yorkshire and is a worthy successor and a brilliant and underrated player by many.

Perhaps when we get to picking our "All Time Great Welsh Band" both will be there fighting for the Principal Cornet spot.

Kirky calls...
Isn't it about time you reviewed the new CD from The Kirkintilloch Band? It received a great review in The British Bandsman nearly a month ago but appears not to have reached you at 4BR

John Needham

4BR reply:
We would love to be able to review the new Kirkintilloch CD, but we have a problem. As we only do this site as a part time hobby we haven't got the dosh to go out and buy CD's to review. We have to rely on the companies to send us a copy free of charge or borrow one off a friend who has just bought one!

If someone would like to lend us a copy (we will return it!) we will certainly review what seems to be a pretty good release if the rumours are true.

Facts and figures...
Great website, fully of interesting articles and I like the results section. Can I just correct a couple of points in the section on facts and figures on the British Open Brass Band championships.

1. The last Band to win at Belle Vue was the City of Coventry Band playing Variations on a Ninth by Gilbert Vinter.
2. 1992 was the first year the bands played at the free Trade Hall and this was won by Besses o'th' Barn. I played first horn with them. Keep up the good work

Mike Briggs

4BR reply:
Thanks Michael, We didn't do it deliberately and it has now been pointed out to us. We hang our heads in shame!

As for you and 1992??? Pot and Kettle come to mind - We all make mistakes! Many thanks though, and we hope you continue to enjoy our efforts

101 not quite...
78. Arthur Kenny wins his only Open title in 1981 with City of Coventry who pip a new band called Leyland Vehicles for the title.
79. The last Open at Belle Vue sees Besses win for the first time since 1959 under Roy Newsome. To date, Besses have won the title on seven occasions the first in 1892. They win by two points from Fairey's. David Read appears in the box for the first time.

79. should be :- The last Open at Belle Vue (in 1981), sees City of Coventry win for the first and only time under Arthur Kenny.

Ian Scott

4BR reply:
Thanks Ian for pointing out our mistake - it was a bit lazy of us not to check it out. You are fully correct - City of Coventry were the last winners of the Open at Belle Vue in 1981. Sorry!!!

Really enjoyed browsing this excellent site. I found the articles to be both informative and entertaining. The design is fantastic; very clear and easy to navigate. Keep up the sterling work.

Leigh Anthony Phillips

4BR reply:
Nice to see we even got to the darkest corners of the Welsh valleys. Hope you continue to enjoy what we are trying to do.

More info please...
Is there any chance that a list could be assembled of the current names of brass bands along with their history i.e. their original names and so on? Many thanks

Name and address supplied

4BR reply:
I wish we could! I'm afraid we haven't got the time or the resources just yet, but if the bands themselves could send us something we would be delighted to have a look at it and possibly include it in our pre contest previews and reviews. Anyone fancy doing something on their band?

Fiction not fact?
In No.51 could I point out that The Templemore Band were placed 5th in 1959.

You didn't correct information I sent on the Carnegie and Australian contest that I sent you back in April. This is all now history but it was important to me at the time. Great site though,keep it going.

Brian Conolly

4BR reply:
Sorry Brian, but our information is that Templemore did not come fifth in 1959 as you suggest. Our records have Agnes Street conducted by E. Ruddock coming 5th off a number 11 draw. Templemore played off number 14 under A.E. Bell. We have got our information from a very reliable source (Allan Littlemore at the Leyland Band who has an amazing library of facts and figures on the Open and National), but if you can show we were wrong will be delighted to change things. Sorry about last time though - we'll try to do better next time.

Open to Les Preludes
Will there be scores of Les Preludes on sale on the day? Who is publishing the piece?

Dafydd Jones

4BR reply:
We understand there will be scores of "Les Preludes" on sale at the Open on Saturday. The publishers are the Novello Company, who's General Editor is Mr Bram Gay, who is the transciber of the music. The music and score is distributed by Studio Music.

A Garden too Farr...
Hi, Nice site - Always something interesting.

Regarding "Garden Rain" by Takemisu, E. Howarth has lost his score & parts. Does anyone know where they are?

Ray Farr

4BR reply:
Thanks Mr Farr for the comments about the site. We are sorry to hear that the score and the music for the Takemitsu "Garden Rain" are missing. We'll advertise it on the site as a news item and hope some forgetful player or even conductor mislaid the music and that it has for the past few years lay hidden at the back of an airing cupboard or under the bed. (That's were most bandsmen in our experience tend to hoard things!

More thumbs up...
Great website chaps. Well written, well designed, good graphics, good gossip! Well done. 3rd 3rd cornet (yes, really!), Ratby Co-operative Band.

Sarah Frankham
Marketing Officer

4BR reply:
Many thanks Sarah. As a marketing guru you can obviously recognise a quality product when you see one!

As for being a lowly 3rd cornet player do not despair - keep enjoying the site, take lots of liquid refreshment to bolster your embouchure and thank your lucky stars you don't have to play solo cornet at the next contest.

Pressure? Who needs it.

About these comments

We will not print anonymous letters and we will not print your email address 4barsrest has a responsibility to inform our readers of our opinions concerning the many topics of the banding world we cover, and we are proud that we give the opportunity for people to comment with their thoughts about certain topics (including contest results). However, we are very clear that these comments are those of the individual who has written them, and in no way do they indicate that 4br agrees with the sentiments, observations or perceived injustices that are highlighted in them. We will continue to inform and report to our readers, and will give our own opinions and thoughts. We will also continue to give the opportunity to others to do the same, but by allowing people to air their opinions does not, and will not mean that they reflect in any way the responsible and informed opinion that we ourselves hold.

About these comments...

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