Comments ~ 2001: October


Comments from October 2001

Monkey, Organ grinder? More like Pot, Kettle, Black:
Perhaps before you print any information on your website you will consider investigating the facts. While you were right to report that in the 2nd section at Pontins the result was read out incorrectly by the compere, perhaps you would take a moment to find out the truth of the matter before putting any onus or blame on Sally Coleman, the compere for the day, who did a sterling job all weekend.

Since the event, Sally has taken much grief from irate bandsmen and general nuisance makers, when infact the mistake was not hers. I'm sure you will appreciate the difficulty for comperes trying to keep hundreds of bandsmen entertained prior to the results and when you are in full flow of talking to the masses you are simply handed a piece of paper with the results written on it to read out. On this occassion, Sally actually read out the wrong result because one of the contest organisers, David Hobbs, had written the result down wrong prior to handing the paper to Sally. As you can see a major clerical error on behalf of the contest controllers not the compere. As you can imagine many people are willing to shoot the monkey not the organ grinder and I can fully appreciate the disapointment of the band that thought they should have won.

However, I would most appreciate it if you could clarify the story in your report and lift the blame and make it plain to see to all bandsmen that the blame should lie firmly with David Hobbs and his team and not the compere, Sally Coleman.

Tabby Hall

4BR reply:
As you point out, we were correct in our report of what happened at the end of the Second Section at Pontins in respect to the announcement of the results. We would also point out that in no way did we state or imply that the compere was the cause of the fault and if you care to read our report on the contest (which will appear on the site in the next 24 hours), it will confirm this.

Your comparison however to the monkey and organ grinder we felt was an unfortunate use of a metaphor, but we could see your point. As for checking facts! We all have a duty to ensure that what we print is accurate - be it even the names of conductors taking bands at the National Championships to give an example.

We spoke at length to the senior contest controller and with his help and cooperation we were able to be informed of exactly what happened - it was an unfortunate error that lead to an unfortunate incident. We stand as always by what we write and we believe we try our best in our own humble way as we try to emulate the high professional standards of more august publications.

BO2 suggestions:
I have been interested to read the thought provoking discussions concerning the issue of an own choice contest at next year's British Open. Rather than judge anyone else's ideas/points of view I would like to just put a few ideas of my own into the "melting pot", to see if we can generate some positive suggestions which may allow the event to be the success which it deserves to be.

First of all I would agree that this event should not be combined to the equation of relegation so that bands who have neither the time or resources to prepare a difficult own choice testpiece do not need to do so.Instead we could treat the 2nd day more as a festival to celebrate the banding movement's achievements.Own choice could be completely open with a system to prevent any repeated pieces {to spare the audience from 6 renditions of "Paganini Variations"-One of my favourite works but the general audience do not wish for another day of hearing the same piece}.

All of the bands could be recorded on a special commemorative C.D. which is an incentive to the bands, as would be a "Wild Card" ticket for the 2003 European Championships for the winners {Surely Boosey And Hawkes could make this gesture as one off }.

I feel that these modifications would make the event more enjoyable for Bandsmen, Audience and Conductors alike and may motivate some of the big name bands who are already voicing concerns.As a conductor I am already looking forward to this challenge, and having performed in 4 European Championships myself I can strongly recommend the experience of playing in a high quality own choice contest to the bandsmen.Who knows, they may even drag themselves away from the bar to listen to some of their rivals for a change? Only kidding!!

Many thanks to all at 4 bars rest for their kind comments following the result by Yorkshire Imps at this years Masters, and I hope that these suggestions, which are only intended to be interpreted as my own personal ideas, give some food for thought.

David Evans
Musical Director, D.U.T. Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell Band

4BR reply:
These make very interesting reading - what do our readers think of you ideas?

"The previous band managed"...
I think that most player's have experienced the over zealous attitudes of contest officials. Most of them might of played about 30 years ago in a fifth section band. Their attitude towards warming up is " If you can't play it by now then you never will."

At a recent entertainment contest we were told that percussion was provided but it didn't state anywhere that this equipment had to be used by competing bands. We were told that 3 timps. would be provided. In this day and age you would assume pedal timps. Luckily for us (we thought) we had taken our own. A bit like Whitburn's the situation was clarified before we played, and we were told there wouldn't be any problem with using our own equipment. When we tried to put our percussion on the stage we were told by the official on the edge of the stage that we had to use the equipment provided. When I pointed out that we were playing a piece that required four pedal timps rather than the three antique hand tuned ones provided I got a response that I will never forget. It totally encapsulated everything that I have and will ever see again in a contest official. Please remember that this was an own choice entertainment contest, the response was " The previous band managed". I was speachless, I couldn't think of anything to say. The person in question looked like he hadn't been told that bands no longer played in high pitch, and probably hasn't even heard of the word pitch. Fortunately for us common sense prevailed and the contest controller over ruled the official.

My heart felt condolences go out to you [Whitburn]. It sounds to me as if your band association have forgotten the the most important thing about band contests are the bands and the performances they give. Not a chance for the committee to get that feeling of self importance that most of them crave so badly.

Steve Osbourne

4BR reply:
Thanks Steve. We are sure you are not alone in the experiences you have had and we hope you don't get them again. We are fully aware that many contest officials do a great job and without them the contests could not be held, but there is still always room for improvement from both bands and officials to make the whole process go smoother.

Text thanks:
Many thanks for your coverage of the National's. It was BRILLIANT. I got my text message on cue. Made my night. Thanks again


4BR reply:
Thanks Brian. The text service was an integral part of our Nationals coverage and we hope it made it better knowing you had the result just about the same time as everyone else in London!

Text truimph:
Just a quick word of congratulations on your wonderful coverage of the national finals last weekend. I logged on to the site throughout the day and enjoyed reading all the up-to-date information. I also subscribed to the text message service which I thought was great. It was quite exciting waiting for the phone to go.

Diane Logan, Dalmellington Band

4BR reply:
We are glad you enjoyed our coverage. We hope to continue and expand our coverage of all the major contests of the year in 2002 so that we can give you more up to date information as soon as it happens.

A big thankyou:
I can't thank you enough for the text message with the National results. As a 'pondasher' since 11 years of age it was great news. I was taking part in an international choral festival in Jersey, where we'd been narowly beaten in the male voice section (by a Welsh Choir Risca, wouldn't you guess - one of the audjudicators was Welsh!), then heard the news from Lansdowne Road - (funny - is amnesia a Welsh disease - have you all forgotten what happended in Cardiff at the beginning of the year) then you cheered me up with the result from the Albert Hall. Keep up the great work, and remember a new six nations starts after christmas and you lot are at Twickenham.

John Olver

4BR reply:
Thanks John. We can't quite believe a Yorkshireman is thanking a pair of Welshmen for making his weekend, but what the hell eh? Hope you continue to enjoy our coverage, especially as it made your weekend so much better after England had a stuffing at Lansdowne Road. If only Wales could win as well.

Thank you:


4BR reply:
Thanks Stephen, Getting the results to you as soon as possible is an important part of what we try to do - even in the outreaches of the country. Hope you enjoyed what we had to say, and well done to you and all the band on the fine win.

Gloucestershire gets online:
Just wanted to say that after linking up to the internet for the first time(yes we do have the technology in Gloustershire!) what a refreshing change to be able to read all the live action from the 2001 nationals.I must say that I love your sense of humour when describing each bands performance, although maybe some of the bands will disagree! All in all it is a great column you have, and keep up the good work!!

Tony Nash

4BR reply:
Thanks Tony, We are sure that darkest Gloucester has now caught up in the technology stakes, but we are happy to have been of some service to you. We try to keep the comments light, but never destructive and we hope the players enjoy what we write - even if they don't agree with us!

Prejudiced - us?
My compliments for your site, it is a pleasure to follow brass band news as presented by you. If I may I'd like to offer a few comments on your instrument tests: - might it not just be possible that the reviews of the Prestige cornet and the Courtois euphonium are somewhat prejudiced because they were tested by people either involved in their design or playing with a band that is sponsored by the manufacturer? - could you possibly test a few more flugels, such as Smith-Watkins and Vincent Bach Strad? I (and maybe others) would very much appreciate it. Feelings pro or contra certain makes of flugel run rather strongly I think, and an impartial test would be interesting. Keep up the good work!

Dictus van Zwol, Heerenveen, The Netherlands

4BR reply:
Many thanks for the kind comments Dictus. We do ask certain leading players to give us their opinions of the instruments they play - such as Roger Webster and Glyn Williams, but in the case of the Prestige cornet review roadtest, Roger had nothing to do with it and it was undertaken solely by ourselves. We also aim to roadtest the Courtois euphonium in the near future - again by ourselves. As for flugels - we recently tested both the Holten and Courtois, but we do hope to do some more if we can get on hands on them! All our reviews are independent and we stick by our findings. There will be some more in the near future.

Clapping cretins:
First of all, I want to thanks for your websites who is great. About your comment of the Nationals finals, I was in London and Icompletely agree with them. I just have one concerns: Why haven't you notice that Black Dyke was the lonely band wha has been applauded by the audience when they came on stage to play when it has been notify at the beginning of the contest that we (the audience) had to reserve our applaus AFTER the perfomances of the band? Hope you will help me to sort that concern.

Xavier Dumont

4BR reply:
We did notice that both Black Dyke and BAYV Cory were applauded onto the stage, which is always a pity as it spoils the atmosphere and to put it bluntly is a pretty cretinous thing to do. Can't blame the bands, but we can blame anyone in the audience who thinks that it in someway helps. We can do without these idiots, but there's not a lot we can do about it except tell them to shut up.

Smith Watkins cornet review:
Many thanks for a great review! First time I have seen your pages - what an excellent service to Banding.

Dr R. A. Smith

Many thanks Richard. We really thought it was a class bit of work, and therefore marked it accordingly. We'll be doing others in the near future, but they will have their work cut out to beat the Smith - Watkins.

He's lost it...



4BR reply:
Thanks for the comments. Playing off number 1 is always hard, but we did think that the mini crisis may have cost Ammanford (the winners) more. However, we have to remember that the judges were unable to "see" the crisis and were therefore just relying on what they heard. Overall it was a performance that we felt was good, but we may have fallen into the mistake of judging with our eyes and not our ears. Still, it's nice to see Wales winning something for a change.

2002 Open extra...
"The third concern is about the time it would take to run a contest such as this. Just think of the changes needed in the set up of the percussion or seating arrangements if one band is playing "…Dove Descending" and the next "Revelations" and the next "Fireworks"? Two bands an hour would be a fairly accurate reflection of the turnover. Multiply this by 21 and you get at least ten and half-hours for a contest". Most of the 150 years operated without percussion - therein lies the answer!

John Beresford

Thanks John, You raise a very interesting point. But a contest without percussion? It would certainly make the contest day shorter, but would it make it any better?

Cat in hells chance eh?...
Hi everyone! Let me start by saying what a superb and informative site you have here, and very funny to boot!

The main reason I got in touch is because of the remarks you made about the London & Southern Counties 4th section qualifiers for the Finals, of which I am a member of. We feel that although your remarks were a light-hearted glimpse at the "runners and riders", you did seem to state that a cat would have a better chance in hell than a lowly southern band taking a prize.....

Well, we came third, and seeing as though our nearest southern counterpart came thirteenth, you can imagine our hapiness with the result.

Just remember guys, there are other bands in the country apart from those in the north!!! Anyway, personally I would like to say a big thanks to our MD, Mr Kenny Durbin, who has transformed the band in just over a year (four top three contest placings). And the band would like to say a big thank you to Freckleton Band, who lent us their splendid rehearsal facilities for the weekend.

Keep up the good work.

Tony Gleave
Ware Brass

Dear Tony, Many thanks for pointing out how badly we did at the predictions for your section and for the way in which we totally overlooked the chances of London and Southern Counties bands. We plead guilty on all charges!!! Just goes to show how much we know! Glad you enjoyed our coverage though - next year we'll certainly know better!

A Fawlty venue...
I would like to congratulate the people who decided to locate the National Finals in Devon. The people concerned with such a decision have obviously taken into account the logistics of getting to this area, particularly for bands travelling from the far north. I look forward to the finals coming to Inverness in the very near future.

Jim Corrigan

4BR Reply:
Can't agree with you on this one I'm afraid. The venue is very good in Torquay we've been reliably informed and it's not that bad a place to get to and to stay (with the exception of the Fawlty Towers Hotel).

Just remember, Preston is a long way away for all those bands from Devon, Cornwall, West Wales, Scotland and London, so wherever you hold the Finals you are not going to please everyone.

Great site. I am looking for information but it is going back to 1883 when Clayton le Moors Rifle Volunteers Brass Band won the Belle Vue competition. The conductor was Alex Owen. Can you help please?? Many thanks.


Hopefully by putting it on our comments page someone will be able to help.

"Frankly Speaking"
I've been checking out your site once again tonight and came across the review of our Cd "Frankly Speaking". Firstly, many thanks for a great review, I'm glad that you liked most of the disc.

There is just one point that I should make, or risk being in the dog-house with the boss. In your review you state that Warner Bros. have 'teamed up' with International Music Publications for the Brass Band catalogue. In fact, IMP is the UK and European division of Warner Bros. music, covering the UK, Holland, Switzerland, Austria and Germany. There is reasoning behind the fact that we're not actually called 'Warner' which is all to do with the copyrights we own, but it's a long story. The "Warner Brass Band catalogue" is a collaboration between ourselves at IMP and one of the other Warner 'affiliates' Warner/Chappell Music Norway and we hope to be able to support the brass band movement as much as possible. If you would be interested in seeing (and perhaps reviewing) the catalogue I'd be really pleased to send a copy to you.

Sorry to be a pain and really picky with this.

Robin Norman
Brass Band Series Editor; Warner Brass Band Catalogue
International Music Publications/Warner Music Print Group

Thanks for pointing out our innocent mistake. We did like the CD and we hope it sells well for the band. The Warner Catalogue is a real important development in brass band music publishing and one we feel should benefit a great many bands.

Say cheese...
Top Ten Euphonium Players List It would a terrific addition to this list if you could attach photos of the individuals. Is that possible?

Kenton Poole
Euphonium BC Finger
Lakes Concert Band

Many thanks for the suggestion, and we hope you are enjoying what were are trying to do on the site. As for the photos - we couldn't quite find a shot of a few of the older players Geoff Whitham named, but we are trying to aim to have photos of the players in our next list of top 10 trombone players of all time, when we complete it after the National Finals.

How could you...
How you could fail to put Cory's performance of Dance and Arias in 1984 into your top ten? After the euphonium solo everybody in the hall must have realised that they had won!!

Alan Johns
Flugel Ammanford Band

Thanks for the memories Alan - and congratulations on your own winning performance at Preston!

As we said, we feel it was the 1974 performance and victory that set up Cory to win the hat trick ten years later. That's not to say the performance wasn't great, but if it wasn't for the 1974 win, we think the band would have never had the confidence to be able to take on and beat every band in the land in the following years. It was a coming of age performance and the one that set the foundations for everything else they have achieved.

No Sparkes for Desford
My all time favourite is Desford's winning performance of 'Harmony Music' in 1987.

There was a lot of interest in the test piece, 'Harmony Music' by Philip Sparke. Hailed as the most technically difficult ever, Euphonium players were particularly worried - around the country they were wondering what that note was with three ledger-lines underneath it!

When contest day came, it was a massacre. Very few bands got to grips with the piece. As the day wore on in search of a winning performance, one band's name was being whispered round the hall. Black Dyke had drawn 19, the last spot, and surely it was all set up for them to win. As the end of the competition came to a rousing finale, the hall filled up for the band playing just before Dyke at 18, Desford Colliery Dowty.

Howard Snell had just left Desford. It was the band that he had practically built from nothing. They were the masters of the "entertainment" contest. But "Major" title success still eluded them with the exception of the 1986 European Championships. It seemed that Snell had left under a cloud, and Desford had made the surprising choice of picking a Brass Band unknown, James Watson, to conduct a band that featured the likes of Alan Wycherley, Stephen Mead, Chris Jeans and Martin Winter.

Desford's performance was incredible. With Stephen Mead's woof-like lip-gliss [no one else had got close to this all day], Martin Winter's beautiful tone and phrasing, a superb range of dynamic contrasts and a cornet back row that rattled out the triplets like a machine gun, the audience was left ecstatic and stunned. How could Dyke follow that?

Well, they did, played well and only finished a point behind Desford. But the bands were in fact miles apart. This contest marked the beginning of the end for the McCann-Clough partnership as well as for the Parkes-Dyke partnership; both of which had dominated and shaped banding since the beginning of the 70s. Desford, and particularly James Watson, would go on to dominate the Band scene for years to come.

Dafydd Jones

We think we actually did mention that Desford were a bit unlucky to get into our top 10, but even though it was a great performance, it didn't quite "do it for us".

However, you are quite right about how difficult the test piece was (and still is) for the bands and that Desford were particularly well blessed with some superb players on the day who were able to cope with all the challenges the piece set them. Martin Winter, Stephen Mead, Robert Fulcher, Dean Morley and we think Alan Wycherley made up some hell of a team.

Dyke were very good as well, but on the day there wasn't anyone who could match Desford and they deservedly won the title. However, was the performance in context, as good as the ones we listed? What do others think?

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.

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