Comments ~ 2002: November


Comments from November 2002

Thank You Mr Snell
Can I just drop a line to thank you at 4BR for the recent articles by Howard Snell. So much sense and a wicked sense of humour. I hope he continues to write for you, although can he be a touch more controversial?!!

Paul Hudson

4BR Reply:
We are very grateful to Howard Snell for writing for us a t 4BR – and it will be something that will hopefully continue. He will cover as many topics as he can and we agree – he brings a fresh voice to the topics he covers.

4BR get it right and wrong!
Well done 4BR for having the guts to print your predictions for the major contests of the year (including I may add for the lower sections). You are not afraid to say when you get it wrong (quite a lot of the time it must be said) but your record for the top contest is pretty good. Do you know something in advance? You got the Miners and Spennymoor aspot on again, so am I just being a conspiracy theorist?

Stephen MaCall

4BR Reply:
More luck than judgement we think Stephen. We try our best to give a reasoned prediction, but even when we do we usually get more wrong than right – that's the beauty of contesting though isn't it?

Greenfield advantage?
I read with interest the report by Paul Hindmarsh on the 2003 Area Test Pieces.

I understand that the Third Section piece, Northern Landscapes, was commissioned (in this particular format) by the Greenfield (Boarshurst) Silver Band using funds provided by the Lottery. Is this not odd, particularly as (if my understanding is correct) Greenfield Band will be competing in the Third Section on this very piece?

Will the fact that they commissioned the piece (and, presumably, have already seen and played it) not give them an advantage over other Bands in their Section? I am a fan of Peter Graham and his music and am looking forward to this piece of music but I find the timing of this to be very odd.

I am certainly not suggesting that Greenfield are looking for some sort of advantage as I assume they had no input into the music being chosen. However, should they do well in the 2003 Area Contest using this piece, surely they are setting themselves up for cries of 'unfair advantage' from those bands who did not do so well.

Maybe I am missing something or have been misinformed. Perhaps you could reassure the other bands who will be competing in the 2003 Area against Greenfield (of which my band is not one so I have no axe to grind here) that things are not quite as they may seem?

Nigel Howard

4BR Reply:
Interesting thought Nigel, but we can't quite see Greenfield getting any sort of advantage from it really. The piece was in fact originally written as a quintet for the Ulster Orchestra Brass and then commissioned by the band – that it is now being used as a set work seems to have no relevance to them at all. "Prague" was first played by Williams Fairey, whilst any number of top section works have included Black Dyke in premier performances way before the piece was used as a test piece for a Finals of some sort. It never really meant that they were at some sort of unfair advantage. Don't go down the X files route – there are too many conspiracy theorists out there already!

Is Brian Evans out there?
I have a question. I am a big big fan of Brian Evans (Soprano-Cornet). Do you have some details about Brian Evans. (Address, E-Mail, Phone-Number, etc.).

I need your help, please. Thank you very much, your site is very very good.

Tino Schilliger

4BR Reply:
Anyone help – just e mail Tino direct

Not quite Welsh Champions?
Firstly, may I congratulate you on a great site.

I just have one question which, incidentally isn't aimed at yourselves, but how come do bands get to call themselves the Champion Band of Wales? Where are the 3 contests that contribute towards this title held?

Wouldn't the title Champion Band of South Wales be more accurate?

Dylan Williams

4BR Reply:
Ooh! You are awful Dylan! Perhaps you are right, but we are reliably informed that the contests themselves are open to bands from all over the Principality – that they don't choose to compete isn't Tredegar's fault (this year's champions). The three contests are held in Ebbw Vale, Ammanford or Burry Port and Treorchy, so geographically it is South and West Wales! Perhaps if the finance is there to help bands from the North, then perhaps they could be enticed to enter. At the moment though the top prize at any of the three contests is £150! – so no one is getting rich!

'Swami Disappearing up his Asana'.
Have had a quick listen to the John Wallace CD - sounds good to me. Strange, as you say, but not the strangest in my collection! That title is probably reserved for a recording called Time Spent at Traffic Lights, featuring Oren Marshall on tubas (including electric tubas), and is very odd indeed. Tracks include the wonderfully titled 'Swami Disappearing up his Asana'.

Congratulations on your achievement with the website - please continue to be controversial and make mistakes! As someone once said, the person who never made a mistake never made anything at all.

Alec Gallagher

4BR Reply:
Thanks Alec – we will have to try and get that CD to add to our collection. As for mistakes – we didn't know we were making any! (just kidding!) Does anyone know of an even more weird CD we could review?

Unknown Talent revealed
Just to let you know that the "unknown talented" conductor of the Leyland band, Chris Davies is in fact THE Top Dog in the Royal Marines Band Service.

J. Coupland

4BR Reply:
Thanks for letting us know. Before the contest though we had no information on the chap other than a few quick comments from someone who told us a few things a couple of days before the contest. Sorry we couldn't expand more – we know more for next time though don't we!

Music Panel – who are they?
Just wondering if 4 bars rest could help me. Is there a panel of people who choose test pieces? If so who are these people? As a young member of the brass band movement, how do I get my voice heard as regards the music we play at contests? If not a panel, who??? Surely its not a big secret, or is it?

Jillian Hambrook.

4BR Reply:
We would refer you to the recent news that broke about the demise of the old panel and the announcement of the new one for the Regionals and Finals Jillian. Not wishing to sound ageist, but not too many "young" faces on them were there! It would be a great idea if perhaps someone from the new generation was used, although it must be said in the old panels defence they did pick a cracking new work from a very young composer for the 2003 Fourth Section.

Where are the audience friendly test pieces?
If any championship band conductor has had opportunity to look at the score of the chosen area testpiece then they, like me, will be extremely disappointed at the choice. I do not relish the prospect of rehearsing a band solidly on music, which is neither challenging nor listenable. Where are we going with these selections??

This weeks British Bandsman announces the appointment of a New Music Panel, and in my opinion, it is long overdue. The reference in the Bandsman to "audience/bandsman friendly testpieces" is a breath of fresh air and my hope is that the present panel will see sense, agree with the comments of the new appointees and many band people I have spoken with, and change the choice for the 2003 area contests. There will certainly be no one listening to our performances, except maybe the playing band`s supporters, that`s providing, of course, they haven't heard the piece before!!. Finally- it is my opinion that music compositions like Prague should be "one-offs" for occasions like the BBC event where it was premiered and not "inflicted" on competing bands and our contest weary audiences and supporters.

I would be interested to hear if I am a lonely voice in this matter.Dave Lea

4BR Reply:
We can see where you are coming from Dave – but we have to disagree. The choices for the Regionals over the past few years have been rather good we think – we didn't hear too many grumbles in 1999 (two Ball's, a Bliss, Lucas and Bourgeois) or 2000 (Graham, Burgon, Harper, Downie and Sparke) and this year they have taken a brave, but very challenging step with their selection.

Playing "oldies" isn't a recipe for success as far as we are concerned – a balance between old and new seems to be the right way forward, and to be fair, we think the old panel just about did it pretty well indeed. As for playing to an audience of one man and his dog – that has been the case at the Regionals for the past twenty five years or more – it is about marketing our product to people rather than just playing music that pleases brass band fanatics.

Contradictory Statements
Referring to the selection of test pieces for contests, Richard Evans says "...we need to choose pieces with tunes in them", before going on to say "...certainly we will not be shutting the door on any composers' works".

I shall be watching with interest to see how Mr Evans and the new Music Panel resolve these two apparently contradictory statements.

Alec Gallagher

4BR Reply:
You've hit the old nail on the head mate. Are we so musically backward that all we think is important is whether our music has "tunes in it." If that was the case, would we have ever got to hear "Contest Music"? It certainly is a conundrum, but one that certainly doesn't need an answer like that.

No to opening up the Mines!
I would just like to say that the 2002 Mineworkers Championship, Blackpool was great. All the bands played excellent in the championship section as heard them all; but the one which appealed the most was Dalmellington Silver Band, somehow not gaining a position in the first four was a little odd but coming 5th. They played extremely well, with all the top seats putting on a magnificent show and the band giving a great feel for the music by Peter Graham.

Grimethorpe played average, but I cant understand why they keep winning each year, yes most of them are prof.s but they only played average on Saturday in the contest but putting on a spectacular show in the waiting for results; but no adjudicator has the guts to place a small band above them. This is all clearly down to the open adjudication, David Reid wouldn't have had a clue who was Grimethorpe and who was Dalmellington. Grimey they could have sat down and pass wind and still have won on Saturday. This is what really drags this competition down.

Christopher Dale

4BR Reply:
Got to disagree with you Chris – how did you know we were going to say that eh?

We think at 4BR that open adjudication is the way forward for band contests in the future – it just seems the right thing for us to do. As for your gripe about he contest – well, it's just a gripe isn't it? David Read is a fine judge of brass bands – open or closed (or passing wind for that matter), so it is rather unfair of you to infer that he didn't have the guts to place a so called "small" band above the winners. We have been at many a contest where he has judged and he has very rarely been too far out with any decision he has made, and he does reward bands that that take "risks" in trying to make music, so we think you are just plain wrong this time.

Mellingriffith back in business!
Radyr & Morganstown (Melingriffith) Band.
The band is back to winning ways again after 25 year break taking best band in Fourth Section, Best Soloist and runners up in the Area's. Thanks to everyone's efforts especially our Conductor Gareth Hann (Principle Cornet for Tredegar) who went onto greater success.

Roger Hampton (Chairman)

4BR Reply:
And well done from us as well. Nice to see a famous old name making a comeback

And also to Lochgelly!
What is it about Scottish teams in Lancashire eh. On Thursday night Celtic humbled Blackburn Rovers and the following Saturday Lochgelly Band win the miners.

We told you at Torquay that we would do it and we were true to our word. Thanks to you guys for giving us the first place prediction. It was supposed to be the third part of the treble (Scottish, National and Miners) but we rather blew that in Torquay so we ended up doing the double instead. Because of the time we had to devote to the Nationals in Torquay this years Blackpool contest was seen as something of a poor relation.

Two weeks ago we had hardly seen the test piece and it was certainly not in a state where we could realistically hope to win. However Gavin Lindsay stepped in again and basically dragged us up to a winning position. All credit to both him and our bandmaster Brian Paterson for their hard work. Thanks also to the band members who came out nearly every night for rehearsals in the week prior to the contest. Lochgelly Band is one of Scotland's oldest brass bands and has an illustrious past. We have suffered a downturn in fortunes in recent years but there is now an impetus from everyone in the band to reverse that trend and take us back upwards. Hope to see you in Falkirk in March, if not we'll see you in Dundee.

John Martin

4BR Reply:
Well done indeed! 4BR did tip you (and for once it didn't prove a fatal tip) so congratulations! As for Celtic – we reserve judgement for a little while longer.

Carlton Main did do the "double" – all in one day!
Sunset Rhapsody was the Open testpiece in September 1958. It was the only time the adjudicators were asked to choose six bands from the total performances, in no special order, then the six selected bands re-drew for order of play and the winner was chosen from that playing. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery won with Jack Atherton conducting, Besses were second and Black Dyke third, I know, 'cause I played with Dyke that day under the great Major George Willcocks.

What a great web-site this is. Keep taking the flak, you are good enough to rise above it.

Richard Evans.

4BR Reply:
Thank you Maestro!

We have been informed by David Read as well (and he played for Carlton Main) that in 1958 the top six bands did have to replay to decide the winners. What information we could gather was that there were 17 bands in the "first round" and the top six chosen by adjudicators, Denis Wright, Harry Hayes and Tom Powell were Carlton Main, Besses, Black Dyke, Fodens, Morris Motors and Creswell Colliery. (That was the final order)

By all reliable accounts Carlton Main were actually placed first in the first round and the second round – so they can justifiably lay claim to be the first ever "double" winners in a day!

Grimey entertain?
I have just attended the Brass in Concert Contest at Spennmoor and I, like many others around me, were a bit surprised at the entertainment prize going to Grimethorpe. I have no problems with them winning the Quality Performance prize or any other, but as far as I am concerned, like many others, Grimethorpe did not entertain. I don't call walking on stage then sitting through a performance, albeit near perfect, as entertainment, although I know others would not agree with me. Saying that Grimethorpe did give a fantastic performance.


4BR Reply:
Good job you weren't in the box then Monty! That's why we have judges mate – love ‘em or loath ‘em – they make the decisions. That's why we have so many arguments! Where would we be without them eh?

Good Celestial Prospect!
John Pacey complains about the parts for "Celestial Prospect"; specifically that "the solo cornets can hardly read all of the split parts its that small". Well - to the best of my knowledge that's the size that SA Festival Series has been for a long time. It doesn't seem to stop the top Army bands reading not only that, but much more complicated things besides....

On the subject of that piece: It's a percussionist's lot to sometimes have almost too much to do (yes, I played Leonardo in Torquay! - and nothing I've ever experienced in bands comes close to what I've been asked to do when playing percussion for a musical) and other times to sit there waiting for what seems like forever to play a solitary note. Yes, maybe test pieces should be picked more with the whole band in mind, not just those who blow...but it seems that too many conductors and adjudicators know too little about percussion to make this always desirable. A percussion-light test piece may turn out to be a blessing in disguise! (And before anyone accuses me of percussion bias, I've played at band contests on trombone, euphonium, Eb and Bb Bass as well as percussion - though not all at once!)

Finally, is it really true that the piece is "not worth 39 pence!!!!!!!" - or is that just an over-reaction to the perceived low standard of typesetting? The music itself is surely one of the finest pieces that has been set for one of the 'lower' sections for many years - hopefully every band in the Second Section will thoroughly enjoy the experience, whether they win or not. The piece worth 39p? It's worth every penny of that £39 and more.

David Morgan,
Percussion, The Staffordshire Band

4BR Reply:Well said mate! Remember the "Moor of Venice" – now that was a complete waste of money!

And from the Publishers themselves…
I feel compelled to respond to John Pacey's letter regarding the quality of music print for the 2nd Section test piece at next year's Regionals, Celestial Prospect.

Firstly, I'd ask any band who has purchased a set where the score has pages 22 & 23 reversed to accept my sincere apologies. This problem was picked up a couple of weeks ago following a similar complaint. It does not apply to all sets, but unfortunately we have no way of being able to track down which bands have these 'rogue' sets. If this does apply to your band, then please don't hesitate to return your score to us at SP&S. We'll not only replace it, but also refund your postage in full.

Secondly, it's true that these sets are photocopied (although to a very high standard). Put simply, this is 'out of print' music, and as such, we were faced with little choice but to adopt this practice. I'm not sure though, that I understand the logic which suggests this offers less value than it would have done were it still in print. The music is the same - and that's what counts. I think any band who plays this wonderful music, and takes care and time to really find its 'soul', will reflect that it actually offers outstanding value. Listen to the ISB's performance of this music on 'The Heaton Collection', and then honestly tell me that it's not worth £39.95 for the opportunity of performing it!!

I accept the point about the split parts on the Solo Cornet copy. Anyone who knows Salvation Army music will appreciate that this is fairly commonplace in our type-setting. Of course, that doesn't make it right! But I do think it's something players will get used to. I've played in a number of bands that have performed this music, without ever hearing a solo cornet player complain because they couldn't read the dots.

Finally, the remark about the lack of percussion. I'm afraid that's how Mr Heaton wanted it, and you're a brave man if you'll argue with one of the finest composers for brass band that ever lived!

Personally, I can't wait to hear 2nd section bands get to grips with this marvellous composition, and I'd be very interested to hear John's views about 'value' after the contest is over.

Trevor Caffull
Sales & Marketing Director - SP&S Ltd.

4BR Reply:
Thanks Trevor – nice to know there are people out there listening

Dundee Delight!
Having just read Al Rolands (Torquay13) comments about the national finals being held in Dundee next year I felt compelled to add my own opinions to this page on the subject. My band is based in Aberdeen and attending any contest is a major task not to mention the small fortune it costs us each time. Generally speaking we have a 4 hour bus journey to attend any of the Scottish contests (apart from our local one which is only an hour away!!) and every national final I've attended has been a twelve hour bus journey (or short flight££££) with the obligatory over night(or two££££) stay in a hotel.

So as you can imagine I'm delighted that the 2003 finals will be in Dundee and aplaud the powers that be for finally picking a venue in the North......... an nice hours drive down in the morning and home in time to watch Blind Date....fantastic!

I only hope we can qualify!

Bruce Wallace

4BR Reply:
Back in time for Blind Date eh? Some people are so easily pleased! Hope you qualify though.

Brass Software anyone?
Firstly I want to congratulate you on the Web site I found it most useful and very interesting. As a Web designer myself I thought you hit the mark spot on, easy to use and cleanly designed. But don t worry, this isn t a pitch for my design services! In my other life I am secretary of a brass band based in Belfast (Northern Ireland).

We are currently taking a large learners group and hope to repeat this every year. Having worked in the educational software market both in Ireland and the USA I thought perhaps there would be an interactive software tutor available for brass students. I can t seem to find one. Do you know of such a product? I d appreciate any help in my quest, if I can't find one I'll have to design an produce one myself.

Tony Woods.

4BR Reply:
Can anyone help?

A permanent home from home?
I would like to note my support for Bruce from Aberdeen on taking the National Finals to Dundee, though I will not be rushing home to watch Cilla should we be lucky enough to qualify! If the hall selected for the finals is the Caird Hall then there are few better in the UK (if the musicians from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are to be believed).

I would however support a permanent home for the contest, preferably one that is easily accessible by road, rail or even air for those who for work reasons cannot travel with their band.

Regarding the comment of the contest taking place during the August Bank Holiday weekend, it should be noted that this would be impractical for a number of reasons. Firstly this s not a UK wide holiday and secondly it comes at the end of the Scottish schools holidays that run from the beginning of July to the middle of August thus making it difficult for bands that have a number of school pupils or teachers or students as players. I think the date is best left where it is.

Jim Corrigan,
Kirkintilloch Kelvin Brass

4BR Reply:
Seems Scotland sounds like a nice place then. A more permanent home would possibly be helpful – the Symphony Hall in Birmingham was being muted under the old BFBB, but now they have had the carpet pulled from under them, it would seem that this won't now be the case. We will have to wait and see, although there are rumours that Harrogate may be on the cards as a choice. As for Cilla – take out word – the woman is best left alone… very alone

Working Kapitol
I don't know, or want to know, the reasons for B&H (owners of the contest, remember, who saved it from near financial disaster many years ago) transferring management of the Nationals from BFBB to Kapitol.

But it seems to me ridiculous to start judging Kapitol's motives and policies in this area nearly two years before they take over! I know Philip and Nikki a little bit and can tell you they are NOT taking on this thankless task to make money! They truly have the bands' and the contest's interests at heart and think we should judge them by their record and not by our prejudices. This seems to me to be typical of narrow-minded mistrust that is a hallmark of our beloved movement. As with many things, other countries do banding so much better than we do. Many aspects of our banding are often regarded as a bit of joke by bands from the Continent - and with justification.

Please stop shooting ourselves in the foot over and over again, or it won't be long before we fall over and can't stand up again.

Phil Sparke

4BR Reply:
A point well made Philip – we will have to wait and see, but Boosey and Hawkes once more have shown themselves to be world champions at foot shooting. Their actions in taking away the contest and giving it to another private company was just another example of why they are in such a mess.

JSVB females!
I have been reading your review of the 'Solo Reflections' CD.

You ask if there have been any female members of JSVB. I was, in 1994/5 and that's where I met Simon Kerwin (my hubby). I played 1st/2nd Trumpet but Mike Wildgust was lead trumpet on Bb and Eb trumpet.

Mr Shepherd invited me to audition for the group and while I was there we had a great time and there was some fabulous players including Mike Wildgust (Ronnie), Mike Kilroy euph, Kevin Holdgate trombone, David Dransfield bass trombone, Matt Delaney on percussion, Stephen Clayton flugel/trumpet, Simon Kerwin tuba, myself Alex Foy, Jeremy ------ on french horn and the great man himself James Shepherd. Pete Roberts helped out occasionally and conductors we had down were Geoff Whitham, Roy Curran and John Anderson.

Hope this is of use to you.

Alexandra Kerwin

4BR Reply:
Thanks for putting us right Alex – some line up you were in. Nice to know that Jim had an equal opportunities policy – if only some bands could have the same enlightened approach.

Pontins Accusations
I have just read the letter from Paul Coulson about Pontins on the comments page. Although I strongly agree with him that violence at contests should be not go unpunished I must say that I don't believe that it was just the one band who were solely to blame. I arrived at Pontins on the Saturday evening (this was because on the Friday evening I was playing football with a church football team in Manchester in which I sustained a cut eye).

On the Saturday I had a tea time rehearsal with a band that was competing on the Sunday. As I arrived late Saturday evening I was told of the behaviour of 'two' bands the night before, and didn't attach much importance to the matter and just wanted to relax and socialise with my friends. Unfortunately this was made impossible by a group of people from the other band involved who came 12th in their section (and perhaps should have been disqualified too!), who decided to stand pointing and staring at me throughout the evening which was obviously because of the abrasion on my face. As the evening went on the staring and finger pointing started to turn into verbal abuse. The things that were being said to me cannot be repeated in this letter due to the foul language of the band members in question. Later on another member of the same band came talking to me and said he realised I was not there and part of the incident the night before, but not all of his colleagues believed him and still assumed I'd been involved.

I can honestly say that I have never had a bad Pontins experience in my life, but this year was obviously spoiled for me. The point to my email is that there were two parties nvolved and not just one as was stated in Mr Coulsons letter. After all no-one from the other band assumed the worst of me because of my cut eye, and I didn't have any trouble with them.

I hope this letter will make people think before assuming and accusing.

Neil Samuel.
(Solo Trombone - Leyland Band).

4BR Reply:
Thanks Neil. Hope this now closes the matter – there seems no fault to be placed at your door – although we wouldn't have liked to be a player in your Church footy team!

Old Todcross bun fight?
On your website, there was an interesting press release from the 'World Famous Band from the Pennine Foothills'. Mmmmm.. quite. In this press release was information about 'one or two' personnel changes. I'm not sure if people are familiar with the term 'build a band' but Mr. Hadfield seems to know what he's doing! 15 player changes in the space of 6 months is a lot I think anyone would agree. But to replace these players with, well lets say, players from a now long forgotten disbanded outfit which Mr. Hadfield is well familiar with, is a little unsporting.

I may also like to say to the Press Officer, that as you well know, Mr. Atwell, Mr. Collins and Mr. Farrell all played for Todmorden as well as the names stated in your press release.

Long live Todcross!!!
Alan Famsdale

4BR Reply:
We are defiantly staying out of this one!

Help for an "O Holy Night"
I am really struggling to find the soprano solo 'O Holy Night' by Stephen Bulla. I believe he is a salvationist and I have tried their publishing division without any joy. I know the arrangement exists as I have heard it performed by Kevin Crockford and Michelle Ibbottson from Dyke. Could anyone shed any light on this or give me a suggested source as I am quickly running out of time!!!!

James Pearson (
Jackfield Elcock Reisen Band

4BR Reply:
Anyone out there help?

Searching for Alec Dinning
I'm trying to trace my father who I've not seen for over 30 years. My last recollection was that he was with Markham Main Colliery Band in the late 60's and that he may have moved to Peterborough to manage a pub but I don't know if he kept up his lifelong participation in banding. Any information would be gratefully received.

Brian Dinning

4BR Reply:
Anyone help with this one?

What about Boekel's Scherzo then?
Hi. Can anyone out there help me track down a set of Boakel's (Boekel's?) "Scherzo"? It was very popular back in the 70's, much featured in the BBC's 'Challenging Brass' programme I seem to remember. Unfortunately it seems unobtainable at the moment. Can anyone help?

R Pearcey

4BR Reply:
Answers on a postcard please!

Something for the trombonist in your life….
I'd like to complement the team at 4barsrest for the excellent site. The site layouts and graphics are superb and you can navigate the different sections with ease. The information is clear and concise as well as being amusing and to the point. However as far as trombonists are concerned I must suggest that people view the new site at, in particular this site looks at the Darwinistic theory of trombone playing as well as theological views. There is a also a definitive study on how the baritone appeared in our midst.

Keith Williams

4BR Reply:
Right. You know where to go to if you want to find out more…

To misquote Mark Twain……
Rumours of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated

OK I may be well on the way to going to grey, but I'm a long way off retirement. In these days of family friendly policies, I see this as more of a "career break"!

If I miss one days practice - I know
If I miss two days practice - my friends know
If I miss three days practice - I'll swap from my Wick 2B to the 4B I used to use 20 years ago and nobody'll know!

I promise I'll try to keep my lip in.

Andrew Jackson

4BR Reply:
Both the team at 4BR are more used now to 1,2 or 3 months of missing practice, so what on earth does that makes us?

Looking for Sanchez and Borage
I am looking for a CD or two with the following tunes on them. The first piece is called 'Children of the Sanchez'. I heard this first played only a few Months ago at Marple Con Club, played by Helen Fox (on Flugel) in the Fodens and Faireys combined band.

The second piece is 'Borange' and is one of the 'Brass Cats' movements. Recently played at Glossop Band Club by Glossop band. Both pieces are great and I would like to buy them as a present for my girlfriend (she likes them more than I do)

As I have bought several CD's off you in the past, I was hoping if you would do some research into this.

Ian Moffett

4BR Reply:
Some luck Ian. Borage is on a CD that we have at 4BR entitled "Bridgewater Hall Live 2001" – Highlights of the Great Northern Brass Arts Festival (Egon CD SFZ 106), but no luck yet with the Children of Sanchez. Hopefully someone will record this great piece in the near future. Helen Fox has played it on a number of times and she makes it sound brilliant, so here's hoping!

Peter visits the tropics
Last Saturday night (the 26th of October) our band put on its annual concert "Brass Sweat & Tears". Leading up to the concert I was listening to the 2001 Europeans CD and in particular Peter Roberts rendition of "On With the Motley", and as usual I was complaining to my Dad why no good brass players ever come to play with us up in Cairns in the North of Queensland (Australia). My Dad answered my complaint with well why don't we get Peter over here and play for us. I laughed and said as if anyone of that calibre would ever come play with us. Anyway to cut a long story short Dad went about everything behind my back and got "the man" himself over here.

Peter arrived on Monday the 21st after the Nationals. After a day to recover from jetlag, we were off to Kuranda on Skyrail (a cable car trip over the rainforest) where I think we, well my little brother, did more talking then sightseeing.

That night we attended our junior band rehearsal where Peter Roberts came in for a blow with the kids followed by a barbeque. There Peter got to "throw a shrimp on the Barbie" (bit of a personal joke but I'm sure a few YBS folk will know what I'm talking about) and our senior band members, parents and friends got to meet and talk with "The Super Sop".

The following evening was the No 1 band practice and our first blow with the King himself. It was an experience that will never be forgotten by any member of our band. Our first experience with Peter was Vitae Lux and what can I say….. It was evident why he was the best. As one of our players said " he put goosebumps on goosebumps". We had Thursday night off and then Friday night was off to the local Cathedral for a recording, which brings up a good question. Why hasn't the "greatest soprano cornet player of all time" had his own soloist CD?? Will there be a "Voice of the Soprano Cornet"???

Then Saturday came along. Well this will be a night to remember forever. Vitae Lux, Silver Threads, La Califfa, Cavatina (sur Norma), On with the Motley and then Flowerdale that just brought the house down. It was a concert that will never be forgotten by the band and we just want to say thank you to Peter for coming all this way to play with us. It must be hard to play to 8000 people at the Albert Hall and then a full house of 640 people in a small town in the hot tropics of North Queensland. He certainly made a lot of bandy's happy here and it was greatly appreciated by us all. THANK YOU!!!!

Brenden Wheeler, Euphonium, Cairns Brass

Pontins predictions...
Well done with your comments on Pontins contest and yes your predictions were pretty accurate.

However you again seem unable to put West Mercia in the correct place, they came above Syston.

We did have a shaky start but that as you quite rightly point out was due to nerves and being their first outing in a National open competition. There was also a note on your previews regarding credits. The band finished 5th at the nationals last year in their first year of contesting(4th sec).

Newtown did well on their first appearance in a national contest for some three years and were pleased with the position although they could have done better, but isn't that the usual story.

They were pleased with your preview comments and thanks for your kind thoughts. They will go on and hope to stay second section after next years area.

You have a service that is better than any other for the delivery of ordered C.D's I received the order 24 hours after placing it and would recommend any one to use your service, Well done

Howard Gibbs, West Mercia/Newtown

Pontins reflections...
Many thanks for your reflections on this year's Pontin's Contest.

I was interested to see that you noticed that "Bream Silver chose an interesting formation" for our performance. I felt moved to explain why I did this.

The Land Of The Mountain And The Flood (Hamish MacCunn) is an orchestral piece transcribed for Brass Band. Whilst such transcriptions can never be a perfect copy, I feel this one tries very hard to capture the essence of the original. Having studied the orchestral score I felt strongly that the band version required a line-up which mirrored, as close as possible, that of an orchestra.

Therefore we tried to to place 'voices' (brass, woodwind, high/low strings) to sound from where they would be expected in an orchestra and ignored the 'standard' formation so often cast in stone for many bands and conductors.

Whilst our 10th place might suggest we failed in this attempt, I have to disagree. The explanation for our placing, given by the adjudicators, had nothing to do with our formation but more with our style of playing.

We were criticised for the way in which we shaped the music - we were told that we should have retained a single tempo throughout rather than try to move with the music. Knowing the orchestral score as I do (and bearing in mind what Mr MacCunn was trying to say through his composition) I only did what was required in order to tell the story set by the music.

We didn't play well enough to win, that is for sure (Wire Brass were superb!) but to be punished for using the music for the purpose for which it was written is, I believe, outside of the adjudicators' remit.

I feel very strongly that conductors should be able to stamp their individuality upon music, without taking liberties. In your summing up of the First Section you said "So often bands wanted to play exactly what it said on the tin and forgot that it's all about music" Well here is an example of a band who didn't do that and lost out as a result.

I would hate to think that it has come down to bands having to play like clones in order to win prizes. Adjudicators have a duty to pick up performances on tuning, intonation, balance, ensemble and the myriad other things which test a band and I accept criticism where it is due (as it certainly was in aspects of our performance on Saturday) however to basically say "that's not how I would do it" or even "that's not how it should be played" (which I feel is arrogance from any conductor or adjudicator) should not be a feature of their adjudication, nor should it affect their marking of a band.

Adjudicators, please allow conductors and bands to use their musical sense to build a performance. No two performances of major classical works by professional orchestras are exactly the same but this does not mean any of them are wrong or better/worse that the next one.

The cynic within me wonders if the recent move towards producing recordings in advance of Area Contests is a way of saying "play it like this and you will do well - anything else will be penalised". If so we can expect to see CDs released prior to every major contest very soon.

I doubt very much if the great David King got where he is today by copying other people's performances.

Vive La Difference!

NIGEL HOWARD, MD Bream Silver Band

4BR reply:
It's a harsh reality that unless lower section bands get the basics right - interpretation more often than not counts for nothing. A musical approach is great for the bandstand but bands need to get think about playing in tune, at the correct dynamic and together for the contest stage. Without these qualities - the that little nuance before letter K will simply get over looked.

Come forward Standish...
I don't know whether or not you can help me with my enquiry. My name is Sheila Halliwell and my fathers name was Alan Mason. He was a very well known trombonist and brass band conductor in the noth west during the sixties and early seventies. We as a family used to attend all the brass band contests during these years up until the early death of my father in 1973 when my mother bought a trophy in memory of my father to be presented in future contests. Just recently, I heard that this trophy was still in existence and was still being presented to brass bands in north west championships. I do play in bands myself, not brass however but big bands as I opted to play saxophone rather than a brass instrument. Both my sister and I would be intersested to find out when and where the Alan Mason Trophy is presented as we would like to see it. We were very young when my father passed away so were not really aware of this memorial trophy. My mother tells us that she did present it to a winning band the year after my fathers death so we would like to find out a little more about it and possibly attend a band contest to see it presented.

I was told about your site by a friend who said that you may be able to help. We have checked your site and seen that the trophy was recently presented to the Standish Band at the NWCBBA contest.

I would appreciate any help at all you could give or any other useful links that may provide us with some more information.

Thank you very much.

Sheila Halliwell.

Les Preludes anyone?
I am desperately trying to find a recording of Les Preludes(updated version), played in 2001 at the British Open by any top is a present for somebody and it has to be on CD not tape if poss.does anyone know of any band who has done a recording of it?If so please let me know asap thanks
very much,

Donna Lewis.

Contrast wanted...
I am studying A-Level music at a sixth form college and we have to do an investigation. I have chosen to compare two recordings of the Joseph Horovitz Euphonium Concerto. I have two brass band recordings but I have heard that there may be a wind band or chamber orchestra arrangement . I have been having great difficulty in finding a contrasting recording, can
anyone help please??

Elizabeth Stimpson

Short changed...
I think you should know that the parts for next years area test piece 2nd section are a joke. The parts have obviously been photocopied and the solo cornets can hardly read all of the split parts its that small.

On top of that the score has pages mixed up and letter b follows letter c etc etc!! Score is very small print aswell. I feel bands should not accept this sort of quality and send them back, we certainly have.

Our percussionists have been short changed aswell i think they only have about three or four bars in the whole piece!! The cost of this piece is £39, not worth 39 pence!!!!!!!

John Pacey, Harborough band.

4BR reply:
We've not reeived any other complaints about quality. We'd be delighted to hear from other bands though.

A little hard to take
I attended Championship section at Pontins and would like to make a few points if I may. Quite a few bands relied heavily on guest players. Why enter a contest if you can't put out a full band?

With the greatest respect and recognising that Tredegar were not the only culprits, would have Tredegar been 'stunning and outstanding' without the assistance of Rob Westacott on principal and Dean Morley on Bass?

Rules are rules and while they allow bands to give themselves the best possible chance, bands shouldn't be criticised for applying the letter of the law.


My band didn't do very well. We worked hard with the players we have and went with a couple of gaps. Still, we worked bloody hard, put on the best show we could.

To read your remarks describing Tredegar were in a class of their own, is a little hard to take. With money put on the right seats after all, we could all be in a class of our own, couldn't we?

Jon Willmott.

4BR reply:
We made reference to the fact that bands borrowed players on the day in our retrospective report. We notice that you didn't mention that Tredegar also 'brought in' Garry Cutt to conduct - doesn't he count?

It takes more than a quality player or two to pull off a winning performance though. Just ask Thoresby....

Bad news for bands...
I can't help feeling that Boosey ending their contract with the BFBB can mean anything other than bad news for British brass bands in general. The BFBB to me seem to be one of the only influential and power holding institutions left within what is primarily a traditional and amateur organisation. To waste the talents, hard work and enthusiasm of a large percentage of the BFBB's staff and replace them with what appears to be a more commercial and far less experienced group seem ludicrous.

On a more personal note I feel that the stepping down of David Stanley at the lower section finals earlier this year somewhat diminished the perceived strength of the federation, I think it was a position that David held very efficiently and with real passion, and he will be very sadly missed as chairman. I hope that the events at Torquay did not make that much difference to what Boosey were thinking as apologies were and have been made, for what was a big, yet somewhat understandable mistake.
I feel great efforts need to be made to ensure that brass bands do not become a product (as nearly all of the musicians in the industry as a whole are being forced to be), and having a productions company at the helm of such a great heritage seems far too impersonal, goal and money orientated (and other management speak as well) to do any of it any justice.

I am only twenty years old but have grown up in and around brass bands and can see that this could be the start of a chain of events that could lead to nothing other than the loss of what banding means to many people. I have already seen the rise of certain individuals and groups of people who although being greatly talented in their fields, seem intent on having a finger in every pie, and controlling the whole banding movement. As a composer my work will be hard to find no doubt, but it will be nothing compared to what will face brass bands if they are forced towards working in a more commercial and financial based arena.

I realise that I have explained all this in very simple terms but feel that my sentiments and thoughts will be echoed
ten-fold by those out there who care for the future of brass bands.

Simon Dobson

As a resident at this years Pontins Contest,it is disappointing that the behaviour of some of the Bandsmen let down an excellent venue.Colin Morrison and his team should be thanked for their tremendous efforts in the smooth running of the Contest and their support for bands is unrewarded. This year an unsavoury incident occurred in the night club that involved a bandsman being dragged out of the club by security staff after having being involved in a bloody drunken brawl. Matters are not helped further that he was also allegedly underage. Whilst that person was stopped from playing the following day,his band were allowed to perform,after some deliberation, and consequently won their section. What message does this send the the community? Bands have a responsibility over their members and their conduct. I, personally, had non-musician friends come to stay and they were appalled by this incident and the reputation of the Brass Band movement was tarnished as a result.

Whilst an individual may be punished by not playing,a far stronger message would be sent by punishing the band. Harsh?,I think not. Bands would develop a far stronger degree of responsibility and professionalism within their ranks and uphold the values and policies of their national body.By all means enjoy a celebratory drink afterwards and meet old and new friends in the bar. But keep an eye on the few who can ruin a bands reputation in a swift moment that has taken years to achieve through hard work,dedication and toil.

What is the answer? Who knows. A footballer gets banned from playing and fined. Why don't we let a band not compete? Withdraw their prize money? No simple solution, but the errant few might take a moment to consider before indulging in that moment when the red mist descends. The band must take responsibility for its own players and the movement must act quickly to deal with its members.

The weekend at Pontins is an excellent venue,with bands from the four corners of the country competing. A single incident that happened could have marred another successful year for Colin and his team.

Paul Coulson

4BR reply:
We've not heard the details from the organisers - we'll have more to say if we get any details

On the look out for Derek Davies
Would it please be possible to use your column to try to track down an old friend of mine.The person I am trying to find the whereabouts of is called Derek Davies who was the principal Bb Bass of the NYBBGB up until about 1973.He then moved on to play with the CWS Manchester Band in the 1970`s but then finished playing I believe after he had an accident.He would now be about 48ish and not to be confused with another Derek Davies who sadly died about 15 months ago. The chap I am after was last living in Manchester and working for the CWS company.It would be lovely if I could track him down and contact him with the help of your web site.Many thanks and keep up the good work.

Tony Nash.

Three legged dogs....
Is interpertation everything. After reading the comments on your web site and reading the adjudicators remarks on our performance ( draw number 7 - [Thoreby Colliery]), both said that the problems were caused by the piece being 'pulled around more than a three legged dog'. As this was the only problem and all other basics like intonation dynamics band sound were good and very strong solo playing, does this mean at this level are we looking for as fast and as loud as possible to attract the adjudicators attention, and not try to get music and feeling out of a not technically, but musically difficult piece.

Andrew Drury

4BR reply:
At this level of banding - bands should be able to do the basics right. However, we feel your band on the day didn't do that. Your performance totally distorted what was on the parts and we at 4BR believe that this is also one of the basics. For us and the adjudicators - this was not music and feeling as you put it. Sorry Andrew, but we thought your result was fair. You also say that the piece [Ballet for Band] wasn't technically difficult - we have to disagree!

Honourable Boosey?
One really has to admire the honourable way that Boosey & Hawkes conducts its business. Do you remember how the NCC were allowed to run the Finals at the Albert Hall before a letter arrived 2 days letter to tell them their services were no longer required. Now it is the turn of BFBB and the management goes, apparently by stealth, to a commercial enterprise making profits out of bands run by someone from the NCC that lost the event not so long ago. So Mr Morriss will control the Finals, the Regionals and the British Bandsman. But of course this not a reflection on the way BFBB have run the event, just as it was no reflection on the work of the NCC. Come on B&H don't be so patronising in expecting anybody to swallow that garbage TWICE and believe the bit about commercial sense, which usually means somebody pays somebody else for something or other.

Have Regional Secretaries been told that they are no longer autonomous and will work for the same Mr Morriss who excluded bands from the Finals for failing to respond by his deadline date? In fact I know one Regional Secretary who found out from Mr Morriss' piece in his own newspaper with not a single word from B&H. So well done Boosey & Hawkes - you have made it abundantly clear how much you care about the brass band movement and the army of volunteers who support the players.

You might smile today, Mr Morriss, but keep your eye on the post received after the Finals in London 2005.

Ian Mason

Help with recording...
I'm just wondering whether you know where I could find a recording of Arbans "Fantasia Brilliante"?

Rhys Keegan

4BR reply:
Can anyone help Rhys

Rob wants it raw....
Everyone loves the best brass bands; concentration on the 4th and 3rd sections would be good as well. Although these bands don't offer comparable musicianship, some more crack about lower section bands is definately what I want. Don't get me wrong, the site is absolutely mint at reporting the scene as it happens, but interest in brass bands is not always who are the best band of musicians and who is at the top of the art. Interest is there, yet there are many other things to it, and there are other places one can appreciate the pinnicle of brass achievement and accompanying reports. I like the band profiles you have done, and would like to hear some more raw stuff about the lower sections.


4BR reply:
We think the lower sections get a good deal from us at 4BR in comparison what you get from the 'established' publications.

Well said 4BarsRest.
Keep asking the questions but I doubt you'll get the answers.
Why is everything so secretive?
Who doesn't trust who?
Why do brass bands never make money out of contests?
What would we do without all the volunteers we have?
Could it be run better if people were paid to do it?
Could we trust more if we were ever asked our opinions?
Could we run things better on our own - without business involvement?
Could we get lottery funding to make things more professional?
Well I suppose there are lots of who,why,what,could and I could have gone for evermore.
Well I'll just get back to my dream world.

Moira Ross

UK should take the lead
We've seen the last couple of years Foden's brings top class music and at least some fresh air in the approach to bring the music, Bram Tovey being the driving force behind it all IMHO.

The Masters, the Open, the Nationals,... Foden's is so special and I've been witnessing this on a few occasions.

Although I am not nor want to be anymore in the position to judge about top bands and adjudicators, I am asking myself why we do not breakthrough the very long standing tradition of always having the same people in the box or at least those with the same background, ie grown up with the traditional banding style. Always Read, Relton, Scott,... or not far from it, and even more bizarre is the bands themselves are even asking for it with regards to the Masters.

Why don't we have eg professional orchestral conductors (BBC Symphony, London Philharmonic, Opera House,...)? It could raise the standard, couldn't it? Music is a universal language after all.

I guess it is up to the UK to take the lead, as we see a lot of other nations often copy the UK model. Indeed, we see those same BB faces or mindset in the box on contests in Belgium, Holland, Switzerland,...even the European contest has them. Also it would be nice to see more orchestral conductors take on our bands or at least cooperate. It would bring a new style, a new repertoire, other performances, more people in the hall,...

Being a longstanding BB enthusiast and proud to be, I feel it is more then time to open our views, and get more Tovey alike fresh air. Meanwhile, we apparently must be content Foden's is the most beautiful pupil in class, but does not get the points for it?

By which I certainly do not mean the other bands don't deserve their win. Well done Fairey!

Edy Van Asch, Belgium

You know who you are
Having just returned from a exceptional day's banding at the RAH, I thought I would put digits to buttons and pass a few comments as to the piece and day as a whole. Firstly, the piece, which after more and more listening grew on to the extent that I think now that there are truly marvellous moments. Seldom have I felt an atmosphere at the moment of the euphonium solo, where reputations can be forged or broken. Is this a good thing, putting so much pressure on one player? I eremeber reading that Alderly Edge could break a player's career, but this? Most failed to play the part as written opting to be wrong and safe, some decided that splitting it between players was what the composer really intended and all would have been under pressure from both the band and the audience. I am surprised that some top flight euph players didn't decide to opt out completely and leave the final slur to Eb bass and Flugel horn. The solo did produce some impressive playing from bands who were never in the frame, as well as some unimpressive playing from some of the big guns. Having observed the miniature score, and forgive me if these are typos but it seemed that nearly all the soloists breathed in the wrong place in solo, causing themselves extra pressure when having to come in on a Top B, and I only heard one player who played it as it
appears written. Even whingeing it wasn't me up there, but I do know some much less well known players who made more of an effort to play it as intended and did a fine job. Anyway generally believe that the results speak for themselves, although I was a little surprised by Foden's placing.

Generally I thought the day was well organised and it didn't feel very long, although I didn't stay in the evening. The recital by Steve Sykes was enjoyable, and I really appreciated the remarks by David Read. Adjudicator's don't have to explain the whole piece but a little insight into what they thought and what they were looking for never hurts.

All in all, well done to the bands and organisers, and boo-hiss to the euph players who chickened out of playing their part. You know who you are.

Simon Phillips

Kirklees responds...
With reference to the complaint by Iain McKnight of The St. Austell Band, Cornwall. Comments from Kirklees Music, Brighouse.

Firstly it would have been more useful to have received a telephone call, fax or e.mail direct to our office so we could have issued an errata sheet in time for the contest if we felt it necessary. In my communication to all competing bands at Pontins 1st Section earlier this week, I did explain that the "Sibelius" disc was corrected from parts used by a Championship band when the work "Sicilian Vespers" was premiered on BBC radio.

During the preparation time for this contest we have only received a couple of telephone calls about any errata; we did ask for help compiling a list of errors, but nothing was forthcoming. We do take pride in our published music and many bands over the years will vouch for the accuracy of our scores, particularly when used as test pieces. If, in this instance there are some errors, we apologise for any inconvenience these may have caused and wish all bands good luck at the weekend.

D.W.Horsfield, Kirklees Music

Mixed feelings for Dundee
I have mixed feelings about holding the Nationals in different locations all over the country as we do now. On the whole I like the idea, but it does create serious difficulties. After reading people's concerns about the distance to Dundee and a possible repeat of the problems at Torquay if there's only one auditorium, I wonder what the general reaction would be to holding the event over the weekend of the August Bank Holiday. It's probably too late now to change the date in 2003, and I expect many bands would normally have paying gigs that weekend, but for future years it would at least allow time to get home
without having to worry about getting to work on Monday. And for those with shorter journeys it would be a chance to stay another night and avoid the Bank Holiday chores.

Peter Taylor
Yiewsley & West Drayton Band

Help for Alison
I came across two websites when I read Alison Gill's entry in 'your comments', they are:
Peter's publishing company where there is a full list of his music with info on most of it.

This one has a brief write up about Peter himself with various links associated with him. Hope this helps Alison, if she hasn't found help already!

Gary Rose

Canadian congratulations
I just wanted to thank you for your coverage of the National. I checked your site several times throughout Saturday and could feel the tension and excitement I was able to witness first hand last year. Once again, the subjective nature of music competition was apparent and, based on your opinions of each performance, it would appear that the end result would have been quite different had you been in the box. But that's how it is on the day. Everyone has their own opinion and that adds to the excitement. Your comments succeeded in creating that environment for me throughout the day from across the Atlantic. Nothing is as good as being there but you provided an excellent, and affordable(!) alternative. Congratulations!

John Brooks, Cambridge, Ontario

Thank-you 4BR
What an excellent day both my-self and my friend Trevor had at the R.A.H. on Saturday.

This was mainly due to the hospitality shown to us by Anthony, Iwan - the 4BarsRest team. Also seeing first hand the super coverage of the contest by the team. Many thanks from us both

Graham Bebb & Trevor Mumford

Haste Ye Back Fodens
What a great night was had by all here in Aberdeen. We may be way up North but we can still hear some of the best bands in the land.

We have had UDI-Aberdeen City Band take YBS up to entertain us these past 2 years and this year Bon Accord Band invited the great Cheshire Band - Fodens to our beautiful granite city.

We had some superb solo work from Soprano - Alan Wycherley, Horn - Martin Armstrong, Euphonium - Glyn Williams, Mark Landon - Percussion and on Flugel - Helen Fox.

Not that you would say I was biased but Helen's playing of "The Children of Sanchez" was brilliant. The audience particularly enjoyed this extra to the printed programme.

Russell was a witty compere and the band played a gorgeous organ like sound in our great Music Hall. It was good to hear an old classic "Epic Symphony".

Can I just say "Haste Ye Back" and watch this space for more concerts in the future.

Moira Ross

Cyprus trip...
We are currently organising a trip to Cyprus for next year and are looking for players, mainly cornets but all are welcome. The band name is Sherwood Brass mainly consisting of players from the Notts/Derbys area and we currently go out on tour every other year, the last trip being Mallta in 2001. The dates for the trip area 28th May - 5th June 2003. There will be four concerts during the week and lots of drinking!!! Loads of fun. The trip is organised through Airtours and will cost in the region of £350.00 per person (price to be confirmed). We will be staying in self catering appartments in Limasol.

Is there anywhere on your website where we can pop an advert for a few weeks to try to fill the places. There are already 30 confirmed bookings (not all players) and 11 vacancies. However, we have limited time to fill the gaps as all deposits of £80.00 per person need to be in by the 15th November 2002.

Tracey Wardle

A National debate...
Reading Howard Snell's interesting and informative article in last month's 4Bars rest entitled ‘The gang of four or was it five?' I felt inspired to write in an attempt to encourage some kind of national debate and promote change for the movement as a whole.

I remember well the occasion when proposal's were made at the Royal Northern College of music to make changes to the running of English bands and share the disappointment and dismay at a lack of action on this proposal without knowing all details about why.

My contribution regarding the future of all British Brass Bands comes from my experience as a player and as a professional engineer in the aerospace industry for over 20 years. What you may ask does an engineering organisation have to do with running the British Brass Band organisation?

The answer to this is an appreciation of ‘the system' and of a process. Forgive me while I explain this commonsense theory so eloquently expressed over 40 years ago now by the great American quality guru W. Edwards Deming.

A process is a method of operation that transforms inputs (planned or otherwise) into outputs (predicted or otherwise). A system is the whole set of process under which an organisation or body effectively operates under.

Some processes by their very nature are complex whilst others are inherently simple but are complicated by human being's working under a system, which is destructive. An example of this might be performance- related- pay were employees are pitted against each other in an attempt to justify their existence thus destroying the teamwork ethic and sub-optimising the system.

In each case the system is presided over by managers who are employed for their organisational ability and hopefully process knowledge.

Relating this predominant industrial model to Brass Bands in this country provides a framework under which healthy debate and change (always difficult) can begin to happen.

Applying this thinking model what is the current state of ‘the system' taking into account that in my opinion: -

-Audiences are dwindling certainly for contests.
-The gap in technical standard is widening between the top 5 or six bands and the rest.
-Payments to professional conductors do not seem to have any correlation to actual income received or the real world.
-Broadcasts times are minimal and insignificant.
-Individual and strong personalities are dominating….this has always happened but is it a desirable state for Brass Bands as a whole and does the future have to be like the past?
-Brass Band image is outdated and needs redefining.
-Little or no media coverage of major events.

There are many more issues.

I believe a rethink is required of how the movement is run and marketed and if necessary like Howard intimated a new system to promote the virtues, control and regulate. I do not have any knowledge of the New Zealand system but I do think that all applicable systems should be systematically benchmarked and offered as alternatives.

Even the cynics must agree that we can and must improve the way we do certain things.

We have seen in the last few years a huge increase in the use of the electronic highway and what an advantage it would be if we could use it to harness all opinions across all standards of bands for the benefit of all.

A democracy is required which can only be achieved by changing ‘the system'. In other words the performance, image and future of the British Brass Band movement can only be promoted, enhanced, controlled and maintained by a change of system that is changing the way we do things were appropriate.

The argument for the gang of four whilst made eloquently therefore is flawed because under the current system the improvements sought, especially financial, are unsustainable and eventually combine to undermine the whole movement in one way or other.

In no way does this message attempt to criticise people currently working in positions of authority and influence within the movement. Criticisms of any kind except in a constructive manner of ‘the system' are a total waste of time if meaningful steps forward are to take place. It is a symptom of an inadequate system if constant griping does take place except of course to express our democratic rights and relieve frustration!

At the end of the day to change will require people of standing, courage and determination but if the framework is democratic, simple and well thought out what do we have to lose? The sooner the better.

Geraint W Jones

Sunset Rhapsody...
Your report on the forthcoming Pontins' contest and its reference to the test piece "Sunset Rhapsody" sparked a memory for me. Last year a pal and I (last remaining relics of our local band) were asked to entertain the residents of a large residential home for Alzheimer patients at their summerfete. After a couple of duets a little old man in his nineties rushed from somewhere and sat beside us to listen and after each number remarked "that was lovely", and started chatting; he could'nt believe that his old band was no more, etc.

After our final item he just vanished ... probably back once more to a world of silence. For staff at the home told us he hardly every spoke a word to anyone. Somehow our efforts with a cornet and flugel had revived hidden memories. For this man, in his day, had been one of the country's top soprano cornet players in the best bands of the land. About 30 years' ago he used to regale me with his great tales of banding,..... Belle Vue, the Albert Hall, massed band concerts, Harry Mortimer....the lot. On one famous occasion (in the early 50s I believe) he said his band tied for first place with another band in the British Open in 'Belle Vue.....the first time it had every occurred.
And the test piece was "SUNSET RHAPSODY"! He said both bands took to the stage and played the piece once again for a "play-off"......with his band taking first prize. Now ... maybe my memory is playing tricks on me ... but is there anyone out there who can confirm this story?

Back to the old sop player and our experience of playing for him. Has anyone done any research into the use of music to stir the memory of the poor folk suffering from alzheimers, and if it could be beneficial in any way? It is an awful thing. At the same fete a friend and neighbour visited this home to listen to my pal and I. Earlier this year he became a patient there himself and died. Our old sop friend however, is still alive but now in a council residential home. Meanwhile my pal and I still practice hard in the hope of improving, but are not in such big demand these days........waning sex appeal I suppose ... but we can still play a bit. We even managed to somehow get an old tune on my website last week...amazingly comes back down the 'phone line from somewhere in the USA I'm told. Did it on a bit of old video tape, etc......but wish we'd done it before going to the pub!

Dave Williams, Colwyn Bay.

4BR Reply:
Anyone help Dave?

Soham have Energy...
I guess that says it all, doesn't it? "brass banders.......don't go to contests to be musically challenged." [Neil Kettles - "your comments", 13th Oct.] - what hope for the movement?

PS - I would like to express my personal thanks to Soham Comrades for bravely playing "Energy" in the Championship section at Folkestone contest last Sunday; perhaps you were never going to win, (although I personally thought it was an extremely accurate performance) especially with an "old fart" in the box, but I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to hear such an exciting piece of music. Wish there were more bands like you prepared to take risks like that.

I just listened to "Prague" - ...... Fantastic!!!!!
I am really looking forward to getting to grips with it (in the event someband is sufficiently desperate to invite me) - However, a suggestion for the organising committee at L&SC Region: In order to save money, why not hire a classroom at some local school in which to hold the Championship Section qualifiers? Once you have made room for the Adjudicator's box, along with the band (plus adequate space for the mountains of percussion which will inevitably be required for such a piece), I am confident that there will be plenty of spare room for any potential audience, thereby allowing the opportunity for one of the lower sections to perform in the admirable Gordon Craig Theatre acoustics, for a change. Just a thought.

Gareth J. Green, MD: The Egham Band

Top section lack hunour...
Yes you are quite right about Simon Jeffes but when the Penguin Cafe Orchestra were at their most popular his music would have given us something that is quite rare these days, along with the challenging and beautiful music he was capable of, there would have been something to make us smile. So much of what is written for the 'Top' section lacks fun or humour, you have to play music written for the lower sections to get that.

Colin Stevens

Grow up 4BR...
I read with dismay your decision to intimidate some of the bands competing at the forthcoming nationals who may not be at the forefront of the `Britains Best Bands'. This is purile, irresponsible nonsense and you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. With few exceptions, in football, rugby, brass bands etc, the only difference between the best and rest is purely financial. Remember Sun Life, they folded as soon as their sponsorship money dried up. All the bands that qualified for the finals earned their place and it is wrong of you to positively discriminate against some of these by encouraging negative publicity through readers of your web site. If you were covered by the employment act you'd be cited under the Harrassment, Bullying and Dignity at Work for legal action. For goodness sake grow up and do something useful for the movement! How about benchmarking bands by their income in relation to contest results? Or running a promotion campaign for Brass Bands in the media/tv.

Bob Hawkins

4BR Reply:
It's a shame you don't think we are doing something useful for the brass band movement. By the way - are you on the RFU committee?

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