Comments ~ 2009: May


More from the 4BR postbag - from the Masters to moans about the rankings - and much, much, more...

Wingates woe?

Regarding your retrospectives from the recent 'Masters' contest.

I was fortunate enough to enjoy every performance of 'Masters of Space and Time', and was more than a little surprised at your comments regarding Wingate's performance, and the announcement of 3rd place. 

You stated that "...there was some surprise at the announcement of Wingates in third place however": well, the adjudicators certainly enjoyed their performance, and especially John Hinckley's interpretation. 

The result was greeted with cheers by the audience, so I'm not sure where the 'surprise' came from!    I am no adjudicator, but have almost 30 years playing experience at all levels of banding, and have competed at Cambridge five times. 

I thought that Wingate's 'take' on the piece was very exciting, with an intelligent reading by Mr Hinckley: fully deserving of 3rd place. 

Anthony P. Malone

Little Englanders 

Really enjoyed the Masters coverage once again – the pictures on twitter were great (especially the mad bass player) and the comments on the day were interesting – you even got your predictions almost right!

The postcard was interesting (and made me laugh) but I disagree with the thought that bands are starting to think again about the English Nationals?

Perhaps they are a bit close to each other date wise, but if these bands are really serious about competing at the highest level then they should ensure they take up their entry to the contest.

A place in the premier brass band contest in Europe or a place at Cambridge looking for some easy prize money? I know which one I would prefer.

Ian King

The Queen and I 

Regarding your review of this year's All England Masters Gala Concert.

It is, of course, your privilege to question what you describe as The Queen's "non elected, Germanic jewel encrusted non democratic position".  

I would merely venture to suggest that when it comes to dignity, good manners and command of the English language and its grammar, she leaves you standing in her wake.

May I respectfully suggest that you reserve your rather incoherent and semi-literate thoughts, along with your republican sympathies, for another website.  This one, after all, is supposed to be concerned with the world of brass bands.

Jim Yelland

Titan’s Progress? 

The announcement of the excellent choice of "Titan's Progress" states “This year, the ‘Open’ has set for the first time a test-piece by a composer from outside the Commonwealth, Titan’s Progress by Hermann Pallhuber, a native of Austria, who was born in Innsbruck in 1967.”

Disregarding the fact that many previous works have been written by non-Commonwealth composers, the only Commonwealth link being the arranger, this fails to recognise the choice in 1955 of "Sinfonetta for Brass Band" by the Swedish-American Erik Leidzen - he may have been something of an Anglophile, but by then it was some 180 years since the American War of Independence!
Looking this week at the Symphony Hall website, the error is compounded when they state ". . . it will be the first time a work by a composer from outside the Commonwealth (Austria) has been set for a major British Band Competition", which also omits the selection of Jan van der Roost's "Albion" for the National Finals in 2001.

Peter Bale 

Hot shot 

We will be in London with our hot-shot trombone-playing nephew in July (15th through 23rd) and we are looking for brass concerts we can take him to.  Can you recommend some to us?  If not just brass, then are there some band concerts or jazz concerts with a brass emphasis? 

Thanks for your help!!

John-David Bartoe
Houston, Texas 

4BR Reply:
Plenty out there - so any suggestions to help, please let us know 

Contesting thesis 

I am currently researching British Brass Bands for my thesis and have a question concerning the English National Brass Band Championship. 

Do the competing bands only play the test piece for the competition, or do they also perform other pieces?  Also, will the Black Dyke Band be competing in 2009?  Thank you for your time and help,

Jennifer Moder 

4BR Reply:
Only the one test piece - 'Within Blue Empires' - no other pieces, and Black Dyke will be there. 

Missed Belgian opportunity 

Quote from your retros from Ostend: "although it would have been nice to have seen a Belgian Band competing in the B Section."

I also was very angry about that. VLAMO invited a 1st section band from the French speaking part of Belgium, a band who was disqualified at the nationals! I responded on that, because my band (Heist) was the current champion of 1st division.

After a week or so I got a reply that the B section only was for bands from countries who are developing a brass band movement so no Belgian band but VLAMO invited an extra band from Austria.

Even more angry I reacted that VLAMO is the only organisation who was not trying to promote Belgian banding, also if you see the fact that respected conductors like Luc Vertommen and Frans Violet were completely banned from any activity in Ostend (VLAMO only asked Willebroek a few weeks ago to play the farewell concert)

If you know that in Birmingham three English bands participated and in Norway three Norwegian bands..... a missed chance for Belgium to show of how good the bands over here are.

Bert Van Thienen 

Seven up? 

In response to Pauline Hind’s letter regarding the news item on me winning 7 out of 7 Europeans, I’d just like to clarify one or two points that seem to have caused some confusion and explain why this is indeed a unique case but not an overstated one.

It was reporting that I have never competed at the European and not won (100% record with most amount of wins).  Just before I joined YBS in 1998 they played at the European in Holland where they came 1st in the test piece, 8th in the own choice and 4th overall.  Pete was playing sop with them that day. 

I’m also fairly sure he has played at the competition with Grimethorpe in the past.  Indeed a great achievement by Pete however to have won so many European titles, probably the best soprano cornet player I’ll ever get to play in a band with!

Gavin Pritchard 

Own choice comparisons 

Andrew Grant asks if it’s fair for a band to enter an own-choice contest with a piece commissioned for the occasion: “How can an adjudicator tell how good a performance of a new piece is, if he has nothing to compare it against?”

I’m sure I won’t be the first (or only) person to suggest this, but how about using a copy of the score? Surely this is how all contests are (or at least should be) judged anyway…

David Morgan

Ranking question 

Ranking points are said to be cumulative and only diminish through time (ie stay the same for the first year)

Kirkintilloch Band were 5th at British Open last year (by deduction points look like 1st: 500 2nd: 400 3rd: 320 4th: 256 5th: 204.8) so would have received 204.8 points
- yet Kirkie sit with 172.93 points in total as at today's date?

Maybe its because I'm a beancounter but this makes no sense to me and I genuinely would like to understand how it works.

Would appreciate if your guy could explain a it would top a lot of head scratching!

Allan Wardrope

4BR Reply:
The query is understandable as the description on the site needs updated. The relevant line should read - British Open (500 for 1st, 333 for 2nd, 222 for 3rd, 148 for 4th and 99 for 5th, down to around 1 for 18th).

The points for this contest were actually adjusted in 2005, but the system description wasn’t properly adjusted the last time we updated it.

However, points for any contest start to depreciate immediately, so even if Kirkintilloch did get 204.8 points for their result at the Open last year, eight months later about 1/3 of them would have gone.

There isn’t a cut-off point when they all get chopped in half. Kirky’s biggest problem is that the contests in Scotland are worth less these days than they used to be, purely because none of the other top bands there have been getting good results in national or international competitions.   

Puzzled Blackburn 

I am still puzzled as to how our band (Blackburn & Darwen) came second in the area, won Butlins First Section but has fallen 18 places in the rankings from 86 to 104, yet shows +32 in the movement column.
You guys are either correct in your workings, in which case we would love an explanation as to how, or wrong, in which case we would like it rectified with the accompanying contrite apology!

Either way, please do not remain silent on the issue.

Martin Gernon
Blackburn and Darwen Band

4BR Reply:
Blackburn and Darwen began the year in 125th position, moving up to 86th after winning the 1st Section at Butlins (A rise of 39 places would seem reasonable for such an achievement in a national contest).

Second in the 1st Section at Blackpool meant a fall to 93 (2nd in an Area 1st Section is worth less in terms of ranking points than some other bands around the 80s and 90s were gaining in Championship Sections elsewhere – Lydbrook, Wrexham, Thoresby, Milnrow, Ila Brass etc. - so this is also understandable).

In the 28 March rankings, Blackburn and Darwen was shown as being up 32 places, but it should be noted that, as the 28th February set was an interim one only, the movement calculations in March were shown from the start of the year at that point.

A further drop of 11 places following a disappointing result at the Senior Cup also seems reasonable, especially at a busy point in the contesting season when other bands in the vicinity of 90th place are picking up points.

As far as I can see, the latest set shows a drop of 11 places, so I’m not sure where Martin Gernon is coming from there.

They will be delighted to know that, because of Foden’s victory and Wingates’ 3rd place at the English Masters, and the subsequent minor adjustment to all the North West Area bands’ points, they have moved up a place to 103.

Euro Reform  

Many thanks lads for your coverage of the European Championships in Belgium. 

I must agree with your thoughts about Euro reform in your recent Editorial too.  Much as the organisers would like the European to become a week long Festival, the reality is that they really need to try and help the competing bands rather than pay out money the rather pointless Composers, Conductors and Soloist competitions.

A number of the bands are now finding it difficult to raise the funds each year to represent their countries at the championships, and it would be a great pity if the contest just becomes an event for those who can afford to go rather than qualify to go. 

Paul Edmond

Definitive or just decent? 

Congratulations to Cory on winning the European Championships in Belgium. 

However, can anyone tell me why it is right for bands to be able to go to the contest with music that has been written for them, and them alone, as their own choice selection?

How can an adjudicator tell how good a performance of a new piece is, if he has nothing to compare it against?

Both Cory and Oberosterreich gave premiere performances of their works – one was deemed brilliant the other OK – yet how did the judges reach this conclusion?

Without the ability to make a comparison against a previous performance of a brand new work, how do the judges come to the conclusions they did – is Cory’s performance the definitive one of ‘On the Shoulders of Giants’ given it was awarded 98 points out of 100, and was the Austrians (given 89 points) merely a decent one?

Andrew Grant

Composer’s complaint 

Further to your editorial about the European Composers Competition and specifically the poor entry (only 13 entrants from the entire continent).

I can't speak for the rest of Europe's composers, but I can tell you why I didn't enter it.

I entered the previous competition, in 2006 I think, and the entry fee was 120 Euros. In addition I had to pay my bank a fee for transmitting the money, so it ended up costing me in excess of £100 to enter - and the exchange rate was better back then!
I didn't make it to the final, fair enough, but the thing that stuck in my craw a bit was that I got absolutely no feedback regarding the piece. I didn't even get the multiple copies of the score back.

As with band contests, I have no problem paying to enter and no problem with not winning, as long as I get a bit of honest feedback about what I could have done better.

As there were 3 judges, surely it wouldn't have been unduly arduous for one of them to write a brief critique of the piece and suggest some areas where improvement might be made?

The conductors' competition goes on for a week with elimination rounds and includes the opportunity for the conductors to speak to the bands and judges face-to-face - maybe if the composer’s competition included a similar element more people might be induced to have a go?

Andrew Baker 

Seven up! 

Having read the little news item about Gavin Pritchard, I think he may well be overstating his unique case.

I think Peter Roberts has also won 7 out of 7 at the Europeans – with YBS and Black Dyke.

A great achievement from both men though.

Pauline Hind   

Perceptive Podcast 

Well done on the coverage from the Europeans – especially the very unique podcast!

I haven’t laughed so much for ages, and it was great hear strong opinions from the three contributors too – funny, pointed, thoughtful and perceptive.

Keep up the good work lads, even if you did sound as if you had drunk a few Belgian beers!

Sheila Statham

Blackpool day out 

People may complain about Blackpool as a place to visit, but you must hand it to the organisers of the Spring Festival – they do a great job on the day. 

I got to the Winter Gardens at 9.00am and stayed all day. It may not be the greatest place to spend a Saturday, but I managed to listen to performances in each of the three halls and enjoy a cup of tea and something to eat without being ripped off.

All that and I got home in time to get the full results off 4BR before watching Match of the Day!

Can’t complain with that!

Ian Knighton

Wrong pic!

Whoever took the picture used on the 4BR news article ‘Strength and Shield’ is being more than a touch mischievous. 

The picture was actually taken at the 2008 event not this year and the organisers have now made sure that all signage is up to date and has the correct spelling.

What was printed was misleading and not correct. 

Derek Atkinson 

Death or Glory?

I was interested to read your news item of 13 May about the visit of Delph Band to Phil Goodwin in hospital - reminiscent of the scene in the film 'Brassed Off'.

It reminded me of the time when I was in The Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Ferndown Concert Brass (of which I was then MD) paid me a surprise visit the evening before I was due to have heart surgery.  

I was naturally delighted to see and hear them but a little concerned about the choice of music with which they struck up - the march 'Death or Glory'!

Tony Leggett

Marsden mistakes

I have noticed in the retrospective of the Senior Cup there are a couple of mistakes surrounding the Marsden write up.
Firstly the photo of the three players holing the cup are in fact our trombone section. 

Secondly, later in the article you have listed the winning soloist as Jason Smith when in fact he is Jason Evans.  

Apart from that a fanatstic job.  Keep up the good work 

Kath Coton
Marsden Band  

Cornet review? 

I just wonder if you have any plans of giving the Schagerl Charis Cornet a test run and review?

Would be interesting to see how a cornet like that stands against the old classical Besson, Yamaha, York... 

Would be interesting in my opinion at least to see.

 Mathias Divert 

Satisfied customer

Hello! I am a repeated customer. VERY satisfied with products and service - excellent , fast shipping and good e-mail contact.

Trinity Eldridge 

New dinner guests 

I really enjoy reading the "virtual" dinner invitation lists. Here are some suggestions for future hosts:

Composers: Peter Graham, Philip Sparke, Philip Wilby, Ken Downey, Ray Steadman-Allen, Michael Ball

Conductors and Players: Gary Cutt, David |King, Trevor Groom, John Berryman, Stephen Cobb, James Williams, Roger Webster, Maurice Murphy, Steve Sykes.

Tony Knowles 

Well done Fairey 

May I, through these pages, say congratulations to the Fairey’s band (and in particular the band’s soprano, Nick Walkley, who put together the new website)) on their excellent new website. It is clearly well thought out and presented in a very attractive way. 

I would be interested to know the opinions of other readers on their top 5 band websites (excluding their own!). 

Nick Garman

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