2011: January

A breakfast response from C Brian Buckley makes things very clear...

A breakfast response from Buckley

In his letter headed – ‘Choking on the cornflakes’ - Russell Cavanagh of Sheffield, made it clear that my response, on behalf of ABBA, to Paul Andrews' recent ‘Wire in the Blood’ article induced a choking fit at Russell's multitasking breakfast table. Disappointingly, he did not explain the reason(s) for his unpleasant experience!

Instead, Russell hurls a diatribe of preposterous notions at Steve Pritchard-Jones and myself that includes apparently ‘unashamedly declaring (Russell's emotive language), that at St. George's Hall, Bradford in March 2010 (nine months ago), we found it impossible to separate the seven bands below the podium winners at the conclusion of the performance in the Yorkshire Region's Section 2 contest’.

I certainly recall handing an agreed Order of Merit listing the competing bands in first to last positions with no ties, to the contest controller prior to arriving on stage to participate in the results ceremony.

Having completed this listing just before addressing the audience the adjudicators would not have made such a foolish and misleading statement from the stage. 

Furthermore, Russell then insinuates that the adjudicators, ‘had shuffled the losing Yorkshire bands into NO PARTICULAR ORDER’, thereby contradicting his earlier statement.  The archive of results confirms that the bands in Section 2 were placed in the sequence of first to last (10th) place with no ties.

Russell may recall that the two top placed bands - Knottingley and South Yorkshire Police also achieved significant podium places at the National Finals held in Harrogate in September 2010.

Their success was due recognition of the consistently high quality of their contest performances as acknowledged by different panels of adjudicators, confirming that, contrary to Russell Cavanagh's observation that those who adjudicated these proficient bands did not display qualities that, ‘promote excellence in the world of brass band contesting’ (again Russell's words, not mine).

To return to Russell's insistence on discrediting Steve Pritchard-Jones and myself, he recalls that at Bradford in March 2010,’top-up fees were accepted without blushing, whilst they looked for a quick exit from Bradford’. 

Does this comment reveal remarkable powers of both observation and recall by Russell?  Certainly not!!

I readily recall receiving the agreed standard fee for adjudicating at this contest together with the customary expenses that were necessarily incurred in attending the contest.  I did not receive or expect to receive a "top-up fee”, an expression that Russell used but failed to explain what it means!

Finally, there is Russell's assertion of a "quick exit from Bradford". There must be a case of mistaken identity or a serious lapse in Russell's power of recall, since I distinctly remember sitting in St. George's Hall listening to every performance in the Championship Section on the Sunday evening. 

I also remember remaining in the Hall to witness the announcement of the results and the subsequent prize awards ceremony. I also chatted about the performances with a number of interested people.

As indicated previously, on behalf of ABBA it was necessary to highlight inaccuracies in Paul Andrews’s recent article.  This has obviously incensed Russell Cavanagh who has used his imagination and not factual information in his attempt to discredit me and by association Steve Pritchard-Jones. 

Russell is unable to validate his published text, so he should take a ‘quick exit’ by withdrawing his unsubstantiated remarks and apologise accordingly.

C. Brian Buckley

Hitting a raw nerve

In response to the comments made by Brian Buckley Re: Wire in the Blood article. 

Having spent some time reading and digesting both letters I am staggered at the reply by Mr Buckley and his lack of understanding of Paul Andrews letter.  Paul’s comments are spot on, and I suspect they have hit a raw nerve.

In an attempt to defend ABBA there is I believe an unjustified attack on the recent contest record of Wire Brass, and as the secretary of an organisation set up to serve bands, his comments have in no way constructively addressed the points made by Paul.

Perhaps instead of scrutinising Paul Andrews and Wire Brass, maybe time would be better spent analysing recent adjudicating performances such as the 2010 Pontins Contest.

It may be that things sound completely different through the walls of the adjudicator’s box although I’m sure that wrong notes, poor ensemble, missed entries and poor tuning sound pretty much the same where ever you are in the hall.

Anyone who thinks this is a case of sour grapes on my part is absolutely right. Losing prize money after being clearly misplaced leaves a bad taste.  Maybe scrutinising adjudicators is the way forward - we might find out those who are qualified to adjudicate and those who just think they are.

Although it’s very disappointing to lose Wire Brass from contesting, I’m grateful to Paul for having the courage to stand up and make his comments and suggestions public.

Having spoken out myself in the recent past I know how much trouble it can land you in.  We are lucky to live in a country where we have the right to free speech, although some people and organisations fail to recognise this basic right and consider themselves to be above any criticism. 

Yes! Paul is right. It is indeed time for change.

Wayne Ruston

Wake up 4BR!

So we can read the following comment on your site about David Childs:

“No other player from the banding world has so successfully made the transition to being recognised as a true world class professional performer” 

I read your site for many years and yes, I know, in your eyes the brass band is only Bob Childs, Nick Childs, David Childs, Cory and Black Dyke.

OK, we have understood it... I have the greatest respect for those personalities and those bands but, hey, please, wake up!!!!!

There is however some point of ridiculous which it's not possible to go beyond!

Did you already hear for example about Ian Bousfield, Principal trombone of Wiener Philharmoniker? 

Do you see really the difference between to work with Pierre Boulez, Niklaus Harnoncourt or Daniel Baremboim in one of the greatest orchestras of the world and to play with Bob Childs or Allan Withington?

Do you see the difference between to play Mahler and Bruckner or to play Wilby and Sparke?

Do you consider really that David Childs and Ian Bousfield play in the same category?

First - the brass band is not limited to the Childs family and you could remember that there are some other great bands and music personalities (how many articles on 4barsrest about Fodens, Brighouse and Grimethorpe for example compared to those written about Cory and Black Dyke?); then the music is not limited to brass band....

S. Delafontaine

Talking sense at last...

Is 4BR finally talking some common sense?

After reading the review of the 2011 Regional CD, I am beginning to think they are finally get things right!

The choices made for some of the sections (Carnival Romain, Resurgam and A Little Light Music) are nonsense.

Have the Music Panel actually heard what the overall standard of lower section banding is at present (and not just the finalists at Harrogate)?

I am sure the audiences will enjoy the best bands playing Paganini Variations and maybe the Fourth Section bands will get something out of John Golland’s work, but the other choices look like nothing more than ‘personal favourites’ to me.

I agree with 4BR – I fear for our banding souls with Resurgam in the Second Section!
Keith Symmonds

A stinker... 

Hi fella's. Much as I like your site and what you do, I can't always agree with what you say.

I think your last editorial stinks.

A great British actor has just passed away and you are looking for a PR opportunity that's been lost – as you say: ‘the preposterous film image of ‘Danny’ cycling home from band practice, resplendent in uniform, whistling ‘The Floral Dance’.

Fair enough.

But without Pete Postlethwaite and the film ‘Brassed Off!’,  and all the subsequent theatre productions of the story, which have involved lots of different bands, giving us much needed exposure and income, I believe the movement would be worse off.

You talk to anyone outside of banding about banding and they can usually tell you about ‘Brassed Off!’. People recall the film with the kind of sentimentality that was portrayed in the film.

I can’t remember exactly the quotes but, ‘that sound’ was referred to and, ‘I love the sound of a brass band’. Many of the public say the same things.

Tell me of anything that has happened since the film, that has enhanced our profile or reminded the general public that we still exist. I don't think we should be having a go at the way we've been cast, we should be thankful we got cast!!!

We played ‘Eventide’ for Pete last week in his memory and for his contribution to brass bands.

John Ludden

Choking on the cornflakes...

ABBA Secretary C. Brian Buckley's response to Paul Andrews recent ‘Wire in the Blood’ article made me choke on my cornflakes, thereby pebble-dashing my laptop screen in the coughing fit that ensued.

Is this the same C. Brian Buckley who I heard, along with fellow adjudicator Steve Pritchard-Jones, declaring unashamedly at St George's Hall that, ‘it was impossible task to separate’ the seven bands below the podium winners in the Yorkshire Area 2nd Section in 2010?

If adjudicating as many as 10 bands - for that is all there were in 2010 - is too much to ask of an ABBA adjudicator or two, what would these men have done in the bygone days of 25 to 35 bands competing per section?

Indeed, given the aggregate points system which determines promotion/relegation at the Areas, how could Messrs. Buckley and Pritchard-Jones - having apparently shuffled losing Yorkshire bands into no particular order - accept their "top-up fees" without blushing and looking for a quick exit from Bradford?

And let's not comment that, in 2010, Mr Pritchard-Jones achieved 10th place in the Midlands 3rd Section Area competition conducting West Mercia Constabulary Band.

Do any of the above points suggest that contest adjudicators possess the quality, consistency and work ethic required for promoting excellence in the world of brass band contesting?

Russell Cavanagh

Views of an insignificant soprano 

Just a few comments for your comments page from an insignificant Sop player...
I have to agree full with a couple of things I have read recently on 4BR.
1. Paul Andrews article is for me bang on the money, from a great ambassador of the brass band movement whose experience is vast and knowledgeable. 

Paul is one of many unsung brass band heroes who over the years have put in an immense amount of time and effort to promote the movement throughout the sections.
2. I have to agree with Dr I K Tinsley & Jim Genders, for me Alan Wycherley is by far the best we have at the moment and when it comes to the areas next year he will lead the way and the younger soprano players of today would be wise to go and have a listen to a master at work.
Kevin Donaldson

Buckley nails Wire

Once again Brian Buckley’s assessment of just where Wire Brass and Paul Andrews stood in the real world of brass band contesting was an accurate response to his rather ill informed article on 4BR.

Unfortunately, Wire Brass had to compete in an area where there were at least four other top line bands who where consistently better than them during their tenure in the Championship Section.

Brian points out that Foden’s, Fairey and Leyland posted consistently better results than Wire at the Area Championships (you could possible add Wingates to that list too), and whilst a couple of 7th places at the Grand Shield are to be respected, they do not show a band that can be said to have competed year in year out at the same level as these rivals.

Paul should be congratulated for what he achieved at Wire Brass, but reminded that those achievements were also fairly predictable too.

Paul Matthews


As always lads I have enjoyed the 4BR Awards – especially the 4BR Band of the Year.

Nice to see that you don’t just concentrate on the ‘star’ players as you call them to fill all the position, and that you look outside the UK too.

However, you do seem to be a bit ‘starstruck’ by Brass Band Oberosterreich’s players don’t you? After hearing the band at the Europeans, are the soprano and trombone player really that good – better than Brett Baker or Paul Duffy at Black Dyke?

Perhaps if we heard them more often we may find out just how good they really are.

David Preston

It's not all about David Childs... 

Re your comment “No other player from the banding world has so successfully made the transition to being recognised as a true world class professional performer” with regard to David Childs.

I have nothing but respect for him both as an amazing player and as a nice guy I have been fortunate to meet on several occasions.

However, I would ask what players such as Maurice Murphy, Phil Cobb, Ian Bousefield, Dudley Bright, Bram Tovey, Don Lusher, Phil Smith and many others have to do to be recognised as a world class professional performer away from the brass banding sphere?
Mark Hall

What about whatever?

Just scrolling through Articles on your website. Could I introduce another contender for the ‘Solo CD of the Year’ category please?

It’s called ‘Whatever it takes’ and its by John Lee, and he's accompanied by Boobs and Brass. John is a fine player, the accompaniments are tastefully done, and its for a good cause - Breast Cancer. That's my vote!!!

All the very best for Christmas, and here's to a good 2011.

Roger Briddon

4BR Reply:
It seems others agreed with you Roger - it did rather well in the voting.

The Marple Band - Marple Band Family Christmas Concert

Friday 18 December • Marple Conservative Club, church Lane, Marple, SK6 6AY

Black Dyke Band - Brighouse & Rastrick, Huddersfield Town Hall

Saturday 27 March • Corporation St, Huddersfield HD1 2TA

Contest: 100thSpring Festival

Saturday 8 May • 97 Church St, Blackpool, FY1 1HL

Contest: Whit Friday March Contests

Friday 28 May • Saddleworth & Tameside OL3

Contest: 168th British Open

Saturday 11 September • Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA

Chadderton Band

November 17 • Chadderton Band is a non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are a friendly band looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections + EUPH and percussion. Most welcome to come along and have a blow give us a try.

Crewe Brass

November 12 • Crewe Brass require an Eb or Bb Bass to complete the "engine room" line up. We are also seeking a Tuned Percussionist to complete our section.

Stuart Black

BA (Hons) Music
Conductor, Teacher, Flugel soloist


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