Editorial ~ 2005: May


This month we give our views on the future of the EBBA European; the Spring Festival need for expansion, and the great Brian Evans.

European Crossroads

You have to forgive 4BR for coming back time and time again to the question of  the European Championships, but its future has such serious consequences to how we want our movement both here in the UK and in Europe to develop.

The week long festival that was held in Groningen, gave EBBA the ideal opportunity to show the banding world that the future of the Championships was both safe and could prosper in their hands. However, it was an opportunity missed.

We have given our reasons why 4BR felt that this was so: poor communication between the National organisers and EBBA seemed to us to be the kernel for the small, but irritating faux pas' that occurred too often throughout the week, whilst a current lack of foresight and long term planning was an evident weakness. 

However, the blueprint for the Festival (and it really is a Festival) is excellent; the range of subsidiary events has real value, whilst the enthusiasm of member nations, such as France and Lithuania in their own particular ways, offers constructive hope for the future.

With plans for the 2006 rival Kapitol run European Championships at a tentative and uncertain embryonic stage, the pendulum which has swung back and forth between the pair seems to be very much balanced in EBBA's favour at present.

Crucially, they also have their future events set in place, and even more crucially, they have the support of the vast majority of National Associations and individual bands to call on as well.

What they therefore have to ensure is that come Belfast in 2006, they do not make the same mistakes as they did in Gronengin. If they do, the goodwill and support they can at present call on will disappear, and the pendulum will swing away to their rivals, possibly for good.  

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Grand Shield needs more not less.

At a time when the future of many brass band contests in the UK is uncertain, it is a great joy to report that the Spring Festival has in the past couple of years blossomed.

Not only has it found an ideal home at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, it has also been revitalised by the organisers to such an extent that there could be a real possibility of them putting on a fourth section to add to the current pyramid structure of the Shield, Cup and Trophy.

One of the reasons it has become so successful is surely due to the fact that the bands now know exactly what they have to do, to make it from the bottom rung of the Senior Trophy to the British Open itself, and how long it could possibly take them. Where as in years gone by, participation at the Open and the Shield was a question of patronage, now it is a question of merit.

However, the one remaining problem remains with the relegation of bands from the Senior Trophy each year and their replacement by bands, who at present are chosen to replace them. This still has the air of patronage about it.

With this in mind, would it not be a good idea for the organisers to link qualification to the Senior Trophy (or possible new Fourth Section) from other contests around the country, or even Europe.  

For instance, a link between the Spring Festival and Pontins and Butlins, so that the winners, or top four bands who are not already qualified for the Senior Trophy get invitations to compete at Blackpool. Also, if there is to be a fourth section, why not the winners or second placed bands at specifically chosen events for example such as Tameside, Buxton or SCABA in England, or Land O' Burns in Scotland, Ebbw Vale in Wales, the Irish Championships, or even the Nationals in Norway, Holland or Belgium for that matter.  

It would take away the need for bands to believe that they have ask to be rewarded with a place, and replace it with a invitation based on success, as well as giving those contests an extra boost, and possible greater entrants as well. 

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Brian Evans

The death of someone you grew up with who was something of a hero, gives you an uncomfortable feeling of your own mortality; for in your eyes, they remain as forever young and brilliant as they were when they were in their prime.

In Wales, we have been celebrating the fact that our rugby team has just won its first Grand Slam since 1978 27 years ago, yet the mental images of the likes of Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies and the rest are as fresh in the memory as if they just trudged off victorious from Cardiff Arms Park yesterday.    It comes as something of a shock to know that some of that great team are now over 60 years of age.

The death of Brian Evans is one such reminder, that like Gareth Edwards even the very greatest of players are mortal after all. Even ones with careers such as his, that spanned the last great period of Mortimer inspired banding success with CWS (Manchester) right through to his latter performances Navigation Inn bands and Kings of Brass and took in six major title wins, countless solo prizes and innumerable contest and concert performances of note.

His was a very special talent a talent that made people come and listen to him play, to come and hear him perform on the great test pieces of the 1960s and 1970s and to hear play his great show piece slow melody solos.  His was a talent that made him part of banding folklore of performances of wit, or lyrical beauty, of virtuosity and daring. His was a talent that made for great stories in pubs and bars long into the night.

And his was a talent that will not be forgotten. For in all our memories, he will remain forever young and brilliant.

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