Editorial ~ 2010: May


This month we give our opinions on the national interest, the Age of Enlightenment in Scotland and praise Eurovision.

The National Interest

According to David Cameron and Nick Clegg, coalition can work in the ‘national interest’.

It may not be a bad idea then to ask them both if they would like to lead the negotiations at the forthcoming ‘Brass Band Summit’ in Birmingham on 3rd July.

The meeting is taking place to discuss the ‘national interest’ of the British banding movement - one that is without doubt in need of radical overhaul if it is to survive well into the 21st century.

The event proclaims ‘Time to move forward – a key event to define the future’. The language being used is that of ‘aspiration’ and ‘vision’, ‘stakeholders’, ‘key leaders’, ‘strategies’ and ‘frameworks’ –  the same verbiage of nothingness, that sees ‘key leaders in the sector’ claim they enjoyed ‘open and frank discussions’.

Summit meetings only work if those who come to the table discuss the issues are prepared to give up at least a modicum of self interest for the common good.

And who from the list of contest promoters, band associations and committees and representative bodies - including the promoters of this initiative, the British Federation of Brass Bands and the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators, is actually prepared to do that ?

Forget the tinkering around the edges. The key to it all comes with addressing the democratic question of how we fund the governance of banding in the UK.

Bin the woolly ‘visions’ and the ‘aspirations’, and concentrate on the money.

Getting the banding electorate to fund a true national representative body is the first, and perhaps the only, question that needs to be discussed.

Only then can the movement start to contemplate some sort of ‘vision’ inspired future that is truly in the national interest..

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The Age of Enlightenment

The actual Age of Enlightenment may have taken place around 250 years ago, but it seems the Scots are once again upholding its progressive core values of critical questioning of traditional institutions and customs.

Not for the first time, the Scottish Brass Band Association is prepared to try something different (if not new) in a bid to breath new life into something as dated and prescribed as a brass band contest.

The decision to employ three outstanding musicians in Howard Snell, Hannes Buchegger and Simon Dobson as an open adjudication panel for the Scottish Open Championship in November in Perth is to be applauded.

Strangely for the Scots, its not that radical or particularly inventive a decision - but it is an enlightened one, especially at a time when the desire of others to remain bound by the paralysing straight jacket of ‘heritage’ and ‘tradition’ is fast becoming a means of ensuring terminal decline.

There will be complaints and quibbles, and those who will base their own minds up from what they heard in the bar, but you cannot take issue with the overriding fact of the matter, that the Scots are once again are showing the rest of the banding movement the way towards a brighter future.

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In praise of Eurovision

The excellent European Brass Band Championships in Linz in Austria, was a triumph of organisational good management and fine music making.

It was also a triumph of innovative coverage too, with World of Brass, through British Bandsman, providing a live internet stream from the Brucknerhaus that gave subscribers the opportunity to enjoy a taste of the action as it happened.  

Hosted by the excellent Simone Rebello, a wider audience got to hear the bands perform some wonderful music, whilst also enjoying interviews, views and opinions, all broadcast professionally from an event that continues to welcome an open and progressive relationship with the banding media.

Initial reports suggested that viewing figures were encouraging, and despite the undoubted expense, it seems the coverage could well become an integral part of a competition that is now without doubt, the leading brass band competition in the world.

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