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2012: June

This month were gave our opinion on boldness at the Nationals, innovation at Brass in Concert and the Spring Festival and praise the audiences at the Europeans.

Bold musical choices

Kapitol Promotions has been seen in some quarters as an inherently conservative custodian of the National Finals.

However, the decision to commission three new works for the event in Cheltenham and to use Howard Snell’s kaleidoscopic arrangement of ‘Daphis & Chloe’ at London must rank as one of the most innovative and welcome for many years.

It also reflects the organisers new found confidence in both contest weekends too – following a welcome response to the modern facilities at Cheltenham Racecourse, and the growing sense of occasion that is now being felt by performers and listeners alike at the Royal Albert Hall.

The boldness of these musical decisions is to be especially applauded though.

Howard Snell’s brilliance in understand the sound palette capabilities of the brass band is unsurpassed – the crowning glory of which has always been his stunning realisation of Ravel’s mesmeric score.

The audience is in for the rarest of contesting treats in Kensington if the very best bands play to the top of their form.

Meanwhile, listeners at The Centaur in September can also enjoy three diverse works (time constraints perhaps stopped a fourth being employed) from composers who certainly bring exciting musical voices to the stage in Tom Davoren, R Huw Cole and Jonathan Bates.

A bold musical strategy has been employed by Kapitol and the National Music Panel – and one that deserves to succeed.  

Make sure you book your tickets now.

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Innovation at BiC and Spring Festival

In many ways, the decisions of the Brass in Concert and Spring Festival organisers to totally revamp their adjudication process and to consider an overhaul of the draw mechanisms respectively, also show a welcome display bold innovation.

Brass in Concert has certainly listened to what had become a growing chorus of frustration from competitors, listeners and critics alike in implementing a much fairer, much more focussed adjudication system.

Now the bands can entertain what has always been an appreciative audience, without having to balance it by trying to artificially manipulate their programmes to fit preconceived ideas of prescriptive presentation and performance.

It may take a little getting used to, but in doing so Brass in Concert has opened up an exciting long term future for itself with this confident approach.

So too the Spring Festival, which has shown a forward thinking desire to help the 80 financially hard pressed bands that contribute to making the Winter Garden’s event such a unique banding occasion .

Forget any complaints about the judges now having an inkling of what bands will play where – that’s an adjudication red herring. If you don’t trust the judges don’t employ them.

This is all to do with helping bands plan in advance for what can be a very expensive and time consuming weekend by being able to plan their contest day in advance.

It’s a pragmatic, sensible and well thought out proposal that demands to be implemented as soon as possible.

Perhaps other major contest may want to follow these leads in their own ways too?

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In praise of the European audiences

Even though there was so much to enjoy at the recent European Championship in Rotterdam, the lasting impression of the whole event was the way in which the audiences at the De Doelen Hall became such an integral part of the musical experience.

The responses both before and after performances weren’t displays of biased, jingoistic cheering and brainless flag waving – every band was treated to an enthusiastic appreciation of their excellence.

Regardless of which country they represented, the audience sat in to listen to them all; invariably standing, cheering and applauding until their hands ached after performances had drawn to their conclusion.

This was a fabulous example of what a modern, inclusive brass band contest should be all about; musical entertainment that engages the listener’s response on both the intellectual as well as the simply visceral level.  

It was also a brilliant reminder of just what makes a brass band contest a truly thrilling experience too.  

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The Marple Band - Marple and Hawk Green Bands Concert Compstall

Saturday 7 November • St Pauls Church, Compstall Rd, Compstall, Stockport, Cheshire SK6 5HU


The Marple Band - Marple Band Family Christmas Concert

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


Contest: Butlins Mineworkers Festival

Saturday 9 January • Roman Bank, Ingoldmells, Skegness PE25 1NJ


Contest: Butlins Mineworkers Festival

Sunday 10 January • Roman Bank, Ingoldmells, Skegness PE25 1NJ


Black Dyke Band - Brighouse & Rastrick, Huddersfield Town Hall

Saturday 27 March • Corporation St, Huddersfield HD1 2TA


Amesbury Town Band

October 21 • Players and beginners of any standard are always warmly welcomed especially some more solo cornets and a spare percussionists to help out existing players. Feel free to drop in even if you just fancy a blow or want to try another instrument. After Covid!


Shipston Town Band

October 8 • We are currently looking to recruit a Bass Trombone BBb bass and EEb bass to bring the band up to strength ready for when things return to normal. We are graded section 3 in the Midlands taking part in a good range of concerts and contests,


Milton Keynes Brass

October 5 • Applications are invited for a baritone player for Milton Keynes Brass. We are a friendly 1st section band based in Milton Keynes and rehearsals take place on Tuesday evenings, 7:45pm-10:00pm, with additional rehearsals before contests.


Sandy Smith


Conductor, teacher, adjudicator and arranger


               

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