Around the Hall - opinions, arguements and general chat and
gossip from the British Open 2002
from the cost of a pint of beer, cup of tea and something to eat one of the great
joys of the British Open is that you are able to get speak to so many people in
and around the hall who have opinions about everything from Danny Tiatto's two
footed tackle for Man City to the current state of the brass band nation.
made our "Base Camp" in the cafeteria, next to a couple of power points
and went about our business of having cups of tea, discussing performances and
generally having a chat to all and sundry who took the opportunity to come up
an find out what a couple of strange chap were doing looking at laptops and tapping
away for all they were worth. Many thanks to all of you who spoke to us and offered
support and congratulations on our efforts - it was very much appreciated.
also managed to find out more than a few opinions about the test piece - and bloody
hell! It would be fair to say, that 85% of non bandsmen and women did not like
the piece, whilst the players we talked to fell roughly into a 50/50 split. Of
the 85%, comments ranged from "Cr*p", "Rubbish", "Worse
test piece I've ever heard", or our favourite, "Music to commit suicide
by". The players tended to be a bit more astute, but once more we continually
heard, "Too subtle and not hard enough", "Too bland", "Not
a hard enough test" and our favourite, "Not exactly Nigel bloody Maunsell
It must be said that "The Maunsell Forts" was not
your run of the mill fare, but it certainly didn't make a Leonard Cohen record
sound like a Brazilian Samba as many thought.
We spoke to Martin Mortimer
(a very astute, quietly spoken and intelligent chap) who wanted to know what people
felt, but who also very keen to try and make the contest more forward thinking.
He knows his demographics, is aware that people have an ever widening choice of
how they can spend their money and is more than aware that there is a need to
attract a wider audience to appreciate brass music than just the usual cognoscenti.
He felt the choice of test piece was a good one, he himself enjoyed the music
and he also felt that there was a need for new composers to be attracted to our
medium. That being said, he was also very respectful of the need to retain many
of the features that have made the Open the contest it is over the years - but
he did remind us that there was a bit of an uproar when "Spectrum" and
"Fireworks". You can be assured though, that he will take constructive
comments on board for next year.
Our travels also made us ideal "earwiggers"
and after just three bands we overheard one eminent judge (who has adjudicated
in the top section at Regional level) stating that, "It was the worse test
piece since "Songs for BL"!
Some of our leading MD's didn't like
it either, with a few (they wished to remain anonymous) telling us that it was
"fine music, but not a great test piece". When asked why, they felt
it didn't do enough to test the bands. A couple we spoke to after the results
felt that their concerns were justified because of the result!!
felt the same - although once more, nearly all didn't take the opportunity to
listen to more than one or two other bands. Those who did listen still had strong
opinions though and there were a number of comments from players that were very
well thought out and intelligent. Nearly all felt it was fine music, but not a
great test piece and illuminated their arguments carefully.
it lacked a "sense of going somewhere" and that it never quite explored
in depth the original themes that it set out. They also felt that the inner sections
were too similar in style and that much of the writing was too subtle perhaps.
Those who sat quite away from the stage (many players sat in the top most tier
of the hall) said that they could not hear a lot of the very detailed low octave
writing such as letter P or S.
Many felt that all they could really do was
"play the notes" as there seemed little scope for interpretation, whilst
many just thought it was a piece that didn't capture the imagination of the players
- didn't excite them in rehearsal or on stage - and that it was a bit too bland.
Again though, the main complaint was about its suitability as a test piece rather
than as a piece of fine brass writing.
A couple of comments were also made
of the judges - with many asking why were the same old faces still in the box.
The respect for the likes of Relton and Read was manifest, but many asked why
can't some new talent be blooded. Michael Ball's appointment was welcomed, but
many thought William Relton was now too far out of touch with day to day contesting.
When pressed, nearly all thought David Read was our best judge, but that he should
be joined by the likes of Martin Winter, Edward Gregson or Howard Snell (the names
cropped up on more than a few occasions).
After the results we were bombarded
with people asking for our opinions, whilst most gave theirs freely. The winners
were universally agreed upon, with Fodens and YBS featuring highly. Many though
Dyke a touch lucky to get third place, but Brighouse's fourth was felt as a fair
return. Many had Williams Fairey high up with Leyland, Tredegar and Grimethorpe
getting lots of mentions. Cwmaman's fifth place was greeted unfortunately with
next to down right amazement and even more unfortunately with some rather crass
comments from many quarters. It was a surprise, yes, but some of the comments
bordered on the idiotic - contesting will always through up a few surprises.
asked what our top six was, and we told them - and showed them on our note books.
Ours was BAYV Cory, YBS, Black Dyke, Brighouse and Rastrick, Fodens. We had a
choice for 6th between Tredegar, Grimethorpe and Williams Fairey.
was that for another year - thanks to all who took the opportunity to speak to
us - especially Peter Roberts who won a pint of beer from 4BR for pointing out
that question 109 in our 150 facts and figures was wrong and that Eric Ball, not
Gilbert Vinter was in the box in 1969 - unfortunately Vinter was in his own box
later that year. We challenged him to tell us the number of the question, and
the bugger had it spot on! Sheer class!