facebook twitter rss vimeo

*
banner

2014 British Open Championship — Postcard from Symphony Hall

It seems that the brass band general public has fallen in love again with major contesting at the British Open after a memorable day in Birmingham

The hall
Packed in like sardines...

The wry smile of one of the band traders at Symphony Hall on the weekend summed up the success of the 2014 British Open perfectly.

When asked if they had enjoyed a successful, profitable day, the reply was something of a positive negative. 

“A bit quieter than normal, but most people seemed to be more concerned this year about going in and listening to the bands,” they said with an accompanying arched eyebrow.  

“When they came out in the breaks though they seemed pretty happy to spend more money as they were not grumbling about the test piece to the first person they met! It was a little bit odd to tell you the truth.”

Winning formula

A little odd indeed: For it seems the British Open has stumbled upon a winning formula for getting the general banding public to fall in love with major contesting again.

A great deal of credit for this brass band version of ‘Friends Re-united’ goes to Karyn and Martin Mortimer, who now take much closer involvement in the day to day decisions that in the past saw the contest rather meander on its pleasant way.

Falling in love agaoin
Love rivals: Mr and Mrs Childs of Flowers and Grimethorpe...

As a result, with more targeted advertising and use of social media, greater consideration over test piece selection, the more liberal approach to player registration finding universal approval from the competing bands, and transparency over the whole running of the contest, the British Open has been startlingly revitalised. 

Sold out

For once the tickets and programmes were actually sold out, the study scores were snapped up in a blink of an eye and for the vast majority of the day the hall was pretty full with well satisfied listeners. No wonder the traders were spending more time talking to themselves rather than potential customers.

It meant there was also a spring in the step of the hard working organisers led by the indefatigable Frank Hodges - who wore the type of smile that comes with satisfied exhaustion. 

Fine compere

A slightly earlier start, some excellent pre-contest entertainment, well planned breaks, a balanced adjudication team, a results ceremony that didn’t take too long, a fine compere in Dave Hayward (who has really grown into the role) and above all, a test piece that everyone enjoyed, made for a memorable day.

Dave Hayward
Growing into the role: Compere Dave Hayward

Moved

Composer Ed de Boer, who was making his first visit to the event, was genuinely moved by the reception the audience gave him on his introduction - offering to write a new work for the contest for the future. Someone should snap him up on his offer as soon as possible.  

“It was magnificent,” he later told 4BR. “The bands, the performers, the audience. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Ed de Boer
Here's one I wrote earlier.... Ed de Boer explains a bit about his piece

The only sadness was that another fine composer John McCabe (who has also written memorably works used at this event over the years) was not well enough to accept the presentation of a merited Iles Medal.

Warm hearted

The warm hearted obituary to Bob Mullholland - one of the nicest men ever to grace and help the event, also reminded you of a brass band man who will be greatly missed - although if you are near a Waterstone’s bookshop make sure you buy his book about the Sam Longden/Brian Clough years at his beloved Derby County.  

Future prosperity

Meanwhile, the future prosperity of the British Open was also well represented by the Helen Minshall’s deserved Mortimer Medal for her outstanding working in inspiring a new generation of young people to love everything brass, whilst the latest crop of talented higher education students, Stephanie Wilkins, Tilly Tompkins, Ashley Jeffers and Matthew Shaw were the grateful recipients of the Harry Mortimer Trust Awards.

Phiip Harper
Hand on heart...or wallet for Philip Harper...

Open door

The last two years have been a huge success for the British Open, which in turn directly benefits the hosting of the expensive, but essential Spring Festival in Blackpool.  

The door has already been 'Opened' to the European nations of banding (which could well include the Scots come next year), with hopes that a number of them will take the first steps along the path to Symphony Hall by making the trip to Blackpool in the future.

And with moves to further develop working partnerships with sponsors, advertisers, broadcasters and traders, the future of the British Open seems to be as bright as at any time in its 162 year history. 

That’s what falling in love again does for you.

Iwan Fox



Regent Hall Concerts - RAF Chamber Ensemble

Friday 23 February • Regent Hall. (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C 2DJ (opposite RESERVED) W1C 2DJ


The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - Chirst Church Ilkley

Saturday 24 February • Christchurch,. The Grove,. Ilkley LS29 9LW


Elland Silver Band -

Saturday 24 February • All Saints Church Savile Road Elland HX5 0NH


Milton Keynes Brass - "Blow away those Winter Blues"

Saturday 24 February • The United Reformed Church. High Street. Newport Pagnell MK16 0FH


The Cobham Band -

Saturday 24 February • The Vera Fletcher Hall . 4 Embercourt Road. Thames Ditton. KT7 0LQ KT70LQ


West Somerset Brass Band

February 23 • West Somerset Brass is looking to strengthen its cornet and baritone section. We are a community band playing all over Somerset and hope to undertake a tour to France later in the year. If you can play whatever standard please make contact


The Corsham Band

February 22 • Having now been promoted to the 2nd Section for the forthcoming Contest season, the band are now looking for a back row cornet player, 2nd or 3rd, to join our team


Thundersley Brass Band

February 20 • Thundersley Brass, a Championship section band based in Benfleet, Essex are welcoming applicants for the following positions (seats negotiable)from April 2018:. Eb Bass. BBb Bass.


Jack Capstaff

Bmus (Hons)
Conductor | Composer