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2014: July

A return to the usual strong 4BR opinions on the increase in BBE funding, EEBA's need for change and in praise of solo contests

Common sense and realism prevails for BBE

At a time when publically funded organisations and voluntary bodies are told to keep looking for ways not just to tighten their financial grant belts, but to justify the need to have one in the first place, news of Brass Bands England’s funding increase from Arts Council England is certainly cause for optimistic celebration.

Through the diligence and expertise of the work led by BBE Chairman Mike Kilroy and others, the dark days of the BFBB’s troubled existence now seem like distant nightmare memories. 

It has taken time - and a complete re-evaluation of purpose. 

Gone are the fairytale ambitions and ludicrous objectives, the weak management structures and out-dated control desires: Common sense and realism prevails.

A 142% ‘real terms’ increase in three year funding may seem enormous, but in reality is a financial reflection of well thought proposals; one Operations Manager and three regional Liaison Officers, with a remit to implement well defined strategic planning.

However, BBE realises that it is not a blank cheque to be spent on grandiose proposals. Over the next three years, the ability to act as the catalyst for incremental development and long term investment from the grass roots up will be the key.  

As a result Brass Bands England could well take yet another significant step towards becoming the central governing body English banding has long cried out for, and long deserved.

What do you think?
Send an email to: comments@4barsrest.com


Reappraisal and overhaul for EBBA

With Brass Bands England showing that a realistic re-evaluation of the very reason for its existence can lead to increased government backed financial support, what now for the European Brass Band Association?

The dust may have finally settled in a troubled championship in Perth, but the air surrounding the hosting of future events throughout Europe (and especially the UK) remains choked with misunderstanding and, as events in Scotland showed, a certain degree of mistrust.

The organisation now costs over €60,000 a year to run - and that is before a single cent falls into the coffers of the country that wishes to host an event EBBA simply owns the title to. 

It is a long term business model that desperately needs radical reappraisal and overhaul.

At present EBBA is a governing body that in effect governs nothing at all; an organisation that has no full time or part time members of staff, no headquarters, no Chief Executive or Development Officer, or, even more crucially, a remit to govern European wide player registration or contesting rules.

For its part EBBA has tried (and failed once) to gain financial backing from the various (and complex) European Union bodies that cover cultural and artistic integration - and plans to try again.

Yet, despite the encouraging rhetoric and hard work of its current Executive Committee, it remains a far sighted hope rather than a realistic short term aspiration.

European banding needs a strong, professional, financially robust and transparent governing body.  

EBBA can and should provide that: It certainly has the people associated with it who can lead and inspire, administer and cooperate.  

Whether it really wishes to do so though remains open to question. Perhaps it should consider investing some of its current funding stream to find out. 

What do you think?
Send an email to: comments@4barsrest.com


In praise of solo contests

It appears solo and ensemble competitions are enjoying something of a renaissance. 

Not a week goes by without 4BR being sent the latest results from a well organised event somewhere in the UK, packed to the gunnels with enthusiastic performers of all ages and abilities.

It is news to gladden the heart; a reinvigorated aspect of brass band competition that has lasting benefit to everyone that takes part. 

Playing a solo in front of an audience breeds confidence and musicianship, quartets and ensembles enhance team building and musical understanding.  

If you win, brilliant: If you don’t - try again.  

Best of all though: Just keep enjoying the experience. 

What do you think?
Send an email to: comments@4barsrest.com



The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - EYMS Brass Band at Hull City Hall

Saturday 20 January • Hull City Hall. 67 Carr Lane,. Kingston upon Hull HU1 3RQ


Black Dyke Band - Morley Town Hall

Saturday 20 January • Morley Town Hall, Morley, Leeds LS27 8DX


Wantage Silver - Gary Curtin

Saturday 20 January • Reading Central Salvation Army RG1 7JR


The Hepworth Band - Soprano Sarah Ogden

Sunday 21 January • Christ Church, Sude Hill, New Mill, Holmfirth HD9 7BL


The Fairey Band -

Sunday 21 January • The Hawth Theatre. Hawth Avenue. Crawley. RH10 6YZ RH106YZ


Strata Brass

January 20 • Bb/Eb BASS.Rehearsals SUN/WED,bandroom 5 mins from J35/36 M1 (Hoyland).. Yorkshire 1st Section under dynamic MD Jonathan Bates (Solo Horn - Fodens Band).. Sensible concert/contest schedule.


Sandhurst Community Brass

January 20 • We would be delighted to hear from any tenor horn players who are looking to join an enthusiastic, very friendly band. Any other players can apply, we can find a space for you


Ilkeston Brass

January 20 • We are looking for a Tenor and Bass Trombone plus 1st Baritone. All other positions are always welcome.. Under MD Geoff Hawley we have a sensible mix of concerts and a few contests per year. . Rehearsals Thursday and Sunday evenings just off M1 J25/26.


Christopher Houlding

MMus, GGSM, LRAM
Conductor, Performer, Educator