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2015: January

The return of hard hitting views on the banding world — from Brass Bands England able to justify its new found funding and the EBBA needing to start setting rules, to the welcome indiscretions of the Swiss.

Justifying the money

Brass Bands England enters 2015 with a significant and well publicised increase in its core funding from Arts Council England set to fall into its coffers in April.

However, it also enters 2015 with a significant and well publicised need to show with unambiguous clarity, that the 142% increase in its National Portfolio Organisation grant money is fully justified.

Huge credit goes to BBE Chairman Mike Kilroy for his efforts in leading the organisation in securing annual budget funding of £142,000 for the next three years, but he will know only too well that the really hard work starts now.

The appointment of a full time Operations Manager (with a reported salary of between £28,000-£30,000), who will be responsible for implementing BBE‘s strategic plan alongside three full time Liaison Officers, will be key.

It comes with one heck of a job description, but certainly not one heck of a pay packet: For that money, you do wonder just who will be willing to take the job on.

All that and there will also be a need for the organisation to stop the inherited habit of shooting itself in the foot - especially with spurious claims (something that is used to do with such depressing regularity in its former guise as the British Federation of Brass Bands).

Getting rid of the twin albatrosses of the English National Championship and Registry was certainly good news, but stating the work of BBE had directly helped to raise £300,000 of funding for bands and organisations in the past 18 months or so, was not. 

A little bit of investigation revealed the actual figure to be a fraction of the amount. 

See: http://www.4barsrest.com/news/detail.asp?id=19593#.VKJefV4hDA

Neither was the incoherent explanation given for making a retrospective decision over English representation and funding at the European Championships, or the inability to gain enough support to hold their AGM.

If BBE can be clear about what it can and cannot do, and what it has and hasn’t achieved, then its future looks bright and it will deserve to gain widespread support.  

If however it fails to justify the award of the money that it is to be given, then the next three years could well signal the start of a well funded decline into insignificance.

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


Time to start making the rules

If you think Brass Bands England has a hard job on its hands in 2015, then spare a thought for the European Brass Band Association.

In May it will run its European Championships in Freiburg - and will undoubtedly do a great job of it: That will come as a relief after the troubles of Oslo and Perth in the last two years.

However, EBBA, which is 20 years old in 2015, has reached an age when it needs to become much, much more than a mere contest organiser. 

It can start with jettisoning the wearisome burden of the Conductor/Composer/Soloist/Youth competitions that detract from its ability to become a true governing body for the benefit of pan-European banding. 

It’s like UEFA organising the Champions League Final each year with expensive pre-match competitions for ‘keepy-uppy’, referees, linesmen and ballboys.  

Then, it may be able to resurrect its ambition to gain core funding from the European Union cultural funding streams that it came so close to achieving a few years back - and to be able to start implementing the type of rules, in agreement with its national body membership, that codify player registration and numerical instrumentation; two areas that desperately need to be unified across the continent.

EBBA has the expertise and the personnel - Freiburg will show that. 

What it doesn’t have at present it seems, is any desire to become a governing body of any real authority.

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


In praise of Swiss invention 

The Swiss have a gained a well earned reputation for many things in life - notably for the discreet way in which they go about their business.

It was therefore something of a surprise to see the Swiss Brass Band Association so brazenly celebrate the 40th anniversary of its National Championships in late November with the commissioning of five brand new set works from home grown composers.

Let’s hope they won’t wait another 40 years to do it again following the wonderful success of the quintet of test pieces from the pens Oliver Waespi, Stephan Hodel, Bertrand Moren, Pierre Schmidhausler and Mario Burki.

It gave the Championships in Montreux an added musical dimension - and one that revealed a banding country that is certainly looking forward and not back, mirroring much of the vibrant atmosphere of keen, confident, friendly competitiveness that was also on show all weekend.

It looks like the Swiss may now be gaining a welcome reputation for being a little less discreet after all.

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



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


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.


The Corsham Band

February 20 • Having now been promoted to the 2nd Section for the forthcoming Contest season, the band are now looking for an experienced Front Row Cornet Player to join our friendly and enthusiastic team.


Waitakere Auckland Brass Band

February 20 • Ever fancied moving to New Zealand? Waitakere Auckland Brass is looking for players to join their ranks. Our friendly band meets twice a week at our Auckland band room. We have an exciting year ahead so get in touch and find out more.


Ian Holmes

BA (hons), PGDip (RCM), ARCM, ALCM
Conductor, piano accompanist and educator