The brass band lightbulb question - How many MDs does it take to win a title?


Just how many conductors some bands use to try and win a contest is an eye opener...

4BR has been trawling through the record books and has looked at the records of the current top 20 ranked bands in the world to see just how many MDs they have engaged since the year 2000 to try and win them a title or two. 

We’ve looked at the following contests: British Open; National Finals; The Masters; Regional Championships; European Championships; English Nationals; Brass in Concert; Domestic European Nationals; SIDDIS; Grand Shield; Scottish Open; Butlins and Pontins to come up with our list. 

So which band has stuck with their conductors through thick and thin, and which bands have given their leaders the chop quicker than a Premiership football manager without two consecutive wins to his name?

Just 3 bands have stuck by the one man since the turn of the Millennium: Cory not surprisingly given that they have won 11 titles have been very happy with Robert Childs at the helm, whilst Brass Band Willebroek’s total command of their domestic scene and the added bonus of two European success has meant that Frans Violet hasn’t had to worry about getting his P45 either.

Rothwell Temperance meanwhile may have not enjoyed the same amount of success as either the Welsh or Belgians, but their two wins under the baton of Dave Roberts have been fairly significant ones and he seems to be there for the long haul too.  

Other end of the scale

At the other end of the scale however and you have the revolving door at the likes of Scottish Co-op, Leyland and Carlton Main. However, numbers can be a bit deceptive as the Scots have taken 7 titles, including a Masters and Scottish Open win, whilst Leyland have picked up 4 high profile victories, including a memorable National title triumph. 

Fodens have gone through 9 conductors in their quest for contest success too – although they can boast a healthy return of 10 wins in 39 outings at major events. 

Regional titles may be a little easier to come by in some regions rather than others granted, but you can only beat what you are up against, although it is interesting that Reg Vardy have yet to add a contest win this century to their 7 North of England titles, whilst others may find it hard too to add major silverware to their cabinets given the opposition they are up against at the Areas.

Familiar names

Some familiar conducting names keep cropping up time and time again too, from band to band, with the likes of James Gourlay, Frank Renton, Garry Cutt and Russell Gray all employed at some time or another in the past few years at a whole hatful of bands in the list. 

Then there are the odd ones too like Kazuyoshi Uemura who took Scottish Co-op at the 2000 British Open or Peter Bassano, Chris Davies, Paul Andrews and Steven Mead – all sparingly employed so far by bands in search of a top title. 

For some bands sticking by someone they know well is a strength (YBS for instance), whilst for others (Grimethorpe and Fodens for example) a change has proved to be very beneficial.

So here’s the list of bands and the conductors they have employed since the year 2000. Perhaps it may make a band think twice about chopping and changing musical direction?
1. Cory – 1 conductor (32 contests – 11 titles)
Conductors: Robert Childs

Titles: 7 Regional; 3 British Open; 1 National Final

2. Brass Band Willebroek – 1 conductor (18 contests – 9 titles)
Conductors: Frans Violet

Titles: 7 National; 2 European

3. Rothwell Temperance – 1 conductor (26 contests – 2 titles)
Conductors: Dave Roberts

Titles: 1 Pontins; 1 Grand Shield

4. Black Dyke – 2 conductors  (26 contests – 7 titles)
Conductors: James Watson; Nicholas Childs

Titles: 2 Regional; 2 British Open; 2 National; 1 European

5. Sellers International – 2 conductors (35 contests – 1 title)
Conductors: Alan Exely; Philip McCann

Titles: 1 Grand Shield

6. PolySteel – 3 conductors (37 contest – 4 titles)
Conductors: Dave Barringer; Richard Evans; Philip Harper

Titles: 2 Regional; 1 Grand Shield; 1 Butlins Mineworker

7. Hepworth (Cookson Homes) – 3 conductors (28 contest – 2 titles)
Conductors: Norman Law; Andrew Duncan; Mark Bentham

Titles: 1 Grand Shield; 1 Scottish Open

8. YBS – 4 conductors (38 contests - 11 titles)
Conductors: David King; Richard Evans; Alan Ramsay; Morgan Griffiths

Titles: 5 European; 2 Regional; 2 British Open; 2 Masters

9. Whitburn – 4 conductors (33 contests – 2 titles)
Conductors: Philip McCann; Andrew Duncan; Steven Mead; Alan Ramsay

Titles: 2 Scottish Open

10. Brighouse & Rastrick – 6 conductors (34 contests – 5 titles)
Conductors: Allan Withington; Ian McElligott; Peter Bassano; James Gourlay; Alan Morrison; Richard Evans

Titles: 2 Regional; 2 Brass in Concert; 1 Masters

11. Kirkintilloch – 6 conductors (34 contests – 3 titles)
Conductors: Frank Renton; Alan Ramsay; Steve Bastable; Nigel Boddice; Craig Anderson; Howard Taylor

Titles: 2 Regional; 1 Grand Shield

12. Grimethorpe Colliery – 7 conductors (29 contests – 10 titles)
Conductors: Garry Cutt; James Gourlay; Frank Renton; Allan Withington; Richard Evans; Steven Mead; Philip McCann

Titles: 5 Brass in Concert; 2 Regional; 2 National; 1 English National

13. Reg Vardy – 7 conductors (42 contests – 7 titles)
Conductors: Stephen Roberts; Bryan Hurdley; Nicholas Childs; Russell Gray; Ray Farr; Brian Grant; Steve Malcolm

Titles: 7 Regional

14. Desford – 7 conductors (27 contests – 5 titles)
Conductors: Peter Parkes; Nigel Seaman; Ian McElligott; Frans Violet; Garry Cutt; Kevin Steward; Nigel Weeks

Titles: 3 Regional; 2 Butlins Mineworker

15. Stavanger – 8 conductors (21 contests – 6 titles)
Conductors: Frank Renton; David King; Russell Gray; Allan Withington; Lars Erik Gudim; Steve Bastable; Selmer Simonson; Garry Cutt

Titles: 4 National; 2 SIDDIS

16. Fodens Richardson – 9 conductors (39 contests – 10 titles)
Conductors: Bramwell Tovey; Nicholas Childs; Richard Evans; James Gourlay; Russell Gray; Thomas Wyss; Simon Stonehouse; Garry Cutt; Ray Farr

Titles: 5 Regional; 2 Masters; 1 British Open; 1 English National; 1 Brass in Concert

17. Fairey – 9 conductors  (32 contests – 3 titles)
Conductors: James Gourlay; Howard Snell; Allan Whithington; Frank Renton; Steve Bastable; Peter Parkes; Simon Stonehouse; David Evans; Philip Chalk

Titles: 2 National; 1 Regional

18. Carlton Main Frickley – 9 conductors (37 contests – 1 title)
Conductors: John Hinckley; William Rushworth; Brian Grant; Russell Gray; Alan Ramsay; Paul Andrews; David Evans; Frank Renton; Garry Cutt  

Titles: 1 Grand Shield

19. Leyland – 11 conductors (38 contests – 4 titles)
Conductors: Michael Fowles; Frank Renton; Howard Snell; Garry Cutt; Brian Grant; James Gourlay; Peter Bassano; Russell Gray; Richard Evans; Chris Davies; Simon Stonehouse; 

Titles: 2 Regional; 1 National; 1 Masters

20. Scottish Co-op – 12 conductors (37 contests – 7 titles)
Conductors: Nicholas Childs; K. Uemura; Howard Snell; James Gourlay; John Hinckley; David King; James Scott; Ian McElligott; Frank Renton; Alan Ramsay; Ray Farr; Russell Gray 

Titles: 5 Regional; 1 Scottish Open; 1 Masters


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