A proud past and an exciting future; just a pity about the present it seems.
2010 wasn’t a vintage year for senior Scottish banding – not by a long chalk. Co-operative FuneralCare flew the Saltaire flag with the one non domestic triumph at the All England International Masters, but in retrospect even they had an uneven year. Elsewhere it was pretty much doom and gloom.
Two relegations from the British Open, one last place and a 16th at the Nationals in London, just one single digit finish at Harrogate from the eight qualifiers, last place at the Europeans and no band at Brass in Concert.
There were glimpses of better days ahead – Co-op’s win at Kettering was also backed by a top class victory at the Scottish Open in Perth, whilst Dalmellington gained promotion to the Grand Shield and there was some good domestic form shown by the likes of Johnstone who sprang a major surprise at the Land O’ Burns.
However, it still didn’t add up to a great deal in the greater scheme of brass band things, and its worth noting that the last time any Scottish band came home from the Nationals with a podium finish to their name was in 2006 in the Third Section.
There has been no top six finisher in the Championship Section since 2000, no podium place in the First Section since 1999, the last top three finish in the Second was 2004 and you have to go back in the mists of time for a success in the Fourth.
The Nationals doesn’t seem to have brought the best out of the Scots of late.
Still, optimism is rife and with good cause.
The Scottish Youth Championships have become something of a phenomenon, and it will only be a matter of time before the raw talent on show in Perth filters through to the senior outfits with spectacular results.
There are even more bands in the pipeline, and its good to report the debut of Callander Brass in the Fourth Section, although Campbeltown and Hawick Saxhorn fail to make it to the starting line this year.
The conducting talent is certainly here too – as shown by the excellent response to initiatives run by the Scottish Brass Band Association, whilst the production line of young performers is in overdrive at the various solo and quartet championships around the country.
Leading the way
SBBA (right) leads the way in terms of good governance and organisation and with the Championships this year being held in the snug surroundings of the modern Perth Concert Hall, there should be a warm and welcoming atmosphere for visitors and performers.
49 bands (the same as 2010) will battle it out for the 10 qualification places that will be up for grabs (2 for London, 8 for Cheltenham) and there are experienced pairings in the box too – headed by David Read MBE and Lt Col. Graham Jones in the top section which rounds off the action on Sunday afternoon.
All the Scots now need is good set of results to boast about come the end of the season.