Comments ~ 2004: May


Mein's a pint, Euro thoughts, Perry's rant, Austin Rayner and many more.

Austin Rayner anyone?

I'm wondering if there is anyone out there who has information about Austin Rayner & 'Wuthering Heights'.  The only work I have seen by him is 'Wuthering Heights' (recorded by Fairey's in the 60's, and to the best of my knowledge the only recording). I have always liked the piece and would be interested to track down anything else he wrote. However, I constantly draw a blank when looking for information. If anyone has any little 'titbits', I would be grateful.
Roger Pearcey.

Perry's rant

I, too, found Hazel Perry's rant regarding the recent ISB release to be misguided and jingoistic. Never before have I seen such a scathing and ridiculous discourse. I can only assume that Ms. Perry is a young school student and I immediately started looking for an ISB roster to see if someone with the surname Perry is in the band.

I agree with Peter Bale's cautious review of the recording and found his approach quite diplomatic. I, too, was left somewhat unfazed by the repertoire on this recording. I understand that one of the roles of the ISB is to present new SA music, but there is still a place for many of the "older" items. Messrs Ball, Condon, Steadman-Allen, Leidzen, Calvert et al still have much to say through their music. The composers represented on the recording are all well and good, their works deserve to be heard, and kudos to Stephen Cobb for not simply adhering to the status quo. But my personal opinion is that a more balanced program would appeal to more listeners.

Further, I agree that the recording quality is not quite up to the level of some of the other CDs that have come out recently. There is no immediacy to the recorded sound, and there is sort of a gauzy sameness to the dynamics. And, Ms. Perry, this has nothing to do with the fact that I don't own a Bose system. I quite think that my Krell/B&W setup is more than equal to anything that Bose can produce (and I am a former Bose employee). Simply - to me - this is generally uninteresting repertoire, rendered at a high (but not truly outstanding) level, that was recorded blandly. Everyone played well (particularly the soloists) but the result is just a bit vanilla.

I congratulate Mr. Bale for making his observations without sounding condescending. I trust his ears and his tastes.

Philip Johnson

Canadian perspective on Jubilee review

With regard to Hazel Perry's response to Peter Bale's review of the Jubilee CD, allow me to offer a Canadian perspective, seeing as I live the area of Canada that the ISB visited while they were here (or there, depending on how you look at it).
I am a proud owner of Jubilee CD, and it is an entertaining CD, and, like most any new piece, the new music on this CD takes a couple of times through to break into and enjoy, but Mr. Bale does have intriguing points. I'll begin with the CD's namesake, Jubilee.
As an educated listener (I play euphonium in the London Citadel Band of the Salvation Army, Christmas CD coming out this year!!), I have a good deal of experience with the quick march Jubilee, (in fact, I've got the music downstairs right now!), and I'm quite familiar with Jubilee from this CD, and it's very good playing no doubt, but I am in agreement with Peter on this one - I've heard cleaner, however I would not look to the New York Staff Band's version, much too slow for a quick march. Waiksnoris must have been tired during the recording session, couldn't wave his arms fast enough! Or perhaps exhausted from trying to keep up with Aaron Vanderweele in a solo! Having played the march, however, I do give the ISB tons of credit for even attempting to perform it at 1:57 running time. I wasn't present at that concert, but I've heard it was a pretty good run through. Kudos to the trombones if they made it through alive -- they should have their pay increased.
Now onto Credo. This is a piece I know all too well...In fact, just last week it was our show stopper for our band weekend away. It is a hard piece, don't be fooled by that at all. And I'll tell you, there is DEFINITELY shrillness from bar 201 to the end, the solo cornets and euphs are stuck playing the melody in the attic (mostly high A's and C's), and when you've got 5 cornet players (wait now, let's not forget Mr. soprano, now it's 6) playing high C's at ff, any sense of tone quality is gone right out the's shrill, but it stands out - which is exactly the point. You've got this wash of sound coming from the rest of the band, and 8 people playing the melody in an obsecenely high register...ah they joys of brass banding! This will also explain the forcedness of the finale of the piece - no one has any lip left after section 201 (I think that's where the cornets/euphs take the melody, I could be mistaken, my music is not with me right now)!! And it shows - there are some split notes in the euphonium and the solo cornet even before 201. Don't get me wrong, I love the ISB and all of the work that they do for getting new music out there, but I can not sit idly by while a reviewer is ripped to shred for speaking the truth.
Euphonium Fantasia - this is a solo that I have no previous experience with prior to this CD. The music is handled well by the band and soloist, but to call it Derick Kane at his best is insulting to Derick Kane. This particular solo is, whilst a demanding solo, not what I'd call the best of Derick's playing. I've heard a lot of Derick, and there are many moments, such as Bravura Variations, that are better. And as Bale said - the accompaniment is nothing to write home about.
Now, about this ISS having a band piece on it...what's wrong with your head? The difference between a songster brigade and a band is the instruments and music (to a degree, obvisouly, there are songster pieces arranged for band - the best example? "Go Down Moses" by Len Ballantine.) Everything else - the purpose, the message, etc - it's all the same. Any band can at least hack their way through an easy vocal number, which some choose to do (a popular one here right now is "Be Still", a Robert Redhead arrangement). And it's a vocal SOLO, which is perfectly fine on a band CD. Need I reference you to Hendon's "Pastoral"? Anyone familiar with this recording will know what I speak of - if not, it's a very good recording, worth looking into. Oh - and the last time I heard a band piece on an ISS CD? "At The Edge of Time", commemerating RSA's 80th birthday. There are band pieces, along with songster pieces. Even if it's not a great CD to listen to, it's got band and songsters, thus making it both a band CD with vocal items, but also a songster CD with band items.
I'm not going to close with an insulting remark about your eye colour, Hazel, I just hope that next time you look at things from a more subjective view,
Steve Burditt

European thoughts 1

So as to avoid the second day of the EBBA contest simply providing the listener with various interpretations of the same test piece, why not introduce a rule that if the band is not going to perform a commissioned work then the band is subjected to a 'Test-piece Draw' which can take place two or three months in advance of the contest? (or when the line-up of bands has been finalised).
The test pieces can be chosen by the adjudicators, a ballot of the competing bands or by the bands competing at the event in the year previous.
I appreciate this does not conform to an 'Own Choice' but if the event does not promote new music and continue to be an exhibition of the diverse repertoire of the brass band movement then make it a 'Selected Choice' contest.
Well done to YBS for originality!
....just a thought!
Simon D. Oates

Euro thoughts 2

I cannot help wondering at times what thought processes some people's brains go through before putting their ideas into print. Mr Lees suggestion, re.fines for duplication of 'own choice test pieces, must have emanated while obviously concentrating on some other matter. The whole idea is laughable.  The concept of the Europeans is quite simple. Day 1  SET test piece.  All bands on a level playing field. Judges can therefore quickly compare band vs. band against the score. Day 2    OWN CHOICE test piece.  Picked by each band to suit themselves to display their abilities to their best to the judges. 
This competition is not intended to be an 'entertainment' contest nor is the prime objective to please the punters. It would be nice to think that bands would consider the audience and confer with each other or the organisers in selecting their own choice but in brass banding the word 'nice' is not one which is used very often. Every band in this competition hopes to get something from it whether that be a higher place than last time or a mention or indeed win it. Pleasing the audience does not enter into the equation when selections are made. Audiences do not award prizes. Audience appreciation is only a consolation.
I actually enjoyed listening to three performances of Revelation and would prefer if bands stuck to previously performed music. It gives myself, and probably 90% of the audience, a better chance to compare bands and indeed gives 4BR commentaters something to compare and write about, as they did this year, in the live coverage. Selecting this competition to premiere a new piece should be banned. The day for being judged on a new piece was friday.
With regard to the submission of several test pieces ranked in order of preference (re J Corrigan) I can only suggest that since this competition is in Scotland and only 4-6 bands compete in each section it does not present too much of a problem if 2 bands select the same test piece and I suspect this rarely happens.
I must also add that I wholeheartedly agree with R Dorsey regarding the judging of the competition.
"6 judges cannot be wrong." So much has been written and suggested about judging all with good points and bad points. If we are to consider that 2 different sets of 3 judges could end up with a band being 'robbed' on both days there is no future. They did not get it wrong no matter how upsetting this may be to some supporters. Peoples judgement is always affected by what they see. The judges do not have this distraction.
Robert Stornoway

Mein's a pint

Meindert Boekel may well be an anagram of 'me don't like beer', but I must also point out that Morley Calvert is an anagram of 'Mr Ale, covertly'.
I rest my case - whatever it is.
Alec Gallagher

Overly facetious and obnoxious

And the award for being overly facetious and obnoxious without due cause goes to...... Hazel Perry, congratulations!!

I thought your comments directed at the reviewer of the ISB cd, Peter Bale were well out of line!!
Your presumptuousness throughout your randomly abusive comments was unbelievable!!

Your quote which read "Personally, I think it an insult to the band when someone says that the vocal item is a highlight of a CD or a programme.  Yes, I realise that variety is required, but if you want singing, buy a choral CD." had me in stitches!!! How arrogant!

If you are from a Sally Army background (which I am not) you would realise that they place equal emphasis on the music making of their songsters as they do the bands.

Anything which introduces some refreshing variety into band cd's is to be complimented, not mocked! As to your presumptuous comments linking Mr Bale with being a trombone player.. had you ever considered that he simply preferred the trombone solo to the euph solo?! (I believe he is infact a Bb Bass player)

If you believe you can do a better review, then why do you not have the guts to sit where Peter Bale is and provide the public with your opinions.. (Opinions being the operative word!!)

Did you read your letter through before sending and think about how you would come accross to people..?? I thought not!

Aidan Smith

Morley Calvert Take 1

Your correspondent Rob Baltus has got his wires crossed; there may be Dutch Bandmaster called Meindert Boekel, but he is emphatically not the same person as Morley Calvert who wrote the 1978 European Test Piece, especially if he is still alive as Calvert died in 1991. As evidence I refer you to the sleevenotes for Dyke's 1979 LP Volcano, which included one of the very few recordings of Introduction, Elegy and Caprice (it may be the only one, I'm not sure). Anyone with time on their hands or who is as sad and obsessive as me can also check the following website which incidentally is quite useful for MDs who need something to pad out programme notes!  I reproduce a bit of their info here:

'Morley Calvert (1928-1991) was a conductor, bandmaster and composer born in Brantford, Ontario. His music education included an LSRM certification in 1946, and A. Mus degree from McGill in 1950, and a B. Mus degree from McGill in 1956. In 1958, Calvert founded the Monteregian Music Camp (providing summer training for high school students) at Ayers Cliff, Montreal, a camp which ended in 1970. He founded and directed the McGill University Concert Band, as well as starting a high school band in Montreal at Westmount High school. In 1967-72, Calvert founded and directed the Lakeshore Concert Band in Montreal.

Morley Calvert's professional activities included the position of accompanist for Maureen Forrester. Calvert was invited to join the American Bandmasters Association (ABA), and taught the high school band program at Barrie Central Collegiate school. He was President of the Ontario Chapter of the Canadian Bandmasters Association, and from 1981-83, Executive Vice-President of the National Chapter of the Canadian Bandmasters Association. He was the artistic director of the Civic Concert Choir of Hamilton in 1987, and of the Weston Silver Band in 1988. At the time of his death, he was teaching music at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario.'

So your "fact" was right!

Andrew Baker

Morley Calvert Take 2

In response to the letter from Rob Baltus (the Dutchman who conducts a German brass band) – if Morley Calvert is really Meindert Boekel then I'm a Dutchman too. Morley Calvert (1928 - 1991) was a conductor, bandmaster and composer born in Brantford, Ontario and he wrote a number of pieces for the Salvation Army. I know this because I checked out this link: and because I sort of knew anyway.

His ‘Introduction, Elegy and Caprice' – to give it its proper English name, was used at the European Championships in 1978 and was the 2nd section Area test piece the following year.

Of course, if Meindert Boekel has been cavorting around the Netherlands, adopting a cunning disguise and shamelessly masquerading as Morley Calvert (and why not? with the right wig and mackintosh it could work) then I can well understand how Rob Baltus would come to labour under such a misapprehension.

Not forgetting that the reverse may be true and Morley Calvert could have lived a double life as his alter ego Meindert Boekel (which sounds like a made-up name anyway). In which case they could be ONE AND THE SAME!  After all, Meindert Boekel is an anagram of Me Don't Like Beer – which, for a Salvationist is a bit of a giveaway.

But anyway, on the whole, weighing up the evidence, unless anyone has got pictures to prove it, I think you'll find they are two separate and distinct people. 

Hope this has cleared up this pressing issue.

David Lindley

Morley Calvert Take 3
I was just looking at your EBBC fact and figures. Fact 4 is not a fact! Because: Morley Calvert is the pseudonym of Meindert Boekel, who has also conducted the dutch brassband "Nationale Brass Band" (now Amsterdam Brass) for 25 years. He wrote "Introductie, Elegie en Capriccio" for fanfare (a dutch "brass band" with saxophones and flugelhorns instead of cornets, complemented with trumpets and cornets). And: Meindert Boekel was Dutch and not Canadian. In the Netherlands he is very famous and did a lot for wind and brass music.

I am sorry about this but I think Mr. Baltus is not well enough informed about the life of Morley Calvert.

Gerard Klaucke

Red Cross Rescue

I am trying to find details of a Red Cross fundraising concert held at The Royal Albert Hall between 1939 and 1945, my grandfather Alfred Leach trumpet/cornet played a duet of Ida and Dot with Harry Mortimer. I know my grandfather played for Brighouse and Rastrick during the 30's and won a gold medal and I know he also played for Whitefield.

I wonder whether you could advise me of a web site where I might be able to find out more information as I would like to request a copy of the programme from The Royal Albert Hall but they require more specific information.

Hoping you can help

Kate Thompson (nee Leach)

4br reply:
Can anyone help Kate. If so, drop us a line.

A 10 points fine?

Having played at the Europeans for the first time this year (my only other experience was in 2000), I feel that I must add to the debate over the own choice selections.

The introduction of the european bands to the "Brass Band Scene" for a while may have caused a stir in the enclosure for a while but alas it seems that we have reverted back to the conservative image we should be trying to loose.

My first experience of contesting in England was at the Spennymoor Contest a few years ago, and I was absolutely fascinated to see that there were brass bands being progressive and doing it well!

I have an idea that could encourage some daring/originality/interest in the Europeans: How about a fine of 10 points for each band playing the same own choice? It might make the idea of the second day more exciting.

John Lee

Sour grapes Peter?

After reading Peter Bale's "Review" (!) of the new ISB CD 'Jubilee', I can only wonder if the words 'sour grapes' should not have been signed under his name!
His very opening words should have been a warning as to the tone of the rest of the comments:- "According to the reports emanating from the band's recent tour...."  Clearly he finds it difficult to believe that the band's stock of CD's were sold out.
He mentions the 'shrillness' towards the end of Credo.  Perhaps that was due to his own settings on his stereo system (a good tip is reading the instruction manual!) or buy a Bose system we certainly have no 'shrillness' on our copy nor has anyone else I have spoken to.
As for his comments on the trombones and basses in the title track Jubilee, yet again can I suggest his stereo or perhaps his earphones maybe the problem try Bose.  Everyone else appears to be amazed at the clarity of the t's & b's in this march.  We have heard this march played by quite a few bands recently and the Staff beats them all hands down for clarity and performance, albeit it is certainly not a contest to see who plays it the best or the fastest.  It is a fun piece, but still has it's own message to give through the words of the tunes for those who know them or perhaps in just the music itself as words are not always necessesary. 
The lack of comment about Derick's euphonium solo was also astounding.  This is simply Derick at his best!!  Not just displaying "his customary facility" as was said.  His playing throughout the CD has to be commended, but during his solo he simply 'sings' through his instrument.  Beautiful and very moving.  I can only guess that Mr. Bale has some affinity with trombones due to his obvious favouritism towards the trombone solo. 
Personally, I think it an insult to the band when someone says that the vocal item is a highlight of a CD or a programme.  Yes, I realise that variety is required, but if you want singing, buy a choral CD.  When was the last time you heard a band piece on a ISS CD?? 
I would like to hear this 'Superband' or 'Perfectband' that you have obviously heard.  The dynamic range and contrast in the ISB's playing would match any of the top bands I have heard (and believe me Mr Bale that is many!) , and can I guess correctly that from the whole tone of Mr. Bale's so called review that the majority of the programme content was not really to his liking?
Would your eye colour be green by any chance Mr Bale?  Sounds like it!!
Hazel Perry

Two European questions...
B Section
I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of the band from Austria, except for their last item when the persussion might have been heard in the Austrian mountains!
But they came 4th, out of 4. Perhaps someone might suggest reasons why? But I was delighted the Torshaven won, and the Italian job was a great surprise, spoilt only perhaps,by the blare of the French Horns.
As to the Cory performance, like your correspondent, I had them up there challenging YBS.
But friends sitting in a different position said, after the afternoon own choice contest finished, and before the results, that they thought that the trombones, in particular, suffered from some rather poor intonation and felt that this would affect the result.It would be interesting to know from the adjudicators why Corys were marked as they were.
Does anyone have a similar experience, either way, and does where one sits affect the appreciation that much?
I am no expert, and would be grateful for other people's views.
Derek Dunn

Annoyed and dissapointed

While I appreciate that time and space can sometimes dictate how much can be written in your retrospectives, I cannot help but be somewhat annoyed and dissapointed that you saw fit to only mention 12 of the 20 bands which competed in the Senior Cup - Dalmellington Band in which I played on the day and of which I am the very proud President, being one of the "unfortunate 8"! Surely the others, no matter how good or bad, could at least have had some sort of encouraging comment from you?

Philip MacMillan, President, Dalmellington Band

4br reply:
Sorry we couldn't please you with the retrospective Philip. Hopefully you enjoyed and appreciated our pre-competition coverage and live coverage on the day though.

Fact not a fact...
I was just looking at your EBBC fact and figures. Fact 4 is not a fact! Because: Morley Calvert is the pseudonym of Meindert Boekel, who has also conducted the dutch brassband "Nationale Brass Band" (now Amsterdam Brass) for 25 years. He wrote "Introductie, Elegie en Capriccio" for fanfare (a dutch "brass band" with saxophones and flugelhorns instead of cornets, complemented with trumpets and cornets). And: Meindert Boekel was Dutch and not Canadian... In the Netherlands he is very famous and did a lot for wind and brass music.
I would like to express my compliments to your extremely good web site, indeed the best brass band website in the world. keep up the excellent work!!!
Rob Baltus
(dutchman who conducts a german brass band...)

European judges spot on

I think, seeing as it's an own choice contest at the Europeans, the bands should choose whichever piece they determine as most suitable for their players, irrespective of popularity.  It is the band's decision, no the
audiences afterall.

You would think that bands might even put the tiniest bit of thought into their selection, to highlight their strongest sections and soloists.  To then turn around and say 'sorry, but another band thinks that their
flugel/euphonium etc is their key player and have also chosen this piece so you can't play it because it might be boring for people to listen to, oh, and someone else played it last year' is just ridiculous.

The Europeans is in such a format that it allows bands to perform to their greatest potential as there is both a set test and an own choice.  To limit it to a set test and a not-so-set test would take away the current fairness that I think exists in this particular contest.

I would also congratulate the Europeans on using adjudicators from outside the banding world.  There is far too much bias towards 'top bands' and it is all too easy to distinguish certain band's sounds.  Using these adjudicators has only highlighted to me that people in banding focus on name and conductor, and not performance.

I have no doubt that the results at the Europeans were spot on - how can six judges be wrong? Oh yeah, because a lot of people that don't know the music and just say whatever everyone else does, say so...

Reg Dorsey

Big publishers afraid of the unknown

I agree with the others on this subject. One reason can be that the big publishers  are afraid of music by unknown composers. And if they are from a country that´s considered as a minor country of brassbanding it´s even worse. Im sure of that the more unknown composers write´s as god as the more known. If there ever will be a change it´s up to the publishers and the top bands.

Magnus Hylander
Swedish Brassband Composer

Pot, kettle and black!

Most of us at some stage or another, privately or publicly,through sheer frustration more than anything else, have bemoaned adjudicators and their perceived qualifications to judge whether we've been involved as players or conductors, or just as an ‘observer', only to be slapped down with responses ranging from 'if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, to lectures about 'the adjudicator's far more qualified than you are to judge' (something 4br are quite good at doing when anti-adjudicator diatribes appear on here). Nice to know then, that the chaps at 4br are in fact,  just as bad when results don't go 'according to plan'. I know about Cory's perceived 'hard luck story' and yes, I'm speaking as someone who wasn't there but a number of the 'slappers down' who surface when we moan about adjudicators in general weren't present at the relevant contest/s either. They just assume we should get on with it and accept it. And after all, we do, because we keep returning to the contest stage, year in, year out.

I wonder what some of the adjudicators at the Europeans will think of having their ability to judge at a brass band contest called into question. In all sorts of competitions and competitive festivals, the judges are usually fine musicians in their sphere without necessarily ALL being an exponent of the instrument/s they're judging on. (Young Musician of the Year final, for instance; there will usually be a mixture on the panel) Why is it then, that only experienced brass band adjudicators are qualified to judge a good band, if we're to accept the main tenor of 4brs argument? Quality will always out with the hearing of a good musical ear, a proven quality as a musician and a fine appreciation for detail, ensemble, balance, intonation etc., whether the piece is an old warhorse or a brand new commission or whatever.

'Elitism'? Whilst I agree that no remarks being made available and no verbal comments by the adjudicators was a poor way to treat the bands, I wonder who's being elitist after reading this article, the judges or the author of 4br's rant, which frankly, smacks of ‘We don't want bloody outsiders in our movement. Go on, piss off!' It's no wonder the brass band movement has a problem being accepted in other musical circles whilst an attitude like this still prevails from within.

Dave Payn

Jumping on the bandwagon...

I know I'm a little late to jump on the bandwagon, but I thought I'd share my musings nonetheless:

It has occured to me that for the last three years at least, the main contenders for the European Crown have played "Revelation(s)" my Philp Wilby; yet have all been beaten by YBS who, I would like to point out, are
the only band EVER to have pulled off a "Revelation" at the European, when the played it as their own choice at Bergen in 1996 and beat off Black Dyke.

So my point is, don't try to beat YBS at their own game!  Now, in all fairness it would have been, shall we say, "Poetic", had Dyke won in 2002 their first re-appearance at the European when they played Revelation, but for Cory to play it twice on the trot?  I actually think its a good thing if there are politics involved in the European (and one does wonder when remarks are not given out), and that Cory's unoriginality was perhaps punished (because they DID play stunningly, and WERE robbed...).

But as this is an even year, Cory will win the Open...

Neil Kettles

Poor repertoire

My thoughts too Jim.  It would seem to me to be very easy to introduce some sort of ballot system which would ensure each band played a different piece. This year's European was without doubt the best brass event ever held in Scotland but I too was disappointed with the lack of originality in the own choice section.

Perusing the own choice details of this and previous Europeans indicates the strong 'fashion' element of test piece selection, sometimes on the back of a successful performance.  For example, Dances and Arias (Gregson) debuted in the European in 1985 after making a huge impact at the 1984 National.  The
European debut was equally impressive as the top 3 bands in the own choice section all played it!  Dances and Arias is still the most popular own choice to date with 14 appearances, although played only once in the last 9 years (by Whitburn in 2000).

No surprise to find that Philip Sparke is the most popular 'European' composer with 51 own choice selections to date (plus 4 years as set-piece composer as well!) but, believe it or not, Gilbert Vinter is still holding off Peter Graham and Philip Wilby for second place (36 selections) even though only 3 Vinter performances have been heard in the last 13 Europeans.

Top 4 composers
51 - Philip Sparke
36 - Gilbert Vinter
35 - Edward Gregson
35 - Philip Wilby

Top 8 test pieces
14 - Dances and Arias
13 - Connotations
13 - Pageantry
12 - Blitz
12 - Contest Music
12 - Harmony Music
11 - Revelation
10 - Paganini Variations

PS  I know that J Casey is as sad a statto as me but hopefully not sad enough to want to check my numbers!

Gordon Simpson

Peter Gane Alive And Well!

In reply to Eileen Jenkins letter (Febuary 04) Peter Gane has not passed away and is alive and well, living in Kent and is still Professor of Trombone at the Guildhall. Len Baldwin, his partner in Peter Gane Mutes, passed on some 3 years ago and the business has been sold to Unison Music Company Ltd in Canterbury where production has resumed. Peter Gane is still active in the design and development of the mutes in a consultancy position. Their website for more infomation is
Peter Rose

Quiz error

You have the answer to question 1 of  quiz no 37(who came second to Brighouse at the area in 1989)  as Black Dyke conducted by David King – wrong it was Dyke conducted by Peter Parkes.

The test piece was "Prisms" that year at the Area  – I remember it very well as I was in the same contest taking Rothwell Temps, making their debut in the top section. Incidentally the Major was my harmony and arranging teacher at Barnsley College.

Dave King didn't take over at Dyke until later that year – I think his first contest was at the Open on Derek Bourgeois's Diversions.

John Roberts

Poor Geography

In both the 4BR predictions and retrospective it was stated that Holywell band came from Anglesey. As a former resident of Anglesey and current member of Holywell band I wanted to point out that Holywell is about 50 miles from Anglesey and in North East Wales, not far from Wrexham and Chester. None the less it was indeed a long journey.

Human Nature

Just to say the live coverage is excellent so far, especially where kingdoms brass (in Senior Cup) report was missing because of a toliet visit. Or in your words....
"Unfortunately, nature took it's course here... sorry!"
I don't think their band would be happy, but for everyone else... funny.
Andrew Hill

Gracie Cole at Grimethorpe

A very rare event for me to go into print in letter columns! But after reading about lady players with Grimethorpe I can't resist informing Helen & the other ladies that they are all about 60 years too late! When I was a teenage solo cornet player with Grimethorpe a young lady cornet player named  Gracie Cole often played with the band -the reason being that she had just won the Alex Owen competition, and of course her prize entitled her to choose her teacher. She opted for George Thompson who was MD of the band at that time. Gracie later played trumpet with the wartime Ivy Benson's All Girls Band & The Squadronaires. Later she married the Ted Heath trombone player Bill Geldard. She was a brilliant player at a time when girl brass players could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Denis Wright composed a solo for Gracie called 'La Mantilla' which I remember her playing on a broadcast with Grimethorpe, with the composer conducting.

James Scott


Poor repertoire

I attended the own choice test piece section for the European Championships in Glasgow last Saturday. While I enjoyed the afternoon, and would congratulate the Scottish Association for the organisation, I was disappointed in one main respect. Is the brass band repertoire so poor that we require so many repeat performances in a group of 10 or 11 bands? I realise that this has been the position for some time, having competed in Copenhagen as one of three bands playing Dances and Arias on that day.

When the Carnegie Contest in Dunfermline was based on Test Pieces, rather than the current entertainment programme, bands were asked to submit four pieces ranking their choice from 1 to 4. This process ensured that the audience was entertained to a range of test pieces.

Is this a possibility for the European event? I for one believe that adoption of this, or similar this would add to the overall value of the event!

Jim Corrigan


In your euro report you say that "Professor David King was obviously delighted and paid fulsome tribute to the composer Philip Sparke."

Once on 5-live, I heard a presenter say that "fulsome" means insincere and on checking it in a dictionary found that it means

1. Offensively flattering or insincere. 
2. Offensive to the taste or sensibilities.

Is this what you meant???

Patrick Briddon

4br reply:
Our vast vocabulary let us down there we feel!

A Bit of Brass

It's not that I am in favour of YBS or Cory. YBS, congratulations with your victory!

I am just a brass band lover who wants to listen to a good piece of music. If then the adjudicators think that a performance from Cory from both the test piece and own choice piece are not to the standard of superb playing then I think the black box where they are in during the performances  gives a different sound then when you are outside of it. But he, I am just a brass lover who likes a 'a bit of brass' and not a adjucator who gets the glory and fame, whether they like it or not.
Gerard Klaucke

Dyke photo

In 3 rows l-r the members are:
Kevin Wadsworth, David Essex, Stephen Brooke, Richard Clough (writer of this letter)Dennis Essex, Frank Berry, Ray Payne, Ian Copeland, Peter Christian, John Slinger,(2nd row) Neil Jowett, Fred Ellis, Malcolm Turton, Tony Whittaker, Ken Macdonald, Phillip McCann, Brian Evans, David Pogson, Chris Bacon, Peter Moorcroft(Muffin),Jack Brooke,(Front) Derek Jackson, George
Morgan, John Clough, Peter Parkes, David Loukes, Stuart Derek, Alan Holdsworth, David Rhodes. Picture was taken outside The Vic Hall in Queensbury opp bandroom. Fred Ellis, Peter Moorcroft and Jack Brooke are sadly no longer with us. Note the two father & son duos Clough & Brooke and brothers Essex.

I was a young & handsome 17 year old, now just the age has changed. I won 3 Opens 3 Nats & 7 Euros with this great bunch. Now I believe I am the person with the most Euro wins (13) Having completed the Double Hat trick with YBS at the weekend.

Richard Clough


The Hobbit

We had no idea at the Egham Band that David Elliot-Smith was so passionate about Middle Earth.  From this day forward he will be known as "the Hobbit" in the bandroom.

By the way, having switched to soprano 2 years ago I have finally got my hands on a Peter Gane straight and cup mute from Unison Music. They are gorgeous ... and yes, I must get out more.

Dave Wicks

Government and the Value of Culture

Follow the link below to reveal a personal essay by Tessa Jowell in which she examines the relationship between Government and the cultural sector.  It sets out a case for continued public subsidy for the arts and urges government to view culture as at the heart, not the periphery of its policies.  It would appear that they are interested in hearing views and
comments; an e:mail address is provided.  This is yet another opportunity for the Brass Band World to get its head out of the sand, and identify its self; by making known, that the banding world has been trying to do this sort of thing for years.

Lip sercvice

my name is Mark, i'm 14 and i play the soprano cornet
But i also play the saxophone, and something happens to my lip when i play my sax then my sop. I was wondering if this happens to anyone else as well as me, my friend who plays rep. in my band plays clarinet, and has the same problem
After playing my sop, i get a small bit of skin on my top lip, which is like a little lump, and whenever this is there, i play really well, can hit all the high notes, and my lip lasts for ages.
But when i play the sax, for only half an hour, it makes the bit of skin go away, and i go to play my cornet, and i play awful. I can't play well at all. I have to do about 2 days practice and the skin comes back, and i play well again.
I want to know if this happens to anyone else who plays a woodwind instrument as well as a brass, as i find it very intreaging.


As someone who has been involved in banding for over forty years,I was rather taken aback at the comments of Mark Richards(whoever he is) regarding the appointment of adjudicators for the forthcoming S.E.W.B.B.A. Spring Contest.If Mr.Richards had bothered to make a few more enquiries,he would have ascertained that Gary Cutt the adjudicator for the 3rd and 4th sections,is conducting the Tredegar Town Band in the championship section,therefore would be unable to adjudicate that section,also,although I have no knowledge of the fact ,I presume that Bryan Hurdley the adjudicator of the ist and 2nd sections has been appointed to conduct another championship band,therefore nullifying himself from adjudicating that section.Mr Brian Buckley,recently voted secretary of the National Association of Brass Band Adjudicators,is a well respected musician here in Wales,and in the U.K. as a whole,whose integrity is unquestionable ,and is quite capable of adjudicating the championship section,so please Mr.Richards(whoever you are),just think about it before commiting your size tens .The association really works very hard to put on these contests,so rather than critisize,what do you actually contribute to the movement.
Kerry Bowden.

More footshooting

Mark Richards in his comments about the "Welsh foot shooting contest in Ebbw Vale" implies that the impartiality of adjudication in the lower sections is not as important as in the championship section. Has he discussed this with any lower section bandsmen?

Bob Crawshaw

Take away the band but not the ability...

I have a little story to share with Gavin Saynor , ex MD of Llanrug;
Once upon a time there was a man who, having played in bands for years, thought he would like to Conduct a band. He thought it would be nice to start at the bottom and work his way to the top! So he got the job as MD with a lowly 4th Section band. It turned out that he was quite good at this conducting thing! - and all the other stuff that the players don't realise you do as a Musical Director (we'll keep that secret to ourselves Gavin!). Anyway, the band qualified for the National finals for FOUR consecutive years  and was promoted TWICE! However, the band decided to sack this man on the advice of a few of it's members who had personal grievances with him. He was very hurt, and thought "I really don't think I want to do this anymore, I haven't done anything wrong, and they sacked me!". Fortunately, the man worked with a experienced old sage, whose wisdom and cunning is renown through the brass band movement.  On finding out about the man's dilemma, Stan Lippeatt (the old sage!) took the man to one side and said " Listen to me - it happens to all conductors at some time. Its happened to me!  This is what you do, go out and get another band, you will be successful because THEY CAN TAKE AWAY THE BAND BUT THEY CAN NEVER TAKE AWAY YOUR ABILITY." The man took the advice, and has continued to be successful (only out of the first three at an area contest on two occasions in the last 11 years - not bad!).

Does this story sound a little familiar Gavin? Well, it happened to me! So put it behind you, remember the good times, take the old sage's advice, and go and win with another band. I'm with my FOURTH band now, and I'm really enjoying it!
Andrew Dennis
MD South Yorkshire Police Band (3rd at the area - when 4barsrest thought we wouldn't have a chance!)

Going around in circles

I rarely read the stuff you get from banding people - there's too much of the "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" variety. I fell into the trap today and am already hating myself for not being able to resist adding to the guff.
Why do we go round and round in circles about adjudication and results? You play the piece the way you see it, to the best of your ability. The adjudicator judges it the way he hears
it. You can go for the music, or for the win, or a balance of the two - that's your choice. There isn't and never will be only one way to do it or one way to judge it. If you can't cope with this, don't do it. i.e. life isn't fair, there's an element of randomness, accept this and move on. (When you win there are usually plenty of others saying "no way".)
Much more interesting is your own comment on the reduction in the number of bands competing. I suspect the situation is actually worse than you report. I guesstimate that a majority of bands have to fill at least 10% of the seats with "irregulars" for full registration rules and have to borrow for other contests. I also believe that this situation (on average) is gradually getting worse. In other words, this isn't a band here and there struggling to survive - it's most of us struggling to some extent or other.
I also suspect it is an inevitable consequence of cultural and social change. That doesn't mean we can't try to improve things but I do believe that, generally speaking, that will only happen if we emerge from our cosy little musical and social world - which brings us back to the Tunbridge Wells's of the brass band fraternity ...
Dr Peter Hartley

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