Comments ~ 2004: September


More from the Open; Poetic Injustice; The Welsh Question; Rules for Judges; Wake up 4BR and lots more as September comes to a busy close on the keyboards

Wind your necks in!

How it makes me laugh to read comments about 4BarsRest overstepping the mark following this year's Open contest. I've read all your articles and was there to listen to the majority of the competing bands.

This is journalism. Surely the purpose of your website is to do exactly that! What would be the purpose of your existence if you didn't provide these services and the occasional acerbic article on our antiquated movement.

The problem it seems is that a few years ago - you were a breath of fresh air - but now you've aquired the mantle of being the new voice of the movement - people are getting all offensive!

These people should listen to BBC Radio 4 a bit more - a John Humphreys interview! Please keep these wonderful thoughtful provocative articles coming - I for one love 'em! And all you whingers out there! Wind your necks in!

Mark Addington

My time to comment

As a recent convert to 4bars rest - I've only recently acquired a computer - can I first thank you for your wonderful website.

I write because I am amused at the letters I read in your comments area. How entertaining! You do have some enemies don't you! I wasn't at the open contest in Birmingham but read with interest you thoughts on the event. It seems you've really offended people with your retrospective articles.

On closer inspection however it seems that it's mainly their pride you've dented with your observations of individual performances.

As a long-time subscriber to both the British Bandsmen and the Brass Band World magazines I must say I was a little shocked to read that in your articles you do actually criticise the movement - those who run contests and adjudicate. 

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with you thoughts but it should be comforting for everyone involved in the brass band movement that there is someone that is willing to challenge the authorities with these writings.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on the London Nationals next month.

John Woodling

Lending my support

I want to lend my support to those who think your attack on the open results was unecessary. Who do you think you are? What gives you the write to criticise others.

Your so-called much 'acclaimed' website will surely start to falter if you continue this line of attack on our movement.

Sam Nelson
PS. Dyke won it by a mile!

Poetic Injustice

Retro =Retrospective

They all rode forth on Birmingham
Unto the Symphony Hall
'The Dyke' were there with Cory
The 'top six' one and all.

With laptops and their mobiles
4BR would have their day
They scurried in with corned beef snack
Like schoolkids out to play

For them to pick a winner
It really is quite simple
'It must be one of the big six
Unless you're Dolly Dimple'.

'With two composers in the box
what really do they know?'…….

If 4BR were in the box
And couldn't use their eyes
I really think they'd still be wrong
Now that would not surprise

Two Scots bands got a mention
'There must be some mistake'
It's only their opinion so…
'Behave for goodness sake !'

World War III has not begun
There is no revolution
Just tell us who had all the splits
Now there's a good solution.

'No Yorkshire bands in the top four
It surely can't be right
YBS should still be fourth
Even when they're  'playing below form''  ( dodgy rhyme?)

You always seem to contradict
You change from day to day
I really wish you'd take a mo'
To listen to what you say

Please don't write your silly thoughts
You're not quite qualified
Leave results to those who know
It keeps life dignified.

Most people have a problem
With your attitude to this
Go back to what you're good at
That really would be bliss.

Go back to posting facts and things
With results right up to date
Keep your opinions to yourself
Now wouldn't that be great.

Your observations should be kept
The same place I keep mine.
Your feet just grew to size 11
Your boots are still a 9 !

Now that just leaves Ceaucescu
He'll surely have his day !
But help me out here if you please
What instrument does he play  ???

PS      Please do not alter or comment on the order of
the verses.  I am the composer and I know best.

Robert Stornoway

4BR Reply:
Brilliant stuff Robert - 198pts!

Honesty prevails

As one of the audience who did listen though the majority of the bands (missed three due lunch - must remember to take sandwiches next time) I agree with your honest report of the contest. I certainly felt a fine contest was spoilt (and I would go as far as to say the audience and bands, particularly Dyke, cheated ) by a poor adjudication. I had the bands placed the same as you as did many other friends that attended the contest. 

Well done and keep up the good reporting work.

Graham Rix

Credit where credit is due

I read all the comments on the open with interest, how many of the so called experts actually sat through and listened to all 19 Bands? I did and I really did not hear a bad performance. Did you?

I have no allegiance to any one band. My brother Peter and I had a great day, heard some wonderful playing , Fodens, Black Dyke and Buy as you View, all memorable. So lets give credit where credit is due. A great days banding ,  well organized, splendid venue. 2005 British Open can't come around quick enough.
Thanks to Ray and David for making the day thoroughly enjoyable. Well done to all concerned.
Barry Radford

Just for the Record...

Just for the reccord: my name is Raf Van Looveren. Not Rolf von Looveran, Raf Von looveran or Raf Van Looveran. Thank you.
Raf Van Looveren

4BR Reply:
Thanks Raf - and congratulations from everyone here on your fine performance

The obvious answer!
Were Buy As You View really only the equivalent of being 1 point better than Scottish Co-op and 17 points better than Tredegar on "St. Magnus"?  And were Kirkintilloch really 1 point better than Sellers and 2 points better than Black Dyke on "Montage"? The answer is quite obviously yes.
This is adjudication, not an exact science and something that no one can predict the result of. No matter how it is done there will invariably be controversy. Lets hope we don't go down the non competitive wind band route to solve this problem(?).
Jim Corrigan

Missing the Point!!

No No No 4BR... you've missed the point. The Ceaucescu moment you described didn't happen. What happened was a band and its supporters threw their toys out of the pram and had a sulk.
Having put in a good performance they assumed no-one else could possibly play as well on the day. Come on guys...! Far from indulging those concerned, 4BR should ignore the arrogant behaviour giving positive attention to good behaviour in order to reinforce the kind of behaviour we should expect (any primary school teacher will back up the method). Bandsmen need to smarten up the act. I don't know any other arena where we would expect to get away with such posturing and arrogance.
Word of the day: Arrogant
Martin Britt 
Soprano with Desford

Blowing your own Trumpet (or soprano)

In reply to David Reads comments regarding your review of the new Tredegar CD, I have heard the cd and find the 4BR Review comments to be spot on and true. Just becuse you play for the band doesn't mean you can't in a professional way give your own personal honest opinion. I'm sure if you thought it wasn't up to scratch you would convey this to the brass band public as your web site does for all "Welsh" bands when they deserve it,  after all we aren't stupid enough to just soley rely on your or anybody elses opinion.

As to conflict of interest does this mean that nobody on your staff or contributors to this 1st class website can play or be associated with any of the bands featured for fear of conflicts of interest ....!!!!!.

Really Mr Read , we are talking brass band cd sales in their hundreds maybe thousands - a long way from the millions sold by Britney and Jagger.

Ps.. Iwan's contribution to the cd in his band and solo playing IS top class and me being an English bandsman i'm not afraid to say it !!!
Kevin Donaldson

Top 10 Women soprano cornet players? 

I would just like to comment that i think you should do the "top 10 women soprano cornet players" like you have done for the men. Hope to hear from you soon.

Fiona Vause
(Soprano cornet player)

4BR Reply:
One to look into for sure Fiona. The likes of Tracy Redfearn, Michelle Ibbotson, Kay MacKenzie to name but a few of the recent crop, but going back a good few years may prove to be more difficult though. Any ideas?

The Four Temprements

I was wondering if anyone knows if Robert Simpsons The Four Tempraments have ever been used at a contest? It has been chosen to be the testpiece for the danish nationals on november the 6th and I haven't been able to find any information whether it has been used or not. Furthermore I would like to know to what occasion/band it has been written.

It is a interesting piece in many ways, but perhaps not the most obvious choice, so I do believe that the organizers of the danish national championship has been out looking for a piece for a while. I am looking forward to reading your comments.

Mads Lillelund
Concord Brass Band
Copenhagen, Denmark

4BR Reply:
Not that we know Mads, but if someone out there has any idea if it has been played at contesting level before let us know

The Welsh Question - an answer?

I note with interest that Stan Wood has written a comment regarding "the Welsh question" (and indeed that 4BR have replied suggesting that they have tried to approach the issue at ministerial level). However these only appear on the 4BR site in English language - would it be possible to have these translated into Welsh??? Then again since 4BR is based in Wales perhaps all its output should be bilingual.......

On a more sincere note - why should the organisers of a festival dedicated to the Welsh language give announcements in English - one of the integral points of the Eisteddfod is to encourage more widespread use of the Welsh language and if that means that non-speakers have to learn a few phrases before they can understand whats going on, so much the better. Mr Wood, understandably, approaches the various Brass competitions as a Brass Band contest in their own right, whereas in reality they are only a small part of a far wider celebration of Welsh culture and adding English announcements purely to make Brass Bands "more watchable on TV" for English speakers would be well outside the aims of the Eisteddfod.

Incidentally very few English contests give out their announcements in Welsh or for that matter French, German, Hindi, Russian or Mandarin Chinese (all of which could be argued to greatly increase potential accessibility to those who do not speak the local tongue) but to do so would waste time and decrease the enjoyment of the majority of people attending.

Surely if anyone should be contacted about offering translations in this situation it would be S4C who might at least benefit financially from increased viewer / subscriber numbers if some english subtitling was provided (if indeed they do not already).

Ron Rees Davies,
Romford, Essex.

Lost but not quite found

Please, please, please help if anyone possibly can. I have lost a John Ridgeon Tenor Horn Mouthpiece, no.2
If anyone has a spare or knows of somewhere that I can get hold of one I would appreciate it if you could get in touch. Any condition and a good price to be paid.
Trevor Foster 
Aveley and Newham

Oggy, Oggy, Oggy? 

Do you know what ranking ogmore valley silver band are in wales? Who does your research, on the band by band analysis it says the Ogmore has reached the nationals for the first time in thirty years, wrong, they were at Dundee and came 8th.

Tiny Griffiths

4BR Reply:
If you're not in the top 200 then you'll have to keep practicing I'm afraid - we have literally hundreds of similar requests each weeek - If we responded to all of them then we'd have no time for anything else! As for the research - sorry, but you sent us no information on the band, so we had to try and get what we could. Sorry for the mistake though.

Rules for Adjudicators?

I was wondering if there was any rule in place which prevents composers from adjudicating their own work at contests. I played in the fourth section finals in Harrogate and was told that Phillip Sparke was in the audience,surely he knows the music better than anyone and therefore no one would question his decision or comments. I felt that Mr Rentons comment that" We've made a decision, it may not be the right one but it's the one that we think is right " makes you wonder if the 70 plus hours of rehearsal and preparation are a waste of time as the result could be a bit of a lottery.

Don't think this is sour grapes as my band were placed third and we are very happy with the placing, I just think that if composers were able to adjudicate their own work then all bands would have a clearer idea of what the adjudicator is listening for and not trying to guess what someone else's interpretation might be.
Andy Carr

4BR Reply:
We don't think there are any rules that forbid the composer of the test piece to bein the box at a contest - Michael Ball will be doing his judging of his own piece at London this year, as have the likes of Eric Ball and Derek Bourgeious in the past. In fact, Eric Ball even conducted his own test piece at the Open and won!

Australian bands on the net 

Was very interested to see the comments of Mr Peter Hayton from Florida USA on the site and would like to respond.
I am both the Producer and Presenter of the Brass Radio programme that Peter spoke of  titled "Brass Encounters".  This is a 30 minute weekly programme that has been going for 25 years. About 6 months ago it became international being available live on the Internet  and also 24 Hours via a download link. The programme is broadcast each Wednesday with that weeks issue remaining on the site till the next programme has been aired.  As Mr Hayton mentioned the Radio Station is 2NUR-FM 103.7 and part of  The University of Newcastle, Australia.     
The programme features bands (those of the Traditional Brass Band format), from all over the Brass World with a large portion from the British Scene. I supply all the content that is aired and try to use new recordings of recent releases in the main, and as such appreciate any assistance from Groups that may like to be featured and get some Airtime for their music, and any new items that they have produced. I assist many listeners that reply to me to be able to buy the recordings from suppliers here in Australia.
My involvement with brass dates back some 36 years being associated with the Salvation Army and currently play Tenor Horn. I am also the  Band Librarian for my band as well. The Programme and myself have received several awards and last year I was humbly awarded THE CENTENARY MEDAL  for "Service to the Community through the Brass Band Movement despite Personal Disabilities", in the Australian Honours List presented on the "Queens Birthday Weekend June". Basically I have had a great deal of illness in my life and still do but have been able to carry on regardless of this.
Thanks for the opportunity to be able to reply to Peter Hayton's mail to you. I trust that many with take advantage of this programme as it does have a great following  and features Brass music that from mail received is enjoyed in many parts of the world.

Geoff  McGregor  
Brass Encounters (Producer/Presenter) 2NUR-FM 103.7
Lake Macquarie City NSW, Australia

Wake up 4BR!

I know you are journalists at the end of the day but really,what have Becontree ever done to you? Or did you not do your homework pre-contest and sleep through our perfomnace? Also, did you know we qualified at the regionals 2004 for 1st section 2005? We are the band to watch! Wake up!

Graeme Cornish

ps  I have still to see any comments (by any organisation or group) on or about flugel players on the day-there were many exposed "solo" passages that seem to have gone totally un-noticed!

I would like to take this opportunity to state as Chairman of Becontree Brass Band that the comments made in relation to this subject, were the individuals and not an official statement from the band.

Thomas Elsom Chairman
Becontree Brass Band

The Tam-tam rings on...

In response to Jon's question about was it a tam tam or gong, here goes ....
In the part it is written for 3 tam tams, which are pitched at low, medium, and high.  So in one chain of thought you could say it was a Tam Tam, however, in another school of thought as the approximate pitch of the instrument was indicated by the composer you could think of the part as a Gong.  I chose to put gong as I felt that a) that most indicated the pitching question, and b) most people who are not of the shed builder fraternity would not really care about the difference between what is a gong and what is a tam tam
To summarise this whole scenario, Call it what you like, because whatever is was called, it was round, made of metal, and very very very loud!!!
Jason Poulston

Youth statistics?

Do you have a Youth/Junior section band result archive? I can't find any. If you don't it is a shame as alot of my friends say that they don't know results for theses particular sections.

Tom Hobbs
Saltash Town Youth Band Soprano

4BR Reply:
Not at the moment Tom, but we will get there in the end. Putting the results onto the 4BR is a huge task but we are trying to add more and more from the archives each week. It is pretty comprehensive now, but we still have a long, long way to go.

The Umpire Strikes Back

I have to take issue with your article about the 2004 British Open 'A Contest within a Contest'.
I know it is unusual (and unnecessary) for adjudicators to defend their decisions, but I feel one of the main weaknesses in the 'movement' at the moment is a lack of dialogue between the parties, here goes:-
I went into the contest thinking that the idea of three pieces could work. I came out of it thinking it couldn't, and not for any reasons I had foreseen. 'It's just like an own choice contest' I thought and we can judge it the same way. This means that we don't take into account our opinion of the piece or even how hard it is. The only criteria we can use is how well a particular band performs the piece it chooses - this is what Michael Ball so eloquently said from the stage. And this is what we did. The fact that the three pieces make different demands on the bands was not a factor; what we wanted to hear was an honest, faithful and inspiring realisation of the score. We didn't hear many.
It was not an own choice contest, as choice was restricted. Bands were not able to choose the piece that fitted them best, only the piece which fitted them best of the three.
What some performances failed to take into account was that Contest Music was written some 30 years before St Magnus. St Magnus is a AH piece (After Howard) and subsequently benefits from the huge progress made in band scoring which was initiated (and largely invented) by Mr Snell. This means it is dependant on colour as much as musical argument (and benefits as such.) Contest Music is a BH piece and an unquestionable masterpiece. But successful performance depends much more on musical (tonal) argument than brilliant colour or even volume. I felt many of the performances of the Heaton we heard in Birmingham were trying to present it as a AH piece, in fact trying to compete with Montage and St Magnus. This was not necessary, and the equivalent (to our ears) of an orchestra playing Mozart in Wagnerian style, for example; there is, of course, a difference. Fodens impressed us because they played the piece for its own worth, not as a contest 'weapon'.
So the problem was NOT with the adjudication, but with the idea as a whole and the possibility that the bands didn't all quite know how to cope with it. It proves what I have always felt, that bands don't trust the judges to 'notice' honest and sincere playing, feeling they have to do something 'special' to get noticed. Believe me you don't; just play the piece as the composer asks, and play it really well and you will feature in the prizes. At this level, we are not counting splits; we are looking for musical integrity, flow, passion, musical lines, expression and inspiration.
The result was not a 'travesty' as you put it. Dyke played very well of course, but so did many of the bands; there were some serious question marks about their performance as you can see from the published notes.
You go on to question, for example, if BAYV were really 'only one point' ahead of Co-op. This is a ludicrous question. We are expected, by bands and organisers, to put all the bands into order of merit. It is artificial to do so. If there had been twelve absolutely stunning performances, all of which could have won, the band coming 12th would of course question the result. Were we to bunch the performances into a series of 'ties' we would be accused of sitting on the fence; but it's much more realistic to do so at this level.
We did a good job in Birmingham. Having two composers is a GOOD idea. (I would say that, wouldn't I?) Michael Ball has judged more music festivals than you have had hot dinners and was brilliant. David Read needs so support from me - his record speaks for itself. The result was not good or bad, it was THE result as we were the ones chosen to make it.
Think on. The adjudication process IS simple, not simplistic. Playing music is simple too; as soon as we start using music for our own ends, we are on a slippery slope.
Philip Sparke

On the other hand...

May I whole heartily agree with your comments about a contest within a contest. However this debate should not be confined to the open. Basically this applies to 'own choice' contests. On several occasions I have experienced the perverse results of own choice. The adjudicator has an impossible task. Several questions come to mind:

1. How well does the adjudicator know the piece? (if its one he or she has rehearsed they will have a detailed knowledge if it is new to them they are in fact sight reading the score and making a judgement)

2. Does the complexity of the piece (especially for lower sections) play any part in the result? (Recently a band won a major contest took that to its local contest everyone in the band agreed that the performance was better than at the major contest the band was criticised beyond belief was it the piece or the band?)

3. How can the merits of good performances be compared. (once the basics of right notes in the right place, tuning etc. have been met it must surely come down to personnel taste)

For the better bands we cannot have 'choice of' contests, after all, music is an art form and if we are to compare we need as best as we can to compare like for like. (whats next choice of how many players?)

For lower section bands in consultation with the adjudicator a limited choice could be avilable knowing that some preparation time for the adjudicator has been given. Great article 4barsrest! Made me think.

Dave Bishop-Rowe

Not really as Dull as Ditchwater

The Open has passed once more and some provoking thoughts indeed from Mr Wise about the lack of quiet dynamics etc. Yes, any ensemble can play forcefully but it does take control to make a harmonious sound at louder dynamics and I would concur that it takes equally great control to play quiet and still achieve a full not strained sound.

Its a shame that comments such as"dull as ditchwater" playing be even inferred about any of the players to whom Mr Wise so graciously listenend to on Saturday. In my humble opinion I believe all musicians would have given their all to attempt to contribute to a performance that they would wish to recall for years to come and I'm sure many players did just that regardless whether they were with the winners or not.

Lets not criticise performers when we didnt personally put ourselves on that stage on Saturday or been so fortunate to play at or even win an Open.

It would be lovely if Mr Wise could just remember a good day out with some terrific performances, fine contest pieces for the performers and punters and hopefully good company. Last Saturday was all of those things, great playing, great music and great people. Heres to next year...

L Barton

Safety First

Jeremy Wise opens up an interesting debate regarding the elusive pianissimo. At the RAH in 1998 on Between the Moon & Mexico (where both Jeremy and I competed) I remember several bands (including Dyke)being berated by the judges for playing almost inaudibly.

I think this "safety first" approach has developed over the last decade or so - bands these days play unquestionably louder in all dynamics and are in some cases prepared to go to extreme lengths to get even louder - witness the much criticised "turning out to face the box" stuff at the Grand Shield and recent fads for standing up in certain sections.

Perhaps it could be something to do with the modern instruments - I don't know - but I do agree that risk taking is going out of fashion

John Roberts

Cox's Pippins!

I think J.Cox hasn't understood what was being said by Joanne Johnson from Pemberton Band. The way I read it was that she was complaining about the remarks written by the adjudicators, not the position the band came. The remarks were completely negative in every respect, should these adjudicators not be there to assist these young players and give them constructive criticism in their remarks rather than all negative, statements like 'all I can hear is a flugal maybe it was facing towards me'.

Yes Mr Adjudicator it probably was facing towards you as most flugals in bands today do face towards the audience and no longer at the side of the Repiano cornet. I seem to recall that formation went out about 25 years ago. Also to cover your comment of 'Get practicing'. If you live local to the Wigan area then get down to the bandroom and have a look at the work these youngsters put in with full rehearsals twice weekly throughout the year on Tuesdays and Thursdays and extra sectional rehearsals every night and weekend 2 weeks prior to a contest or call in on Saturday morning to see the youth band with 30 + players. The work and dedication that they and their parents put in throughout the year is second to none. The band have got grit and I am sure that they will bounce back even with the negative remarks. Been there, done it, got the tee shirt.
George Fairhurst
Pemberton Old Wigan (JJB) Band

And one more for the prosecution M'Lud!

Thank you very much J COX for your harsh comments about our B band.  I do feel however that you missed my point.  I have been in banding long enough to know you cant win em all.  But what you missed was that I wasn't whinging about the result in general I was simply saying that I think soloists should be mentioned whether good bad or indifferent. 

And in the fourth section we do have a lot of younger players that need encouragement.  They are the brass band movements future after all.  Do you play for a band?  Maybe the results didn't go your way at Harrogate and that's why your so bitter. 
Joanne Johnson

Nothing like blowing your own trumpet (or soprano as the case may be)

In the review of Tredegar's recent CD, the reviewer says it is a presentation by a band that has earned respect for maintaining high performance standards without sponsorship. And respect is valued more
than winning contests. I couldn't agree with that more.

But respect is something 4barsrest will never gain until the editorial becomes independent. To have Iwan Fox reviewing his own band's CD and then to have the gall to sell the same CD is a veritable British Open of a conflict of interest. I'm almost surprised he stopped himself before reviewing his own solo item!

Fair due, Iwan is doing none of this underhand - he quite clearly states he plays on the recording and elsewhere that he profits from the site's CD sales. But if the central aim of the reviews are to sell CDs instead of being objective or useful, 4BR is going to find it an up-hill struggle gaining that all important 'respect'.

David Read
Not the adjudicator

One from the Anorak at the back of the band...

Just a small point re Jason Poulston's letter about percussion. He quite rightly pulls up the reviewer for mistaking the tam tam for a cymbal. However he then proceeds to say "Can you please inform Malcolm that it was not a cymbal it was a rather large gong!!! " Now, without wishing to be pedantic, obviously this is incorrect. A Tam tam is not a gong! Gongs are pitched instruments, whereas a tam tam isn't.... If he could let us know whether it was a tam tam or a gong the article can be ammended to everyones satisfaction....!

Obviously I will go and get myself a life at some point and avoid anyone from B&R for the foreseeable future! Then again, all us percussionists are going to have a little time on our hands in the run up to the areas judging by the less than taxing involvement in Rienzi..... thank god we practiced our synchronised standing up for Les Preludes!
Jon Kitchen (Aveley & Newham)

Welsh Cornet Returns!

Thanks to 4barsrest Markham & District Band have located its missing cornet. The cornet was taken accidentally by another band (who shall remain nameless) after celebrating their good result at the lower section finals in Harrogate on 11/12th of September.

John Smith
Markham Band

4BR Reply:
Glad to have been of use

Where is Michelle?

I am a great fan of Michelle Ibbotson and wondered if anybody knew who she is now playing for?..perhaps she will appear as YBS's new soprano player!!!!!..Please help

Iain Abbott

4BR Reply:
Sorry Iain ,but at the moment we don't know. We are sure she wil return to top line banding though - she is too fine a player not to be heard at the highest level again.

In reply to the Professor

Prof. Edward Tarr has unfortunately not given a personal address for replies to his request for details on various players on old recordings. James Williams (b.1924) is the current bandmaster of the Enfield Citadel Band of The Salvation Army, which was formerly the Tottenham Citadel Band (London).

James was for many years its principal cornet player and one-time member of one of Her Majesty's Guards bands in London. He has participated in many recordings and a new one is about to be released(October) commemorating his 60 years with Tottenham/Enfield. Leslie Crump, who died in the early 1960s, played soprano cornet (Eb) with the Tottenham Citadel Band for a number of years and, according to James Williams, was a light but a very safe player.

The cornet duet "The Cleansing Stream" (Erik Leidzen) is indeed based on the tune "Listen to the mocking bird" and was published in the Salvation Army's festival series in 1932. Incidentally, James Williams doesn't remember making this actual recording (conducted by Ernest Edwards) but believes it must have been done before the 1956 date cited by Prof. Tarr.

Brian Bowen

Another one... 

The prolific recording cornettist Sergeant Leggett would appear to be one Professor Charles Leggett. An award which bears his name is an award given by the Musicians Benelovent Fund. This website here gives a brief description.
The MBF, I dare, say, may have more info about him.

James Williams (as I'm sure a few others will have spotted) is now the Bandmaster of the Enfield Citadel Band (formerly Tottenham Citadel) of the Salvation Army, whose site can be found here.(Hopefully, with more info about L. Cramp or Crump - unless that marvellous mine of information Peter Bale can come up with the goods?)

That's as far as I could get. Hope this helps

Dave Payn

£10K was just a bit too steep - but not anymore 
Response to Dave, Wotton Band.

Glad you like our new website at and I do agree that 10 Grand is a little too expensive for that particular piece by Phil Lawrence.  I know he's good, but.....  Thanks for noticing this error, and we'll be getting the correct price added very shortly.
We would also like to mention, for future reference, that all the prices stated on are provided by the actual Composer / Arranger / Publisher of the pieces, and therefore there should be no conflict with other outlets.  If you do see prices for anything on different elsewhere, please let us know immediately at: and we'll inform the composers etc.
Some of the pieces on have specific Copyright and Selling Licences, so although we are encouraging Composers etc to try to re-work their distribution licences, you may not be able to download certain pieces, depending on which country you live in.
If you do have any other questions or comments, please direct them to me: 
Mark Dransfield

And as for "New" Composers?

Having read a recent edition of the British Bandsman, I saw an article by a "New" composer saying that they, or people like them, had no outlet for their compositions. I know that at the time that edition went to press, we, at were very much in our "conception" stages of being launched.

However, to all you composers, arrangers and publishers out there who would like to have somewhere to market, promote and sell your pieces, you now have an outlet !!! Welcome to !!!!

We are looking for Composers, Arrangers and Publishers from every musical walk of life, and whether you write for Brass Bands, Ensembles, Wind Orchestras, Symphony Orchestras or Bagpipe quartets (for you Celts out there), simply send me an email stating what pieces you have, and we'll help you get started....... and the biggest thing is for you all....... It's FREE !!!!! Emails can be sent to: and I'd be grateful if you could make the subject line: "COMPOSITIONS"

So, come and join us and our existing list of composers (some of which are your fellow 4barsrest colleagues), and let us help you "Right Now" !

Anyone got an Alphorn out there?

I am looking to borrow or hire or even buy an alp horn, its for a school thing I am doing.  
Kath Stokes
7 Outlane Netherthong Holmfirth 
01484 687763

The Open 2004 - Searching for a pianissimo

Could you help me please - I am in search of the dynamic 'pianissimo'. A decent piano would do. I sat through 14 performances on Saturday at the Open and never heard one.
My most memorable musical experiences have all been quiet ones - breathtaking, on the edge of the seat, straining to hear passages of sublime beauty and skill. Sadly they seem to no longer exist. With extended quiet passages in both Montage and Contest Music I expected to be tingling in certain places - but left without a flutter. Players much more concerned with just getting the notes - adjudicators prepared to reward them for doing so.
As long as adjudicators continue to reward safe, split free, 'dull as ditchwater' playing this is, I guess, what will continue to happen. Could somebody please take a risk - you never know - somebody might just notice.
Jeremy Wise

Thanks for Everything - including the howls and gasps 

Judging by the howls and gasps throughout the packed Symphony hall, I wasn't alone in being shocked by Dyke's 6th position at the Open.  The adjudicators' body language and facial expressions and Michael Ball's defence of the adjudication criteria before the results were announced, gave us early warning that something was afoot.

I will be very surprised if we ever hear another performance of Montage to match the one that Dyke gave us in Birmingham on Saturday.  Having heard numerous derogatory comments about the adjudicators in the bars and restaurant after the result, I am left with the thought "who cares!".  I care that I was fortunate enough to experience such a beautifully crafted and involving performance. For 15 minutes I forgot I was at a contest. Whoever was filming the event, please, please, please, include this on the DVD if you intend to produce one.

A consolation for me was Foden's win. Having heard most of the performances of Contest Music on the day, they were clearly ahead of that group for me.

David King's response to the YBS result at the evening concert was an inspiration.  He joked about it briefly and let the band's quality speak for itself.  Their whole programme was a joy to hear and the English premier of 'Music of the Spheres' was awe inspiring.  Stavanger followed this with an incredible 50 minute performance without music taking us into an entirely different world. The standing ovation that followed it and several minutes of applause could never do it justice. Thank you to all the bands that made Saturday such a memorable one.

Dave Wicks

Item 16 - Not quite right

Item 16 in your very informative article states that the Asphaltic Newham Band were relegated after placing 13th at the 1991 contest. I would like to correct what I believe to be an inaccuracy; the Asphaltic Newham Band were,in fact,unable to attend in 1992 and withdrew owing to a lack of available players. Insufficient funds prevented any deps from being signed and this ongoing situation led to the merger with the Aveley Band in 1993.

Following the celebration of the Aveley Bands' centenary in 1994, the newly constituted organisation took the stage in 1995 as the Aveley and Newham Band. With any luck we'll be back in the Open before West Ham get back in the Premiership - well, you've got to hope, haven't you?

Tim Casey,
Aveley and Newham Band.

Raf is a Van Man not a Von Man

But when I read the articles on the British Open today I saw some painful mistakes (being Belgian). I was delighted on reading about my fellow-Belgian Raf taking the soloist prize (seen for some reason I did not find an article on his victory on the EBBC...???), but...

Raf Von Looveren should be Raf VAN Looveren (von is German) Bert Van Thiernan should be Bert Van ThieNEN

Steven Fransen

4BR Reply:
The mistakes have now been amended!

What do we mean?

What do you mean when you advertise live band by band coverage?

RJ Burnell

4BR Reply:
4BR listens to every band and write our thoughts during each of their performances. We then try to get those remarks and thoughts up on the 4BR site within a few minutes of the band playing, therefore giving our readers as close to a "live" report as we possibly can. At the Open we were able to do this withing a minute or so because our technology worked in the hall itself, whilst at Harrogate we encountered problems and there was a significant time delay before we could get our remarks onto the site. We will kep trying to make our report as up to date as we possibly can though.   

An old result never dies...

Nice to hear from Richard Graves lamenting the areas at Watford Town Hall. It was Sunday, March 18th. 1979 and adjudicators James Scott & Col.George Evans gave the following results;

1st.Cambridge, D. Read,187
2nd.Solent Concert, W. Garner, 185
3rd.Roneo Vickers (Hanwell), B.Stone, 184
4th. Morris Motors, W.Ress, 183
5th. Newham, R.Farr, 182.

Luton were indeed 11th. and Hendon were 13th.
Charley Brighton.

The difference between a cymbal and a Tam Tam is...

As a percussionist it is frustrating when reviewers ignore the percussion section during a concert, however on this occasion I was pleased that malcome wood noticed the work my team were doing in the Rodney newton arrangement of Church Windows.  However I was saddened that Malcolm chose to comment on the 'almighty cymbal crash' that ended one of the movements.  Can you please inform malcome that it was not a cymbal it was a rather large gong!!! I would of hoped he could tell the difference!  If this could be changed in the review that would also be appreciated! Cheers and keep up the good (but sometimes a little dodgy) work!
Jason Poulston 

4BR Reply:
Thanks Jason - Now everyone knows

Todmorden Link

I read an article titled Music to our ears at and I thought it may interest you.

Terry Luddington

Shut up and get practicing!

Why, why why, do people have to whinge about adjudicators desicions? It is annoying. There are lots of other bands who didn't win in Harrogate but do you see them moaning? NO!!! Get a grip of yourself Joanne Johnson and tell your 'B band' to get practising.

J Cox

The Price is Right? Don't think so... 
Interesting website is However, some of the titles for sale are slightly over the budget of our band. See this score (only the score mind) for Deep Space 9.
This enters at a whopping £10k. Is it really that good?
Wotton Band
P.S. Love the new look site. Excellent.

Happy Days at Grimethorpe

Grimethorpe used this (Rienzi) on a record conducted by George Thompson, my old teacher and mentor. I remember sitting in his front room in Grimethorpe listening to the recording, and hearing him explain how hard he and the players had worked had worked to get the solo cornets playing absolutely 'spot on' . Happy days!

Jim Wright

Letter from an Anorak

Not wishing to enter further into the debate about the choice of Rienzi for the top section areas, I'd just like to put something right based on info I've seen from the comments on here thus far. I believe that the most recent arrangement of Rienzi prior to Howard Lorriman's version for this year's areas (the one that I guess was commissioned for the 1963 area finals?) was not by Denis or Frank Wright (though the style of arranging does resemble the latter!) but by one Haydn Johns. I'll get me anorak…..

Dave Payn
Isle of Arran-bound brass bore.

Help to find some Golden Oldies

As director of the Bad Saeckingen (Germany) Trumpet Museum I have been entrusted with the task of putting together - from our Sound Archive containing more than 400 titles on 78 rpm records of historical cornet and trumpet soloists (1899-1950) - a double CD for the International Trumpet Guild of the most interesting solos by European soloists.
I have chosen 44 pieces from France, Germany, Algeria (not in Europe, but associated with France!), Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, and - not surprisingly - England. The only trouble is that, even after years of collecting information and even publishing a book ("The Trumpet", formerly available from Batsford Books in London), there are still several English soloists of whom I know nothing.
May I give you a short list, including record nos., with the request to give me any possible help in identifying these people? The list follows my signature. I would be grateful for any tidbit of information. (I have already received helpful tips from The British Library and Allan Littlemore and have just written to Frank Andrews.) Unfortunately my deadline for submitting my booklet text runs out in another ten days.
(Prof. Dr.) Edward H. Tarr
Director, Bad Saeckingen Trumpet Museum
-         Corporal West + H. M. Grenadiers Guards Band: Il bacio (1925) [Columbia A 3303, 4028]
-         Sergeant Leggett (a prolific recording artist) + band: Serenade (Gounod, 1926) [Regal 27110, 2231, G 6183]
-         R. Lewis (posthorn) + band: Post Horn Galop (1935) [Decca, DR 4475]
-         L. Cramp or Crump (Eb cornet) & James Williams (Bb cornet) + Tottenham Citadel Band [=Salvation Army circles]: The Cleansing Stream by Erik Leidzén (1956) [the tune is identical to Listen to the Mocking Bird, Regal Zonophone, CAR 6871, MF 400]
-         Arthur Wheeler + band: Miserere (from Il trovatore, Verdi, 1925) [Grand Pree Record N79120, 18189]

Luton Fans!

It's nice to know that Luton stll have a 'fan club' albeit based on a performance of Variations for Brass Band made 25 years ago...!!!! It's also interesting to read that Phil Lawrence had a 'we-was-robbed' moment when he played it at the 'areas'.

I recall we gave a pretty good performance when we played VFBB on the wireless and when we played it at Watford Town Hall (..ah..happy days) the band felt it was even better...and the result.....11th.!! My esteemed friend and colleague Eric Capron (one of the best Sop players I've ever heard)promptly took the adjudicators comments and flushed them down the to this day no one in the band has any idea as to what cardinal sin we committed to condemn us to such a lowly position.

Perhaps they are still lodged down a soil pipe in North Watford or perhaps the adjudicator (whose name escapes me - well it was 25 years ago) could enlighten us, but then again....

Richard Graves FTCL, LTCL, ARCM, Principal Cornet - Luton Band (1979 to the present), Musical Director - Rushden Windmill Band - and altogether smart.....alec!!!!

Forgetting the Londoners at your Peril! 

Just got around to looking at the 4BR "predicitions" (belatedly) for the purpose of comparing them with the reality of the results from this year's nationals. In your 4th Section predictions I note you make no mention of the three L& SC representatives but claim, towards the end of the article (and I quote):-
"So after we have covered everyone in the field, who will it be for us to unlock the secrets of the Buddha and find enlightenment and the top prize into the bargain?"
An easy slip to make of course - London Bands traditionally don't do all that well at National Finals contests, particularly at 4th Section level - but this year's contest was different - you will note that a London Band (Potters Bar) did come out top - and congratulations to them!
Tsk Tsk 4BR - otherwise a very informative and interesting read (as were the comments about the performances on the day even if there was heavy emphasis of illegal substances being used by most bands to get the desired effect from the music in keeping with the Bhuddist them of the piece).  Just as well the players in these Bands are not subjected to drug testing at these contests isn't it ?
Angela Tregaskes

4BR Reply:
Quite right Angela. We should have known that by leaving someone out of our predictions it would come back to haunt us - and it did! Well done to everyone at Potters Bar - we really enjoyed the perormance on the day. 

A Big Thanks

May I, through the pages of, thank everyone for their attendance and playing at the Cancer Research Band Concert at the Diggle Hotel, Saddleworth on Sunday 22nd August.

For the uninitiated, the Cancer Research Band is a scratch Band thrown together, without rehearsal, for a specific fund raising exercise. In the past, we have been very successful at local march contests and have collected prize monies to the tune of £650-00 over the past two years.

However, to mark the start of our third year, I had an idea, and with the assistance of Phil Beck promotions, an outside concert at the Diggle Hotel was sorted.

The band for the day consisted of 7 from Fodens Richardson Band. 4 from Wingates. 4 from Presimmon Homes Hepworth Band. 3 from BMP Europe Goodshaw Band.2 from Dobcross Silver. 1 from YBS. 1 from Besses Boys. 1 from Whitworth Vale and Healey and 4 unafiliated players.

My thanks must be past on to Glynn Williams (Solo Euph, Fodens Richardson Band) for assisting with the organisation and for playing Myfanwy so excellently.

Mark Wilkinson for a superb rendition of Share My Yoke and Helen Fox for the super solo's in Procession to the Minster and the Pines of Rome. Special thanks to Rob Westacott and the guys from Hepworth for helping out at such short notice.

The concert was well attended and fortunately the weather remained fine. A sum of £232-00 was raised on the day and a request has been made for another concert in August next year, only next time it has been suggested that we hold it at the Uppermill Civic Hall.

As the Bands founder and Conductor, I would like to ask that if anyone is interested in playing in the band next year, at the Uppermill Concert, please contact me and I will collate the information to produce the best band possible.

David Ashworth

Henry V -  I woz there!

Further to recent comments, one of the earliest recordings of RVW's Henry V overture was around 1982 by Northop under Kevin Bolton, on a disc with the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir on Sain Recordings. I know 'cos I've got one of the few surviving copies. It's about time this piece saw the light of day again; it would make a superb lower section testpiece.

Andrew Baker

A Wingeing National Champion

I just had to write in to make myself feel better as I am still feeling rather depressed after winning the National Finals First section last Saturday. I am absolutely so gutted for our B band who came 12th place in
the 4th Section when all they had was excellent reports from all, even yourselves.

I would like to say that Nicola Banks on Principle Cornet and Katie Littler on Solo Horn were truly outstanding on the day. You described them as "Indestructible" and "As cool as a can of Stella".  They played like top section players not 4th Section. It must have been soul destroying to work that hard and not get a mention by either adjudicator on the day. How can an adjudicator be so negative?

Once the conductor Peter Ashley who happens to me my dad has got over the trauma. (I 'm sure he will, sunning himself in Lanzarote) I can then maybe start enjoying that I am a National Champ! Thanks for the whinge!

Joanne Johnson
Pemberton Old Wigan JJB Band

Preaching from the Pulpit

Following Alan Hodgkinsons letter in which you yet again berate someone for having alternative views to 'Big Brother' 4barsrest (I expect the usual sarcasm).

Alan makes a very valid point. You again ride totally roughshod over a band (Todmorden) that at the time made a big impression in the movement. If it was not for bands like these, you would be presiding over a very stale website that would consist of a joint for the 6-10 bands that are blatantly your favourites.
Every so often a band appears that bucks the trend. This is great for the movement, not as you seem to think an unwelcome intrusion. When this happens people sit up and take notice and dreams are rekindled that the boredom and predictability might be broken, even for a couple of years.

4barsrest appeared like a breath of fresh air a few years ago as an unbiased medium. Now it appears that is no more. You have a large audience and 4barsrest is your pulpit and woe betide anybody who appears to disagree with you (good job it's not religion!).

Your blatant contempt for the World Championships has in my (and others) opinion, contributed in a large way to its demise before it has been given a chance. You were obviously left out of the loop and took umbrage at the insult. You do a lot of things well, don't spoil it by being purely a bell end (that's where the noise comes from) for the top ten. Believe me, not all your burgeoning opinions are respected.
Billy Brook.

On the other hand...

Having read Alan Hodgkinson's comments re Todmorden's short-lived successes, it reminded me of a couple of other bands who came up through the sections quickly and made their mark.  Kennedy's Swinton band under David King rose up the ranks as rapid as Todmorden (if not more) and ultimately won the British Open, but unfortunately didn't last. 

Also, Huddersfield Tecol band under Philip McCann rose up the ranks successfully, but they did survive and currently exist as the Sellers International band.  So I would say Sellers lay more claim to having made their mark than Todmorden.

Martin Irwin

The Rothwell mystery?

Having looked at your prelude to the Open on your website with interest I was puzzled by your write-up for the Rothwell Temperance Band. The Rothwell Temperance 'B' Band that became the modern day Rothwell Temperance Band was formed in 1985.  So how could they perform at the British Open Championship in 1947?
This year sees the first performance of the Rothwell Temperance Band at the British Open Championship, an enormous achievement in itself as qualification through the Grand Shield is no easy task as everyone knows.
Surely, the Rothwell Temperance Band that appeared at the championship all those years ago was in fact the Rothwell Temperance Band which was founded 1881.  The same band that later merged with the DUT Yorkshire Imperial Band and not the junior band which at that time obviously did not exist.  Although the modern day Rothwell Temperance Band can trace their origins back to the senior band surely saying you were founded in 1985 but appeared in 1947 is a little far fetched?
Richard Dines
Yorkshire Imperial Urquhart Travel Band

4BR Reply:
Thanks Richard. It is difficult with some bands to really discern their actual roots. There is no doubt that this Rothwell is making it's debut at the contest, but it is also true to state that Rothwell did appear all those years ago and the present band is a brass band child of that parent. The same goes for bands such as YBS who were Hammonds Sauce, but are still in fact one in the same band. We think in this case it is fair to give a mention of credit to the old Rothwell Temperance and wish the new one every success.

Rienzi has been used before

For your info Rienzi was used I would guess at the then 1st Section Scottish Finals approx in the 1960 or 1970's and I'm not sure if the arangement was by Dennis Wright.

Ron McClur 

Perhaps 1963?

Having just seen the list of test pieces for the 2005 Area Finals, I noticed your comment that the overture "Rienzi" has not been seen in brass band format since 1908. I remember playing an arrangement of this overture when it was commissioned for the Championship Section of the Area Finals of 1963.
M. Evans.

1963 it was...

In your article on the 2005 regional test pieces, you state that Rienzi has not been used at the top level since 1908. It was actually the Championship Test piece at the Yorkshire area in 1963 won by Grimethorpe. George Hespe had a heart attack whilst conducting Black Dyke. I know because I was there with my dad, Ken Vine ( Bass trom with the imps and Leeds Model). Cheers from Australia  

Eric Vine

4BR Reply:
Many thanks to everyone who pointed this out to us, although we understand it wasn't the same version as the 1908 one which certainly hasn't been used since.

And what about Comedy?

Just a note! Without wishing to be a clever cloggs it was the brass band version of Comedy Overture that came first! As you state it was used for the National Finals in 1934 but was not scored by the composer for orchestra until 1936. By the way I think that it is a great choice and will challenge many First Section bands - just what most of them want!

David Williams

What are they on?

I've just heard about the regional testpieces for 2005. 2nd Section bands wrestling with Vaughan Williams 'Variations' and the third section doing battle with 'Tam O'shanter's Ride'? I have three questions for you:
1) Who's responsible for these choices?   
2) What are they on?  and 
3) Where can I get some? 
Or perhaps their local water supply should be analysed..............
Roger Pearcey, Suffolk.

Can't wait to play the Variations

Varitations for Brass Band - What a FANTASTIC piece, this along with John Ireland's Downland Suite and Holst's Moorside Suite, must be one of the most musical pieces ever written for Brass Band.

I've adored it since I heard Luton play it on Radio 3's Bandstand in 1979(along with, funnily enough, the Elegy from a Downland Suite).

I agree with you that there aren't many bands (even top ones) who will be able to master it (especially the links between the flugel, cornet and soprano) but I still wish I could find a 2nd section band to join so that I could play it - no wait...I've just seen your classified section....

Richard Ryan, Bedford.

And VW?

Firstly, thank you 4br for your excellent coverage and updates on the section 1-4 finals from Harrogate, a grand, grand job.

Further to Peter Bale's reply regarding VW's earlier brass band works, the Overture, Henry V was written in around 1932 but was never performed in the composer's lifetime. The article written by his friend Roy Douglas (which appears on the Boosey and Hawkes score) possibly provides a clue as to why, when he states that he wished the tone of the cornets to be as close as possible to that of trumpets and… 'indeed the composer would prefer the cornet parts to be played on trumpets. In any case, the vulgar sentimental vibrato which disfigures most brass band performances should be strictly avoided.'

Its first performance was, I believe, in the USA on October 3rd 1979 after the manuscript was discovered in the British Library by Howard Snell (I seem to remember this info from a recording by the London Brass Virtuosi on the Hyperion label) All of which has nothing to do with his Variations for Brass Band……

And lastly, thank you for describing my playing in the 4th section finals as 'as nice as a Werthers Original'. My playing in the other three movements resembled more a used Wrigleys Spearmint with glass shards embedded in it, but thank you anyway! ;-)

Dave Payn
Fulham Brass Band

Diverted downwards

Are you able to give any info as to when Divertimento was down graded from a 3rd section peice to a 4th section peice as the only info I have is that it was used as a 3rd section peice in 1996 in th Regionals, and was used as a 3rd section peice in the Durham League in 1999, yet this yaer is a 4th section Regional test peice!
Are you able to shed any light on this please?
Tony Weir

4BR Reply:
No! It was the Music Panel who did it, so perhaps they could explain their reasons for their choices.

What about a new broom?

A glance at the test pieces for the 2005 Regionals is revealing. Music variously written in the 1960s; the 1950s; the 1930s and in the last century but one. This must be totally discouraging to our young composers and our music publishing houses. How about a new broom?

Allan Littlemore

Harrogate 2004

I would like to express my 'sorrow' in the fact that the Restaurant closed  at 2pm.  The First did not commence until 4.45pm or there abouts and there was no 'Hot Food' available.  In fact there was no Hot Food availabe at 2.30pm
This is not good, especially when the First Section did not start until 4.45pm, and finish at 10.15pm.  I feel sure that this was because of the help on stage.
The only other 'Downside' was the fact that Band members had to pay to listen.  Without the Bands there would be no Contest.  Having being fortunate enough to take part in the National Finals last year at Dundee, and did not encounter this charge.  The Venue was great last year also. 
Margaret Curran

Tell us More!

We were really intrigued and pleased with your report on our performance yesterday. In fact the band came off feeling they had done a good job and so did many others. Yet the opinion of the adjudicators is the one that counts. We can make our own judgement after we have heard the recording but meanwhile could your man giving the report let me know whether he felt the result was accurate.
We were disappointed to read comments such as ' the music needed more space' and 'out of balance' . But without more details e.g. faster, slower, troms too loud, we cannot improve on particular parts of the band's technique or performance. Can you help?
Stuart Garman
St Albans City Band

4BR Reply:
Thanks Stuart, but ours wasn't the official adjudication was it? We just gave an opinion on how we heard it in very general terms. The one that counted was the one that came from the box

Told you so!!

I read today your dodgy predictions for the results of the second section, you should have learnt from the area predictions that you had Hathern as dark horses and indeed we took first place.This time you didn't rank us at all and again walked off with first prize. It's nice to prove the pundits wrong !!

Gary Taylor
Hathern Band

4BR Reply:
Congratulations from 4BR as well - We did say though that we may have underestimated your performance

No mention for the Best Soloist

I notice the best instrumentalist for the 3rd section at harrogate isn't displayed on your site. who did this award go to?

Nathan Sims

4BR Reply:
Sorry, but it went to the fine soprano player, Chris Seddon of the Hoover (Bolton) Band 

Any idea?

I was just emailing to see if you guys at 4BR new when the National Youth  Brass Band Championships test pieces are going to be released this year? Thanks in advance.

Tim Cooper

4BR Reply:
Sorry, Tim but at the moment we don't. Can anyone shed some light please?

Brassed Off - A long rant!

In 1850/60 there was no original music for brass bands, and no one had really informed the music editor's on the film "Brassed Off" that brass band music had moved on some in that period, hence the "Lone Ranger Overture" at the supposed Albert Hall finals scene! Although the bander's private lives ere on display during those very difficult times of the coal strike, they were displayed in a rather archaic way. However, if the film had chosen to isplay those faceless few that had chosen "The Lone Ranger Overture" they would have fitted in very nicely into that 1860's image of the movement! oving on.

Wagner, my friends, and orchestral arrangements! We literally have young brass band composers dying in droves, in fact, some of those young dying omposers have been there that long that they are now old dying composers! What do we need bloody Wagner Overture for? Well, ok, I like his music; I've one a brill arrangement of Siegfried's Funeral Music from Gotterdammerung and also the mammoth "Ride of the Valkyries" for concert repotoire. Mahler adored Wagner and shed a tear at his funeral also thus gaining the idea of Klopstock's hymn to use in the final movement of his Resurrection Symphony No 2 in C Minor, Listz was in ore of this younger composer, and Hitler (well we cant always choose our fans) loved Wagner's music for all the wrong reasons, like, Wagner also believed in the pure Arian race and it's catholic history supported by true Germanic legends of how Arians were a pure race, he was also a anti-Semite and he left the country on several occasions (as in, legged it) due to his political beliefs. So Hitler did not necessarily have musical taste! I suppose he could have been on the Nazi BB music selection panel then given that last qualification?

There are loadsa overtures arranged for brass band to choose from, so why this one? Why not go back to the Frank Wright arr, or even forward to say, an arr of a movement from a symphony containing music of a little more gravitas, there is loads of it about. I dunnow, who's with a big publishing mob, or who's scratching who's back? Lets all hope it's still not in D major concert pitch then eh?

Two Hats On! Hat 1. Composer. From the point of view of an average aged dying composer, why have new works rotting for band in the bins of the faceless few and then we get Dickie Wagner meets Tonto, in what effectively is a rather early pompous fast jack-boot march with a good tune or two attached, so good, that it modulates at least 8 times in succession at one point. Again, I repeat from my interview on 4bars last year. Each band in a section stumps up £25 well in advance, choose one of say 10 selected composers, the composer who comes up high in choice gets to compose a work for that section, it only needs about
8 months up front thinking! <>

Hat 2. Conductor. I'm a conductor going to the area, now most new compositions for band, as in tests, give all the soloists a good roasting, take the recent 1st sec test in Harrogate, solo cnt, epuh, hn, get a terrible roast for ages. What happens if you haven't got great soloists on your stand? Now, an overture (as in this one), holds no real roasts for any soloist over an extended period of time, so going up against the top three bands for instance gives other bands a better chance of getting closer as there is far more tutti/section in the work than soloistic flare! Better chance all round, and we should be all off in less than 12/11.5 minutes unless you're a real ham and like to carve this romantic dish slow! Happy conductor.

So what am I complaining about, well, same old s***, different wrapper, but at least it's about music and not politics and contest organisers, and, "he pulled my hair Miss". Don't forget, no music, no bands, or will bands play anything and not care about the music or how it gets there, or doesn't care, more to the point? Don't forget, keep letting it slide and the test for the 2010 area champ sec could be either "Beatles Medley No 1" or a new work like, variations on, "The Birdie Song" using retrograde inversions and palindromes vari's, or even, heaven-t-betsy, a tone row, hmmm!

And one last congrats' to 2nd sec who got real brass band composition with the VW vari's for brass band, great piece, but, VW hated brass bands, and especially cornet players (read his inside notes on the Henry The Vth Suite score, "quasi trumpets"), I played Vari's  in top sec area in 1979 (I think) with Manchester CWS with Maurice Hanford, and we were robbed! So what's new, or yeah, it's now a 2nd sec piece, good luck!

Phil Lawrence.  

Getting the judges to speak up

Great idea, but the flaw is in respect of your suggested timing.  I recall one eminent adjudicator/cornet soloist telling the bands from the stage at the end of a contesy what he was looking for!  A stable door comes to mind.  It should be in writing to every competing band at least a month before the contest.  It should apply to all contests.  In the programme is fine for the audience.

Allan Littlemore

Idiots know nothing

Who on earth picked these? Variations for Brass Band for 2nd section? Have they completely lost their marbles? I would challenge any decent championship section band to play it, and Comedy, and Tam O' Shanter. These idiots know nothing.

Paul Collins

Forgotten VW's

In your announcement about the Vaughan Williams "Variations for Brass Band" you describe it as his first work for brass band.  This is forgetting the early "Overture: Henry the Fifth", forgotten for many years, and I'm pretty certain the "Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes", written for the International Staff Band of The Salvation Army, also predates the work in question.

Peter Bale,
Westcliff on Sea, Essex 

Greatest Living Euph players?

Surfing through readers comments I came upon  some reply to a list of great living euphonium players but I cannot find your original list. Can you point me in the right direction?

Ernest Lomas

4BR Reply:
Just keep searching on the site Ernest - it is there somewhere we promise you and when we find it again we will give you the directions!!

Getting in contact in a brass band desert

I have a question for you. But first I would like to say, thank you very much for a wonderful and informative website, I read it regularly. Living in Naples Florida, I am starved of British style brass band music. As I always say, "Naples has lots of lush semi-tropical foliage, but when it comes to British style brass band music, it's a desert".

As far as I know there are only two "real" brass bands in Florida, "Brass Band of Central Florida" and
"Sunshine Band", 4-5 hrs and 2hrs respectively from Naples. Of course, I buy CD's by mail and tune in to the BBC's "Listen To The Band" via the Internet.  By searching the Internet, I have found two more radio
stations that have brass band programs. The first I found is from Australia, the program is called, "Brass
Encounters". The second program is from The Isle of Mann, called, "Time For Brass".

On your website, you list radio stations, which is a great idea. However, there must be a lot more people
around the world who, like me, are starved for brass band music and would really like to find more.

At last here is my question.

Is it possible that you could list these two programs and any more that you may know of, programs that are
also on the Internet maybe ask you readers if they know of any? I'm sure it will make your overseas
readers very happy. I know I would like to find more radio "brass" programs that must be out there.
The website for "Time For Brass" is, Locally it's on 103.7fm

I find the easiest way to get "Brass Encounters" is to type in the program name on your search engine and
click on 2nurfm 103.7, the station is from the campus of The University of Newcastle, Australia. Now that I have finally asked my question, I will slipback into the ether's of the Internet and go to prepare for hurricane Ivan who, on Monday could be passing over my house or should I say, through it. Thank you again for an excellent website, I really enjoy reading it.

Peter Hayton.

3446, 13th Avenue S.W.
Florida 34117,

On reading through this letter I realized that both programs are on 103.7fm. What a coincidence.

4BR Reply:
We think you may have answered your own question, but we will look into getting the details to publish as soon as we can. 

When was Sheona the Champion?

I would like to know when Sheona White became British Open Solo Champion. I've searched for the answer on the internet but the websites I found gave two different answers. I hope you can give me the right answer.
Kristiaan Riksten
The Netherlands 

4BR Reply:

Sheona was crowned Champion in 1994, when she was playing for the Wingates Band. She beat Rusell Gray into second place by a point, with Trevor Bremner of New Zealand a point further back in third. Sheona played Concert Fantasie by Gustav Cords. Hope this helps!

Why not open the Open?

I've noticed the recent withdrawals from the world championships 2005 in Kerkrade, The Netherlands. One should not be surprised however. Indeed, we have enough contests IMHO, and the actual ones present every opportunity bands are searching for. The Kerkrade contest is not adding any value, on the contrary they are a straight attack on the bands financial state.

It should be clear the only European contest is the current European Championship, as it is accepted by all bands as the one and only European contest, and every topband hopes to be there. It also adds other initiatives like the European solo champion, young conductor,... Like the so called World championships, the European Open, a Swiss initiative, is suffering from the same problem and is unable to attract European top bands. I would not be surprised the All England (?) Masters will face the same obstacle: why on earth would some European band go to Cambridge, only 3 weeks after the European, spend (again) an awfull lot of
money, to play just one piece and return to their home. Moreover in Europe, the masters is not accepted yet as THE contest to be.

I am rather sure invitations to the Open would have a bigger effect, the timing is for sure far more interesting. At least, I know some European champions have asked in the past if they could enter the British Open... It
is not too late for the Open, whereas I admit, mr Biggs was quick enough to "open" his contest first.

Edy Van Asch

No one is laughing

Who does Robert Morgan think he is? What a complete load of baloney. England needs a Champion Band decided by an English competition - the All England Masters. The trouble is not the bands or the likes of Mr Biggs who have tried in vain to give the English what we have always wanted, but the likes of Mr Morgan, who has little sense of what the English brass band movement wants or needs. He is just another "blazer" who never owns up to the mistakes he and his like continue to make - they just blame it on everyone else (4BR included). Our organisation has become a joke in England but Mr Morgan doesn't realise no one is laughing anymore.

Paul Collins

Arrogant Pish!

Well, well, well. I have never read so much arrogant pish as I have had the misfortune to with Robert Morgan's so called "letter" complaining about 4BR and its criticism of the European qualification rules. I appreciate that Mr Morgan works hard as he says for the benefit of the banding community as a whole, but this doesn't excuse his arrogance in telling us that he is right and everyone else is wrong. Anyone with a brain knows the current rules concerning the English representation are a joke and to suggest that the Nationals (a private contest itself, just like the Masters) offers the only way of sending a "Champion" English band to the contest is laughable. And these are the people running our banding movement in England? God help us.

Peter James

Making a Mark

I read your review of the National Finals to be held in Harrogate, with intrest and disappointment. I would like to quote you on a paragraph."The First Section Finals close the first day (a change from previous years) and this gives the chance to hear 17 bands with the pretensions (real or otherwise) of claiming glory and taking the final step to the rarefied atmosphere of Premiership banding.

Since its inception in 1992 though, not one of the 12 winners has really gone on and made a mark of note in the Championship Section, so will this year's winner buck the trend and bridge what seems to be the ever widening gap between the two sections successfully?"

I feel that this passage is not true and reflects unfairlly on all the individuals who used to make up the now defunct Todmorden Old brass band. How quickly things are forgotten. The year that Harrogate was first used (1998), the contest was won by this band with no less than a 6 point margin. Two years later the band had beaten Brighouse into 5th place, taking 4th at the Regionals, won the Grand Shield, 6th at the Masters,  was competeing at the Open and entertaining at Spennymoor. The band was also ranked as high as 9th in the Brass Band World rankings. So you call that "not making a mark of note in the championship section" do you? I realise that maybe they were the exception rather than the rule, but please give credit to these individuals, were credit is due.

Alan Hodgkinson 

4BR Reply:
Thanks for reminding us Alan, but Todmorden made a fairly spectacular chip on the wing of the brass band movement rather than a lasting historical mark on the bodywork. Theirs was a fine achievement in the short term, but long term what good did it do them? Plenty of credit for what they did is of course due, but wouldn't it have been nicer to report that after the few years of success they actually survived rather than died? Measuring success should be over more than just a couple of years.   

The Welsh Problem 

I have been a participant at Llangollen International Eisteddfod as a singer, and at that event, most of the procedures can be followed easily by both visitors and contestants,as the prevailing language is English.   No problem.
But at the Welsh National Eisteddfod, whatever it's location within the province, there is a strong preference for all announcements on site, and radio and TV commentary covering events, to be in the Welsh language.    Now, I am a staunch believer in national heritage and it's preservation, annd have a genuine, great affection for Wales and it's music (I met my wife in Snowdonia!!) but I can't speak Welsh.

I watched the Welsh National on S4C Digital TV for almost the entire transmission, including the Sunday night hymn singing and the brass band contest early on, and I never heard a single English comment on TV the whole week !!    I had to guess about everything that was on screen !!   Now I stuck it out, mainly because of the quality of the music-making generally, but if brass bands are to become more watchable on TV, then viewers must be able to understand announcements.   The same thing happens at the Urdd (Youth) Eisteddfod which takes place earlier in the year.  Although transmitted in it's entirety on S4C TV Digital, there's never a word for viewers in English.
Now come on, you 4BR Welshmen, use your influence on the Welsh brass scene and try to persuade them to interject a few words of English into commentaries from time to time !!!
More and more people are now watching quality TV on S4C Digital, particularly good music, having expressed their interests from outside the province and registering with S4C Digital.  (Like me !!).  The more they can understand, the more their interest will grow, hopefully, in brass bands.

Stan Wood

4BR Reply:
Thanks Stan. 4BR in fact wrote to the Welsh Assembly Government after this years event in Newport to ask about the Eisteddfod and bilingualism. They wrote back to state that the National Eisteddfod does not in fact come within the description of public bodies covered by the Welsh Language Act and so doesn't have to produce written or verbal translation (unlike Local Authorities or other bodies which spend hundreds of thousands of pounds each year doing so) to give full coverage of the events in English or any other language for that matter. We said they had some faults, and although producing live brass band contests on the TV isn't one of them, they still have some way to go to do what the English speaking Welsh bodies in Wales must do as a matter of course in return.

A view on  David Ashworth's Soapbox Opinion

David Ashworth's proposals regarding the future of contesting is interesting but in my view is like the curates egg [Good in parts]. The adjudication idea of adjudicators standing up and being counted is excellent, music to my ears, I have wrote several letters in the Brass Band world advocating a adjudication system based on each mans own considered opinion, then the points totalled on stage by an official independently. We should cast the current old boys committee system, where the strongest personality on that committee will influence or in many cases make the decision for the group [GROUP CONFORMITY] on to the scrap heap.

As a first step at Championship level we may have to box the adjudicators just to be seen to be absolutely fair. I wonder if increasing the areas from eight to ten would be cost effective this idea would be a drain on the contests finances and it is we are told a perennial problem to attract an audience to the contests now. A easier and more cost effective way to achieve this aim would be to if our leaders admit that a larger proportion of the better band reside in the North west and Yorkshire area therefore more bands should qualify each year from these areas than for arguments sake the South west.

One could still have twelve or more bands at London playing a set test piece or if we must two pieces [Set & Own Choice] but as Bob Childs so eloquently observes having two test pieces creates an unlevel playing field, increases the adjudicators problems and is no assurance of an equal balance of test pieces for the audience. If we went along the two test piece route how long would it be before the contest promoters latched on to the idea of a two day contest with all the on costs that would generate to be found by the supporters.

The idea of creating a super league where you do not have to qualify to play at the Nationals is ludicrous, it would downgrade the area finals, reduce the support for the area contests and drive a wedge between the top section and the rest of the sections, leading in my view to the areas withering on the vine within a few years, in fact a non starter.

Ernest Lomas
Castle Douglas

And another in agreement - except for the Geography

Great ideas David. Well done for giving us a thoughtful and thought provoking set of suggestions. Interesting too to hear an adjudicator speak out against the current system. One thing though, I didn't see the North East of England anywhere in your new 10 areas unless the border has dropped a bit further south since I left home and they are now lucky enough to be included in Scotland once again!!

Paul McLaughlin

This how you plug into the Maines

I read in your letters section of someone from Chicago wanting to know how to log into BBC GMR Brass.
Would it be possible for you to re-iterate the address for me? It is then click on Real Player Live then select GMR! Thanks a lot.

John Maines

The English Problem

Once again "4barsrest" is questioning the way in which the English Band is nominated for the European Championships.  Let me explain once more.  The British Federation of Brass Bands (BFBB) represents England on the European Brass Band Association (EBBA).

Since EBBA was formed in 1995 the BFBB has always chosen the highest placed English Band from the National Finals in London to represent England at the following year's Europeans.  On at least 3 occasions we have discussed this selection process and have come to the same conclusion; i.e. that the BFBB represents all English Bands and that in theory every English Championship Section Band has the opportunity to qualify for the Europeans via qualification through their respective regional contest.

"4bars rest" has criticised this approach on a number of occasions, but I can assure readers of this response that not one English Championship Section Band has questioned this method directly to me or my colleagues on the BFBB Executive Committee.  If the English Championship Section Bands are not happy with this then I invite them to contact me at the address shown below, obviously giving constructive alternatives for us to consider.  We are a membership organisation and will always listen to our member bands.

The BFBB has been a major player in EBBA since its formation, with myself having served on the Executive Committee for 8 years.  Having now resigned my position to concentrate on work with the BFBB I am pleased that another of our Executive members, David Dobson (Cornwall) was elected to the EBBA Executive for a period of 4 years at the EBBA Annual General Meeting in May.

Can I also inform "4barsrest" readers that the BFBB pays the annual subscription to EBBA for English Bands and thus has the sole right to choose the English representative.

At present the BFBB is working with EBBA and in particular, Holland and Norway, to try and obtain European funding for various brass events in Europe.  Watch this space for more details.

English banding I think is doing okay at the moment and the BFBB is doing as much as it can to try and move things forward.  We are sometimes restricted for time because, of course, we have to fit banding around our daytime jobs, but I can assure readers of this website that the BFBB is run by bandspeople for the good of all bands not only in England, but the rest of Europe also.

England is looked on as the mother country of brass banding.  We have far more brass bands than other countries and therefore it's more difficult to maintain a united front.  However, the BFBB has over 300 brass bands in membership - how many countries can match this?  Having said this we are approachable and do listen to our members, who are represented by their associations at our delegates' meetings.  The BFBB is moving forward - Rome wasn't built in a day, but we need support and input from all member bands for us to build on our successes to date.

Robert Morgan
Chairman BFBB

Hot Norwegian action 

Not being involved in banding on a regular basis at the moment, I'm really looking forward to 'The Open' weekend. Especially, I'm particularly excited about the appearance of Stavanger Brass Band in 'The World of Brass' concert on the Saturday evening.
Stavanger is a young band with a tremendous appetite for creativity. I haven't seen them perform live before but I've heard them on CD's and I've also seen some of their amazing and superbly choreographed performances on DVD. I've no doubt that I'm going to be knocked out by their performance at Symphony Hall and I'd encourage anyone who is free that night to get along and hear them. You wont be disappointed and every bander who sees them, I'm convinced will go back to their own bands with their imaginations on fire and encouraging their own MD's and colleagues to  take the plunge and try something a little bit different, something a little bit Stavanger!
 I've never felt moved to 'promote' a concert or brass band event in this way before but I believe that this particular band's originality and passionate desire to entertain warrants every encouragement - I really hope the brass band public turns out in their hundreds to hear them. Oh, and rumour has it,  the warm up band aren't bad either!!

Ian Brownbill

Attracting the youth of today

Probably one of the biggest protagonists in the down fall of the British Bandsman is the rise in popularity of 4Barsrest, and that's not pandering to the whims of 4Barsrest.  In addition the web site of the British Bandsman is poor, and like any successful enterprise of this nature you have to attract youth.

John Bray

Give me a chance

Just a thought. Whilst you do give more than ample coverage to lower section bands come the Nationals and Regionals, how about some contributions to the 4br site from lower section ‘figures', famous or otherwise?

I'm referring mainly to the ‘soapbox' section and of course, Mr Ashworth's column was thought provoking and based on many years banding at the highest level. But what about including a ‘soapbox' or indeed a regular feature/viewpoint from those who play/conduct in the lower sections? Most brass band magazines feature columns and views from the ‘big' boys and girls and casual observers must be left wondering if the banding world only exists for the top section (I have NOTHING against the top section, I just think that certain publications seem to think that lower sections don't exist!) 

No, we're not at the ‘cutting edge' of banding, and some of the views may seem alien to those more used to banding that the higher levels but why shouldn't we have a say?. I'm not necessarily suggesting myself (but again, I wouldn't necessarily turn the offer down….. regulars on know how ready I am to spout a view, valid or not,  but there are plenty of other contributors to that site, and their views are just as valid as anybody else's). Go on…. Give us a chance! ;-)

Dave Payn

4BR Reply:
Your wish is granted Dave. You can read Dave's "Soapbox" opinions in the very near future here on 4BR.

Plugging into the Maines

How does one on the west side of the pond listen to John Maines' GMR Brass radio programmes?  What is the URL of the site where the audio is streamed and/or archived?
Thank you very much,
Steve Marcus
BBb Bass, Chicago Brass Band

Dancing in the Park
In response to Neil Stephenson's query, Dancing in the Park is featured on
Bournemouth Concert Brass' CD entitled (imaginatively) "Dancing in the

Copies are still available.

James Cooper

Dancing in the Park (Peter Graham)
Ref enquiries about a recording of the above, and in case nobody else from Bournemouth has already informed you, some years ago Bournemouth Concert Brass recorded a CD called Dancing in the Park with said piece as the first item. I'm pretty sure we have a few left. Contact for them is Bill Willis, 01202 382878, or
Peter Hartley
Bournemouth Concert Brass

Browned off

Unlucky, Dave Roberts, my old Mate! Just think if the ball had hit you on the nose it might have given the surgeon an excuse to straighten it for you!! Seriously though, I hope you make a full recovery for the Open and that you and everyone at Rothwell enjoy the Symphony Hall experience.  Getting there is a wonderful achievement for everyone connected to Rothwell Band.

Ian Brownbill

About these comments

We will not print anonymous letters and we will not print your email address 4barsrest has a responsibility to inform our readers of our opinions concerning the many topics of the banding world we cover, and we are proud that we give the opportunity for people to comment with their thoughts about certain topics (including contest results). However, we are very clear that these comments are those of the individual who has written them, and in no way do they indicate that 4br agrees with the sentiments, observations or perceived injustices that are highlighted in them. We will continue to inform and report to our readers, and will give our own opinions and thoughts. We will also continue to give the opportunity to others to do the same, but by allowing people to air their opinions does not, and will not mean that they reflect in any way the responsible and informed opinion that we ourselves hold.

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