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2014: April

This month we give our opinion on the deserving poor, radical top flight reform and praise our American friends...

We are not the deserving poor

‘Noblesse oblige’ is not a financial concept that forms any part of a Government’s spending plans.

The era of philanthropic Whitehall handouts for the arts hasn’t existed for 30 years or more, and to think otherwise to justify an argument for more brass band funding is a grave mistake to make.

You get from the Treasury what they think you are entitled to; not what you think you deserve.

Opera may well be perceived as being elitist, London-centric and intellectually highbrow - but if that is the central plank of any argument against them being given their annual financial entitlement then it is a pretty weak one to make.

This Government’s well versed financial aria of deficit reduction does not include a chorus exempting the deserving artistic poor - however hard we try to make it heard.

£347million compared to £1.8million over the last five years may seem overwhelmingly biased, but that’s mainly down to the fact that Opera lobbyists are better organised, more professional and can put forward a more persuasive case for having a larger chunk of direct arts funding than just about any other artistic sector of the economy.

And until now, that can’t exactly be said of those who have presented the case for brass bands to the various Arts funding bodies and Government departments is it now?

Any argument that tries to suggest brass bands ‘deserve’ substantial funding will quickly be countered by the lack of empirical evidence showing any lasting long term benefit gained from the huge sums ploughed into them in the past - even if most of it came from the scratch card taxation of the National Lottery.

The brass band movement should not wait to be rewarded like an artistic alms recipient of Maundy Thursday money from the Queen. 

Instead, we should go help our representatives’ batter down the doors armed with facts and figures, testimonies of good practice, ‘Big Society’ initiatives and concrete proposals of what we have, and what we can, achieve as a professionally organised national amateur music making body.

Only then will the purse strings be loosened in our favour.

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


True Championship reform

Kapitol Promotions certainly has ‘St Magnus’ to thank for producing the strongest National Finals line up for more than 20 years - yet Kenneth Downie’s test piece also provided the starkest possible evidence for urgent, radical Championship Section reform.

Nobody can suggest that the UK really has 82 true, Championship Section bands: nor can they argue there are 13 in Yorkshire, 10 in the North West, 10 in Scotland, 11 in the Midlands, 11 in the West of England, 7 in Wales, 8 in the North East or 12 in London & the Southern Counties either.

Performed by the very best, ‘St Magnus’ became a glorious affirmation of musical excellence, yet time and time again it also provided us with a depressing reminder of the swath of mediocrity that now engulfs top flight ‘championship’ banding. 

If this wasn’t the clarion call required for radical reform then heaven help us.

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


In praise of our American friends

4BR will soon fly out to the USA to report on the 32nd North American Brass Band Championships in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

It is an event that stands on the cusp of exciting future development; numbers are up, general interest in brass band music making is on the increase, the quality of the bands has improved dramatically, the organisation has become increasingly professional and the sense of supportive communal development for the greater good is palpable.

The sheer geographical size of the North American continent may pose the biggest problem to exponential growth, but there is little doubt that the brass band movement in the United States is flourishing.

In the next few years that youthful promise may well finally mature into something special indeed. 

And then the rest of the brass band world may well have to watch out.

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



St Michael's Brass Band - We are playing in Middleton Town Centre.

Saturday 18 August • Middleton Gardens, Middleton. M244DF


Ibstock Brick Brass - Ibstock Country Fair

Sunday 19 August • Ibstock Showground. Pretoria Road. Ibstock. Leicestershire LE676LN


Black Dyke Band - St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate

Saturday 1 September • Duchy Rd, Harrogate HG1 2EY


Contest: 166th British Open

Saturday 8 September • Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA


Black Dyke Band - Brass on Sunday Gala Concert, Birmingham

Sunday 9 September • Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA


Elland Silver Band

August 17 • Are seeking a Repiano Cornet Player. This is a fantastic opportunity for an experienced or talented young player to join one of Yorkshire's progressive championship section bands.


Crewe Brass

August 17 • Crewe Brass seek Eb and Bb bass, Euphonium and Baritone players. We are a friendly 1st Section Band and perform at a variety of events (including contests) under the baton of our MD Matt Pithers. Rehearsals are every Friday at 7.45pm in Shavington, Crewe.


Burnham and Highbridge Brass Band

August 16 • The Burnham and Highbridge Band has the following vacancies: Principal and 2nd Trombone, 2nd Euphonium and, Back Row Cornets.


Martin Heartfield

GGSM, ARCM, PGCE
Conductor, Adjudicator, Educationalist