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Death of James Scott

The death has been announced of one of the most revered figures in the banding movement.

Scott
  The death has been announced of James Scott

The death has been announced of James Scott — one of the brass band movement's most respected figures. He passed away on Sunday 24th January, aged 95.

Life long passion

His lifelong passion for brass banding came from his father, a miner, in their home in Farnworth near Bolton.

At an early age he was taken to hear Besses o 'th' Barn Band playing a concert in a local department store where he was mesmerised by the playing of Bert Sullivan on euphonium and Enoch Jackson on cornet.

Hooked by the sound, he soon joined Eccles Borough Band and performed with them at the iconic Crystal Palace aged 10. At the time of his death he remained one of the few surviving players in the banding movement to have done so.

Double champion

Blessed with temperament, intelligence, drive and intuitive musicality (traits he also developed as a conductor, adjudicator, teacher and educator) he later went on to become double Champion Cornet Player of Great Britain (1959 & 1960).

He was also a much admired principal cornet at Grimethorpe Colliery Band as well as playing at Munn & Felton's from 1947 to 1960. He also enjoyed spells with City of Coventry and Ransome & Marles.

Hugely professional in outlook, his appetite for self, as well as communal improvement, was forged early in his life — from learning to play all his solos from memory to becoming a persuasive force in developing the raw material presented to him on his conducting duties — especially in the early days of the rapid rise to prominence of the Cammell Laird Band in the mid 1960s.

Influential

From that time on he became one of the most influential, as well as revered conductors of the banding movement.

Following the demise of Camell Laird (after leading them to the 1965 and 1970 North West Area title and runner-up at the 1965 National Final) he moved to Brighouse & Rastrick where he led them to victory at the 1973 National Championship of Great Britain, the 1975 Granada Band of the Year and the 1980 European Championship.

At that time he also conducted Grimethorpe in winning the 1974 Yorkshire Area and CISWO titles, the 1979 & 1980 Mineworkers National title and CISWO title again, and was instrumental in stabilising Foden's Band during one of the most difficult times in its history — including a fifth place finish at the 1978 National.

Widespread success

His ability to bring out the very best out of bands at any level he worked with was marked throughout his career — winning the First Section National title with Northop in 1994.

He also enjoyed considerable success with Yorkshire Imperial (winning the Yorkshire Area in 1988 as well as two podium finishes at the Albert Hall), Foden's (winning the Yeovil contest in 1985), Tredegar (including his last contest victory in 2002 as the band became Champion Band of Wales), Wingates (coming runner-up at the 1985 British Open) and Whitburn (podium finish at the 1989 National) amongst others.

All benefited from his insight, musicianship and insistence on elegant musicality of shape and texture — a trait that imbued his conducting style all the way to his last contest bow taken with Clackmannan District Brass in 2006.

Authoritative

As an adjudicator James Scott became an authoritative presence at events both in the UK and abroad.

Bands held his findings in high regard — knowing that they had come from a brass band musician of the highest rank — and one informed by the wider musical world.

He particularly enjoyed adjudicating youth and lower section events where he was able to pass on his experience as well as his constructive observations in his remarks, whilst his decisions rarely brokered argument at elite level — from the regional championships and Spring Festival to the British Open, Brass in Concert, Granada Band of the Year, Masters, National Finals and European Championships.

He was also invited to adjudicate abroad — travelling to Australia in 2000 as well as the major European banding events.

Regarded as one of the 'gentlemen' of the brass band world, his courtesy will be greatly missed by everyone who either played with him or where conducted by him — as well as those who benefited from his musical insight and experience4BR

Hugely respected

James Scott also enjoyed a notable career in education, retiring in 1990 from the Wirral Education Authority as Head of Brass and Senior Instrumental Teacher, as well as being a hugely respected adjudicator and a leading advisor to the Pontins Championships and British Open.

He later admitted that he had given up playing at the top level at a relatively young age as he saw the long term potential of being able to mould the future of youngsters by inspiring their love of music through education.

He said it had been one of the best professional decisions of his life.

Seal of approval

Away from the rostrum his opinion and professionalism was always in demand — and he became a hugely valued figure in the development of the success of the Pontins Championships and the British Open.

Until his final years he was always to be seen listening to every performance at Symphony Hall -and always on hand to offer his congratulations to the winning conductor and band. For the conductors it was viewed as the official 'seal of approval' of their success.

Regarded as one of the 'gentlemen' of the brass band world, his courtesy will be greatly missed by everyone who either played with him or was conducted by him — as well as those who benefited from his musical insight and experience as a teacher, adjudicator and advisor.

The brass band movement is the poorer for his passing and offers its condolences to his wife Denise and his family.

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