An interview with Dave Walker, resident conductor of Bath Spa Band

Discussion in 'Articles and Interviews' started by Lisa, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. Lisa

    Lisa Member

    Cardiff, Uk
    Lisa: How are the rehearsals for the areas going?
    Dave: Reasonably well! The band are progressing all the time on what is a very demanding test-piece.

    Lisa: Does the band like the test-piece?
    Dave: [Dave Laughs] No!

    Lisa: Why is that?
    Dave: It is an unrealistic test-piece for the section. It’s too hard. There will be too many bands in the section who won’t cope with it realistically, and won’t be able to put on a decent performance.

    Lisa: What musical qualities do you think the piece particularly demands of the players?
    Dave: Generally it is a very technically challenging piece demanding very strong control and low dynamics.

    Lisa: Does the band have a particular plan of attack or strategy for tackling the test-piece?
    Dave: Go to the bar and get drunk first!

    Lisa: Okaaaay…any more constructive comments?
    Dave: No!

    Lisa: Where do you think your strengths as a band lie?
    Dave: [Jokingly] The musical director…and the bass players. Seriously though, we have a strong band generally. The only weakness really is that we could do with some more back row cornets for this contest.

    Lisa: Have you done any workshops in preparation for this contest?
    Dave: Only the normal schedule of some extra practices as well as some sectionals. No workshops as such though.

    Lisa: Do you have a guest conductor taking your band to the areas?
    Dave: Yes. We have Dave Baker taking us to the areas. He has conducted various bands in the London and South East area before moving to this area. He has been helping us out as a conductor for the past four years. With Dave Baker conducting, I will be able to play Bb Bass therefore completing the bass section.

    Lisa: So has Dave Baker taken you to any contests in the past?
    Dave: No this will be his first contest with the band.

    Lisa: Do you have any new players joining you for the areas?
    Dave: Yes. One on Euphonium. Also a new Flugel Player and new trombone player who have both been in the band for three months, so that’s three people who will be playing their 1st contest with the band. We are very lucky to be such a centrally located band. It means that we often have new players joining. Especially with two universities in the city – many of our band members are students!

    Lisa: Will you be using the test-piece again in future contests or concerts? [Laughing from the band in the background at such a suggestion!] Or will it never see the light of day again?
    Dave: [Resolutely] It is going to be ritually burnt!

    Lisa: So how do you think you will do at the contest?
    Dave: [Jokes] We are going to win of course. [Laughs from the band]

    Lisa: Are you? And now realistically?
    Dave: About mid-table hopefully.

    Lisa: Moving away from contesting, I hear you are producing a CD in April. Tell me some more about this.
    Dave: It’s a project that we have been working on for about a year. Partly to focus the band on working on non-contest music to a very high standard. And partly as a money raising exercise.

    Lisa: So how will you raise money? Just through CD sales?
    Dave: Yes [Delayed laugh from band at Lisa’s slightly dumb question]

    Lisa: [In defence] Are there not a lot of costs involved in recording the CD though?
    Dave: Yes there are, but if you make enough copies of the CD you can make some money.

    Lisa: How many CDs are you expecting to sell?
    Dave: About 250-500 to start with.

    Lisa: Where and to whom are you expecting to sell CDs?
    Dave: We regularly had requests at various summer concerts and engagements. So we decided to do it and sell the cds at concerts and any engagements we do.

    Lisa: So what sort of music is going on this CD?
    Dave: [Resolutely] Brass Band. [Laughs from the band]

    Lisa: [With Feigned Surprise] Brass Band, Oh really? Wow! Fantastic!
    Specifically what sort of brass band music? Are there going to be any contest pieces or is it all light music?
    Dave: It’s going to be light entertainment concert programme music.

    Lisa: What do you think the band will gain from this project as well as money obviously?
    Dave: It’s certainly going to be an experience in terms of discipline because during the actual performance for the recording it is going to be a very very focused activity. Even being on stage in terms of staying quiet, attention levels etc etc for long periods of time. Hopefully it will help to refine and hone concentration levels as well as improving long term playing abilities. I think also the project will help to further develop team spirit within the band.

    Lisa: When and where will this cd be available?
    Dave: Directly from the band, from the band website – - and hopefully through some of the music shops in bath.

    Lisa: When will it be available?
    Dave: We’re estimating that it will be available by June.

    Lisa: How much will the CD be priced at?
    Dave: £10

    Lisa: Do you have any other exciting projects or plans on the horizon for the band?
    Dave: We are hoping to do a tour in Cornwall in the near future. It will either be a joint project with a local band or a local cornish choir. It is likely to be over a bank holiday weekend in the spring or summer of next year. I will keep you posted on that one.
    We are also continually improving the social activities within the band, having recently appointed one of our solo cornet players, Phil Williams as the band’s ‘social secretary.’ We have had a lot of social evenings and band meals recently which have been very successful. The photos and details of these events can be found on our website.

    Lisa: Thank you for your time Dave, and I wish you and the band lots of luck in the contest and in your CD recording later this month.
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