Black Dyke at the Royal Musical Association Conference [imgleft]http://www.themouthpiece.com/vb/images/blackdyke.jpg[/imgleft]125 student delegates from the Royal Musical Association arrived at Leeds University's beautiful new School of Music on 4 January for their four-day New Year Conference. Papers ranged widely, from traditional musicological subjects to discussions of gender and world music, and a number of new compositions, both acoustic and electronic, were given their first airings. Uniquely, on this occasion, the assembled academics and musicians were treated to a lecture recital by the Black Dyke Band. The band, directed by Nicholas Childs, was making its first appearance before a scholarly audience since announcing its partership deal with Leeds Metropolitan University. The Met has appointed the bandmembers to a Chair in Musical Performance, part of an initiative by Vice Chancellor Professor Simon Lee to enhance the University's profile in this area. Professor Childs centred the presentation on 'New Music at Black Dyke', including music by Philip Wilby and Pete Meechan, who are both members of his composition team. However, the highlight of the occasion was reserved for two excellent scores by conference visitors Oliver Lidgate and Ben Oliver. These were both highly imaginative and excellently produced, and the warmth of the academics' response was clearly returned by the band. 'Black Dyke was a real high-point', said conference co-ordinator Dr Rachel Cowgill. 'The band was fantastic and there were many people in the audience who had never heard a brass band live, let alone a band of such international calibre. We were blown away - literally!' With plaster still falling from the ceiling of the School's immaculate new concert hall, Black Dyke rounded off the evening with Malcolm Arnold's Cornish Dances. After a rollercoaster of an anniversary year, it is gratifying to see the Queensbury band 'crossing the floor' to offer its services in an attempt to widen academic awareness of its work.