Brass Bands not so inclusive in the Royal Albert Hall Proms

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Wotan123, May 8, 2018.

  1. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

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    3,186
    Location:
    Huddersfield
    I'll add one other thing to Dave's list of reasons that brass bands don't fit the Proms bill (all of which I agree with, as usual). They don't know who to talk to.

    Typically arranging a classical music festival programme will involve contacting agents and orchestra managers. The Festival Director might pop out for lunch with the MD of Harrison Parrott or some other agency and ask which conductors and soloists might be free for the 2020 Proms, or who they've got on their books who is "up and coming". A US orchestra planning a European tour will typically make the Proms aware that they are around and that flights and hotels won't cost as much because they're in Paris or Stuttgart the night before instead of Tucson or Seattle. In all of these cases, all the relevant people know who all the other relevant people are - they'll have the numbers in their phone. When Grimethorpe got that ground-breaking Proms gig in the 70s it wasn't because they were Grimethorpe. It was because they were conducted by Elgar Howarth, and the relevant people knew who he was and knew how to get hold of him - and he knew how to get hold of them. That doesn't apply to brass bands these days.

    If I am a complete newbie to the brass band world, how do I know (a) who to book - i.e., who are the best current bands and (b) how to book them? It's another world, that the average music festival director is utterly unaware of and uncomfortable in. They need to be presented with proposals, backed up with band and conductor CVs to illustrate the quality of musicianship and professionalism. I would suggest that if the band managers at B&R, Fodens, Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Cory, Eikanger or Valaisa were to join forces to put together a few proposals and go and meet the powers that be in London to put those proposals forward, they'd be warmly received. I would further suggest that if that proposal featured someone who understands brass bands but is well known in the wider musical world as well, like Tovey, or Gregson, or Withington, that might add sufficient lustre to swing the deal. Possibly Brass Bands England could help to co-ordinate such an approach. But if bands sit and wait for the phone to ring, it's going to be a long old wait!

    I would very much agree with this, and it might be something even better suited to the more diverse and freewheeling nature of Edinburgh... Maybe BBE could do London and SBBA could do Edinburgh? Or am I venturing into dream territory now...? :D
     
    Jack E, Matthew, midlandman and 2 others like this.
  2. Mello

    Mello Active Member

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    159
    Location:
    UK
    Just seen this topic and one thing which seems to have been overlooked is that Brass Bands are either sometimes deliberately or inadvertently ridiculed... by the classical buffs INCLUDING the BBC . Also the BBand players dont always endear themselves to those Classical buffs.
    Sorry but true. I have a radio clip ( mp3 ) you would not believe unless you have heard it.

    Sadly the mouthpiece rules wont allow me to upload the clip . Although it is only a couple of minutes long, it exceeds tmp regulations , so you will just have to take my word for it. BUT honestly we don't do ourselves any favours sometimes.
    I actually sent a copy of the audio clip to moonin dave , in case anyone asks for a second opinion.
     
  3. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Oxford
    Had a listen now - it's pretty special... It's a 1974 clip, an interview with a couple of Grimey players regarding their performance of Birtwistle's Grimethorpe Aria at that year's Proms. Here's a transcript:

    R3 announcer: Today, brass bands assume a new dignity. For the first time they have received an invitation to take part in the Proms; and, some time in August Promenaders will have their first encounter at close quarters with the full-scale blast of the Oom-pahs. The bands involved come from those two dourly named but highly musical establishments, the Black Dyke Mills and the Grimethorpe Colliery. Richard Titchen, of BBC Radio Sheffield, talked to two of the Grimethorpe players, Malcolm Holmes, who performs on the flugel horn, and Gerald Foster, who grapples with the 2nd euphonium. How had they reacted to the invitation?

    GF: Well... Pleased about it, to be first band on this sort of thing. Myself, I'm not too thrilled about it, I'm not bothered.

    RT: How about you, Malcolm?

    MH: I'm very pleased, very thrilled with it... Not too keen on the programme, like, but I always like playing at t' Albert Hall, and I think to be on t' Proms is a wonderful achievement for any brass band. It's... a way-out piece and two brass band contest pieces.

    RT (with slightly incredulous intonation): A "way-out piece"? What exactly do you mean by that?

    MH: Well, it's a piece that were specially commissioned for us, 'Grimethorpe Aria' by one o't most way-out modern composers there is, Birtwistle. And it's really *weird*. You can play wrong notes - well we think we can - and... it's terrible. It's... I enjoy playing it, but I should hate to listen to it.

    RT: Gerald, what do you think about this way-out music?

    GF: I think it's terrible. I don't like it one bit. I don't like to play it and I wouldn't - certainly wouldn't like to listen to it.

    Between the condescending tone of the Radio 3 announcer and the forthright honest tactlessness of the interviewed players regarding the prestigious but difficult to listen to piece written for them, this was some way from a meeting of musical minds... I hope I've done a fair job of capturing little bits of the Yorkshire speech patterns - it didn't seem right to impose Southern speech norms onto it. Apologies if any of it isn't well transcribed.
     
  4. Mello

    Mello Active Member

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    159
    Location:
    UK
     
  5. Mello

    Mello Active Member

    Messages:
    159
    Location:
    UK
    Thats a fair representation .Moonin Dave. It is an object lesson in how not to sell tickets.
    Actually the interview was broadcast on Radio 3 with Frank Philips doing the intro.
    Thats what I mean about not doing ourselves any favours. The players were really nice guys, and good players. Just being honest in expressing their personal feelings.
     
    MoominDave likes this.
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