Although I love The Planets by Holst and the Enigma Variations by Elgar I feel that their choice as test pieces is dangerous. No, there is no doubt that they will be technically and musically difficult to play. Yes, they will be pieces recognised by the general public (if any actually turn up who aren't banders!!). Yet, by taking two or three movements out of a big suite is taking them out of context ? I can see that each individual movement possibly works very well, however many years ago I played the whole of both the Enigma Variations and Planets Suite (except for Pluto!) and enjoyed them immensely. I have no qualms about using quality transcriptions of music but surely there are challenging transcriptions out there who are available to play in their entirety? The Frank Wright arrangements ? Dr Denis Wright arrangements ? These transcriptions are still very difficult to play and although there are certain corners that have been taken out they still remain in a whole and are surely a better option. I am reasearching bands at the moment and appreciate the energy and influence that Eric Ball had on brass banding. His music is fantastic and I have, except for the above reasons, no problem about celebrating is influence by chosing a piece of his for the Nationals. However, another great admirer of the brass band died 20 years ago, the 23rd of February 1983 to be precise. Why is it that we are not celebrating his influence on brass banding, although not as big as Eric Ball granted, 'Pagentry' was a piece which was more evolutionary to the movement than the efforts of Holst and Elgar (but falls short perhaps of Fletcher). The British Open would have been the ideal place to play such a piece as Three Figures or even Pagentry? So it will be, Venus and Jupiter....and some movements of Elgar! Im a firm believer in new music at contests, but I also appreciate cross over music and its transcription. I'm wondering when are we going to get some modern transcriptions of more modern music. Then again why do we not have transcriptions of a finale or Scherzo from a Mahler Symphony or a few movements from a Bruckner Symphony. I have heard music from both which would be suitable for band contests time wise. Even if an additional player is required for an extra Flugal for example. ?? My main point here though is, why Holst Planets when we could use any number of other people this year who could be celebrated! For instance Herbert Howells.