Butlins mineworkers 2008

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by iaindrum, Dec 5, 2007.

  1. imthemaddude

    imthemaddude Active Member

    I had a great weekend listening to some bands, including Backworth, my old band. There is nothing else to do really unless you want to drink or spend a lot of money. I thought the entertainment on the evening was really naff and so loud in Centre Stage we couldn't even talk to each other. I watched a couple of bands use players to put percussion parts in because they were short of a percussionist. I didn't realise you could do that because i'm sure it would solve many bands problems when it comes to being short of a percussionist.

    Did anyone buy the cd of next year's pieces? Can we still get a copy?
  2. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Really? I watched the big band in Reds on Saturday (anyone know who they were) and Men o'Brass in Centre Stage on Sunday and thoroughly enjoyed both of them. Even the "Oirish" band in Centre Stage later on Saturday seemed OK, although my judgement was severely booze-impaired by then :D

    On the percusssion thing, most contest rules say that brass players can only play one brass instrument but don't specifically rule out brass players putting in occasional extra percussion parts. One band in the second section (can't remember who) had their top trombone running round the back to play the bass drum in the opening movement of Alberta Suite.
  3. Debra Smith

    Debra Smith New Member

    The big band in reds was the Georgina Bromilow Big Band. Thought they were really good. She is very talented. The only name I recognised was Mark Frost on bass trombone who has played with many of the top bands including Black Dyke and Brass Band of Battle Creek.
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Ah, so that's who it was. Absolutely stonking playing throughout, and the bandleader (presumably Georgina) was superb. Apparently not happy with simply playing the trumpet to an awesome standard, she can sing a bit too.

    I didn't realise it was him! Isn't he a tMP member? Great section, an absolute joy to listen to.
  5. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Been there, done that. Everything from Glock in Bo Rhap and Chicken Run, to Bass Drum in Narnia Suite, to Sandpaper in the Sandpaper Ballet, to tambourine (whilst still playing the Eb Bass!) in Kelly's Divertimento...
  6. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member


    They could start the contest later.. an hour or so would probably do it.
  7. BigHorn

    BigHorn Active Member

    They were absolutely terrible - apart from the singer everybody else was miming to a backing track - and miming very very badly. The trumpet player was somehow managing to play chords and the banjo player somehow managed to do finger plucking guitar by strumming. And the drummer's actions were hysterical. He was like animal off the muppets.

    However, I must confess to bellowing out the chorus to Dirty Old Town and Irish Rover. And I wasn't particulary drunk.
  8. brittm

    brittm Member

    I heard the drummer walked away from the kit at one point and it kept playing - surely that's a schoolboy error when playing to a backing track(?)
  9. 010102

    010102 Member

    Retrospectives are now on 4barsrest for all sections. Nice comments for us :) shame the adjudicators didn't agree, but that's what contesting is all about...roll on next year :)

    Our principal Euph (East London Brass) played the opening timp solo, ran back to play the euph solo, and then ran back at the end to play the timp solo right at the end of piece in the second section...I was impressed that no stands went flying, and more impressed in the way she played the solo in the 2nd movement :)


  10. stewie76

    stewie76 Member

    Excellent comments!
    As Resident at Desford we were very worried about the open adjudication element this year so tried a mix of innovative, and tried and trusted pieces in the Entertainment part of the contest, and listened with interest the adjudicators remarks on 4barsrest podcast.
    My own personal feelings are that its not fair that renowned adjudicators can criticise bands as happened here, where there is no set criteria for them to follow..
    If people want bands to be innovative, then maybe they should say so beforehand, then they might have opportunity to critique based on those certain criteria!!
    Im not so sure that a certain well known ex Musical Director of our band would have been very innovative if he were to have took us after all!!
    Again, i stress just a personal opinion.
  11. Bayerd

    Bayerd Active Member


    Adjudicators say nothing after contests and get slated for not stating why they gave the prizes as they did.

    Then when they do, they get it in the neck for criticsing bands.

    Maybe they should have given the prize to Imps and said "We've rewarded the tried and tested"

    Then again, they did say that the prizes went to the bands who were the best musically.......
  12. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I'm a bit wary of insisting that adjudicators lay down their judging criteria beforehand; you'll simply end up with a load of identical programmes as every MD picks a programme that he/she thinks the judges will like, rather than one than that suits the band. Contesting is inflexible enough without taking away bands' musical discretion before a note is played.

    Surely the selection of an entertainment contest (or concert) programme should a) reflect what the band is good at and enjoys doing and b) be tailored to the audience? In the case of Sunday's contest, I'd have thought that after playing the shockingly tedious and long-in-the-tooth Life Divine on Saturday, both bands and audience would have been in the mood for something new and different. I certainly was. Perhaps if Saturday's test had been Prague, Volcano or Extreme Makeover, a more traditional approach would have been suitable by way of a contrast, and would have found more favour with Read and Parkes. Who knows? Half the fun of contesting is that you make musical choices that you feel appropriate and artistically correct, and then you live or die by them. By getting a list of "judging criteria" beforehand, that element of choice (and subsequently, risk) is taken away.

    Personally I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about entertainment contests - why do bands only ever really try to put on a "show" at these things? I've been to lots of concerts by top bands and the clever staging and comedy routines that we enjoyed on Sunday are noticeable by their absence from the concert hall, generally speaking (I know some bands make an effort to do this stuff, before anyone gets on their high horse;) ). Why do bands only try to be "entertaining" at "entertainments contests"?

    [dons hard hat and runs for cover.....]
  13. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    I understand what you are saying Andy, and to some extent I agree with you, but I just don't see that providing some overall guidelines would result in 10 copycat performances. Sunday's contest could have been described with "we're looking for innovation" what a band deems to be innovation is still open to interpretation.

    I've been on the wrong end of this a few times myself. We've decided to go one way with a piece (say go for the feeling of what a piece is supposed to be about rather than playing metronomically to tempo markings) only to find that the adjudicator has said in his summing up after the contest that he was looking for the opposite and we might as well have spent the preceding weeks in the pub!!
  14. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I suppose so, although I still think we'd have got some very similar programmes! The other disadvantage, of course, is that once the colours have been nailed to the mast (i.e. the adjudicator has said "I'm looking for innovation" or "I expect every band to adhere to printed tempi") is that it prevents a band from convincing an adjudicator with a great performance. It becomes harder for them to change their preconceptions about a given piece of music, because they've then broadcast those preconceptions to a public audience.

    Example: I don't personally think Desford's programme was all that innovative (compared to the other bands), yet they convinced the adjudicators to give them second place on Sunday simply because it was superbly played. Had the adjudicators committed themselves beforehand to rewarding innovative programming it would have been harder for them to award second to Desford without (even more) howls of outrage coming from bands that were more adventurous. Similarly in the example you gave, if you were told in advance to adhere rigidly to the printed score, you lose the chance that one or two bands will pull out a surprise performance that brings something new to the piece.

    PS I know how frustrating it is to spend 6 weeks flogging a testpiece only to discover that you weren't playing it to the adjudicators' taste, but I think I'd rather do that than spend 6 weeks rehearsing a piece in way that I don't like or agree with simply to satisfy the whim of the guy in the box. I suppose it comes down to old "Contests: Art or Sport?" argument again...
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008
  15. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Very true, but then if the adjs had said "innovate" then I reckon Desford would've, and not needed to convince them to give them 2nd...;)

    Exactly - and exactly the reason why I think we'll never find a reasonable solution. I happen to think that a few broad-brush guidelines would reduce the number of "dodgy" adjudications in contests. I've said that in the past and been machine-gunned by others here whose opinions differ.

    Anyway - lets not revisit the "art v sport" debate again - especially not here. We might get in trouble with the mods....;)
  16. DesfordHorn

    DesfordHorn New Member

    I think we're missing the point here - the adjudicator's have had the balls to come out and say what they were looking for in the contest, and why they have given placings to certain bands. I think they should be congratulated for this, as time & time before, we have seen adjudicators decline a final speech or explaination to their decisions at the results, cometimes leaving listeners & bands alike baffled to why some performances have been given high placings.

    That said, my undertsanding is that Mr Parkes & Mr Read were not saying innovative programmes were the 'be all & end all' (ie - if you put something innovative on paper, but dont perform, you still do well) but merely something they were looking for. My band (Desford) were agreed not the most innovative programme on the day, but were informed our performance made up for some of our apparent programming shortcomings (in the adjudicator's eyes).

    Most importantly, we have to be very careful here to make sure this growing obsession with new arrangements & composistions doesnt consume the focus of entertainment contests - bands need to have the confidence to use high quality existing pieces without the fear of being marked down by judges. It may get to the point where if you're not playing a new piece, you have no chance of winning - in the end it may come down to a contest to award the best arrangement, rather that award the best band.

    By all means keep quality new pieces coming into our repertoire, but keep a reasonable balance between the old and the new.
  17. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    You'll certainly not find me with a machine gun pointed at you for saying that. Whether it's an entertainments or a set-test contest you've always got the problem that no matter how WELL you play, if the folk in the box don't like HOW you played it, you're not going to win.

    Particularly with test-piece contests, a few broad remarks a couple of weeks prior to the contest would certainly help level the playing field as regards bands taking risks with interpretation.

    I suppose an entertainments contest is an awkward one though because so many pieces can be entertaining to different people.

    Though I didn't hear it myself I understand from several who did that Desford's performance of "Deep Harmony" was something mighty special?
  18. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    It was - and its a terrific arrangement by Leigh - from parts lent out of Wigston's library I feel compelled to boast!! :wink:

    Just a final point about the adjudicators' comments. I got the impression (perhaps wrongly) from the 4br article that some bands who played well didn't get the placing their precise note playing deserved because they chose to play old stuff. Certainly I was surprised at some of the decisions made on the day, where it seemed that the most important criterion for the adjudicators was that bands played innovative stuff. I'm not in any way criticising the adjudicators for that (after all who am I to judge?) but I guess my own feeling, and evidently the feelings of Sid and some of the other people actually playing on Sunday is that it would've been nice to know this is what they had in mind beforehand!!
  19. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    and that won't do.....:D

    Oh, I don't disagree - respect is due to them for giving an explanation of why they gave the placings as they did after the contest. I'm just not all that keen for them to do it before. However I might disagree a bit with:

    I'm not sure I see an "obsession" - most of the bands played 1 or 2 new pieces and if you don't count new arrangements of old faves (like Leigh Baker's excellent version of Deep Harmony or Gareth's barking take on Radetzky) there wasn't actually much at the weekend that hadn't been heard before in some form. That's not a criticism, just an observation - although it's over 20 years old I can never hear enough of Snell's astounding version of Daphnis and Chloe.

    Band repertoire is a bit like cars - today's Mercedes S Class has gadgets in that will be in the Fiesta in 15 years and today's top section "new piece" at Spennymoor or Butlins is often what bands in the lower sections will be playing and putting on their CDs for the next decade. "New" stuff from the top flight gets filtered down to other bands - e.g Where Eagles Sing. So actually I'd argue that in some ways the top bands in the country (and Desford are undoubtedly right up there) have something of a responsibility to use contests like Sunday's as a way to showcase the "state of the art" in concert music for band. By all means keep the "high quality existing pieces" in there, but I don't see including one or two new pieces in a 40 minute concert programme as an obsession.

    Certainly was; the opening was played by a quartet and you could have heard a pin drop. It's so rare to hear really good quartet playing, and this was right out of the top drawer.
  20. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    just a thought, but perhaps there should be a prize for the "best new composition or arrangement" and have it awarded to the composer/arranger?