Contesting's Future

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Brian Bowen, May 17, 2004.

  1. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    May I commend to those who really care about brass banding and take a serious interest in it, the May issue of Brass Band World. It opens its debate on the future of contesting (affecting banding in general) with opinions from such personalities as David King, Ray Farr, Frank Renton, Alan Morrison, Richard Evans, Roger Webster, Edward Gregson, Chris Wormald, Gordon Simpson and Markus Bach under the guidance of Alan Jenkins.

    There appears to be a surge of opinion in favour of contests, such as the National Finals and the Open, to be more in line with the European format of set work and own-choice combination. But a one-day event with far fewer bands participating at the top level. The need for original works rather than arrangements is stressed, and different methods of adjudicating are discussed.

    Such a change, it is thought, would have more musical value while being entertaining and encourage larger audiences to attend -- and stay in their seats.

    There’s a lot of good sense spoken and it's well worth the read.
  2. yr_epa

    yr_epa Member

    I would personally like to see bands having to perform a set piece and an own choice. It would be a little more interesting to us players aswell as audiences! There shold be some kind of rule where you cannot play the same own-choice for 5 years, for example, if you played Dove Descending in 1998, you would not allowed to play it until 2004. That would make it a bit better aswell!

    Just a thought.
  3. Valvecap

    Valvecap Member

    Both have positive and negative points - some of the own choice european programs in recent years have been absolutely amazing - but on the same scale, if the test piece is good (and thats an entirely different debate isnt it) then people will flock to see good bands play good music in a competative atmosphere.
    Perhaps thats the point - is it the commercial future of contesting thats in question as well as the style - which drives which...
  4. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    But surely the fewer bands would cause a problem for those who fail to qualify (rich get richer...). At the top level (Europeans etc) then its a great idea but for bands in the lower section getting the whole band to committ to upto 4 days away after a busy years concerts could be a problem.
  5. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I've not read the BBW article yet as I receive my copy 2nd-hand in exchange for my copies of BB. I don't see personally why such a system should not be adopted, particularly for the Open, and if the number of bands is reduced then both set piece and own choice could take place on the same day, as they used to with the Europeans. One of the problems would be assuaging the feelings of those bands not then invited to compete, and it may be that another tier could be added to the "Grand Shield" set-up.

    As to the question of the rich getting richer, it could also be argued that there will be a number of bands currently forking out for transport etc for the Open without a realistic chance of getting in the prizes, so they could save money by being left out :wink:
  6. Hot Lips

    Hot Lips Member

    I fear that the suggestion to follow the European model would lead to banding being even more elitist than it already is. Bands all around us are failing while those at the very top level with the money to draw players still survive. If the open and masters etc has its numbers reduced what of the bands fighting to survive in the champ section? Getting to these contests and staying in them is their aim. What do they then have to aim at when all hope of competing against the premier bands is taken away from them?

    Contests such as these would also loose revenue from the bands themselves, fewer bands means less money in entry fees and takings on the door (as tickets are not free to bandsmen at many of contests in question).
  7. Perhaps if it was done right the "elitist" problem could be turned into the kind of situation that the symphonic world enjoys now, where at the top tier there is a world class standard ensemble with world class repertoire for everyone to aspire to and admire - perhaps in the long run more proffessional brass banding and for those bands wanting to keep tradition and honour in tact, a rise in standards of contests across the board, if enough new interest and energy is sparked into a revolutionised contest world.

    Hard facts are that happilly sitting back on our brass bandy pandy bums and letting things be, won't do anything for the cliche the movement is suffering from. Good to see input from Markus Bach and David King, these two gents seem to be one step ahead of the rest when it comes to building for the future.
  8. Gorgie boy

    Gorgie boy Member

    I feel we have to sit up and take notice of the likes of David King and Alan Morrison. These guys and others like them are at the top of their profession and would be regardless of the format contesting takes.

    I tend to think that what happens at the very top will have a positive effect on the grass roots of our movement. Better contests (ie more variety of music, more new commissions, more own choice sections) will in the fulness of time bring in larger audiences, and therefore should raise the profile of banding. That should in turn encourage more people to think of brass banding as something they should get involved in.

    Or am I just being naive - one thing for sure is that audiences will continue to dwindle as they have been doing over the past few years if things stay the same.
  9. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    maybe more "drop-in" audience members would go to more than one contest if they didn't go home thinking "so they all play the same thing? who the hell would want to listen to that??"

    I'm not knocking the set test as it does give the best way to compare performances, but adding in an own choice piece could help with a bit of variety.

    However, having read the report from the europeans, some people might still have left thinking "so they all play the same thing...?" :wink:
  10. Ross Berry

    Ross Berry Member

    I guess the question is about getting the balance between bigger crowds and a true test.

    If every band playing a different piece will be more interesting then fine, but by having different pieces are you setting a real test? It is a bit like F1 where the criticism is often that the best driver might not win but the best car.

    A set piece means that bands can't feature their best players and hide the others by choosing appropriate music.

    I guess the set piece + own choice might be the solution.

    Alternatively, judging by the popularity of Brassed Off, perhaps music like William Tell should be use as the test piece. (Only joking before anyone responds!)
  11. Sharpy

    Sharpy Member

    I've not read the article which sparked this thread but here is what I would like, as both a player and a listener in an ideal world. The problem of promotion and relegation between sections is a sore point for a lot of bands as it hinges on one contest(I know that the average is taken over three years but sometimes weird things happen!). What about having three area contests a year, Set Test piece, Entertainment and a March and Hymn contest? Would that not give a fairer indication of a band as it would cover nearly all aspects of a brass bands reportoire? Then take the averages of these three contests into account for the promotion/relegation between the sections.
    Just a thought....

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