Poor attendance at Europeans and contests/concert in general

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by johnflugel, May 5, 2004.

  1. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    I was fortunate to have attended the Europeans over the weekend and found it a great experience.

    I was very very disappointed with the attendance at the contests themselves. After seeing so many empty chairs on the Friday Set test, I assumed that this was because of work commitments etc and more people would be there on the Saturday for the own choice, but to my surprise there were not many more people there.

    I thought about this on Saturday and estimated that there were approx 2500 seats in the auditorium and at best for the contest it was two thirds full. Think about the number of active bandsman there are in the UK, people who subscribe read publications (BBW, BB, Brass Herald etc), the number of those logging onto TMP (2000 atleast) and 4barsrest. In total I would guess that in total it would be at the very least five times the number of seats available in the auditorium. If this is the case, why was the hall not full? Are people generally not interested in attending? The trend is similar for concerts two, how many of your band go to a concert given by another band?

    One of our Australians TMP'ers has already stated how lucky we are to have these bands on our doorstep and I know many more in places like the US and Canada who would give their right arm to have been at the Europeans. The difference in attitude from the Uk for me was summed up when Stavanger played number 10 on Friday and managed to get off stage and be back in the audtorium to hear Cory who were drawn next. Alan McClaren also mentioned in his speech that he was thrilled to see a standing ovation for one band led by a group from another competing band. When do you see these things in a British contest?

    At a time when there is concern about the attendance at concerts and contests, shouldn't we as a banding community be doing more to support them? It seems to me, if we are not interested in concerts/contests etc, how can we expect anyone else to be?

    Your thoughts please.
  2. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    I would have loved to have been at the Europeans at the weekend, being a native Scot, it would have been a great opportunity to catch up with my muckers. Unfortunately I had about a million other things to do for work and a brass band contest this weekend in Blackpool so I prioritised. Work 1st, band 2nd, Cash flow 3rd= no Euros for me! I'm sure a lot more people would have been there if the Shield/ Cup/ Trophy malarkey wasn't on this weekend though- 2 potentially expensive weekends on the trot! (And coursework to mark) :(
  3. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    Well, when a weekend arises where I don't have a band commitment already I would like to use that time to do other things, rather than go and listen to more bands. If I did go and listen to a band, I'd much rather go to a concert where people are there to listen to the band rather than listen out for split notes, as at most contests these days. Also I have little interest in spending hard earned cash to travel up to Scotland to hear a load of bands play the same pieces that always get dragged out at the euros. Also, with many bands in the Spring Festival next weekend, a lot of people had rehearsals (I know we did).
  4. Ste69

    Ste69 Member

    I guess at most contests there's 3 types of person.

    1) Bandsmen (normally after playing, these will be in the bar wanting to do ANYTHING but listen to the piece they've lived and breathed for the last 2 months)

    2) Band supporters. (These may listen to a couple of bands either side of their band but thats all)

    3) Die hard BB enthusiasts (Of which there are far too few to fill a village hall, let alone the albert hall)

    Obviously once the draw is known, more come in for the "big guns" (I always found this to be the case at Bradford and London. But on the whole I get the impression most want to get in, play and get the hell out!

    Personally, as it's my first Grand Shield, I'm looking forward to hearing a few different interpretations of Les Preludes so I'll be alternating between Bar and Opera House.
  5. T-Horn

    T-Horn Member

    Well I had to prepare for my end of year recital that was on monday the third, and I had a sectional for the grand shield this weekend. Though I would have liked to have gone. Shame really
  6. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    Just to emphasise, I am not having a pop at those who did not attend the European, just using it as an example of a major banding event that was poorly attended.

    When the Open/Nationals in days gone by were filled, who were those people who attended? I gather the major contests in European countries like Switzerland/Norway etc are always full to bursting (can someone confirm or deny that?).

    Just trying to get to the bottom of why there seems to be a general lack of support between bands on the UK. As a bandsman in the Championship section in Yorkshire, we have many high profile rivals :wink: but that does not stop me going to listen or supporting them in concerts or contests. It was great to see the Stavanger lot out in force to listen to Cory on Friday and that happened many more times during the weekend from other visiting bands.
  7. Tuba Miriam

    Tuba Miriam Member

    I agree, in one sense it was sad not to see the Europeans sold out, but perhaps there's an element of inevitability about it. I live a 40 minute train ride from central London, which boasts five internationally renowned orchestras, the Royal Opera House, Theatre Land, art galleries and museums of staggering quality etc. etc., but do I take advantage as much as I ought? Shamefully, no. This is true of most people I know who are interested in the arts. Maybe we take for granted the fact we have such a dearth of quality brass bands on our doorstep in this country (or relatively so, if you live in the south east of England).

    As for the Europeans, specifically, there are also the factors of cost and family commitments to consider. How many people would like to have gone to Glasgow but couldn't justify disappearing for a whole weekend to their non-brass band partner or family, in addition to 'enforced' absences with their own playing commitments? This is particularly true with contest season upon us and the extra commitments this entails.

    There's also the expense (and justifying it to one's family in the light of one's own banding expenses): cost of travel (by air for many, even within the UK); two nights in a hotel; eating and drinking out; trade stands to be tempted by and the like. Ok, this doesn't have to be inordinately expensive, but it must involve some expense.

    Personally, I would encourage as many people as possible to go to the Europeans, wherever they are held; this was my first 'European experience' and I will certainly try and make a priority of going in the future. It was a fantastic weekend's banding and well worth the effort; now I know what I've been missing I will try not to miss out again.

    However, there are many reasons why people can't just drop everything and go for an expensive weekend to the European Championships, however much they might want to.
  8. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    I would have thought most non-attenders' reasons would boil down to either timing or location. How many people DIDN'T have something else to do over the May Day bank holiday weekend? Family events, weddings, family events, things that bands could get booked to play at, slap in the middle of exam prep for students, and only a week or two before quite a few other contests with the inevitable extra weekend rehearsals! Venue-wise, whilst I love Glasgow it isn't exactly on the doorstep for a lot of the UK - its either a very very long drive or a pricey flight away.

    That said, we would have been there if we hadn't been playing at a wedding - they're banders too, so really should have known better! :lol:

    IYOUNG Member

    Some interesting and not unexpected reasoning for being unable to attend this past weekend. i think the ''Blackpool weekend'' coming has had an effect both time wise and financially, I know some friends of mine in scotland have been rehearsing all weekend and therefore couldn't attend.

    Also there seems to be a slightly different attitude in this country, having been to my 3rd European this weekend I can definitely say that the two overseas have been completely sold out on every occassion / part of the contest, maybe this to do with the fact the number of chances to see the best bands all together is fewer I don't know.

    At the gala concert on Saturday the '' incredible atmosphere'' was commented on a couple of times, I have to say that the atmosphere generated overseas is way beyond what we had this weekend, clearly us Brits are much more reserved in our reactiuons to the bands performances, overseas if your not on your feet for a standing ovation everytime then you are definitely in the minority.

    As referred to on other threads supporting all the bands is so important I was surrounded by the Danish contingent most of the weekend, who yes obviously were very enthusiastic about their own band but essentially were there to hear all the top bands perform, and boy did they give some support.

    The answer lies in our own hands i'm afraid, ive heard every reason there is going for not going but if you really want to...............there no reason.

    MD Marlow Band
  10. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    For me I had a competition at the weekend, but also I don't get to too many concerts because of travelling difficulties (no car, no money) and because, generally when a band is playing in a band club, which seems to be the majority of concerts around here, I look at the set list and see things I've heard a million times before. If I know a band is doing a themed concert or something special I'll see if I can get there, but I'd much prefer to sit in a decent venue than a band club any day!
  11. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Maybe. But at this year's Midlands area there were enough people listening to the bands who weren't the 'big guns'. Yes it was the championship section, but there were many players listening to the piece who had earlier done a performance of it.
  12. Dave Euph

    Dave Euph Member

    Glasgow is a long way for me (OK, nothing compared to people who live out of the continent but you get the idea) ... and generally it would have cost me a lot of money to attend - despite the fact I would have loved to.

    Unfortunately I have to limit myself to local contests/concerts, so when I attended the Areas in Bradford, I watched as many bands as I could (including 14 of 15 top section bands! That was quite a slog!). I did go and see the North-East areas in Darlington - but that was a long day and cost me a lot of money just for the afternoon/evening - so I'm sure you can understand why I didn't go to Glasgow!

    I am considering attending the Grand Shield though - as Blackpool is reachable.
  13. Mike S

    Mike S Member

    Re: Poor attendance at Europeans and contests/concert in gen

    Just goes to show. Well, believe it or not I have an opinion about this. Watch the attendance at the weekend at Blackpool for the Grand Shield, Senior Cup and Senior Trophy, and watch also the attendance for the Open in September. These contests feature some of the top UK bands competing against each other and this is what the UK audiences want to see and hear in my opinion - provided that the piece is attractive enough and the organisers this year for the Shield and Cup have made a cracking selection for each with Les Preludes and Journey into Freedom. Even the UK National Championships is not THE contest of the year because not all of the best bands are there.
  14. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    There is of course a fourth categoryof person, who you never see at brass band contests. I refer of course to the rest of the general public - people who don't fall into any of the categories described above. But then, how could they attend contests? How would they know about a contest going on in their area?

    My experience of contests is that they are seldom, if ever, advertised in the local press, on local radio, or indeed anywhere except in the pages of the brass band press. That certainly goes for the biggest contest of all, the National Championships, area qualifiers and finals. If the European Championships in Glasgow were advertised widely, it would have been an exception of major proportions.

    Why aren't contests advertised to the general public? Is it because of the fear that nobody, least of all music lovers, will turn up, and the irrelevance of brass bands to most peoples' lives will be brutally exposed? Or is because of the deeply held if unarticulated belief that brass banding is first and foremost for the bandsmen, and not for the hoi polloi, and that contests are our private sanctuary? The latter sounds the most likely, but the former is not too far behind either, in my opinion.
  15. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I don't think anyone could fault the efforts made by the banding authorities to publicise not only the contest itself but also the week's activites built up around it. It is good to hear that many of the peripheral events were very successful and I talked to a number of people who had managed to stay up in Glasgow for several days.

    Having attended the Europeans in Birmingham (much cheaper and easier, with having family there) I was determined to try to get to Glasgow and was glad I managed it, although the costs certainly do mount up, once travelling and accommodation are added to the (very reasonable) ticket prices.

    I do think, however, that it will be very difficult to encourage more people to turn up if bandsmen do not show more interest themselves. As has been said, the general enthusiasm shown by the vast majority of visiting bandsmen and supporters was really something to see, and is something we could do with more of. Having said that, there were a number of banding "names" who were present and seemed to take in plenty of the performances even though (or perhaps even because) they had no personal interest in the outcome.

    On the question of attracting a new audience, I wonder how many of us have invited non-banding friends to attend a concert or contest recently :?: Friends of my father, who've had a life long interest in music-making both as listeners and performers, are recent converts to the world of banding as a result of such an invitation, and I am sure there would be others who would find it rewarding if they gave it a go.

    Perhaps we just haven't got enough confidence in our own product to stick our neck out that far.
  16. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    Hey hang on folks...I thought the weekend was actually well attended.
    As we all know most bandsmen play and hardly bother to listen to any other band.
    There's many a contest I have attended and there have been more on the stage than there were in the audience.That is a large hall and I am sure if we asked some of the SBBA committee you will find that they were pleased.
    I spoke to Mr McLaren and he seemed pleased with the attendances.
    Come on SBBA folk how was it?
  17. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    one of the reasons the place wasn't full was that all of the bandmembers in the competition were allocated a seat for both the set and own choice competitions!!!! so had all the bandspersons wanted to/been able to attend at any given time then I'm sure the hall would have been far closer to capacity.
  18. Golden-Hynd

    Golden-Hynd Member

    I think every1 stayed away coz u were there John!!! HA. Heard it was a good weekend though, well from wat Aidan could remember anyway! :D

  19. Old Hornblower

    Old Hornblower New Member

    Poor attendance at contests

    It cost my wife and myself slightly in excess of £600 to go to Glasgow, including flights, hotel, tickets and food. We did go up on Thursday to take in the Euphonium Master class, the solo competition and the Stavanger entertainment concert.All excellent and worth attending.

    I like the format of the Europeans, 11 or 12 bands, with set and own choice. Yes, some of the own choice are a bit old hat but Music of the Spheres was probably worth the £600 on its own!

    Friday we had the Boddis seminar, interesting but might have been developed to look at some of the wider issues, the Mead RSAMD concert, Ken Downie's charming and delightful presentation and the set piece in the evening.

    The B section was great fun, and some of the playing was quite wonderful, and I thought that the Faroese were worth their win. Maybe the Italians should enter the Championship next year, if they can get the french horns replaced.

    As to the own choice, I totally misread Fairey's performance, I thought they were terrible, but they came in 2nd! And whilst I thought that YBS had got the better of Cory, 6th was a surprise.

    The gala was a bit disappointing. The baritone player was absolutely stunning with a lovely stage presence, the choice of pieces for NYBBS perhaps a trifle old hat. The man with the fluffy trumpet did go on too long, as did the pipes - but we were in Scotland and if they were happy that is fine.

    The presentation ceremony was a disaster, but how can it be made more interesting? And the playing of the National Anthem. I know the Scots pretend to dislike the English but there is no need to play the anthem that appallingly badly.

    Overall its was well worth the money.

    Other contests?

    We go to the Open each year, there are too many bands and the Euro-format would be preferable, and to the Sunday concerts, very poor last year but one always lives in hope.

    As to the Masters, we gave up on Cambridge, hotels are either expensive or not very good, the hall is not very good, the adjuducation system ridiculous and we were discomfited to say the least by the behaviour outside the pub. Some of you who say, in some of these threads, about your capacity to drink beer might not like to be told that on two consecutive years we found the atmosphere quite intimidating, and the litter and rubbish strewn on the street beggared description. We felt we didn't want to go any more.

    As to the Nationals, we seem to have been away during recent Octobers and have missed out.

    When we go we sit through as many performances as we possibly can, more often than not I hear every band. The reward, Whitburn at last year's Open when the hall emptied just before they played.
  20. Re: Poor attendance at contests

    That'll be the, er, British National Anthem then so why the suggestion of xenophobia? Incidentally, why the British National Anthem at all, why not Ode To Joy, given that it was the European Championships?

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