Welsh Area Contest, what a joke this year

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by RedOctober, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

    In recent years, the welsh area contest has been an event to really look forward to. The welsh have two of the best bands in the world and some of the others below them are good bands too. The venue in the past, the Brangwyn Hall, an actual concert hall! It's a really nice venue certainly much better than our venue here in the south west. But what on earth were the organisers thinking this year?! For those on here who don't know, the contest took place in Venue Cymru a fairly new theatre in the welsh seaside town of Llandudno. Everything inside is more modern than the Brangwyn, not as dated. They have a main theatre and they also have conference rooms for conferences...

    Or in this case conference rooms for band contests! Imagine the disappointment for the bands who made the long journey from South Wales and also West Wales (Goodwick, Crwbin etc), who found that instead of competing in the main theatre, they would be competing in a large conference room. Just terrible really. Poor acoustic and generally an unsatisfying place to play after all the months of hard work on their test pieces. Also being a conference room, there was noise from surrounding areas and in the room itself. Adjoined to the room was a kitchen where there was much dish washing noise. At one point there was some sort of farmers party going on next door and the noise from this was audible inside the welsh area conference suite! I'm not sure as to why the actual theatre was never properly booked. Being a theatre, I can imagine the acoustic is probably somewhat dry inside, but it does see Welsh National Opera visit according the the brochures, so it must be good enough for a band to play in?! What an absolute joke it was this year, what on earth were the organisers thinking in booking that space?! Does anyone else on here agree with me, that it was a terrible venue?

    I do hope that this isn't going to be the new venue every year? What exactly is wrong with the Brangwyn? Parking can be awkward I suppose, but surely it should be the acoustic and size that is of most importance..

    This also begs the question of, is it practical to hold the contest in North Wales? It seems to me that there is nowhere suitable in the north to hold a contest if this is the best venue up there. And what a long way for the South Wales bands to travel, all that way to play in a conference room. A real disappointment for both player and listener.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  2. boourns

    boourns Member

    Other than the fact it is closed until July for building work?
  3. stopher

    stopher Member

    Take it you didn't qualify then!

    The facilities are far superior compared to the Brangwyn - I was able to get changed inside, could use a lift, have a warm up, park without a problem, choose which bar I was going to have a drink in and get a meal and no porn on the walls to distract me in my bars rests!

    Only problem I had was the cash machine was broken yesterday so i had to walk 5 mins to Asda!

    The acoustic in that hall is dry which meant every bit of detail could be heard rather than lost in such a boomy hall - other areas would be chomping at the bit to get this venue.

    The Welsh Regional Council were informed and inspected the Venue so why the reps from each association did not disseminate this info is down to them (my band knew in January we would be in this hall!)I beelieve the Regional council got the hall for free from Conwy Council which I think is excellent support from them. Every band had to play in that acoustic so it was a leveller

    The main theatre is actually worse I find for bands having played their on several occasions -probably only two bands would have made enough sound to have filled it and the 1400 seats would have been left empty for most of the day. The cost of hiring the theatre is approx £2k per day would not have been realistic and I know that the orchestras get mic up (certainly when using the pit does and the BBC NOW were the other week although this may have ben for recording!)

    Ok, some teething problems with it being here and maybe the Arena (where the trade stands were) could have been used instead of the actual hall but I think you are in a minority who didn't enjoy the experience or the lovely scenery on the journey up and down

    The argument of where this contest should be will rumble on for years and year. 4BR comments about Oscar Pistorius were really un-necessary and the hall was pretty full all day yesterday with listeners.
  4. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

    Qualification has nothing to do with it Chris, I wasn't playing. I was watching. I'm sure the facilities you mention are at present better than the Brangwyn, the Brangwyn is dated and in need of a refurbishment. Hence the refurbishment currently taking place. Where have you been getting changed then? Can't ever seem to recall changing outside or seeing anyone else changing outside at the Brangwyn... Choosing a bar and getting a meal - Swansea is a city you know, plenty of places nearby to use.

    But these aren't really the issues for me. The acoustic and the actual room it took place in this year are the issue. True a dry acoustic won't hide anything, I suppose that's great for an adjudicator, especially the older ones with hearing aids. And also good (or in some cases maybe not so good!) for the bands playing. But firstly, playing in an incredibly dry acoustic isn't exactly satisfying to play in is it? Although I don't want an overly boomy acoustic, I'd rather have some reverb than none at all! But secondly, it's not exactly great preparation is it.. I mean, the finals are in the Royal Albert Hall. I don't know what the lower section venue is like, but it's hardly a dry acoustic in London is it. All the contests we want to get to and play in are in actual concert halls. Playing in very dry conference room isn't really great preparation for this is it..

    And that in itself was my other problem, a conference room. Chris, it wasn't even in the theatre. Yes I understand that the Welsh Regional Council inspected it and were informed where it would be taking place. But that was my other question, why did they go along with it? A freebie is very nice and perhaps that is why. Cost over quality. I'm sorry if you like a conference suite, but in my opinion it simply isn't good enough. An event like that needs to be in a hall, it's just insulting to the players otherwise. And it's poor for the audience too. But then you say the main theatre itself is even worse??? I'm sorry, but it's just not good enough for a contest is it. Let's not forget the external noise either. This contest was a shambles this year really. Great music making, all the bands played really well. But I do feel the organisers really let down the bands with this venue.

    You're quite wrong over the lovely scenery, it's stunning isn't it. But I came for a band contest, not sight seeing holiday.

    I think the 4BR comments were spot on personally. I'm sure the north/south debate could go on for ever. But this weekend proved that it should be held in the south. Why should you have to travel all that way to play in a conference suite with a noisy kitchen and party next door? It's just not fair in my opinion.
  5. StellaJohnson

    StellaJohnson Active Member

    You never fail to entertain :)
  6. BikeBadger

    BikeBadger Member

    Why don't they just find a bl**dy big tree in Builth for us all to play under? It'll be the same for everyone and I'm sure the local farmers can put on a few cow roasts. Dig a few latrines, set up a beer tent - sorted.
  7. ploughboy

    ploughboy Active Member

    4BR tweeted over the weekend that they'd had it confirmed the contest returns to Swansea next year, that was on Sunday morning - so if you keep up, there's no need for all this bile. . . :)
  8. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

    Good, I'm glad to hear it will be returning to Swansea. Thanks for that Gary. As for bile and twitter - I don't use twitter, so it's hardly surprising that I missed their tweet. Can't say I'm going to be joining twitter just to follow 4BR either. I'd rather visit their website. Bile? I don't see what's wrong with discussing why it was a poor choice of venue. Perhaps you thought it was a good choice like Chris? I on the other hand thought it was a terrible choice for the reasons listed above. Which bits do you disagree with? I'd love to know.
  9. Ianroberts

    Ianroberts Well-Known Member

    Typical that the 1st time south wales bands have to travel the moaning starts !
  10. no moaning from anyone at burry port, whilst i was dissapointed it wasnt in the theatre, the venue was perfect with great facilities and the hall wasnt as bad as everyone made it out to be. maybe a system of south and north rotation would be adopted? or as more bands are located in south wales a system of 2 years south 1 year north? whatever the situation, i enjoyed the weekend. :)
  11. WelshJane

    WelshJane New Member

    It seems the South Wales Bands aren't the ones moaning on here as I think most of us appreciate the facts that the North Wales bands always do the travelling, so it us only fair to go North some years.

    Personally I really enjoyed the weekend, a nice venue and plenty of choice of restaurants etc.

    Take note of where in the country the thread creator is from
  12. Rambo

    Rambo Member

    Red October you are talking through your a**e!

    The venue is superior in every way to the cave that is Brangwyn Hall. Sadly the little protest led by Iwan Fox and his narrow mined few and I emphasise the few is being found out.
    I played and listened to bands in the venue and you mention the Albert Hall. Only finalists from the championship section will play there remember. St MAgnus and Brangwyn Cave (oops Hall) you would have heard no detail what so ever. The last band in the 4th section played to over 1000 people and won. A band where over 50% of the players were children. Did not hear them moaning and groaning about the venue, they had the best experience they have ever had as a band. About time some of the championship players like yourself, hacks like Iwan Fox and so called respected conductors like Philip Harper stopped moaning and looked on things in a far less selfish manner.

    Facts- The competition should be moved around Wales.
    Brangwyn hall is a poor venue, hotels are expensive ( even more so now that Swansea City are in the premier league)
    The North Wales Brass band association did an excellent job in organising the contest this year in a highly effective venue that offers excellent facilities
    Llandudno hotels are far cheaper than Swansea
    The road South to North is the same one that the North Walian bands have had to travel down for twenty years!

    Can the contest be improved in Llandudno, yes without a doubt. The theatre venue has the ability to have all4 sections in one day ( like Blackpool) for example.
  13. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

    I'll accept that the facilities are better than the Brangwyn, or cave as you refer to it as. But once the refurbishment is complete, the Brangwyn will be up to scratch. Yes I did mention the RAH, but if you'd actually read my post properly, you'd have noticed that I already acknowledged that is for championship section only. I said I didn't know what the lower section venue is like...... Most contests are in a hall of some kind, I don't think performing in a conference room is very good really. Every other area happened at a decent venue, this was poor in comparison to all the others. Then let's add things like the kitchen and party going on and it's quite poor really isn't it. Perhaps you just want to overlook that as you like it being in North Wales? But things like that certainly wouldn't happen in the Brangwyn.. I don't think Iwan Fox, Philip Harper or myself are being selfish. I can't really speak for them, but the arguments I've put on here aren't for selfish reasons, I'm pointing out the things that I feel have spoiled the contest for every band this year.

    Moving the contest around seems like a good idea, but it needs to be at a decent venue. A conference suite isn't a suitable venue and I think it's insulting to the bands who had to travel all that way to play in that room. Did the association really do a good job? I don't think so. They got a freebie in a terrible room. The only good points about the venue have been facilities and non musical related reasons. Hotels, restaurants, bars etc. And apparently indoor changing, though I don't ever remember that being an issue in Swansea.

    I agree Llandudno hotels are cheaper and now I've seen Llandudno I can see why.. ; ) but there we go again, another point that has nothing to do with the contest musically/acoustically.

    And I don't see why you point out north wales bands travelling for the past twenty years. True it's a bit of a trek, but you come to south wales and you get a concert hall. Albeit a dated one, but an actual concert hall. Without disco or kitchen sound effects. And you have what, ten bands up there compared to the forty odd bands in the south. Unless you can provide a proper venue it should remain in the south in my opinion. The south holds two major concert venues on top places like the millennium centre.
  14. Rambo

    Rambo Member

    You are entitled to your opinion Red October but you need to take a long hard look at your opinion and check it out for balance, fact and fairness.
    Noise in the room? nothing on the Sunday- I have sat on the stage in the Brangwyn waiting for the cheering in the bar to quieten down after Wales have scored in the rugby.
    Conference centres should not be used??? Harrogate ( finals for several years) conference centre. Wembley conference cente, Cardiff arena do you want me to carry on pointing out the inaccuracies in your 'opinion' Cheltenham is a conference centre within a race course I believe.
    All other areas are in concert halls- wrong the midlands is in a school hall for goodness sake.

    Sadly as is often the case when people want their argument to be seen as right they state 'facts' that are not facts at all.
  15. topeuph

    topeuph Member

    It seems to me that most of the critisisms have come from those who resented having to travel the same 4 hour journey that North Walian bands have been making for years. They sought to vent their frustation by inflating every minor issue with the venue and location, conveniently ignoring the inadequacies of the Brangwyn hall. I'm somewhat embarrased by the sense of entitlement held by some (a minority I might add) of my fellow South Walian. Whilst ideally we would have preferred to play in the theatre, I thought that the hall where the contest was held was perfectly adequate, in fact, unlike Swansea, you were able to hear detail that would have been lost in the boom of the Brangwyn. In my opinon, Venue Cymru was an excellent setting for a contest, both as a player and a listener. We even had (SHOCK HORROR) a warm up area, and the most fantastic waiting area that had a mesmerising view out to the Irish sea, I don't think I've ever been so relaxed going on stage at the areas.
    I look forward to returning in to Llandudno in a few years time, and let it be known that this hwntw had a great time!!!
  16. Rambo

    Rambo Member

    Euph players know best! Could not agree more topeuph.
  17. I literally couldn't see the problem with the venue myself, had everything you need within the facility. Yes the hall was dry, but surely that gives a fairer representation of a performance than a hall that hides practically all the detail? No complaints here!
  18. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Was going to reply direct to Red October, but this says most of what I was intending to say, so I'll just add a few supporting details.

    Cheltenham - yes, it's a conference centre at the racecourse, a large cuboid room with strategically placed drapes to dampen down what must be slow powerful echoes in their absence. It was set up to be very dry when we played there last year, which is I believe typical of how the contest uses it. Not an acoustic anyone would choose for a pleasant concert - but pretty good for a band contest, when you need details to be heard. Harrogate is also a conference centre with a very dry acoustic.

    Other areas - Stevenage is split between two halls at a leisure centre, the theatre and the "main hall" (actually a glorified gymnasium). The main hall is like a slightly smaller version of the Cheltenham hall, while the theatre is quite dry, but in a more pleasant way - like a slightly smaller version of the Yeovil Octagon.
    Midlands I haven't played at for a number of years, but it has been held in some terrible acoustics in the past - the East Midlands Conference Centre at Nottingham sticks in the mind - a wide, carpeted room with a low ceiling. Burton-on-Trent Town Hall was poor for the opposite reason - a bit small with a boomy vaulted roof.
    The RAH is a bit of a red herring here, I think... There isn't another acoustic quite like it anywhere, and preparing for playing in it isn't really possible - and even if it were, I don't think only testing bands on performing in one very specific type of acoustic is ideal anyhow.

    The bottom line tends to be that these contests are run on a very tight budget, and with bands tending to be unwilling to cough up extra cash for refinements such as a nicer venue or more adjudicators (though that last is gradually being remedied, region by region), the hands of area organisers are tied when it comes to being choosy about the hall.
  19. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

    Ok, perhaps using the name 'concert hall' was the wrong choice of name. But all the venues you've mentioned are all a hall of some kind. There is at least a proper stage area and proper seating. My issue with Llandudno was that it was more like am actual room. I suppose like a big 'living room' or canteen type room. Clearly it has been used as a canteen as there is a kitchen attached to it.

    Dave you're pointing out the obvious re the RAH. I was using it as an example of where the top section get to play and also as an example of the sort of contest/venue we'd all hope and aim to play in one day. Perhaps you're happy playing on the village green and conference suites, but I'm sure the vast majority would love to play in a 'proper' hall. Not just RAH, Symphony Hall, The Sage etc. No you can't really prepare for something like the RAH as such, but a lot of the time we do a concert or contest, it's going to be in a hall of some kind. Be that a school hall or theatre etc. and please take note those who have reading difficulties I said a lot of the time, not all the time.

    I agree with you Dave that there must be budget problems, but bottom line the organisers knew about the 'room' they were getting for this year well in advance. They new it was a room rather than a hall. Really you may as well have held it in my living room! I agree that the facilities as in changing/warm up/bars etc were better than what we're used to, it's a much newer build than the Brangwyn. If you can't put it on in a proper hall (or shut your kitchen staff up!) it's not really a great venue is it. Can you imagine it anywhere else. Just because the North Walians didn't have to travel isn't an argument. And I feel though they are a nice touch, the facilities aren't really an argument either. The centres/theatres Dave listed are better than what was provided over the weekend.
  20. RedOctober

    RedOctober New Member

    I'd also like to add that it was a real shame not to see BTM or Beaumaris Bands there. Of course BTM were to be expected following the recent piracy and press releases. But what of Beaumaris? I understand they are going through a rebuilding process, what happened there? I thought they had put quite a solid little band together over the past couple of years. A real shame if they are in tough times.