Whats Happening at Fairey's?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Soil Lover, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. Soil Lover

    Soil Lover Member

    On Saturday evening ( 22nd Sept) I set of as a proud parent to listen to my daughter play in a joint concert with Poynton Youth Band and Faireys, as she has just passed audition to be promoted in to the main band, at the New Mills Arts Theatre.

    I did wonder at the time how the concert would work as the stage in the hall is not the worlds largest, however the format for the evening was to be 1st half the youth band and 2nd half Faireys, with no joint pieces. This alone I thought was a shame for the youngsters, but still they would get the experience of listening to one of the countries top bands!!

    For their part the youth band played very well indeed, taking into account their age range (10 to 17) and pieces chosen for them. Plus it was nice to see that at least 2 of the Faireys members sat in with the band to help out.

    So to the second half – the big boys. Well all I can say is what a disappointment…..for the following reasons;
    1) Programme content – considering it was a concert with a youth band audience there was not one piece that they could have related too. The most modern being “the Trolley Song”
    2) The actual playing – the whole performance was well below what you would expect from one of the so-called big boys. I am sure if he could the Sop player for the evening wished the stage would swallow him, however the band as a whole just did not seem bothered (its only a little job mentality).
    3) Professionalism – Not all players were in uniform. Talking on stage. Poor Presentation. Need I say more??

    I had thought that in the appointment of an old boy at the helm (Philip Chalk as MD – to which there has been no publicity) the band may have been back on the right path, but I was proved wrong.

    Following the concert I felt very sorry for the youth band, as I know as a young player (many moons ago) you felt in ore listening and watching this band and aspired to play for them one day if you got good enough, all I can say is not any more!!!
  2. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member


    I can hear the disappointment of the Fairey band performance in the emotional content of your writing, in addition I was not at the said concert and therefore not in any position to comment on the playing. However I am sure that the players in the Fairey band and their conductor were there to entertain the audience and the children involved, and I'm sure they don't need anyone to defend their good name.

    On a more general point, you talk about the issue of professionalism on the stage and in the presentation of their "total band package". Agreed, tidy uniforms are almost certainly a problematic issue to most bands and their players. As anyone from B+R will attest I am not the tidiest person in the band. However, some of the players may have not been from the Fairey band, deps etc, and getting uniforms that fit...whether walking out or stage is particularly difficult, hence badly fitted uniforms or players with no jackets because there are'nt any that fit. I see your point in this regard....

    However, as for talking on the stage and its relation to unprofessionalism I have to disagree with you. Orchestral musicians, whom people compare "banders" against are paid and put on a professional front where ever and whenever they play. Alas, banders (both young and old) are doing it as a hobby, a time consuming one at that and as much as the audience expects to be entertained the happiness or experience for the performers is equally important. Would a concert of serious looking, silent musicians be as attractive to younger people or a band enjoying a concert having a giggle here and there more attractive?? My impression is the latter but that's only my own impression.

    As for programming, it's a matter of personal taste and the judgement of individuals on its entertainment value or suitability. I was not there, may be it was unsuitable and there were no "theme from the Teletubbies" on the programme, but still, listening to something that you do not recognise is sometimes more entertaining and also educational than having the same pieces played at concerts year in and year out.

    I hope the experience in total has not put off any of the young people in the aforementioned youth band and that at somepoint in the future they will develop their interest and play in the top bands like Faireys.

    As I said I'm not here defending the Fairey band just an interested bystander in something that may occur in more than one isolated incidence with one particular band.
  3. scoo8ysnax

    scoo8ysnax New Member

    You make it very clear that you were unimpressed with the second half of the concert given by the fairey band, but I have to disagree with a lot of your comments. I was at this particular concert, and thought their choice of programme was just right for the occassion. Yes the band could of come on stage and done an "all singing all dancing" concert, but the "Traditional" concert programme gave the youngsters a true sense of heritage that brass bands have to offer that can often be neglected by bands these days. Also, I seem to recall that the conductor (Phil Chalk) of the Fairey band annouced that it would be a traditional concert!? I was recently at the British Open Gala Concert and it was a nice change to hear Grimethorpe bring out several "old gems" that just aren't played in concerts these days.

    It seemed that the Sop player was having a really bad day, but its not the first time I have heard a sop player having a bad day. The rest of the playing was well played and that "traditional Faireys sound" came flooding off the stage. As for the the rest of the band seeming "not bothered", I think you are very wrong indeed. The players looked like they were enjoying being on that stage, which brings me on to Professionalism.

    I noticed that the Bass players were not in Uniform and I put that down to there being a slight shortage of uniforms that night, maybe through people helping the band out on stage? I certainly didn't feel that it detracted from the whole experience. Surely that is just "nit picking" at its finest. As for the talking on stage, I have to say that i feel that is "nit picking" again. I go to several concerts given by top bands throughout the country and I like to see bands enjoying themselves on stage. I can't think of anything worse than seeing a brass band giving a concert in a "Military" style. I went to the infamous "Brass in concert" contest once. I saw several bands sat rigid in their seats, not looking around all with their socks at the same height etc etc and it was the most boring thing I had ever seen. It sounded rigid too. If you could imagine a band full of mannikins with instruments, then it looked like that.

    As for the Conductor (Phil Chalk), I thought he really assisted in bringing the concert to life. He was funny, "Professional" and so musical in his approach with the band. He really knew how to communicate to the kids of the youth band and I heard them all laughing along to his jokes...especially the stories about the youth bands founder Les.

    On the whole, I thought the concert was very nice indeed. The Poynton Youth Band played extremely well, and that drummer at the end......I see a very promising future. Also to the young girl and boy that played their solo's so lovely, a huge round of applause.

    Thank you to the Poynton Youth Band and the Fairey Band for both putting on such a lovely concert and I look forward to hearing you again in the near future.

    ps. To the Youth Band......You have a new fan!
  4. andylockett86

    andylockett86 Member

    Hi - Soli Lover i sent a PM about saturday
  5. Brassbones

    Brassbones Member

    Dear "Soil Lover",

    I am not a member of Faireys band but have been depping, off and on, for the past 12 months or so. I didn't play at the concert last Saturday but I do offer the following points for your consideration:

    * Fairey has a severe shortage of stage jackets due to a number of people (who will remain nameless) leaving the band and not having the decency to return their jacket. Fairey are no longer a sponsored outfit and certainly don’t have the means to keep buying replacements.

    * When using deps (there were a number on Saturday I understand) if there aren't enough jackets to fit all it is common practice for the basses to go on without, since they are partially obscured by the horn section. They did this at Leyland during my six years there (99-04) and at Besses the six years before that. Not an ideal situation, but certainly not a unique phenomenon.

    * I don't know who played sop on Saturday but I do know it would of been a dep as Neil McNulty is recovering from a severe bout of mouth ulcers. Which incidentally, he played through the pain barrier with at last weeks British Open. No-one can be 100% sure of how a dep will get on, especially if its a previously untried one.

    * I go to a concert a month, alternating between the Halle and RLPO, and I can assure you that players are regularly seen talking (quietly) between items. Sometimes I've even seen them blatantly smiling! Provided it is kept to a sensible level, is not audible to the audience, and takes place in between items I think you will find yourself in a minority in regarding this as unprofessional behaviour.

    * When applying standards of professionalism it is worth remembering that no-one in Faireys band IS a professional musician. No-one receives a penny for their time and effort, and many spend a small fortune in petrol getting to and from rehearsals.

    * With regard to the programme I would venture to suggest that the band were also catering for the adults in the audience, or would you of proffered the band to play a raft of "modern" youth band numbers?

    * I'm sorry you felt that the standard of playing wasn't something that the youth band players could aspire to. Maybe they should set their sights at the 10 "big boys" in the UK that are above them in the rankings, or perhaps the 6 that bettered them at last weeks British Open.


    Paul Warder

    P.S. Philip Chalk's appointment was announced on both the bands webpage and at 4barsrest.com.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2007
  6. brassfan

    brassfan New Member


    Well soil man, i was also at the concert Saturday evening and i do not agree with a single comment you made save for the sop, who was clearly out of his depth. I too am a parent and i can assure that all the fellow parents i spoke too were equally impressed.
    The programme content did have a traditional feel but contained works that both stretched the band and soloists.
    Again, apart from the sop the ensemble was tight, the sounds were cultured and impressively directed by Phil Chalk who i believe will come to be regarded as one of the best conductors around. Mike Eccles' rendition of Zelda was fantastic as was the solo horn in playing Carnival of Venice. If that isn't inspirational to the kids in the audience i don't know what is!!!

    The presentation was informative, witty and professionally delivered. As for the uniforms, i saw percussionists in waist coats and a big chap on Bb bass who would provide a challenge to any tailor!

    I spoke with Les Hall, the founder of Poynton Youth and a former 'Fairey Man' after the concert and he spoke of his delight at the performance and the choice of repertoire, particularly the finale from Firebird.

    You are entitled to your opinion soil man but i think you'll find that you're in the minority on this occasion:oops:

  7. Soil Lover

    Soil Lover Member

    Firstly, I must say I am glad my original posting has provoked a response from people whom seem to care about the Fairey band, but must stress I did not wish to cause offence!! (although Brassfan I do not feel I have anything to be embarrassed about)

    I consider myself to have and still be a fan of the band since my formative years in the late 70’s and wish for nothing more than the band to return to its former glory days.

    As all the previous posters have suggested I have perhaps been over critical but in my own mind the Fairey band I have in my own mind (some would say warped) held higher standards than that I felt were displayed at the concert.

    I can not disagree both the soloists did play with great prowess but to my mind the full band display was under par, but as has been pointed out there were numerous deps playing (I would say at least 5), which I appreciate makes it more awkward. However is this itself not concerning, (as perhaps its my rose tinted glasses to the past again) surely players should be chomping at the bit to join a band with such history and future potential??

    Finally may I say I wish Phil Chalk well in his new position (I can not disagree with Brassfan on that one I am sure he will do very well and continue his successful path laid out with Ashton) with the band, as I am sure he and the stalwarts in the band will strive to get the band back to where it once was.
  8. Brassbones

    Brassbones Member

    Nobody is suggesting that the current band are as good as e.g. the one that won back to back Nationals in 02/03. However, and at the risk of repeating myself, that was a sponsored band that could afford to:

    (i) pay for the best possible deps (including pro's if necessary)
    (ii) cover players expenses (you would be amazed at how many pop out of the woodwork when you offer this) and fly conductors in and out of Norway
    (iii) replace equipment as and when needed etc etc...

    Life as an unsponsored band is a very different proposition, as we found at Leyland after Mr. Whelan pulled his funding back in 2000. Initial survival is fraught and, if you manage it, is followed by a long rebuilding process. Of course, all through this process punters expect exactly the same product on the stage. Otherwise they will keep their money in their pocket, and perhaps go on public websites telling everyone how poor the band is nowadays.

    Still ... I suppose the customer is always right.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2007
  9. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    Like others before I was not at the concert so cannot pass comment on what you saw and heard Soil Lover.

    However I am sure we have all been to concerts where the programme is not quite what we were hoping or expecting for.

    Its a face bands rely on deps at all levels of banding. Would you have rather Faireys pulled out of the concert all together?

    Also I assume that as you have posted this on the internet for all to see you have also given Phil Chalk and Faireys the opportunity to reply personally by being courteous enough to raise your disappointment with them directly?
  10. towse1972

    towse1972 Active Member

    I feel sorry for the person on sop, who helped out when a band were in need and has only criticism here on the mouthpiece to show for their efforts! If this lad/lass reads this thread it would be understandable if they put heir instrument away forever!!! Hardly encouraging!
    How about a well done for stepping into the breach?
  11. Kiz7

    Kiz7 Member

    Agreed! Well done Mr or Mrs Dep for being so brave.
  12. eanto

    eanto Member

    I think for a band to be as good as Faireys were when they won back-to-back National Finals then Sponsorship (read money!) is essential. With money, top players come in (temporarily) and previous 'principals' make great tutti/ensemble players.

    Paying 'expenses' to top players is, I believe, well suspected. What goes on between player and Band Manager/Treasurer is a clandestine operation as good as to rival the Israli Secret Service!
  13. brittm

    brittm Member

    A couple of points, more about the posts made than in respect of Fairey's performance (No I wasn't playing):

    1. Being paid or not has no bearing on professionalism, either take pride in your performance or don't do it.

    2. Having played with an unsponsored band for the past 10ish years, I can verifiy that a lack of funds does not preclude a good standard of performance. A lack of goodwill may be closer to the mark.

    I can honestly say that a band not being able to afford my reasuringly expensive "expenses" has never resulted in me saying I won't play!

    Martin Britt

    (Depping on Sop with GUS this weekend, hoping the ground will not be required to swallow me up)
  14. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    Here here! :clap:
  15. Brassbones

    Brassbones Member

    Where did anyone say that sponsorship alters standards of professionalism? I most certainly didn't. Having money in the coffers improves standards of performance through access to better players and MD's, and enables you to replace clapped out instruments and apparel. Which, by the way, has a knock on effect to perceived professionalism.

    I've only experienced a proper sponsorship situation for a couple years (the last few of the JJB Sports years) but I "can verify" that that was the best set of players I've had the privilege to play with, and gave the highest standard of performance. Conversely, EVERY band I've played with, from non-contesting to Top 10 ranked, has taken pride in its performance THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

    It is just naive rubbish to imagine that bands working from hand to mouth can deliver the quality of performance of a Dyke or Grimethorpe. Excellence doesn't come cheap ... get over it.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2007
  16. brittm

    brittm Member


    My Band, it appears, is a naive figment of my rubbish imagination. I will endeavour to "get over it".

    I'll let you consider whether what you inferred from my previous post is actually what I wrote... (I wasn't quoting you).

    Please don't put words in my mouth, I'm not bashing the village band, in fact I play with one when Desford can't afford to rehearse.

    All the best
  17. FaireysCornet

    FaireysCornet New Member

    Following comments posted by soil lover The Fairey Band would like to make the following responce:

    The Fairey Band have always tried to maintain the highest possible standards, both on the contest and concert platform and we take any criticism very seriously.

    It is true that following the loss of sponsorship two years ago the band have had some difficulties in ensuring a consistent line up of playing personnel for a variety of reasons, not exclusively finincial. That said, we have rarely been out of the prizes at major contests and the result last week at 'The Open' against the best bands in the world proves that the band are getting back on track.

    With respect to the Poynton concert we engaged a professional trumpet player on soprano who did his best under difficult circumstances, without prior rehearsal. It was an unfortunate occurance due to the fact that our regular soprano player had a serious mouth impediment that meant he could not play.

    That said, the organisers of the concert and the majority of the audience were delighted with the standard of the concert. The programme of music was chosen to provide a contrast to the works played in the first half by Poynton Youth but still contained 'lighter concert items' and mirrored the bands programme at the recent festival of brass which was also well received.

    With respect to personnel, Faireys are back to full strength with an exciting blend of youth and experience, and look forward to proving the doomsayers wrong as reports and it seems hopes of our demise are being grossly exaggerated.

    Faireys have a remarkable heritage as one of the most successful bands in history and, the band, players and conductor are committed to helping maintain that proud tradition.

    We would like to invite soil lover and anyone else for that matter to attend a rehearsal at his/her convenience to witness how hard we are working to maintain this proud brass band institution.

    The Committee of The Fairey Band
  18. Anonymous_user

    Anonymous_user New Member

    Fairey Cornet
    Well said...the 1st posting was probably from someone with no idea what it takes to run, and play in a top ranked band.

    The trouble with this forum is that people, hide behind silly names, then get on a soap box about something they know little or nothing about.

    Get behind your own, and other bands efforts and banding will be a richer place for it.

    Keep up the good work, to all at Faireys
    Simon Gresswell
    Hove Edge
    Ex Fairey
  19. brittm

    brittm Member

    I second your support of Faireys but I do hope you treat your audience with less contempt than you show Faireys' audience?
  20. andreab

    andreab Member

    Just what I was thinking. It's good to see that Fairey's are taking the criticism seriously and have taken the opportunity to explain their problems on that particular night.

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