Ah, Bradford. Or Braelfadium as the Romans probably called it. Home to Bulls and Bantams, of Bingley and Buses and.........erm, Blue tits. And for one very special weekend, British Brass Bands. And Delius apparently, although me and our Ada were sure she was from somewhere like Norwich. Like musical gladiators and their slaves gathering at the Colusium, so the bands came, ready to fight to the death for the upturned thumb of the overseeing Ceasars. They gathered at St Georges Hall, scene of so many artistic and dramatic triumphs in the past, the ghosts of past performances from so very many artists, from Barry's such as Tuckwell, Manilow (tribute), Thompson and Chuckle, rising high into the atmosphere of excitement and trepidation. At least, I think thats what the smell was.
And so, the contest began with the 4th section, playing tmp's own Raymond Farr's Anglican Dances, a piece i believe based on that tune that played when that silver knight on a horse span round on the telly, just before sale of the century. Ada and I treated ourselves to a flick through the bandsman whilst the first band walked on, then we launched into a packet of lincolns and tea as the various bands, quite literally, played on. In the event, me and Ada couldn't disagree with the results of the adjudicators, especially becasue what with Adas sinuses and what haveyou, she hadn't had a good night and she slept through 17 of the bands, and I think i must have had one too many pg tips and missed 12 of the bands for extended toilet breaks. still, they put the thumbs up to Dodworth, risen from the old championship band like one of those mythical flame-ey bird things, heralded majestically like a true gladiator, sticking his three pronged thingy into a hapless christian, by Elliot from Darwin. Well done! And who could forget the second placed band.
There will always be controversy at contests, and, during the first section, this one was no different. I personally do not like mud slinging and insults flying about officials, but i'm afraid readers this bordered on incompetance. I ask you? When I ask for a steak and kidney pie, do I expect to be confronted by a Chicken Tea-ker pie? No, I do not. Sadly this rather ruined my enjoyment of Geoff Richards Voyage of Discovery. However, those with the power of thumb raising for the winners were an illustrious pairing. I've always loved Paganini Variations and Jazz, so of course it was an honour to have Denis Wilby in the box (he doesn't photograph well though-looks nothing like i imagined) and also Colin Hardy, who used to have a shop. In the event, after much munching over a packet of Bourbons, we thought that maybe there were too many crumbs with these, and we vowed to try the co-op own brand ones. Drighlington were first, and Marsden were second apparently, and Penine were in fifth place.
As we took to our beds that night, over a digestive, I pondered whether many a bandsman would follow his leader the next day, with the metaphorical cry, I'm from Spartacus! I'm from Spartacus! and whether Ceasar would recognise this and raise his thumb to the cheers of the crowd? only time would tell. Ada told me to stop spouting such nonsense, reminded me to wipe the crumbs off the sheets, and said anyway, it all sounded gobbledegook without me teeth in.
first on sunday came the second section. i was glued to my seat throughout this particular competition. otherwise i would have left. our Ada can be quite cruel sometimes. anyway, the bands were faced with Howard Snells-images of the millenium. what was presented to us, as we polished off the jaffa cakes was quite an unbelievable quirk of contesting. 2nd placed Meltham & Meltham Mills have actually played first the last 160 odd times in their 6 year existance!!! i think that was it anyway. first place, replendant, presumably in their band uniforms in front of the colusiums fervoured audience was the Grange Hill band, conducted by D. Beckley. and the other bands occupied the positions 3rd to last.
I think it was in 1969 there was a real who-har about a brand new piece from a brand new conductor. too modern they cried! no tune, they hollered! kill him shouted someone probably. that piece wasn't entertainments, which has a lovely tune, but it was by gilbert vinter. it was of course, portugese party. there were no such shouts at Bradfords colusium on sunday afternoon, mainly becasue there weren't that many people in, and Ada and I were busy with the party rings. but still, the bands played as if their lives depended on it. Again, me and ada agreed with the adjudicators. chris, houlding barry thompson said many many interesting things, none of which either of us could remember. it probably included notes on tuning and performances, with special mention to one or two or a few bands and soloists, but in the end what came out was this. clifton, horbury, and lightcliffe were all going to the finals!
and so, to the championship. Ada opened the garibaldis, and we sat down to an enthralling afternoons brass banding! based on a book (although about what i can only guess) journey to the centre of the earth proved an enjoyable romp through a few keys and time signatures. Ada liked 6th placedHepworth a lot, the boys in purple, led by jimmy gourlay-a man well used to the feeling of a raised thumb, almost parped to the title, only for some bits to go wrong, and Rothwell must be delighted with their position-they qualify for the next round! the top three held us in suspence, although not that much, becasue most people had the YBS band 3rd. Vice chancellor King looked imperious as wafted through the number, but inside must have been hoping that the judges thumbs were firmly quivering upwards at his bands performance. sadly they were not.
in second place were the Black Dyke Band. after a successful 182nd year in existance they were probably keen to regain the crown they had won sometime in the past. i think. conductor Nicholas Childs, who used to be slightly large, wasn't, and athletically led the band through the many challenges that getting onstage entails.
in the event there were only one winners. in my experience, apart from dead heats, this is usually the case, and it went to the boys in pink. and black. the grimsdale coalfields silver band! special mention went to new principal cornettist terry webster-a real star performer!
as we sped away that night from Bradford, after a weekend thinking of all the gladiator related metaphors, and nearly getting caught in a 'b' aliteration cul-de-sac, i turned to our Ada and smiled.
Voulez Vous Brutus, i said.
now, do i get my ipod?
Last edited by uncle eric; 30.03.2006 at 12:19.