2009 British Open

Rustonw

Member
BEWARE! Criticizing adjudicators can land you in trouble!!!

Although I wasn't at the Open on Saturday I'm interested to read the comments from SM and others concerning the standard of adjudicating. I too made comments on this forum after the Spring Festival in May about the way some judges failed to identify the difference between good and poor playing (a basic requirement) that too involved Mr Read. A few weeks later I received an email from Mr C.Brian Buckley of ABBA which was headed "In contemplation of legal proceedings". The following correspondence is worth a read for those interested. I will publish all the emails in the near future.

I will be interested to hear from anyone else who has received similar threats from ABBA.

P.S I noticed that Steven Mead has been invited to a meeting about his comments.
 

daitom

New Member
I was a member of the winning band in the open in 1984. I've just looked at the certificate we got that day, its signed by the 3 adjudicators.

Sir F Vivian Dunn
David Read
William Relton.

Says it all really. It says to me that although bands have developed in leaps and bounds over the course of 25 years, adjudication really hasn't.

I totally agree with you Danny Collin! ...
I went back to competitive banding in 2005, after 20 years of very little involvement in the brass band world and was quite honestly amazed to see adjudicators I remember from back then are making now what I believe contentious decisions!

Steve Mead is right .... powers of recall!

It is time for a change

but will it happen?

probably not due to this self appointed panel of experts! who deem themselves untouchable.

The brass band movement needs to move into the modern world, or slowly slide into oblivion.
:mad:
 

Mephi

Member
As regards the 'duetists' - not exactly a Revelation reason to stand up, was it? Think Dr King pointed that out very well! Seemed a bit pointless. Having not 'seen'/ heard the piece before I was a tad disappointed to see the arrogance of Mr Smith of Desford spoiling my first rendition and also his good performance with his antics on stage, it was a bit cringeworthy!!
 

Anno Draconis

Well-Known Member
BEWARE! Criticizing adjudicators can land you in trouble!!!

Although I wasn't at the Open on Saturday I'm interested to read the comments from SM and others concerning the standard of adjudicating. I too made comments on this forum after the Spring Festival in May about the way some judges failed to identify the difference between good and poor playing (a basic requirement) that too involved Mr Read. A few weeks later I received an email from Mr C.Brian Buckley of ABBA which was headed "In contemplation of legal proceedings". The following correspondence is worth a read for those interested. I will publish all the emails in the near future.

I will be interested to hear from anyone else who has received similar threats from ABBA.
I know at least one other member of the forum has had a similar threat from Mr Buckley. I trust you got a solicitor to reply? That would have frightened 'em, since any threats of "legal action" are essentially empty and pointless. It's an interesting reaction to criticism - threatening to sue anyone who dares to question an ABBA member.

And this is the organisation we're relying on to drive change? Hmmm...
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Did anybody think the placing of cornet & euph soloists made any audible difference? I certainly didn't think so. It wouldn't make sense if a large orchestra was on stage and the players to the rear had to compensate volume.
There appeared to be some ambiguity in the wording regarding the placement of the soloists, as the comment in the front of the score specifies that they should be at the front of the stage, whereas the directions later on state the side of the stage, which would seem to tie in better with the "lontano" direction as someone mentioned earlier on.

I don't think it made a huge difference on the day, it was more down to the approach of the players to the passages concerned, although a couple of the bands who placed them behind the band seemed most effective to me - Cory and Brisbane spring to mind in particular.
 

brassneck

Active Member
Lontano means "as from a distance". I wonder if playing it more quietly would have been just as effective? A bit like how Philip Sparke's Barn Dance & Cowboy Hymn is scored?
 

Humphrey

Member
The opinions of 4 bars rest and a bunch of cringe worthy sycophants is the modern equivalent of the aging relatives referred to in Stephen Mead's article. Have you ever been the beneficiary of a bad result and if so did you complain? Get over it, it's contesting: imperfect, always controversial and a highlight of the banding calendar!!!
 

daitom

New Member
I know at least one other member of the forum has had a similar threat from Mr Buckley. I trust you got a solicitor to reply? That would have frightened 'em, since any threats of "legal action" are essentially empty and pointless. It's an interesting reaction to criticism - threatening to sue anyone who dares to question an ABBA member.

And this is the organisation we're relying on to drive change? Hmmm...

Why do these ABBA people think they are above criticsm?
It's about time that they need to realise and/or accept change
 
The opinions of 4 bars rest and a bunch of cringe worthy sycophants is the modern equivalent of the aging relatives referred to in Stephen Mead's article. Have you ever been the beneficiary of a bad result and if so did you complain? Get over it, it's contesting: imperfect, always controversial and a highlight of the banding calendar!!!
I struggle to understand the mentality of anyone who will readily acknowledge that something is flawed, but in the next breath castigate those who try to affect change to improve it
 

Di B

Member
I struggle to understand the mentality of anyone who will readily acknowledge that something is flawed, but in the next breath castigate those who try to affect change to improve it
hmmm.... The thing is if Whitburn had won the open and Steven Mead felt they didn't deserve it would he have still had the same outburst?

Sadly, I think not. No disrespect to Steven Mead, as I think at least 99% of bandsmen would not make an official complaint under these circumstances.

This means that it could be considered due to the result alone that a complaint was made. Sour grapes/we was robbed/the audience thought.... We have all been there.

I would love to be proven wrong and for the winners of a prestigious contest to turn around and criticise the adjudicators.... and it would make more people would pay closer attention.

I also totally agree that adjudicators are very inconsistent and call a certain one 'cloth ears' - even when they placed my band first!!
 

scotchgirl

Active Member
I don't think S Mead was complaining that his band didn't win....he was highlighting a point that a LOT of banders agree with.

How many of us really understand HOW a adjudicator decides between the lower placings? Bear in mind lower placings are as important as who wins, to the band that is placed 3rd last it could be the difference between relegation or not....this is IMPORTANT and maybe more clarification is needed on how this is actually decided. Put yourself in the place of an adjudicator...how do you decide who comes 15, 16, 17 out of 23 for example? It can't be by looking at the crits...some of which are barely there lol!
 
hmmm.... The thing is if Whitburn had won the open and Steven Mead felt they didn't deserve it would he have still had the same outburst?

Sadly, I think not. No disrespect to Steven Mead, as I think at least 99% of bandsmen would not make an official complaint under these circumstances.

This means that it could be considered due to the result alone that a complaint was made. Sour grapes/we was robbed/the audience thought.... We have all been there.

<snip>
But if the point is worthwhile and has widespread support then why should the motivation matter?
 
Mr Mead has stuck his neck out to print thoughts that I know a lot agree with. Many people of my aquaintance believe that, outside the placings, the papers are simply "thrown in the air" to see what order emerges.
Mr Mead has not complained about not winning.
Many of our adjudicators are too old but what self-respecting musician would put himself through the degradation of sitting in a tent all day?
Open adjudication must be the way forward, with professional musicians as judges and not those who have obvious affinity with any of the competing bands.
Having said that, I am not expecting change some time soon. I am also willing to admit that I do not contribute to change in respect of getting on committees etc! There must be some new blood who can give up the necessary time to push through the sort of vital changes needed.
Grenville Moore
 

Aidan

Active Member
I agree that it is time for more adjudicating blood to be introduced/trained up.

But on the flipside, someone will always come last at a contest, it is the nature of the beast that not everyone (not even close to everyone!) will be happy come results time. This is to be expected, and while 'lottery' results are crappy to have, (we've all had them), there is no amount of reform that is going to please everyone, that is wishfull thinking.

In no relation to SM here, purely talking in general, before people mouth off about their bad placing, maybe they should ask themselves... "we played well, why did we come so low.. perhaps others were just better?!?" ... "i heard x band and they were ****ing awful, how did they beat us? .... Maybe we were more ****ing awful than them?!" etc.etc.
 

Bass Trumpet

Active Member
before people mouth off about their bad placing, maybe they should ask themselves... "we played well, why did we come so low.. perhaps others were just better?!?" ... "i heard x band and they were ****ing awful, how did they beat us? .... Maybe we were more ****ing awful than them?!" etc.etc.
I agree with you there. There has been a lot said about reform in adjudicating and the brass band world as a whole. However, it must be remembered that when the powers that be chose a slightly 'radical' testpiece, there was an uproar. Prague anyone?

With regards to a comment I made earlier in the thread - I'm sorry I caused any offence. It was certainly not meant as such. But what I will say it this - the adjudicators are chosen because of their experience, knowledge and ability. The three gentlemen in the box on Saturday were no exception to this. In the same way a football referee can only make decisions based on the information he has in front of him, a panel of adjudicators can only judge on what they hear. They do not know if the band playing is Black Dyke or Lower Todmarsh Silver Prize Band.

I think Mr Mead's comments are worthy of discussion, but I think they would hold a lot more water if they were not connected to a poor result. If this subject were discussed at a different time, perhaps they might be taken a bit more seriously, and not considered a knee-jerk reaction.

I will sign off with this anecdote: I was sitting in the gallery last Saturday and Black Dyke had just played. Behind me a very 'knowledgeable' Yorkshire gentleman was giving his opinion on Dyke's performance. He said to his friend 'That one were head and shoulders above the rest' his friend said 'how many others have you heard?' to which the answer came, 'none, but it were still the best!' Another case of 'we wuz robbed' syndrome?
 

DannyCollin

Member
Mr Mead has stuck his neck out to print thoughts that I know a lot agree with. Many people of my aquaintance believe that, outside the placings, the papers are simply "thrown in the air" to see what order emerges.
Mr Mead has not complained about not winning.
Many of our adjudicators are too old but what self-respecting musician would put himself through the degradation of sitting in a tent all day?
Open adjudication must be the way forward, with professional musicians as judges and not those who have obvious affinity with any of the competing bands.
Having said that, I am not expecting change some time soon. I am also willing to admit that I do not contribute to change in respect of getting on committees etc! There must be some new blood who can give up the necessary time to push through the sort of vital changes needed.
Grenville Moore
I agree with every word Grenville. The highlighted bit is the reason for the box in the first place, lack of trust, and sometimes it's not that obvious an affinity, results by stealth if you like. ''You scratch my back, and i'll p*** up yours'', type of thing.
 
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brassneck

Active Member
I actually sat and listened to ALL the bands this time round ... :eek: Although my opinion is as valid as anyone else's (but not as valid as the adjudicators), the results do resemble a lottery outside the top six placings. What have bands got to do to survive in a contest like this ... play safe to avoid threat of relegation?
 

Simon_Horn

Member
I think that what SM has said is very brave ...and overdue! It's all very well us all ranting on forums like this but here we have someone with the profile to actually do something about a problem, which (let's be honest!) most brass banders recognise is a big issue in contesting at all levels. Further, SM is actually willing to participate in this forum and respond to some of the stick he's been getting from some posters that have nowhere near the level of experience/influence that he does. I'm not saying that people don't have the right to reply but we should recognise that whilst the result was not fantastic for his band last week, SM really does have the interest of brass bands in general at heart. Some of you have said it is sour grapes...but surely all the best innovations are inspired by a requirement - and the result at the open has inspired SM to raise this important issue - lets support him! Why doesn't TMP do a poll to help show our views on this matter...and when everyone acknowledges that change is needed - let's insist that all bands have a voice on any reform.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Here's a half-baked idea that's just popped into my head... It's the results at the top and at the bottom that matter to the bands concerned - so why not have two adjudicators; one to rank bands from top to bottom, and one to rank bands from bottom to top? One to listen out for the quality, the other to listen out for the signs of quality lacking?

Sticking the two lists together would require a little thought - take the top half from one and the bottom half from the other? But then what if a band appeared in both halves - or neither? Add the placings together? But then you don't want the 'bad' adjudicator's high placings influencing the prizes just as much as you don't want the 'good' adjudicator's bottom placings doing the equivalent at the rear of the field.

Hmm, I'll ruminate on this one, I think there might be a germ of reason in it......
 
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