2009 British Open

brassneck

Active Member
I think that bands should be judged on their own merit, not as it commonly done to compare one against the other. It's a long day in the box and for a test that is 17 minutes long with various interpretations to consider, the task becomes more complex as the day progresses. I honestly had to get a break and some fresh air after the contest to allow me to relax and try to gather my memories of the performances. When players started to ask my opinion, I had to make sure that what I recalled was accurate, and balanced. I'm sure this is a familiar story for most. And I was sober throughout the day!
 
There must be a technological solution, use one of those weather predicting super-computers.. write a new software program, Adjudicate 2009, scan in the score, plug in a microphone (it could even blow it's own whistle to start performances and add time penalties automatically.)... off ya.. go...
It will accurately record tuning, rhythm etc, never get tired, need a sand bucket etc, can be out in the open for everyone to see ....

Joking of course.

I do think SM has a valid point and is right to raise it. It should be interesting to see how this progresses.
 

Di B

Member
But if the point is worthwhile and has widespread support then why should the motivation matter?
It shouldn't. It should matter in all sections and all contests too not just the open.

It doesn't matter to me but it could make SM's arguments weaker to those with the power to change things.
 

brassneck

Active Member
What are you saying about the adjudicators, Tom?! :eek:
:redface: ... I better check what I post before I do! When the results were read out, I was asked my selection. I always leave out 4th because somehow I always get it wrong. I tallied with the rest, which were fairly obvious except for maybe one position. Out of respect I'll not say which band. Further down the line I struggled to juggle with different aspects of performance. I, for instance, thought Howard Taylor's reading was superb and Steven Mead's lines were well thought out (and daring to say the least for the detail he focused on). I never read Whitburn's comments but only was told about them by the band. No idea what was said about interpretation.
 

SPMPP

New Member
As an impartial spectator I listened to around 15 bands (couldn't manage them all, needed a break). Unfortunately I missed Whitburn, Hammonds and GUS so cannot comment on their performance or placings. Cory, Dyke, Leyland B&R and possibly Grimethorpe deserved to be in the top 6. For me Leyland should have won. Fantastic musical performance, only 1 error (clip on top C for Euph) but didn't distract from the performance. Cory and Dyke played a solid performance, again Cory had that something extra. I think Foden's were very lucky to be placed, lots of errors, and for me, a very disappointing performance. I had them in the bottom half of the table. Rothwell and Fairey's deserved a much higher placing. Hepworth can count themselves very lucky, out of the one's I heard I had them 2nd to last if not last. A very poor performance from a band that can play a lot better. Desford too, should be very pleased with their result. Not deserved in my opinion.

I spoke to many bandspeople on Saturday, and although the actual placings may have differed depending on musical taste, generally, we agreed on the standard of the performances we had heard. What do we base our placings on? Playing what's on the score, playing in tune and together and then the icing is the musical performance, which can be subjective.

What really suprised me was the poor standard of playing at this level by some bands. There were some intonation problems and lots of incorrect entries. It sounded to me like some of the bands were under rehearsed. Before people shout at me, I am sure that all the bands have committed members. But what came across from some performances was a feeling of insecurity. Maybe some had players who were only helping out, brought in for the contest and couldn't make many rehearsals. Unfortunately this appears to be the sign of the times for a lot of bands and this will reflect in the performances given on stage.
 
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Humphrey

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
Then please allow me to enlighten you. It is the mentality of a person who has seen inconceivable results for his entire playing career which is now considerably longer than he ever thought it would be. It is the mentality of a person who earlier this year had to defend the changes in his own band whilst being castigated by the rest of the brass band movement. It is the mentality of a man who has lost contests he should perhaps have won and won contests he should perhaps have lost.

It doesn't matter what system you put in place, there will always be controversial results. Think back to the Masters some years ago. After suggestions that one "strong-willed" adjudicator could influence the result, the 3 adjudicators were split up (no conferring gentlemen). We all remember the results of that experiment I think. The open adjudication experiment I referred to in a previous post, although not altering the result was at the very least interesting.

Having read Steven Meads article, I came to my own conclusion it was nothing more than a rant from it's criticism of the "out of tune" recipient of the best instrumentalist award to it's bleating about so called "professional" bands (which is laughable considering the author).

By all means, clear out the old school adjudicators and perhaps in a few years we can discuss why the new adjudicators can't get a result that pleases everybody but perhaps most of all, it's the mentality of a man who gives 100% for his band, celebrates when it goes well and accepts the result when it doesn't.
 
You appear to be reinforcing rather than countering my point. You accept that you have experienced many inconceivable results over the years, so there are clearly flaws in the system. And as someone who has had to stand behind changes they believe in, in the face of considerable opposition, I would imagine you would applaud someone who is prepared to do the same. Indeed it seems the only justification for criticism you have is that you believe the comments were made in the spirit of sour grapes, and as I have said previously I believe the motivation is irrelevant if the point is worthy of debate.

I suspect you may be right in that there is no golden solution to the adjudicating 'problem', but it is defeatist to not even try and churlish to criticise those who are prepared to stand above the parapet and lead the debate.
 
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Basil Brush

New Member
Its only a brass band contest fella's!
Spend more time worrying about doing jolly concerts, entertaining the public (does anyone other than players/conductors actually care who wins any contest anyway?), and securing a reliable source of fine port. Remember, a cabinet fully of large shiney pots will not fill concert halls!!
For what its worth I listened to all of the bands on saturday and sunday. Had two fantastic days and agreed with the top three. Great concert programmes and a fantastic test piece.

Good health to all.
Basil
 
The Open, ABBA, and a disgruntled conductor!

I'm writing to say how disappointed I am that more than 36 hours after Mr Mead's outburst ABBA hasn't responded in a more supportive way towards the adjudicators concerned.
To issue a statement that merely says, 'we will have a meeting with Mr Mead and listen to his views' is non committal and lacks support for the adjudicators.
Surely ABBA should have said something along the lines of, 'ABBA does not condone any conductor taking the stage and ranting at contest organisers or adjudicators directly after the results ceremony. Further more we have every confidence in Mr Ball, Mr Relton and Mr Read, they are highly respected adjudicators and we are very sorry that Mr Mead has responded to their result in the way he has. We will be contacting Mr Mead to discuss this issue further'.


When you do meet Mr Mead here are a few questions you might ask him:

He was drawn last, how many bands did he hear?

If the adjudicators are so incompetent, why didn't he mention it when he was in the box with them two years ago!

He mentions their lack of recall. The results shows evidence of very good recall with bands drawn 3, 6, 16, ect amongst the prize winners. Also, doesn't he realise that the adjudications are used as a recalling resource by the adjudicators throughout the day. They don't have to remember every performance, they have notes to help them do that.

Would he have fought so venomously for the lower order bands if his band had been placed higher?

Mr Mead is a very inexperienced conductor who in his very short conducting career has openly complained about the results in two major contests, The British Open 09 and Brass In Concert 2008. (some of us are old enough to remember his petulant behaviour at the Europeans in Bergen in the 80s too) Might it be that instead of starting his career at the top in the Championship Section he does what most of us did and conduct a few lower section bands first and learn what its all about.

His outburst is no more than sour grapes.

Davie W James
 

SMead

Member
Steven Mead replies to Davie James

Almost lost for words with this post. But let me correct some factual inaccuracies in your article:
1."Mr Mead is a very inexperienced conductor who in his very short conducting career has openly complained about the results in two major contests, The British Open 09 and Brass In Concert 2008."
This is the first time I have ever complained openly about a result in my banding career. As for Brass in Concert 2008, I dont know where you get your information from but you couldnt be more wrong. From your post you clearly dont know what went on there , and as the Brass in Concert committee will testify there were weeks of private discussion as a result of an incredible revelation by one of the judges. I really dont want to open that can of worms now as its not related to the real problem with adjudication.
And for the record I have been conducting bands of all levels both in the Uk and abroad since around 1985.
2. you mention the Europeans in the 80s. For the record, I was backstage in Bergen with James Watson when the bands lowly placing was announced. As one of the band members came backstage with the cup, James said 'we didnt win that, take it back'. A group of about four bandsmen duly obliged. There, you have it , 20 years later, the truth !

Sadly, I fear we will never share the same opinion as to the way forward for brass band adjudication.
The reaction I made on my own website, not on a public brass band website please note, could and maybe should have waited a day or two, but are you shooting the message or the messenger ? Seems like both.
 

brassneck

Active Member
Sour grapes? Although it does seem that way with the unfortunate timing of the blog and result, there was no-one I spoke to sharing that view. And no, I am not Whitburn's biggest fan, but I do respect them!

David Read said on 4BR about Cory presently being one of the all-time great bands but said he could not recognise them from being in the box? Cory, Fodens & Dyke have very individual sounds and styles and have had stable line-ups to re-inforce those attributes. I cannot believe that he was not aware of who they were when playing.
 

critic

Member
I'm writing to say how disappointed I am that more than 36 hours after Mr Mead's outburst ABBA hasn't responded in a more supportive way towards the adjudicators concerned.
To issue a statement that merely says, 'we will have a meeting with Mr Mead and listen to his views' is non committal and lacks support for the adjudicators.
Surely ABBA should have said something along the lines of, 'ABBA does not condone any conductor taking the stage and ranting at contest organisers or adjudicators directly after the results ceremony. Further more we have every confidence in Mr Ball, Mr Relton and Mr Read, they are highly respected adjudicators and we are very sorry that Mr Mead has responded to their result in the way he has. We will be contacting Mr Mead to discuss this issue further'.


When you do meet Mr Mead here are a few questions you might ask him:

He was drawn last, how many bands did he hear?

If the adjudicators are so incompetent, why didn't he mention it when he was in the box with them two years ago!

He mentions their lack of recall. The results shows evidence of very good recall with bands drawn 3, 6, 16, ect amongst the prize winners. Also, doesn't he realise that the adjudications are used as a recalling resource by the adjudicators throughout the day. They don't have to remember every performance, they have notes to help them do that.

Would he have fought so venomously for the lower order bands if his band had been placed higher?

Mr Mead is a very inexperienced conductor who in his very short conducting career has openly complained about the results in two major contests, The British Open 09 and Brass In Concert 2008. (some of us are old enough to remember his petulant behaviour at the Europeans in Bergen in the 80s too) Might it be that instead of starting his career at the top in the Championship Section he does what most of us did and conduct a few lower section bands first and learn what its all about.

His outburst is no more than sour grapes.

Davie W James
Some great points made
 

mozart

Member
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.
Listen to Bob Childs interview on 4bars rest.It explains the reason why their soloists stood behind the band.Apparently thats where the composer intended them to be
 
Reply to Mr Mead

Almost lost for words Mr. Mead, I don’t believe it. Apparently you weren’t lost for words with Mr Mortimer after the result, some of them rather colourful I’m led to believe.

If your web site is not a public forum for the greater glorification of self, where the public are encouraged to visit, I see no point in having one.

I note you did not answer my first four points, so I repeat the again.

• He was drawn last, how many bands did he hear?

• If the adjudicators are so incompetent, why didn't he mention it when he was in the box with them two years ago!

• He mentions their lack of recall. The results shows evidence of very good recall with bands drawn 3, 6, 16, etc. amongst the prize winners. Also, doesn't he realize that the adjudications are used as a recalling resource by the adjudicators throughout the day. They don't have to remember every performance; they have notes to help them do that.

• Would he have fought so venomously for the lower order bands if his band had been placed higher?

I have just read Bram Tovey’s letter on 4barsrest, someone else who wasn’t there but is deeply disturbed with your attack.

In my opinion I suspect, morally and legally your article is vulnerable to prosecution on the grounds of age discrimination against two of the adjudicators.
I rest my case.

David W James
 

mozart

Member
Apologies, apparently the composer wanted the "Lontano" effect, thats why Cory decided to place them behind the band,
 

stopher

Member
Wish I had been in Birmingham, sounds like I missed a good one! Interesting points made about adjudication but one comment I agree on is 4BR silly comments - make it a bit more humourous but don't give a real view of what each performance was like - sounded more like the Royal Variety show with the amount of comdians!

North Wales bands should be grateful that we invite them to travel for four hours every March to take part in our championships......;)
So if South Wales is the hotbed of Uk banding, how come there were only 2 bands from the whole principality in Birmingham and also, why are South Walian bands scared to head North? We don't bite much now since cannibalism was banned in certain areas apart from Anglesey
 

Ali

Member
As an impartial spectator I listened to around 15 bands (couldn't manage them all, needed a break). Unfortunately I missed Whitburn, Hammonds and GUS so cannot comment on their performance or placings. Cory, Dyke, Leyland B&R and possibly Grimethorpe deserved to be in the top 6. For me Leyland should have won. Fantastic musical performance, only 1 error (clip on top C for Euph) but didn't distract from the performance. Cory and Dyke played a solid performance, again Cory had that something extra. I think Foden's were very lucky to be placed, lots of errors, and for me, a very disappointing performance. I had them in the bottom half of the table. Rothwell and Fairey's deserved a much higher placing. Hepworth can count themselves very lucky, out of the one's I heard I had them 2nd to last if not last. A very poor performance from a band that can play a lot better. Desford too, should be very pleased with their result. Not deserved in my opinion.

I spoke to many bandspeople on Saturday, and although the actual placings may have differed depending on musical taste, generally, we agreed on the standard of the performances we had heard. What do we base our placings on? Playing what's on the score, playing in tune and together and then the icing is the musical performance, which can be subjective.

What really suprised me was the poor standard of playing at this level by some bands. There were some intonation problems and lots of incorrect entries. It sounded to me like some of the bands were under rehearsed. Before people shout at me, I am sure that all the bands have committed members. But what came across from some performances was a feeling of insecurity. Maybe some had players who were only helping out, brought in for the contest and couldn't make many rehearsals. Unfortunately this appears to be the sign of the times for a lot of bands and this will reflect in the performances given on stage.
Glad you enjoyed our performance! Wish you were in the box!!!!! Thanks for the kind words though. Just to say congratulations to all the prize winners and commiserations to those who didn’t take anything home with them. Great contest, great piece and now looking forward to the areas next year so that we can try and get our place back at the Nationals in London (another "dodgy result"????). Gutted not to be at London and try and carry on the good work we (Leyland) did here.

As much as I agree with a lot of what’s being said on here, I’m afraid that we put ourselves up to be judged. Rightly or wrongly, the decisions final. We have to take it on the chins in a dignified (and professional) manner if we can. I am surprised to read and hear that someone as high profile and professional (in my mind) as Mr Mead decided to vent his frustrations in the way that he did. I would have personally waited a little while until I was a little less frustrated and had time to reflect. However I do agree as I said with most of what has been said. The only problem I see with what people say about “Fresher and younger” people coming in is that the names being banded about are usually stood in front of the bands at the major contests! How would it work? I for one have no intentions of ever being a judge and am absolutely over the moon about it. And I can see why a lot of people would be put off!

Just my two pence worth.
 
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