Extremely Disappointing Brighouse an Rastrick Concert!!!

Ankanala

Member
Since the concert in Durham on Saturday I have been away from home so it has been interesting to read all aspects and sides of opinion on what has turned out to be quite a controversial subject.

First of all can I say that my thanks and admiration go to Ray Farr, Musicon, and B&R for the foresight and braveness to put on a show like this.

Then, my congratulations to Ray and B&R band, for the work that went into it and what was a fantastic performance throughout, despite the complexity of the programme and the obvious negative reaction from some of the audience.

Both the band and Ray can feel an immense sense of satisfaction from the performance of music that is the ultimate test. This wasn`t a contest against other bands, but it was a challenge against the best that composers can give us in more difficult circumstances than a single test-piece competition. Be under no illusion that B&R came off the concert with flying colours from a music point of view.

The problem as I see it with this concert is not with the band, conductor, organisers or the Gala Theatre, but with the people who ever advertised the concert locally as `Brighouse & Rastrick Famous for the Floral Dance`.
This meant that local people were expecting to hear a very light kind of programme and many tickets were sold on the strength of this.

One of the aforementioned might be responsible, but I don`t know which one or who else. Certainly it wasn`t the bands fault.

What worries me is that their wasn`t anybody who was in that theatre at 7.30pm last Saturday who was an emeny of either B&R or brass bands in general. But they might be now, because they were expectng to hear a programme that was easy listening and let`s face it, B&R`s normal concert programme of Floral Dance etc. This despite the fact that David Hirst tries to incorporate all aspects of music in our programmes including original band music.

We, and all other brass bands rely on the support of these people and it is our duty to entertain them so that they continue to support the next band that plays at their venue. B&R will be very apprehensive the next time we play at Durham, because we hope that the people who were disappointed on Saturday will realise that our normal programme is much more varied and accessible than the the one last week. Simalarly elsewhere our normal programme is much more varied and we also hope that our future concerts are not affeceed by last weeks actions.

As said earlier, it is also our duty to present pogrammes of this nature in order to promote the brass band repertoire and brass bands generally, at times when we think it may be appreciated We need to evaluate the Durham concert but I feel that it has benefited everyone involved, not least me personally for the opportunity to play the Heaton piece.

However, those who want to hear an original brass band programme can bear in mind that B&R will be doing the same kind of concert next year, so lets hope that the right kind of people turn up for that one(!)

Summarising, B&R are a band that would like to appeal to everyone. However having said that, we hope that the two types of audience don`t become tangled up and that we don`t alienate people from one side. This must come down to the organisers and publication of the event.

We look forward to entertaining the `Blue Rinse Brigade` but we would also like to cater for all other tastes and feel this is possible in all our normal concert programmes. Lets hope that last weeks programme has not turned anyone against listening to B&R or any other brass band in the future playing any kind of music.

Alan Morrison
 

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
It honestly sounds like MRs Dixon should also have an opinion on International debt, religion and Apartheid. She's was a poor choice to judge the calibre of the concert.
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Ankanala said:
What worries me is that their wasn`t anybody who was in that theatre at 7.30pm last Saturday who was an emeny of either B&R or brass bands in general. But they might be now, because they were expectng to hear a programme that was easy listening and let`s face it, B&R`s normal concert programme of Floral Dance etc. This despite the fact that David Hirst tries to incorporate all aspects of music in our programmes including original band music.

We, and all other brass bands rely on the support of these people and it is our duty to entertain them so that they continue to support the next band that plays at their venue. B&R will be very apprehensive the next time we play at Durham, because we hope that the people who were disappointed on Saturday will realise that our normal programme is much more varied and accessible than the the one last week.

I realise that band schedules are pretty full and planned well ahead, but I wonder if there isn't an opportunity to capitalise on the situation, and for Brighouse or one of the other bands in the area to put on a concert specifically to highlight the other side of banding - not as an apology in any sense for the original programme, but as a peace offering to those who had obviously come with very different expectations. If handled correctly, then any publicity and local press interest then could serve to underline the versatility of bands and the range of styles of music in our repertoire.

As Alan says, we do need both types of audience, even if the one attends the "bread and butter" events, providing a subsidy to enable us to be more adventurous on other occasions.
 
Dave Payn said:
That's a fair enough point Steve, but my own (merely personal, you understand) view is that it's not Mrs Dixon I'd want to 'promote' brass bands to.


I dont think that bands really have a choice who they promote them selves too. we have to find audiences where ever they are. Bands cannot affort to pick and choose there audiences, as we all know the number's are falling. Its a case of playing what people want to hear.
 

Humphrey

Member
Majoresteve said:
I dont think that bands really have a choice who they promote them selves too. we have to find audiences where ever they are. Bands cannot affort to pick and choose there audiences, as we all know the number's are falling. Its a case of playing what people want to hear.
:cry: I can almost hear the death knell sounding for the Brass Band movement. I understand that contemporary music (as loose a term as classical music) is not to every persons liking but some of the best attended concerts I've been to were in contemporary music festivals. There is an audience for modern genres but might it be possible that their unwillingness to attend a brass band performance of modern music is due to their own expectations? Brass bands are considered to be anachronistic by many potential listeners; a view we do little to change.
We argue that we should play what people want to hear, perform traditional programmes and then lament our audience is an ageing (and declining) one. Shouldn't we be encouraging new audiences where possible? Maybe we should try to play what they want to hear.
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
Whilst I sais Mrs Dixon was not the sort of person I'd want to appeal to, I should have mede it clear that I meant from a 'finding a wider public appreciation' perspective. I don't suggest we should ditch the 'Floral Dance' brigade totally but if brass band audiences are dwindling than could the 'fromage factor' possibly be a cause of that? Nevertheless, by all means continue to appeal to those that want the lighter stuff but why not experiment with a wider variety of music to perhaps get people to think 'Wow, I didn't know brass bands included 'X' type of music in their programmes.' After all, there is to me, a view from a section of the concert going 'Joe Public' that Floral Dance and 'Brassed Off' are all brass bands do outside of contesting.....
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
I would just like to add my congratulations to B & R for putting on such a programme, in the hope that someone from that band is reading the reams of positive comments being posted here, and also that they might travel a bit further southwards and give similar programmes - say, around the East Midlands area, for example!

BRAVO!!
 

cornetchap

Member
Humphrey said:
Shouldn't we be encouraging new audiences where possible? Maybe we should try to play what they want to hear.

Yes. But here's the rub: How do we know what they want to hear? You can only do that by trial and error, perhaps by introducing new compositions in with "old favourites".

No right or wrong answer to this one. The concert of which this thread is the subject of should have been advertised and promoted as a concert of modern, original brass band repertoire. From what Alan says, it seems that this may not have been the case (I can't really comment as I didn't see it promoted). Judging from the quote (real or not) from Mrs. Dixon suggests that she hadn't properly looked at the promotional material and was therefore disappointed.

Playing it in a contest environment isn't going to help as the audience for contests is almost certainly exclusively brass band people.

So mixing it in with the "old favourites" or "lighter" pieces seems like the best bet to me. Then, and this is important, go and ask the audience what they thought; encourage feedback; treat the audience with respect and listen to them. We ignore the audience at our peril

Question to the composers: How do you obtain audience feedback from your compositions? Or, do you write music to serve some other (your own?) purpose?
 

Humphrey

Member
cornetchap said:
Yes. But here's the rub: How do we know what they want to hear? You can only do that by trial and error, perhaps by introducing new compositions in with "old favourites".
Surely that would only be attempting to 'educate' your existing audience rather than trying to reach out to new audiences (as Faireys did with Acid Brass)?
Reading the reports on the B&R concert it appears that 20% - 40% of the audience (depending on which report you choose to believe) walked out at or before the interval (voting with their feet as you would put it). That still means 60% - 80% stayed until the end and presumably approved of the programme content. Whilst I take your point cornetchap I'm interested in how you would 'listen' to your audience. Do you suggest an exit poll in order to get a full picture or will you listen only to the disaffected section of your audience who are traditionally the most vocal element or will you assume you pitched to the wrong audience because a minority chose to walk out?
 

cornetchap

Member
Humphrey said:
Surely that would only be attempting to 'educate' your existing audience rather than trying to reach out to new audiences (as Faireys did with Acid Brass)?

Good point, yes I agree it is more educating/introducing your existing audience in/to new music.

Perhaps then the question is how do you attract a new audience to your concerts?

Humphrey said:
Reading the reports on the B&R concert it appears that 20% - 40% of the audience (depending on which report you choose to believe) walked out at or before the interval (voting with their feet as you would put it). That still means 60% - 80% stayed until the end and presumably approved of the programme content. Whilst I take your point cornetchap I'm interested in how you would 'listen' to your audience. Do you suggest an exit poll in order to get a full picture or will you listen only to the disaffected section of your audience who are traditionally the most vocal element or will you assume you pitched to the wrong audience because a minority chose to walk out?

Exit poll, now you're being silly :)

What do you do after a concert? Do you put the instrument away, put the music in the folder, fold down your stand and dash off to get last orders in? Or, do you go out into the audience and talk to them?

At our last concert I spoke to people during the interval and afterwards (whilst, I hate to admit it, many of my colleagues were dashing off to the pub :( )

Obviously you need to try and talk to as many people as you can, and it can be quite daunting going up to strangers and asking their opinions, but in general people value having their opinion sought. Clearly you can't talk to the folks that walk out, but it's still a valid indicator regardless of how many leave.

It's my view that feedback should be encouraged and full use should be made of the clues the audience give you to give you an idea of how successful a concert was from an audience point of view. If you don't then perhaps the concert wasn't being put on for the audiences benefit in the first place.

[Note: I've used the word "you" a lot in this post, but not in the personal sense (if that makes sense)]
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
I really have only two things to say here.

1. The audience at that concert were unforgivably ignorant to walk out while the band were still playing.

2. Why has it taken so long for people to start mentioning that you have to strike a balance?

Let's think objectively about our (bands') audiences. They are a largely monolithic group who know what they like and like what they know. Anything new frightens them. The best way of introducing new music or other new ideas to them is to do it gradually over a series of concerts or other performances.

Introduce something new and then give them a comfort blanket of something familiar so they don't panic. Next time they come, the new thing won't be so new and they will be less afraid.

Next time you can introduce something else new. If you do it right, you can be playing Cage and Schoenberg and even Arvo Paart as regular concert pieces.

I think the main flaw in the B&amp;R concert was that audiences weren't warned in advance that they would be expected to think. Any 'new' stuff like that should have a <font color = red>"Be scared...Be VERY scared" </font> warning on any publicity and in larger letters than the band's name!

Here in Wigan it has taken 3 generations just to get them to stop using the bath to keep coal in.

Incidentally, if we want to attract a young audience, we are going to have to replace one kind of 'cheese' with another and play more commercial 'pop' (stops typing to throw up) music in the programmes.
 

stickandbone

New Member
Incidentally, if we want to attract a young audience, we are going to have to replace one kind of 'cheese' with another and play more commercial 'pop' (stops typing to throw up) music in the programmes.[/quote]



Really? As far as I can see, people in my age group (I'm 21) already consider brass bands a bit 'comical' and I think any attempt to re-invent ourselves with such repertoire will backfire. Brighouse plays Britney? Don't think it will take off...

The role of bands has changed. I think it's fair to say that bands are no longer an integral part of their communities and don't just sit on band stands and belt out the popular classics every Sunday on the bandstand. Whereas bands used to be a medium for audiences of such music in the past, they are now mediums unto themselves. It strikes me that there is little awareness of actual brass band music - music written especially for band, both technically and musically stunning. Bands are better known for playing rock/pop arrangements of well-known works. (How many people have actually heard the original Concierto de Aranjuez?)

Somehow, this needs to slowly change. Achieving such an audience shift will take a long long time, and probably won't happen until the generation of 'blue-rinsers' that don't know about brass bands appears. I think it's agreed that a slow but sure introduction of the more obscure works is necessary, and a definite loosening of the 'Floral Dance' stigma similarly (not just for Briggus)

I know I haven't said anything outrageously different from anyone else here, but its just my conclusions are pretty much the same....
 
I think really, Brass Bands are a case in point of Society's development as a whole. The movement was founded on both a musical and social basis, but has survived to this day not becuse audiences enjoy our concerts, but because socially, to the common man, the brass band was very appealing. You joined the band because your dad was in it, and your brother plays in the one 2 towns away, your cousins are also involved and after a while you con your trumpet buddy from school into converting to cornet and then you can all drink beer together down the local after thursday night rehearsals at the town hall - and there is nothing wrong with that for what it is. The divide between rich and poor is always growing and in musical circles the brass band is most certainly the poor ensemble.

The orchestral world isn't thriving, but it's moving along well because it's structured for the connosieur, the future, for change and progression and thats where the money is. Recently I attended a concert by the Queensland Orchestra in Brisbane, and I got the feeling very early on that a good percentage of the crowd was there as an excuse to put on a black tie and hang a trophy off their arm. The music was still World Class, and most of the people there were of genuine intentions, but it's always painfully obvious how the trenches of musical society have been dug to suggest that one form of entertainment is worth the money and the other isn't.

I think another big factor is the isolation of the movement - we don't seem to encourage offshooting chamber ensembles, We often have cheesy sounding and far too traditional names and uniforms, even at the very top of the tree. new repertoire is often shot down by what we would call our most loyal audience - the elderly (shudders yes, but it's so true). I've been at many a classical concert where the modern repertoire is absolute shit house boring crap , but you still always stand clap and sing the praises and accept that it must be good cause that's what everyone else is saying.

Perhaps we'd need a whole new school of conductors and composers, people like Ray Farr, David King, Bob Childs and Torstein Aagard nilsen to spend a few decades commisioning, composing, conducting, promoting, doing whatever, before the Brass Band movement was ready to launch an attack on the modern music market?
 

mikelyons

Supporting Member
Australian Euphonium said:
Perhaps we'd need a whole new school of conductors and composers, people like Ray Farr, David King, Bob Childs and Torstein Aagard nilsen to spend a few decades commisioning, composing, conducting, promoting, doing whatever, before the Brass Band movement was ready to launch an attack on the modern music market?

Agreed, but I think (and I suppose I'm repeating myself) that change needs to be managed and managed very carefully. Bands still depend very heavily on what one of my old conductors used to call 'bread and butter music' for their financial stability. These days no group can survive on a wing and a prayer for very long. In the absence of lottery grants (which we have been denied 3 times on the grounds that we were not considered to be financially secure before we gave up trying) we cut our contesting down to the absolute minimum and went out to woo our audiences into parting with their readies.

Although our audiences - largely blue-rinsers but by no means all - don't usually notice it, we serve them a mixed platter of oldies, pops and newer music, though we haven't yet been brave enough to try some of the more avant garde music that's available. Even though we are not a big name band, our concerts are usually packed to the doors, so I think we have the balance more or less correct for now. Of course, it's an on-going situation and we need to keep moving forward, but sometimes it's a bit of a red queen's race.

I, for one, don't want to go back to the days of 3 men and a ferret. :)

As for the B&amp;R concert, the audience should have expected a more serious than usual type of programme in a university setting. After all, they were listening to one of the finest bands conducted by one of the finest musicians in the world and the programme had been publicised well in advance. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work it out.

I think Ray Farr can actually take it as a complement - after all, he now ranks with Stravinsky and Debussy and so on who have had riots happen during their performances. :D
 
Clearly, if the event and its music was advertised good enough, there wouldn't have been any problems. This concert was probably not meant to be 'any old concert'. I commend the band for trying to produce something different.... if the audience knew what they were playing why the heck did they walk out and kick up such a big fuss???

Matt
 

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