Issue 5970

Egon Virtuosi Brass - An inside story

The Owen Farr Seminar - the first in a monthly series of brass masterclasses by the tenor horn virtuoso

Besses Boys' Band - Celebrating 75 years

Grimethorpe Youth Band feature

207,000 reasons to celebrate

Wednesday 5 July, 2017

Welcome to the July 2017 edition of the world’s oldest and widest circulating brass music publication, now in its 130th year!

Back in 1968, when BB was a youthful 81, a small group of officials from around the country formed what was, despite its grand title, a rather obscure organisation called the British Federation of Brass Bands (BFBB). As a mere toddler at the time, I don’t recall whether the champagne corks were popping as bands throughout the UK celebrated the birth of a possible future central organisation, but reference to the BB archives leads me to suspect not. There have, however, been regular calls for such a body ever since and, as he told me just before his death in 2010, the absence of central organisation for UK brass bands was a considerable disappointment for one of my illustrious predecessors, Peter Wilson.

There have been glimpses of progress in forming such a body, but a lot of people in banding like things to stay just the way they are, and there can be no better recipe for decline. The UK Brass Band Alliance, the birth of which was seemingly imminent in 2011 before some significant withdrawals of support consigned it to history, was probably the closest that we have ever come in eradicating the anarchy that has ruled brass bands for most of their existence. Alas, it was not to be, but one good aspect of that project was the reinvention of the BFBB to reflect it's predominantly 'English' role. Despite having to negotiate a few bumps in the road, especially during the collapse of the British Brass Band Registry in 2012, conscientious governance in recent years has seen BBE evolve into a body with carefully considered aims and objectives that could hold the key to a brighter future for us all. The news last month that it will receive a substantial increase in its funding and now be recognised as a Sector Support Organisation by Arts Council England is, therefore, something to celebrate. 

Having now made it to the arts ‘top table’, it would be a crying shame if BBE’s star was ever to decline, but maintaining its new-found status will be considerably easier if the entire brass band community gets behind it’s work. So, the next time you hear a banding friend complaining about the millions that go into subsidies for ballet and opera, ask them if their band is a fully paid up member of perhaps the most important club in brass banding. It may be the most vital £100 they ever spend.

Kenneth Crookston

Managing Editor