Report: 24th IBBSS

A5ADVERT15Sun, Sea, and Brass!

On Sunday 3rd August 2014 the International Brass Band Summer School was held at the University of Wales, Swansea, which overlooks the majestic panorama of Swansea Bay, delegates had flown in from USA, Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland and of course traveled from the widths and breadths of the UK, and we even had our first delegate from Barbados.

The Course Director was Dr. Nicholas Childs and his Tutors are all internationally recognized, looking after the cornets was Black Dyke’s Richard Marshall and Chris Turner, horn tutor was Cory’s Owen Farr, Euphoniums and Baritones Gary Curtin and David Thornton from Black Dyke and Brighouse respectively, Trombones Brett Baker and Tubas Joseph Cook.

The aim is to balance a general improvement in overall playing standards with making new like-minded friends, whilst enjoying a little more time in the sun amidst great surroundings. The International Brass Band Summer School also caters for non-participating and non-residential visitors. For those who want to brush up on their brass band skills whilst their partners soak up the sun in a sublime environment, rest assured, this was Christmas in the summer!

“For me the IBBSS is a huge inspiration for brass players of all ages. You get the chance there to hear and work together with some of the world’s very best soloists and on top of it you can have a free lesson with them as well. The timetable is organized from the minute you arrive and the diversity of the schedule is just fantastic!”

Philippe Graf, Switzerland

With over 100 delegates there were two individual bands, Sovereign and Prestige, enjoying programmes which included Malcolm Arnold’s Little Suite for Brass, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Fire in the Blood, and Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater. There was also a culmination in a massed bands with a grand finale of Wagner’s Procession to the Cathedral. Course Administrator Alison Childs commented “We would like to thank the generous support from Music Publishers, including Prima Vista, Kirklees, Winwood, Wright and Round, Obrasso, PLC Music and Yewden.”

The general timetable included individual lessons, playing in small ensembles and a fun packed evening in our very own Brass in Concert Entertainment Contest, and we even had our own Quiz night with a live music section, led by Quizmaster Matthew Routley. This year saw a new initiative with conducting workshops that covered conducting for beginners, to stylistic approaches and contemporary baton techniques.

A highlight of every day was the Evening Recital where one of our Star Tutors would give a breath taking display of their prowesses and a personal insight to themselves.

“This is a very friendly course where you quickly feel relaxed, realising that all the tutors are very down to earth, who really do want you to get the very best out of the week. I am a player of average ability. I particularly enjoy the challenge of being able to play some of the music used by a top championship band like Black Dyke, music I wouldn’t usually get the chance to play. I attend with the aim of improving and the course never fails to achieve this.”

John Fricker, England

During the week there were trade stands from Trevada, World of Brass and PLC Music, and also a special presentation from Rath Trombones. This year the International Brass Band Summer School invited Paul Lovatt-Cooper as their special guest where there was a Question and Answer session, delegates had the opportunity to see at close hand a composer conducting his own music and a real glimpse from composer to performance, works included Horizons, Vitae Aeternum and Fire in the Blood.

“My time at the 2014 IBBSS course was a truly brilliant experience. The course structure enabled me to take full advantage of the amazing line-up of tutors, as well as the various workshops including conducting and sight reading. Perhaps one of the best aspects of this course was the great social atmosphere, that together with the above, created an immensely enjoyable week. I would strongly recommend it to anyone.”

George Bailey, Jersey

After a great week the highlight for the delegates was the Gala Concert, delivered to a packed audience and featuring guest soloists Richard Marshall, Brett Baker and Owen Farr after which was the end of course party!

“I like to thank everyone on the IBBSS for an excellent week in Swansea. The friendliness & quality of tutors and delegates alike made this a wonderful experience”. Rune Marthinussen, Norway

The International Brass Band Summer School was made possible by the support of our Partners, including Besson, The British Bandsman, Trevada Music, GK Design, Rath, and Kapitol Promotions.

Next year’s 25th Anniversar
y IBBSS course will be held from 2nd – 8th August, 2015. For further information please contact IBBSS Administrator, Alison Childs, 07802 771735 or email

submitted by Nicholas Childs


2015 Contest Announcements

Every year NAindex_stageBBA gets a great deal of feedback from our membership regarding what they liked and what they didn’t at the annual North American Brass Band Championships.

In response to these concerns, there has been one major change to the contest and one minor change.

The major change is the return to three adjudicators. Additionally, NABBA is exploring a back-up recording system to ensure that every band gets recorded adjudication comments without fault.

A minor change will be made with the schedule for the day. Solos, ensembles and bands will be assigned to pods (pods will be for approximately 1-hr in time for solos/ensembles and from 2 to 2.5-hrs for bands). The time for the first performance in the pod will be posted in the schedule with the performers taking the stage immediately after. Approximate start times will be distributed to the performers. This will decrease the wait time between groups, keep the flow of the day moving better and reduce the overall time so that all bands (including lower sections) can perform on the main stage.

Below is a summary of recommendations made at the board meeting. Minutes will be posted as soon as they are approved.

Dr. Patrick Herak
Secretary, North American Brass Band Association

Summary of the major contest-related decisions made by the board at the September meeting:
1. ALL bands will perform in Embassy Theatre.
2. There have been a few subtle changes in the contest rules that will speed up the day so more bands can be fit in. Most notably, bands will not have to wait to start once they are ready.
3.The test pieces for each section have been selected and already posted here.
4. We will return to three adjudicators and are looking into two mechanisms to record comments so that each band will get substantial feedback.
5. The Championships will not exclude bands outside of North America.
6. Solo and ensemble fees have been raised to $30 & $50 respectively (band & membership fees will NOT increase).