Backstage with Barry Scott from Filton Concert Brass
Music has long been woven into Bristol’s fabric. With its incredibly rich and diverse music scene and melting pot of cultures, even the most music-adverse would struggle to find something here that didn’t get their toes-a-tapping.
Our vibrant music scene is rightly viewed by many as one of the finest in the UK, even giving rise to “The Bristol Sound”, which refers to the city’s unique musical identity formed in the late 80s and 90s through the emergence of trip hop, the arrival of jungle then dubstep, with MCs like Tricky pioneering the sound.
We’re a city that celebrates music in all forms and has an unmatched sense of community when it comes to live gigs and music culture.
Despite the absence of an arena, the city hosts some of the best music events in the country, from outdoor events such as Love Saves The Day and The Downs, to the many local, independent venues such as the Louisiana, The Fleece and Thekla; all of which have been integral in the support of emerging talent and the subsequent world-wide success of many.
On the topic of talent and world-wide success follows Filton Concert Brass, Bristol’s Championship Section brass band. Since it was founded in 1976 by the late Jim Scott, the band has performed in competitions and concerts across the globe and is regarded as one of the best in the country after winning numerous awards for its music.
This week, we go backstage with Barry Scott, Strategic Fundraising Coordinator and member of the band. From what he believes has contributed to Filton Concert Brass’ success, to lockdown Zoom-performances and mental health — Barry shares all in our #BackstageWith Q&A.
The band has received an impressive number of accolades since its inception in 1976. What would you say are the key factors around the band’s success?
It’s really over the last decade that Filton Concert have seen significant success and it has been down to three main reasons as follows:
- The work of some very competent and dynamic professional conductors. The main one over the past 10 years being Tom Davoren. Tom is an excellent musician and composer and really moved the band forward musically. Tom was appointed to the band in 2012 and left in 2019 to take up a musical post in the United States but still maintains links with the band. The new musical direction team of Eric Van der Kolk and Daniel Hall are an excellent combination and started well until the Covid pandemic hit. The band are looking forward to being reunited with them in the near future for the band’s future musical projects.
- The founder of the band Jim Scott. Jim was a very well-known figure in the brass band world in Bristol, the South West and further afield. Throughout his life, Jim worked tirelessly teaching youngsters to play brass instruments and adults to further improve their brass and musical knowledge. Jim was both a fine player and conductor, playing and conducting in a number of bands during his lifetime including Filton Concert Brass and their community. Not only did Jim devote much of his time and energy to Filton Concert Brass and the brass band world in general, he also committed much of his personal wealth in supporting it.
- High-end committed musicians and band officials. The brass and percussion players for Filton are some of the best in the country. It has been a constant policy of the band to recruit players based on high musicality level, audition, and how they would fit in the band’s organisation.
It’s been an incredibly tough time for the live music industry. How has the band coped during this time and in which ways have you had to adapt?
Similar to the rest of the musical fraternity the last twelve months have been incredibly hard for the band members. Musicians live to rehearse and perform live in front of an audience together. This is what gives us our buzz in life. Some of us have done this for decades and not doing it has had real detrimental effects mentally. Banding has always been a way of life.
The band have tried to focus on the positives by supporting each other and planning for the future when we will eventually return to some kind of normality. In order to keep the band together and maintain motivation, we have arranged a number of online virtual events using Zoom and Teams. These have taken the form of talks/lectures from well-known personalities in banding, social ‘how are you doing’ chats, quizzes and information cascades. The committee also runs its meetings through Microsoft Teams. The band committee has tended to focus through this period on more administrative tasks, such as potential musical projects for the future and financial funding.
In order to maintain interest, the band prepared a virtual mini-concert. This involved each player recording their individual parts for three new pieces of music. Daniel Hall, our resident conductor, composed a new piece especially for the set. This has allowed the band members to start practising again and learning more about recording techniques. They also had to do a video of themselves for the event. The mini-concert is currently being produced by our resident conductor Daniel Hall and will be broadcast on YouTube over the weekend of the 27 - 28 of March.
Please could you tell us a little more about the virtual concert Filton Brass are taking part in this month?
The virtual concert we have produced is for the Kapitol promotions / Cory band online competition. The competition is international and across different levels. Filton will compete in the top level and compete against bands from the UK and Europe.
Does the band have anything exciting planned for when live music is able to return?
The band have discussed and put down the foundations for a number of themed concert projects, partnership concerts, national competitions and a potential tour.
What inspired you to join the band?
The main reasons I joined the band were the quality of musicianship, reputation of the band, locality and friends.
What has been your favourite performance so far as a member of the band and why?
Since joining the band I have made a CD, done a tour to Lithuania with some great concerts, done some great local and national concerts and competitions, but funny enough one of my favourite performances was a live Christmas concert in Bristol of the music of the Snowman with the full cinema experience for the audience in December 2019. The band intend to hold a similar event again.
What’s the first gig you went to, your favourite gig, and a future gig you hope to attend?
First Gig – Rainbow, Usher Hall in Edinburgh
Favourite Gig – John Wilson Orchestra at the Albert Hall
Future Gig –John Wilson or Mnozil Brass (one of the best and most entertaining brass ensembles in the business from Austria).
What does it mean to you for Bristol to finally be getting an arena of its own?
It is great news that finally Bristol is going to have a world-class Arena venue. There are some great traditional music venues in Bristol which I have been lucky enough to play in, but to have a modern state of the art music venue has been for me the missing part of the jigsaw for Bristol as a fantastic city to live, work and visit.
I have worked in the Aerospace industry as a Senior Manager for many years and worked in the Brabazon buildings on many aircraft programmes such as the Airbus A380 and A400M. I have also flown to Toulouse and Hamburg many times from Filton Airfield due to work requirements.
It is sad that the legacy of the airfield and Hangars has not been maintained as part of the aerospace industry. However, it is fantastic that the iconic buildings’ heritage will be maintained for Bristol. They are going to stay part of my life and be reborn in the form of a fantastic music venue. The band and I hope to perform in the venue and attend many concerts there in the future.
Finally, could you share an all-time favourite song so we can add it to our YTL Arena Backstage Pass playlist?
Too many to mention but I suppose I quite like the soundtrack from Local Hero by Mark Knopfler or Parisienne Walkways by Gary Moore.
For updates on Filton Concert Brass, visit filtonconcertbrass.co.uk.