BASBWE was founded by Timothy Reynish during the First International Conference of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles at the Royal Northern College of Music held in Manchester in July 1981. In the 25 years since, the organisation has supported and represented the interests of individual musicians, their bands and ensembles, conductors, directors, educators, composers and publishers.
Since 1981, conferences have been held, usually annually, throughout the UK at venues in Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Huddersfield, London, Canterbury, Warwick but most often at the RNCM in Manchester.
The association has overseen a the vast improvement in standards and awareness throughout the movement. Over 30 new works have been commissioned directly by BASBWE and many more have come about through the organisation’s influence. This crucial achievement has developed awareness of repertoire and helped to ensure that there is a constant supply of new music to build on the high quality, but nevertheless fairly scant, ‘classic’ repertoire of Mozart, Dvorak, Saint-Saens, Wagner, Holst, Vaughan-Williams, Grainger, Hindemith, Schoenberg and others.
The wind band/ ensemble is arguably the fastest growing medium in ‘classical’ music-making over the last 50 years. Much of this growth is due to the tremendous popularity of wind instruments in schools ? Government research proves that wind bands have 25% more members within LEA Music Services than orchestras. Brass bands, string orchestras and other ensembles lag further behind.
Many young musicians then progress to further study within conservatoires and universities, the majority of whom have active wind ensemble programmes. Others join the military music services ? the Army validly claims to be the largest employer of classical musicians in the UK ? which are of course focused around military bands. The vast number of adult community bands which exist all over the country offer players of all ages the opportunity to make music at a level which suits them.
Accordingly, the scope of BASBWE is far reaching, both geographically and in terms of contact and influence. It is organised into regions spanning the United Kingdom and has a remit to develop repertoire and standards of performance and awareness at all levels from schools, through colleges to music in the community and at professional level.