The sound of talented youth that should be heard far and wide?
Now that everyone has got their breath back after the fun and games of the marathon Regional Championship series, the UK contest bandwagon stops off in Salford on Sunday for the National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the event has crept up on us all rather quietly such has been the low key PR approach from Brass Bands England.
The flagship event should be something to shout loud about (and it is), but effective PR has not been one of BBE’s strong points in recent years - so perhaps it’s a matter to be addressed with some urgency by the new Chief Executive Andrew Coe and his team.
For all that great hullaballoo that surrounded their National Brass Band Conference in Manchester late last year, we still await any signs, let alone reports of progress that BBE is making with its various long term strategies. At the moment we know more about the forensic details of how the UK will trigger Article 50 of the Brexit negotiations.
Long Term plans
Long term development plans must surely include this event - especially in light of the admission of a clumsy internal error in not booking the usual venue at the RNCM in Manchester. Then there are the questions relating to how BBE can help support the winning bands here that wish to represent England at future European Youth Championships, or what progress has been made to challenge EBBA over ticket prices for youth competitors once they get there?
At the moment we know more about the forensic details of how the UK will trigger Article 50 of the Brexit negotiations4BR.
Perhaps just as prescient though, is what action BBE will take to address the apparent stagnation in the number of bands taking part in the event as a whole.
30 bands will compete this weekend, with just three in the Blue Riband Championship Section and rather more disturbingly, only five in the Beginners Band Section. It’s the lowest number since 2006. There were 39 last year.
Good proactive PR may help - or perhaps it’s more complex than that. If so, what will BBE do about it? They certainly get enough public money to find out. (£142,000 per year at the last count - with plans to ask for considerably more)
There are no challengers from Scotland (is a banding Brexit looming as well?), and whilst a Sunday has become the norm, perhaps considering a Saturday would give bands and their young players the time to travel back without being bleary-eyed for school the next day.
Plenty of mature sounds and looks
Are BBE speaking to education authorities and band associations to seek consultation and resolution, and are they also looking to co-operate with private events such as Butlins, the British Open Youth Championships and Action Medical Research to try and alleviate some pressure on a contest calendar that seems congested into a short period of time in the early part of each year?
BBE has worked hard to produce a wonderful National Youth Championships (and it is run splendidly on the day) that they should look to promote innovatively and develop effectively, yet for too long we have heard plenty of good intentions and very little actual concrete evidence other than some cosmetic changes that things are moving in the right direction.
One thing BBE can take enormous credit for is the sense of enjoyment that is generated on the day by all the competitors4BR
One thing BBE can take enormous credit for is the sense of enjoyment that is generated on the day by all the competitors, and the great support that comes from family members who bring an industrial supply of tissues to wipe away tears of pride.
And pride is very much at the heart of what goes on - from the tiny tots in the Beginners Band Section up to the more mature (and there are quite a few lads sporting fledgling hipster beards) Championship Section event.
The standard across all four sections is terrific (with the Beginners and Juniors also guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of those with even the stiffest of upper lips).
The best smiles in the business
Pride can turn to hubris on occasions though, and it is hoped that a sterner eye is keep on some of the more cynical practices that have been noted in recent times with the inclusion of ‘deps’ to bolster ranks. Winning is not the ‘be all and end all’ of this super event: It is surely more of a celebration of achievement - at whatever level.
Whilst the contests are taking place, BBE is holding a ‘Youth Forum’ in the Gilbert Room between 3.00pm-4.00 pm, so if you are interested in finding out how the organisation is going about its business go along.
It will be presented by Max Stannard and will be assisted by the two hard working BBE liaison officers Rachel Veitch-Straw and Vicky Lenton.
In the mean time though there will be no shortage of high-class playing on show, with Elland Silver Youth, Chalford Youth and Wardle Junior Blast returning to defend their Junior and Beginners Band Section titles, a host of great competitors taking to the stage in the Intermediate Section and the formidable Youth Brass 2000 looking to claim a fourth straight Championship Section victory.
The man behind Penlee - Simon Dobson
The Championship and Intermediate contenders will once again perform a set-work in their 20 minute programmes, with the three top-flight rivals tackling Simon Dobson’s evocative ‘Penlee’.
It last appeared as the Third Section National Finals piece in 2013 and will be a stern test.
The composer states his 8 minute composition draws its inspiration from the ancient art of gazing into smoke from a fire to find stories through the act of divination4BR.
Meanwhile, there will be a great deal of interest in Daniel Hall's new work , 'Smoke Sketches'. The composer states his 8 minute composition draws its inspiration from the ancient art of gazing into smoke from a fire to find stories through the act of divination.
Smokin' - Composer Daniel Hall
From what 4BR has picked up, both test-pieces have proved very popular, so credit to the music panel that includes Philip Harper, Mark Bousie and Ian Porthouse - a trio who have certainly picked some enjoyable and challenging works in recent times.
Brass Bands England has also continued with its progressive approach to open adjudication; with a panel of judges the competitors can be inspired by.
Mareika Gray and Richard Marshall will certainly enjoy the Beginner's Section before returning to judge the Championship contest, whilst Michael Golding will be joined by Dr David Thornton in the Junior Section. Mark Harrison and Thomas Wyss will sort out the bands in the Intermediate Section.
Brass Bands England has also continued with its progressive approach to open adjudication; with a panel of judges the competitors can be inspired by4BR.
Plenty of time
It all starts at 9.00am with the Beginners Section in Peel Hall, which will be followed by the Junior Section. Everything there should be completed by around 5.00pm.
Meanwhile, the Intermediate Section in the Maxwell Hall commences at 9.15am, followed by the Championship Section which starts around 4.10 pm and which should be concluded around 6.00pm.
New venue: Peel Hall at the University of Salford
Whilst there will be a banding marathon indoors, the Manchester Marathon will take place in and around the streets of Salford and Manchester, with road closures expected and bands are advised as always to give themselves plenty of time to travel to avoid any potential hold ups.
As always, 4BR will be making its way to Manchester to bring you a flavour of the action as it unfolds, so keep an eye out for our live coverage on the 4BR site, on Twitter and our full news report and results.
2016 Champions: Youth Brass 2000 under MD Chris Jeans
'Penlee' (Simon Dobson) and Own Choice Programme.
20 minutes playing time.
Adjudicators: Mareika Gray and Richard Marshall
All players must be 20 years of age or under on the 31st August 2017
Results Ceremony: 5.40pm approx
Lions Youth (Nigel Birch)
Northamptonshire Youth (Brad Turnbull)
Youth Brass 2000 (Chris Jeans)
2016 Champions: Elland Silver Youth
Smoke Sketches (Daniel Hall) and Own Choice programme.
20 minutes playing time
Adjudicators: Mark Harrison and Thomas Wyss
All players must be 18 years of age or under on the 31st August 2016
Results Ceremony: 3.00pm approx
Cardiff County Youth (Charles Maynard)
Egglescliffe School (Matthew Haworth)
Elland Silver Youth (Samantha Harrison)
Enderby Youth (Trevor Hounsome)
Macclesfield Youth (Louise Renshaw)
Milton Keynes Youth (Ben Godfrey)
Poynton Youth (Michael Eccles)
Rochdale Borough Youth (Ben Dixon)
Stockport Schools’ Senior (Iain McKnight)
Tewit Youth (Martin Hall)
Wardle Academy Youth (Lee Rigg)
2016 Champions: Chalford Youth under MD Steve Tubb
Own Choice programme that must include one piece of music composed for brass band and two verses of a hymn tune.
15 minutes playing time.
All players must be 16 years of age or under on the 31st August 2017
Adjudicators: Michael Golding and Dr David Thornton
Commence: 12 noon
Results Ceremony: 4.40 pm approx
Chalford Youth (Steve Tubb)
Denbighshire Music Co-operative (John Powell)
Elland Junior (Samantha Harrison)
Fred Longworth High School (Helen Robinson)
Hawkley Hall High School (Steven Cavanagh)
Lancashire Youth (Helen Minshall)
Lions Junior (Tom Hancock)
Macclesfield Youth Junior (Tim Grindey)
Stockport Schools’ Intermediate (Tom Ridgley)
Tewit Youth Intermediate (Steve Heninghem)
Wardle Academy Junior (Lee Rigg)
2016 Champions: Wardle Junior Blast
Own Choice Programme.
15 minutes playing time
Adjudicators: Mareika Gray and Richard Marshall
All players must be 11 years of age or under on the 31st August 2017
Results Ceremony: 11.15am approx
Astley Youth Training (Helen Minshall)
Lions Beginners (Chris Thompson)
Macclesfield Youth Training (Liz Hudson)
Stockport Schools' Junior (James Keirle)
Wardle Junior Blast (Lee Rigg)