2010 Lower Section National Finals - Introduction to Harrogate


Forget the sepia tinted days of old at London - Harrogate has something better to offer than Raymond's Revue Bar, despite the blue rinses and cream tea image...

HarrogateThose traditionalists who still yearn for the sepia tinted days when just about every last man, woman and banding child made the annual pilgrimage to London to enjoy the delights of the National Finals weekend, may still find Harrogate and its International Conference Centre a difficult place to warm to; but to be fair, the National organisers Kapitol Promotions have tried damn hard to make the event a much more welcoming experience.

Daily Mail brigade

The thought of two full days in the heartland of the cream tea, blue rinse and Daily Mail brigade may not immediately send the blood racing through most people’s veins, but then again, do brass band lovers really believe if it was all shipped back to London, with its sky high prices, uncomfortable halls and its multitude of other entertainment attractions, the lower section finals would be any better served?

Harrogate’s equivalent of Raymond’s Revue Bar may well be Betty’s Tea Room, but then again, there is only so much enjoyment you can get from a bit of slap and tickle compared to an apple turnover and a nice cup of Earl Grey.

Getting people into the hall to actually enjoy listening to the 73 bands is the difficult task not just here, but at London too, and over the past few years numbers have been slowly, but steadily, rising in the Conference Centre auditorium.

Flights of fancy

There is plenty to enjoy if you take the time to sit back in one of the plush seats too – even if the acoustic does take a bit of getting used to – its as dead as Paul Raymond himself.

The Music Panel has checked its flights of fancy this year (leaving that to the selection of Area test pieces for 2011), so we should hear a host of good quality performances too.

Just four bands will leave crowned as National Champion though.


The 4BR team will be there of course, and we hope the event will see people share their opinions over topics such as whether or not First Section bands really are good enough to make the step up in class to the Championship Section, and if any on show on the weekend can emulate Tongwynalis if they gain promotion.

And what about the Third and Fourth Sections ‘opening out’ to try and encourage a slightly different musical approach to the contesting environment?

A bit of bar room banter is always a good sign of a vibrant contesting day…

Mix in the box

Then of course there are the judges.

There is a welcome mix of adjudicators in the box this year, all of whom have well earned reputations of telling bands just what they really thought about their efforts. Hopefully there won’t be too many meaningless votes of thanks to tea ladies or patronising ‘you are all winners’ speeches with this lot.

Fingers crossed then that the weather won’t be too bad (although just damp enough to ensure people stay close to the hall), whilst there are plenty of band traders to visit as well as a Besson Band Advisory Service, which is offering free urgent servicing of instruments and the chance to meet and talk about your playing problems with the likes of Roger Webster, Mark Wilkinson, Leslie Howie, Steven Mead and Les Neish.


There will be the usual tears of joy and disappointment, plenty of youthful and mature endeavours and tales of great performances enjoyed by everyone – except the two people in the box!

4BR will be there of course to bring you all our usual coverage, with live comments on each of the performances, news, views and interviews, opinions, twitter and twit pics – and then our retrospectives!

We’ll be listening to every performance and enjoying the atmosphere – so why not come and join us?

Harrogate and the International Conference Centre may well surprise you.


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