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2011 English National Championship — Introduction to Preston

No more Little England syndrome as the BFBB looks towards European integration for the future...

Guild Hall
Things are looking up in Preston... 

English integration into Europe becomes ever more complete it seems.

The BFBB may not be quite ready to put their hand in their pockets to help bail out the fledgling Greek brass band economy, but at least the desire not to be left on the margins of the ever more powerful European Brass Band Association has seen them take progressive action.

Turning point

2011 could really be a turning point for the English National Championships, as the ‘Little England’ syndrome that so stunted the ambition of the contest is finally kicked into touch.

The BFBB has seen EBBA run highly impressive events in Linz and Montreux in the past two years, following a blueprint that although occasionally overblown, has had at its core a major brass band contest that is quality led, relevant and increasingly popular.

And after the years of broken promises, ill-conceived ideas and a fair dollop of bad luck, the BFBB has taken the step of copying it here at Preston: It could well be the event’s rebirth.

Issues

There are still issues to tackle however.

The Guild Hall remains a pretty dour venue  – a cheap, oversized millstone around the BFBB’s neck, but the insistence on developing a contesting ethos of quality rather than quantity is to be applauded. 

The top English bands are now attracted to the contest, if not necessarily Preston, in more ways than one.  

A greater degree of transparency permeates things too – something the introduction of the own choice selections to the audience before each performance, pre results comments from both sets of adjudicators and the full declaration of the results will enhance further.   

BFBB Logo
A credit sign for the BFBB

Credit

The BFBB has come in for justified criticism in the past about the way this contest has been run, but to its credit it has taken a very long and hard look at itself and decided to change.

This year there is a healthy prize fund (the winners leave with a package worth close to £6,000 to help with the costs of Rotterdam 2012), a quality mix of adjudicators in Derek Broadbent, Ian Brownbill, Steve Sykes and Andrew Duncan, a testing set work that places an emphasis on musical style and not just technical proficiency, a host of intriguing own choice selections and a transparent results process.

Time to recover

The bands should have plenty of time to recover from their set work exertions in the morning before they showcase those own choice selections in the afternoon, and with a bit of luck, the results could well be announced by 7.00pm.

Study scores will be available on the day of Martin Ellerby’s set work ‘Elgar Variations’, tickets can be bought at the door and there are plenty of places to go and have a cup of tea and a Lancashire hot-pot too.

Start times

It all starts on the stroke of 10.00am with the own choice fireworks at 2.00pm.  

4BR will be there to bring you all the action, with video interviews and round ups, twitter, live comments, pictures and plenty of post contest analysis.

We are all Europeans now – even if the BFBB will be well advised not to put a Greek salad on the lunchtime menu….  

Iwan Fox



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Sunday 29 January • Boarshurst Band Club. Greenbridge Lane. Greenfield. Saddleworth OL3 7EW


Regent Hall Concerts - The January Band

Friday 3 February • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C2DJ


Regent Hall Concerts - Junior Guildhall Brass Band

Friday 10 February • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C2DJ


Contest: Norwegian National Brass Band Championships

Friday 10 February • Grieghallen, Bergen, N-5015 N-5015


Contest: Norwegian National Brass Band Championships

Saturday 11 February • Grieghallen, Bergen, N-5015 N-5015


City of Oxford Silver Band

January 28 • CORNET VACANCY. Do you live near Oxford and looking for a band to play in? We have exciting opportunities for brass and percussion players who are keen to join a friendly and inclusive musical group.


Concert Brass Poynton

January 28 • Tired of Contesting? Concert Brass Poynton seek a Bass, Front Row Cornet and Trombone player. Not a learner band. Higher section players should enjoy our rehearsal. Rehearing Weds, 8.00 to 10.00pm in Poynton (between Stockport & Macclesfield.


Mereside Brass

January 27 • Mereside Brass (Rudheath, Northwich, Cheshire) are looking for a front row CORNET, possibly PRINCIPAL for the right player. We are a friendly 4th Section band, currently not contesting but with a sensible calendar of jobs and band social events


David Hirst

MA, B.Ed (Hons), LTCL
Conductor, adjudicator and arranger


               

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