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2013 Spring Festival — Preview to Blackpool

Malcolm Wood sets the scene on a weekend of hard graft, hard drinking and hard luck — with only two bands making a getaway from it all on the Golden Mile...

Winter Gardens
It all starts here...

From the expensive drama of Oslo to the cheap and cheerful bon-homie of Blackpool: From £9.00 for a glass of wine to ‘Happy Hour’ pitchers full of Red Bull and vodka.

The surroundings to celebrate a victory may be different at the Euros, but in essence, brass band contests are the same all over the world.

Devil

That’s what makes the Spring Festival such a great event. If you win, qualify or get promoted, Blackpool is every bit as good a place to be on a Saturday night than any well to do European capital city.

Miss out though, and it’s the Devil’s bum hole of the world.

This year more than most, bands will be determined to shorten their stays on the Golden Mile, especially as seven contenders in the Grand Shield have already booked their place at the Royal Albert Hall.

None of them will want to come back here next year after tasting the splendour of Kensington Gore in October.

The line ups in the Senior Cup and Trophy are also packed with bands that seethe with ambition, so there should be some cracking contests to enjoy in the Pavilion Theatre and Spanish Hall. No wonder there are no clear cut favourites at the bookies.

Proactive

That may partly be down to the organisational changes at the event, with the news that a split draw will be in operation across the three contests. 

The organisers have been proactive in their bid to help the bands plan their day, and where possible, save money. It’s a move that has been undertaken with the bands very much in mind – even if some grumbles still exist. 

The aim is to see a rolling year on year draw in each section, with bands in the first half in 2012 (1-10) automatically being placed on the second half for 2013 (11—20)

The process would be reversed the following year, with those drawn 11—20, set to play in the first half (1-10) in 2014 etc.

Segment draws will still be made on the day to decide what draw number in either half will be taken by each competing band.

Allocated

Promoted and relegated bands will take the allocated draw for those they replace in the relevant contest (bands relegated from the British Open last year will take the numbers of Grand Shield qualifiers Hepworth and Beaumaris)

Meanwhile, the six new bands in the Senior Trophy will be allocated the draw position in alphabetical order of those they replace.

It’s a system that seems to have been met with approval, but the organisers still wish to hear constructive feedback to ensure the process can be tweaked if required.

The cynics of course will tell you that it gives the judges an advantage, but open or closed, you either trust them or you don’t.

Judges

With such tough test pieces, it’s no wonder the organisers have plumbed for an experienced mix of David Read MBE, Frank Renton, Allan Ramsay, Adrian Morris, Lynda Nicholson and Simone Rebello to sort out the fates.

There is so much to play for here that qualification means just as much as victory.  It’s also why the Spring Festival invariably brings out the very best in the competitors too. Miss a band for a quick cup of tea and you could well have missed a potential winner.

4BR coverage

4BR will be there to bring you the action with our live coverage and Twitter comments, which bring you a snapshot of the atmosphere in and around the contest as it unfolds throughout the day.

The Senior Cup kicks things off at 10.00am, followed by the Grand Shield at 10.30am and Senior Trophy at 11.15am.

Hopefully all three events will finish around about the same time so that the prizes can be handed out in the Opera House accompanied by the usual cheers of delight and groans of near miss disappointment.

Malcolm Wood



Contest: 100thSpring Festival

Saturday 8 May • 97 Church St, Blackpool, FY1 1HL


Contest: 168th British Open

Saturday 11 September • Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA


Contest: Lower Section National Finals

Saturday 18 September • The Centaur, Cheltenham Race Course, Prestbury, Cheltenham GL40 4SH


Contest: Lower Section National Finals

Sunday 19 September • The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury, Cheltenham, GL40 4SH


Contest: National Brass Band Championship of Great Britain

Saturday 2 October • Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP


Chadderton Band

April 17 • Chadderton Band is a friendly non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections of the band particularly on Euph Drums and Horn. Come along for a blow most welcome.


Oxford Cherwell Brass

April 14 • Returning to the band room in May we have vacancies for second and third cornets. Rehearsals are Wednesday evenings 8-10pm at Edward Feild School, Kidlington. The band has engagements and contests lined up from late summer onwards.


Sandhurst Silver Band

April 14 • After well over 12 months, playing Connotations at the 1st Section National Finals as a first contest certainly has a nice ring to it. Following relocation, Sandhurst are looking to fill the following vacancies:. . Solo Cornet;. 1st Horn


Julian Bright


Conductor, Compere/MC, Cornet Soloist


               

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