Vote for us! Ysgol Bontnewydd topped the polls last year
If you want to enjoy a real battle between rivals for national leadership this weekend, then forget the empty platitudes and phoney persuasions of the Westminster politicians and instead head to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester on Sunday.
No less than 37 candidates will be standing on the podiums here - all hoping to gain the all important votes of the adjudication electorate on musical manifestos packed with promises that are invariably delivered on.
Feel the buzz?
That said, this hasn’t exactly been an event been played out in the full glare of the media spotlight - with Brass Bands England somewhat confused current operational state giving rise to a pretty non-descript PR campaign: Even their own website hasn’t contained much information about these Championships to attract the floating voters.
The rather ambitious claim of ‘can you feel the buzz’ has had a bit of a low voltage ring to it this time around.
All the right musical colours beating in time...
The BBE campaign gurus and corporate leadership really do need to up their game for this crucially important event - especially now that they are getting a fair old splash of government dosh for their efforts: These championships deserved much better promotion.
Hopefully, that will be a temporary state of affairs, as there will be plenty of commitment by the BBE foot soldiers doing the hard work on the weekend organising the running of a hugely enjoyable day.
Gary Walczak, Arnold Tattersfield and the BBE team have been the stalwarts of this event for years and they do everything they can to make sure it runs as smoothly as possible - especially now that the contest is back on familiar ground at the revamped RNCM.
Their work is also matched by the commitment and loyalty of the competing bands (especially as it does fall at a potentially difficult time in the educational calendar), and there are sure to be musical treats on show in each of the four sections - from the brilliant Beginners through to the teenage excellence of the Blue Riband Championship Section.
Both Fred Longworth High School and Ysgol Bontnewydd Primary will be going for a hat-trick of wins in the Junior and Beginners Sections respectively, whilst Youth Brass 2000 return to defend their Championship title, two weeks before heading to Freiburg and their European Championship appearance.
Can Youth Brass 2000 defend their title?
Dwarves and dragons
The Championship and Intermediate Section contenders will once again perform a set work in their 20 minute programmes, with the six top flight rivals facing the prospect of the Nordic excitement of Jacob Wilhelm Larsen’s ‘The Saga of Tyrfing’ - inspired by a cracking tale of malevolent sword making dwarves and power hungry siblings: It’s ‘Game of Thrones’ meets ‘The Hobbit’ in full surround sound.
Meanwhile, there is also a work of myth and legend in the Intermediate Section with Andrew Stevenson’s ‘Plus Ultra’ - which takes its colourful inspiration from one of the ‘Twelve Labours of Hercules’.
The tenth labour saw Hercules split a mountain connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, forming the Straits of Gibraltar.
One part of the mountain is now Gibraltar and the other, Monte Hacho in Morocco - with the ‘Plus Ultra’ referring to the Latin for ‘further beyond’ - as it was believed the straits were the gates to the unknown, unexplored world over the horizon.
Saturday evening exploits
From what 4BR has picked up, both tests have proved very popular, so credit to the music panel that includes Philip Harper, Mark Bousie and Ian Porthouse: They must all be fans of the dragons of Daenerys Targaryen and the Saturday evening exploits of Jason and the Argonauts.
Gaining a majority decision in these sections will also see the highest placed English band receive an invitation to compete at the European Youth Brass Band Championships in Lille in 2016 - so plenty to play for then.
Right said Fred - Fred Longworth hope for another title
In contrast, the emphasis in the Beginner and Junior Sections is all about the joy of performing - so there is sure to be a ready supply of Kleenex tissues on hand to dab the tearful eyes of proud families and supporters as their young charges take to the stage to deliver their 15 minute programmes.
As has been the case in recent times, Brass Bands England has continued with its progressive approach to open adjudication, with a panel of judges the competitors both know and respect.
Simone Rebello and Derek Southcott will surely enjoy every minute of the Beginners Section, as will Sheona White and Mark Harrison in the Juniors.
John Doyle and Ewan Easton will take on the Intermediate challenge, whilst Simone and Derek will also decide the destination of the Championship title.
It all starts at 9.00am with the Beginners Section in the RNCM Theatre, which will be followed by the Intermediate Section. Everything there should be completed by around 8.00pm.
Meanwhile, the Junior Section in the RNCM Concert Hall commences at 9.30am, followed by the Championship Section which starts around 3.00pm and should be concluded around 6.15pm.
Tickets can be purchased on the day, and bands and supporters using the motorway network around Manchester (especially M6/M56) are advised to give themselves plenty of travelling time as traffic is expected to be heavy due to the Greater Manchester marathon and Manchester City playing West Ham at 1.30pm.
Iwan Fox & Malcolm Wood
RNCM Concert Hall
The Saga of Tyrfing (Jacob Wilhelm Larsen) and Own Choice Programme in 20 minutes playing time.
Adjudicators: Simone Rebello & Derek Southcott
All players must be 20 years of age or under on the 31st August 2015
Results Ceremony: 6.45pm
Greater Gwent Youth Brass Band (Gareth Ritter)
Lions Youth Brass (Nigel Birch)
Oldham Music Centre Youth Brass Band (Jonathan Leedale)
Northamptonshire Youth Brass Band (Brad Turnbull)
Stockport Schools Senior (Tim Dines)
Youth Brass 2000 (Chris Jeans)
Plus Ultra (Andrew Stevenson) and Own Choice programme in 20 minutes playing time
Adjudicators: John Doyle & Ewan Easton
All players must be 18 years of age or under on the 31st August 2015
Results Ceremony: 8.15pm
Aberystwyth Youth (Alan Philips)
Cardiff County & Vale of Glamorgan Youth Brass Band (Charles Maynard)
Elland Silver Youth Band (Samantha Harrison)
Enderby Youth Band (Trevor Hounsome)
Gwynedd & Mon (Gwyn Evans)
Hope Bank Youth (Simon Wood)
Macclesfield Youth (Louise Renshaw)
Milton Keynes Youth Brass (David Rose)
Rochdale Borough Youth (Steve Walsh)
Rotherham Schools (Jeremy Wade)
Tewit Youth (Malcolm Dibb)
Wardle Academy Youth (Lee Rigg)
RNCM Concert Hall
Own Choice programme that must include one piece of music composed for brass band and two verses of a hymn tune in 15 minutes playing time
Adjudicators: Sheona White & Mark Harrison
All players must be 16 years of age or under on the 31st August 2015
Results Ceremony: 2.45pm
Beaumaris Junior Band (Bethan Lowri Evans)
Bolton Junior Brass Band (Anna Hughes-Williams)
Chalford Youth (Steve Tubb)
Denbighshire Area Band (John S Powell)
Fred Longworth High School (Helen Robinson)
Gawthorpe Youth (Adam Bell)
Hope Bank Junior (Max Lawrence)
Lions Junior Brass (Tom Hancock)
Macclesfield Youth Junior Band (Tim Grindey)
Stockport Schools Intermediate Brass Band (Owen Garbutt)
Tewit Youth Intermediate Band (Steve Heningham)
Own Choice Programme
15 minutes playing time
Adjudicators: Simone Rebello & Derek Southcott
All players must be 11 years of age or under on the 31st August 2015
Results Ceremony: 12.35pm
Elland Silver Starter Band (David Armitage)
Great Western ‘Rising Stars’ Band (John Winterflood)
Lions Beginner Brass (Christopher Thompson)
Macclesfield Youth Training (Liz Hudson)
Stockport Schools Junior (Marrianne Garbutt/ Steve Cavanagh)
Wardle Junior Blast (Lee Rigg)
Ysgol Bontnewydd Primary (Dylan Williams)