Guidance for the operation of Brass Bands in Northern Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic – effective from 1st Jul 2020

Following the recent statement of advice from Brass Band England that has been shared widely on social media, we have felt it necessary, with the permission of BBE to adapt the advice in line with the current regulations specific to Northern Ireland.  It should be noted that we are in a very quickly changing situation and as such revisions may be required to this advice on a regular basis.

  1. Indoor meetings (not playing)

Up to six people from different households can meet indoors.

If you decide to meet indoors you should do so as safely as possible and follow public health advice by:

  • limiting the duration of visits
  • ensuring good ventilation
  • maintaining good hand hygiene
  • practicing social distancing where possible

The use of a face covering is also strongly advised.

If using toilets these should be cleaned before and after each use and the lid lowered when flushing to reduce the spread of aerosols. 

Overnight stays are not permitted and those who are medically shielding are strongly advised to continue following the advice that remains in place for that group until the shielding period is paused on 31 July.

  1. Indoor meetings (music lessons, section rehearsals, full band rehearsals, concerts)

The advice at 1 applies. In addition you should:

  • Strictly observe social distancing of 2m in all directions while playing and aim instruments away from other players where possible 
  • Individuals should each handle only their own music stand and music, and take all equipment home after each meeting
  • Bring a towel or similar to empty water keys onto. This should only be handled by the individual, removed by them and cleaned or disposed of after each use
  • Instruments should be cleaned after each use
  • Extra cleaning of mouthpieces should be observed
  • There should be no sharing of instruments or accessories i.e. mutes or valve oil
  • After rehearsals the area should be thoroughly cleaned before being used by anyone else i.e. crawling children
  • Ventilation should be increased as much as possible to remove the accumulation of aerosol particles

Rehearsals/concerts of more than 6 people indoors are not permitted.

  1. Outdoor gatherings (rehearsals and performances)

Up to 30 people from different households can meet up outdoors but should maintain social distancing by being 2m apart.

This in theory should allow outdoor rehearsals to take place, provided the following are observed:

  • Strictly observe social distancing of 2m in all directions while playing and aim instruments away from other players where possible 
  • Individuals should each handle only their own music stand and music, and take all equipment home after each meeting
  • Bring a towel or similar to empty water keys onto. This should only be handled by the individual, removed by them and cleaned or disposed of after each use
  • Instruments should be cleaned after each use
  • Extra cleaning of mouthpieces should be observed
  • There should be no sharing of instruments or accessories i.e. mutes or valve oil
  • Keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • Using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • Avoid facing each other directly
  • Stagger arrival and departure times
  • Reducing the number of people each person has contact with
  • If using toilet facilities these should be cleaned before and after each use and the lid lowered when flushing to reduce the spread of aerosols. 

In addition, bands are advised to keep an accurate record of attendance, including arrival and departure times, and contact details for potential use in contact tracing. 

Seated outdoor performances such as in local parks will be difficult/impossible to undertake if it is likely that large numbers of people will converge and crowds will form.

A standalone march or parade may be permissible. The guidance is the same as for outdoor rehearsals, including a maximum of 30 people participating in the band, and compliance with any conditions of parading as set by the Parades Commission. Advice should be sought from the PSNI. A march leading a parade, where the total numbers involved exceed 30 people, is not permissible.

  1. Indoor church services

Certain church services (not baptisms, funerals or certain weddings) in places of worship resumed on 29 June. Advice has been issued to churches, and whilst not specific on the playing of brass instruments, it does indicate that activities such as singing can increase dispersal of the virus through aerosols and droplets, especially at loud volumes, and should not be encouraged. This advice may change in the near future but for now it is not advisable for bands or brass ensembles to take part in church services.

Notes on this advice

This advice does not apply directly to anyone currently being shielded. They should continue to observe the latest specific Government advice and any direct contact with other band members should carefully reflect this. Similarly, anyone currently showing known symptoms of COVID-19 or who may have been in recent contact with someone who has, or those belonging to vulnerable categories, should not yet take part in any group activity but should remain at home in isolation.

Further Information

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/coronavirus-covid-19-regulations-guidance-and-what-they-mean-you

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/health/your-guide-to-covid-regs.pdf

This message has been emailed to all affiliated and unaffiliated bands that we have email addresses for. If you have not received this and are the secretary or bandmaster of your band, please contact our secretary Amber at 07593061905 or secretary@brassbandleague.org

Festival of Brass 2020 – Cancelled

The BBL Executive held their first online meeting this Saturday to discuss our future events.  We came to the very difficult decision that Festival of Brass 2020 would have to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We know that all of you would want to support this event and we did not want any of you, or your band members, to feel any pressure to return to band until it is 100% safe to do so. It was not an easy decision to make but the safety of our bands, their members and their families was at the forefront of our decision.

We are still working on a date for Festival of Brass 2021 and we will keep you informed of any developments.

On a brighter note, we have dates booked for our 2021 events which we hope will still be able to go ahead – even if they have to be slightly different for safety reasons.  We are now working to organise adjudicators for these events and will keep you informed as we progress.  The dates for 2021 events are as follows:

Solos and Ensembles: 13th February at Malone Presbyterian Church Halls

Brass in Concert: 5th and 6th March in the Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown

Spring Festival: 24th April in the Strule Theatre, Omagh

We know that this is a difficult time for many people and we want to let you know that we are here for you all.  We are continually working behind the scenes to preserve the history of our events, improve our current events and bring you new ones.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything you think we could help with.

Brass Band League NI – Contesting Year in Review 2019-2020

Brass in Concert 2019

Once again, it’s been another busy year for the BBL.  We started our banding year in the first weekend in March at the Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown.  The weekend featured seventeen bands in total doing what brass bands do best – entertaining a crowd.

The event started on the Friday night with a fantastic concert with five local bands.  Ballyreagh Silver Band, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Tempo Silver Band, Churchill Silver Band and Murley Silver band all provided an excellent opening to our Brass in Concert weekend. 

On the Saturday, Mike Kilroy and Alan Trimble were in the adjudicator hot seats judging the bands on their musical and entertainment performance quality respectively. Poyntzpass Silver Band, Wellington Memorial Silver Band, CWA Brass and 1st Old Boys Band all won their sections and were inaugural winners of our brand new Brass in Concert trophies.

Spring Festival and Band of the Year

Saturday 6th April saw the Brass Band League return to Strabane’s Alley Theatre with their annual Spring Festival contest as guests of the North West Music Festival.

Sheona White adjudicated the performances of all 11 bands playing their own choice of contest piece. Enniskillen Royal Grammar School (School Band), Roughan Silver Band (2nd Section) and 1st Old Boys Band (Championship Section) came away with all the silverware in their sections.  Mark Ruddock from Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band also went home with the Peter Arthurs Memorial Trophy for Best Soprano On The Day. 

Enniskillen Royal Grammar School Band with their Conductor Stephen Magee and Adjudicator Sheona White

The Band of the Year for 2018-19 prizes were also presented at the Spring Festival. The 4th/5th Section trophy went to Poyntzpass Silver, 3rd Section to Wellington Memorial Silver, 2nd Section to Roughan Silver with Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band taking the Championship Section trophy and the Haughton Cup for overall Band of the Year.

Roughan Silver Band

BBL Quiz Night

The Brass Band League doesn’t just do contests and Friday 2nd August brought the BBL to Carrick Amateur Social Club in Carrickfergus for the second BBL Quiz night.  Members were competing for the coveted March Prize alongside the overall Winners’ Prize. 

Maximum concentration from all teams!

The results were tight but the March Prize went to CWA Brass whilst a joint team of Third Carrickfergus Silver Band/Downshire Brass/CWA Brass took home the overall prize.  It was a great night that managed to raise over £300 to go towards future Brass Band League events!

Solos and Ensembles

With the Festival of Brass event taking a hiatus in 2019 our next event was the Solos and Ensembles that were held on 15th February 2020 in Malone Presbyterian Church Halls and they brought the 2019-2020 banding year to a close.

Audience listening to the lunchtime breakout session presented by Les Neish and Owen Farr

With the assistance of Tyrone Fermanagh Brass Band Summer School (FTBBSS), the BBL were delighted to welcome back Owen Farr and Les Neish to adjudicate the Youth and Senior Section respectively.

It was a great day with competitors from 12 different bands and every brass instrument in a band represented!  With 113 performances across 14 classes, there are too many prize winners to name is this brief round-up but you can find the full list of results to all our contests here: https://brassbandleague.org/results-2/

That concludes the round up for the 2019-2020 contesting banding year.  I would like to thank all our adjudicators, compères, and venue hosts. I would also like to thank all the bands and their members who have been involved in our events throughout the year.  I hope that even with everything that is going on that you, like me, are looking forward to seeing everyone again at all our future events. Stay safe!

2020 Brass in Concert – Report and Results

Churchill Silver Band

The Brass Band League (NI) returned to the Fivemiletown on Friday 6th March and Saturday 7th March to stage their ever popular Brass in Concert event  in the Valley Hotel.

Friday Night

The Friday night concert featured 6 local bands showing off their talents for a very appreciative audience. The bands featured were Tempo Silver Band, Enniskillen Royal Grammar School, Ballyreagh Silver Band, Churchill Silver Band, St Mary’s Silver Band and Murley Silver Band.  It was a lovely, relaxed event and a fantastic start to the weekend!

Saturday Morning

 St Mark’s Silver Band started off the day strong with their first foray back into contesting in the 4th section, followed swiftly by Poyntzpass Silver Band.  Poyntzpass went home with first place in music and entertainment, Best March for Hartonian and their Euphonium Soloist James Shaw took home the Best Soloist prize for his rendition of Grandfather’s Clock.

Clean sweep for Dynamic Brass

Dynamic Brass achieved a clean sweep in the 3rd section, top placed for music and entertainment, Best March for On the Quarterdeck and Best Soloist for their principal cornet David Johnson’s rendition of the classic Spanish Eyes.

Dynamic Brass

Clean Sweep for Roughan Silver Band

Roughan Silver Band also achieved a clean sweep in the 2nd section, top placed for music and entertainment and Best March for Cornish Cavilier.  Andrew Gordon, their principal cornet, won the Best Soloist for his beautiful playing of the lovely slow melody, Share my Yoke.

Downshire Brass

Rousing Close

 After a short break the Championship bands brought the day to a rousing close. 1st Old Boys band won the overall prize in the section and their trombone player Nathan Moore took home the Best Soloist prize for his performance of Blessed Assurance.  Downshire Brass achieved the award for Most Entertaining Band and Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band won the Best March prize for their rendition of The Contester.

The Brass Band League would like to take this opportunity to thank Greg Williamson and the staff at Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown, for the huge amount of effort they put in to hosting the event. We would also like to thank our music adjudicator Gary Davies and our entertainment adjudicator Lisa Clarke along with our compère Ken McFarland.

The Brass Band League would also like to offer their congratulations to all prize winners and thanks to all participating bands for a fine weekend of music making.

Results in Full

Music/Entertainment=Total

Championship Section

1.   1st Old Boys Silver Band (Stephen Cairns) 10/8=18
2. Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band (Keith Anderson) 9/9=18
3. Downshire Brass (Michael Alcorn) 7/10=17
Third Carrickfergus Silver Band (Brian Connolly) 8/7=15
Strabane Brass Band (Charles Fyffe) 6/6=12
Murley Silver Band (David Hawthorne) 5/5=10  

Most Entertaining Band: Downshire Brass
Best March: Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band (The Contestor)
Best Soloist: Nathan Moore (1st Old Boys’ Silver Band)

 
Second Section
1. Roughan Silver Band (Stephen Crooks) 10/10=20
2. Wellington Memorial Silver Band (David Hawthorne) 9/8=17
CWA Brass (Paul Hamilton) 7/9=16
Comber Silver Band (Wesley Thompson) 8/7=15

Most Entertaining Band: Rougan Silver Band
Best March: Rougan Silver Band (Cornish Cavilier)
Best Soloist: Andrew Gordon (Roughan Silver Band)  

Third Section
1. Dynamic Brass (Andrew McQuiggan) 10/10=20
2. Dungannon Silver Band (Boris Pinto) 9/9=18

Most Entertaining Band: Dynamic Brass
Best March: Dynamic Brass (On the Quarterdeck)
Best Soloist: David Johnson (Dynamic Brass)  

Fourth Section
1. Poyntzpass Silver Band (Bobby Davidson) 10/10=20
St Mark’s Silver Band (Bob Quick)

Most Entertaining Band: Poyntzpass Silver Band
Best March: Poyntzpass Silver Band (Hartonian)
Best Soloist: James Shaw (Poyntzpass Silver Band)


	

Spring Festival 2020 Cancelled

Due to the current circumstances surrounding Coronavirus, the Brass Band League along with our partners, Together in Music, have taken the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s Spring Festival contest that was due to take place in the Strule Arts Theatre, Omagh, on the Saturday 25th April.  Sadly the concert that was due to take place on the preceding evening featuring Owen Farr with Churchill Silver and Omagh Academy Brass Bands has also been cancelled. 

This was not an easy decision to make on our part as we have recently visited the lovely facilities in Omagh and were looking forward to having our event there.  Hopefully we can return to Omagh in 2021. 

All BBL delegate meetings are also cancelled until further notice.

However, we still hope to release the results of our annual ‘Band of the Year’ competition in the coming weeks.  The actual prize giving may have to wait until later in the year but we would like to give you something to look forward to!

We currently find ourselves in extraordinary times and would like to ask you all to look out for and support one another.  The Brass Band League will also do our utmost to support all of our bands in any way that we can – please don’t hesitate to get in contact if you need to.

Finally, Brass Bands England have published some very sensible advice aimed at Brass Bands which you can access here https://www.bbe.org.uk/news/13032020-1704/bbe-statement-the-covid-19-pandemic.  They have kindly given permission for us to share this with you.

Best Wishes

The Brass Band League Executive

Septura in Fermanagh!

KELPTOMANIA – BORROWED BAROQUE

A Unique Opportunity to Hear Brass Music at Its Absolute Best

Have you ever been thrilled by the sound of a trumpet fanfare? Have you ever been moved by the sad sound of a brass band at a funeral? Have you ever smiled at the saucy slide of a trombone? Yes? Then come to the Ardhowen Theatre at 8.00pm on Thursday 19th March for ‘Kleptomania – Borrowed Baroque’ and hear music from Septura, a top international brass septet.

Because, in the Fermanagh and Omagh area, more young people are learning to play brass instruments than all other types of instruments combined, Music in Fermanagh, the promoters of this concert, has sought the best players available as an inspiration to those students. Trumpets: Philip Cobb, James Fountain and Simon Cox. Trombones : Matthew Gee, Matthew Knight and Daniel West. Tuba player: Sasha Koushk-Jalali. Septura’s members are the outstanding players of the new generation of British brass musicians, holding principal positions in leading orchestras. To those who follow brass music these are very prestigious names.

The brass septet is a brand new invention. There is no canon of repertoire, no grand history of great compositions, hence Septura’s compulsion to steal and the title ‘Kleptomania’. All of this performance’s music which includes pieces by Rameau, Prokofiev, Handel and Stravinsky has been specially arranged for brass septet by two of the players.

Richard Pierce, the chair of Music in Fermanagh, wants to emphasise that although his organisation brought this group to Fermanagh to inspire students, the concert is for absolutely everybody and will be more than enjoyable: it will be unforgettable!

Tickets priced £15-00/ under 25’s £5-00 available now from www.ardhowen.com / tel:028 6632 5440

2020 Solo & Ensemble Results

Results from BBL Solo & Ensemble Competition are below.

The BBL would like to congratulate all prize winners and offer a huge thanks to all of our competitors for a fine day of music making.

There has also been a selection of music, clothing and books left behind. If anyone wants to claim them please get in touch.

Results:

BBL Solo & Ensemble Competition
Saturday 15th February
Malone Presbyterian Church Halls.

Senior Section

Adjudicator: Mr Les Neish

19 & Under Solo

  1. Zeki Kaya (Third Carrickfergus Silver Band)
  2. Sophie Hueston (Third Carrickfergus Silver Band)
  3. Victoria Lloyd (1st Old Boys Band)

C Solo
(no contest)

B Solo

  1. Sam Brodison (Ballyduff Silver Band)
  2. Robin Clinton (CWA Brass)

A Solo

  1. Nathan Thompson (Laganvale Metal Technology Band)
  2. Claire Hueston (Third Carrickfergus Silver Band)
  3. Andrew Milligan (1st Old Boys Band)

Slow Melody

  1. Nathan Moore (1st Old Boys Band)
  2. Kelly Kaya (Third Carrickfergus Silver Band)
  3. Brian Downey (Laganvale Metal Technology Band)

Senior Ensemble A

  1. 1st Old Boys (1st Old Boys Band)
  2. CWA A Ensemble (CWA Brass)

Senior Ensemble B

  1. Ballyduff B (Ballyduff Silver Band)
  2. CWA B Ensemble (CWA Brass)
  3. Wellington Ensemble (Wellington Memorial Silver Band)

Senior Ensemble C
(no contest)

B Quartet

  1. CWA B Quartet (CWA Brass)
  2. Wellington B Quartet (Wellington Memorial Silver Band)
  3. Dynamic Quartet (Dynamic Brass)

A Quartet

  1. Laganvale Quartet (Laganvale Metal Technology Band)
  2. Wellington A Quartet (Wellington Memorial Silver Band)

Junior Section

Adjudicator: Mr Owen Farr

10 & Under Solo

  1. Alexander Wilson (Wellington Memorial Silver Band)
  2. Rebekah Sharpe (1st Old Boys Band)
  3. Holly Wilson (Downshire Brass)

12 & Under Solo

  1. Oliver Quinn (Downshire Brass)
  2. Eva Dennis (Third Carrickfergus Silver Band)
  3. Kenan Kaya (Third Carrickfergus Silver Band)

15 & Under Solo

  1. Joe Stewart (Wellington Memorial Silver Band)
  2. Anna Finch (Poyntzpass Silver Band)
  3. Jonathan Finch (Poyntzpass Silver Band)

17 & Under Solo

  1. Andrew Milligan (1st Old Boys Band)
  2. Victoria Lloyd (1st Old Boys Band)
  3. James Shaw (Poyntzpass Silver Band)

12 & Under Ensemble

  1. Wellington Memorial Silver Band

17 & Under Ensemble
(no contest)

Youth Band

  1. 1st Old Boys Youth Band
  2. Poyntzpass Silver Band

2020 Solo & Ensemble Timings and Junior Section Draw Now Available

Timings for our upcoming Solo & Ensemble competition are now available for download from our website.

The Junior Section draw is also available for download.

Due to closed adjudication, the Senior Section draw cannot be published online, however it will be emailed to the secretary of each back whose members are taking part. A copy of the draw may also be requested by contacting us directly.


Solo & Ensemble Competition 2020 Entry Packs Now Available

Our ever popular Solo & Ensemble competition will return to Malone Presbyterian Church Halls, Belfast on Saturday 15th February 2020.

Our adjudicators on the day will be:

Senior Classes – Les Neish

Junior Classes – Owen Farr

Entry packs are now available on our downloads page

The BBL are encouraging entries in electronic format in order to reduce the amount of processing involved and the possibility of errors being introduced. We request that participants use the Excel sheet to record their entries. If Excel is not available bands may request a google sheet which can be completed on any computer or smartphone without the requirement to purchase any software

As a last resort, traditional paper-based forms may be used, however these should be the exception.

1st Old Boys represent Northern Ireland at EuroBrass 19

1st Old Boys band take to the stage at EBBC’19 in Montreux

It was a great weekend of contesting and music making as 1st Old Boys band represented Northern Ireland at the 2019 European Brass Band Championships in Montreux, Switzerland.

This was the seventh time the band had qualified for this auspicious contesting event, having also finished as runners-up in the Challenge Section two years ago in Ostend, Belgium.

The Old Boys Association has undergone some changes since then, with the introduction of some new faces to the band.  The recent introduction of 16yr old Louise Bell as the new Principal Cornet, being seen as an eye fixed on securing the future of the band, but also as testament to several exceptional young players now in key positions around the ensemble.

Louise ably led the band onto the expansive stage at the Stravinsky Auditorium in Montreux, shared by some of Europe’s banding elite, and to compete in this year’s Challenge Section, with bands from Spain, Lithuania, Germany and Scotland.

With a commissioned Set Piece “Terezin” from Swiss Composer Mario Burki, and “Sinfonietta No.3” by Etienne Crausaz as their own choice work, the Old Boys gave a bold, dramatic performance, respectful of the occasion, and were awarded a total of 92 points.

A keenly fought contest saw the Old Boys narrowly pipped by a point to second place by LT Brass of Lithuania, with Brass Band Regensburg from Germany the winners with 95 points.

Band secretary Jonathan Sharpe commented on “another fantastic European escapade for 1st Old Boys, with a result and an experience that will only help to further mature the band and its young stars for many years to come”