Brass Band League (NI) – Online Solo Competition

It’s been a tough year for brass banders all over the world with band rehearsals, contests and concerts all being cancelled.  Amateur bands in Northern Ireland have been unable to rehearse or perform in public since March and  the Brass Band League has unfortunately had to cancel many events.

Dynamic Brass performing at Brass in Concert in March – our last band event prior to lockdown

Over the COVID months, the BBL consulted with bands across Northern Irelad to see what as an organisation they could do to improve and what could be done to help local bands.  A major concern was that people may put away their instruments and never get them out again.  Buoyed by the success of other organisations running online events – in particular the solo competition held by the Irish Association of Brass and Concerts Bands (IABCB) in April – the BBL decided to hold an online solo event.

Just for Fun

The BBL wanted the event to be as inclusive as possible and to be informal and fun with its main aim to encourage people to get their instruments out and get playing.  A 4 minute time limit was set for performances but competitors could play any piece they wanted, accompanied or unaccompanied.  Entries were split into four classes – 12 and under, 13-15, 16-18 and 19 and over, with the competition open to all brass players, regardless of whether they were a member of a band or not.

19 and over class adjudicator James MacCafferty

The services were secured of no less than 8 fantastic adjudicators – Gael Haslett and Robin Clinton for the 12 and unders, Laura Salt and Martin Wall for the 13-15 age group, Bob Quick and Rachel Bingham for the 16-18 age group and finally James MacCafferty and Brendan Breslin for the 19 and over group (all bios are available to view on the Brass Band League Facebook page).

Organisers were deligted to receive a total of 52 entries with solos arriving from across the island of Ireland.

Competitor videos were broadcast on the the Brass Band League Facebook page from 19th to 27th November and results were annouced on 28th November through a series of short videos featuring our adjudicators. All competitors received a certificate and adjudicators remarks in electronic format.

12 and Under

 Oliver Quinn in the 12 and Under Class

Adjudicators Gael Haslett and Robin Clinton had plenty to discuss in the 12 and under class with 14 entries to review. A splendid rendition of Jock McKenzie’s Tarantella saw Oliver Quinn take first place with Kenan Kaya taking 2nd for The Londonderry Air. Hollie Hamilton and Rebekah Sharpe tied for 3rd place with Rule Britannia and Norman Bearcroft’s The Well is Deep respectively.

13-15 Class

Zeki Kaya in the 13-15 class

The 13-15 class saw Kenan’s big brother Zeki Kaya take 1st place with a controlled perforamnce of John Hartmann’s Wiederkehr. Owen Brannigan took 2nd place with the 2nd movement from Jacques Casterede’s Sonatine while Sophie Hueston took 3rd for Claude-Michel Schönberg’s On My Own.

16-18 Class

Louise Bell in the 16-18 class

Louise Bell was the adjudicators choice in the 16-18s with a simply beautiful rendition of William Himes’ All That I Am. Andrew Milligan’s performance of Rondo by Capuzzi/Catelinet saw him take 2nd place with Peter Alcorn’s multi-track take on Weather Report’s Birdland securing him 3rd.

19 and Over Class

Kelly Kaya in the 19 and over class

A tough class of 25 very high quality entries meant that adjudicators James MacCafferty and Brendan Breslin had their work cut out. However, it was Kelly Kaya’s seemingly effortless performance of excerpts from William Rimmer’s The Carnival of Venice that saw her chosen as the class winner. Tom Black’s emotional performance of Salvatore Cadillo’s Core ‘Ngrato saw him take 2nd place with Hannah Calderwood’s classy performance of Larsson’s Love Cannot Fail gaining her 3rd place. Worthy of a mention by adjudicators was Paul Wilson’s ‘chocolatey’ performance of Dave Brubeck’s Stereogram No 3 and Kevin Teer’s performance of the 2nd movement from Forgotten Oath by Lucy Pankhurst.

To Conclude

The BBL’s Amber MacLennan commented “As organisers it has been wonderful to see the support given to the competitors by banders – in particular the support for younger players has been amazing to see.

We hope that the event has helped to inspire everyone to get their instruments out and get playing.  We would like to congratulate our prize winnders thank all of our competitors – they all did a fantastic job and should all be very proud of themselves.“

The BBL would like to say a massive thank you to all 8 of adjudicators for giving up their time and energy to help us with this event.  They would also like to thank Bob Quick seperately for giving us the idea to run the event and also Kevin Teers and the IABCB for all of the help and support in helping to organise the event.

All soloist videos will be available to view on the Brass Band League Facebook page until 6th December so please check them out: Brass Band League NI | Facebook

Participants: 12 and under (Adjudicators: Gael Haslett and Robin Clinton)
Oliver – 1st, Kenan – 2nd, Hollie – 3rd, Rebekah – 3rd
Holly, Mollie, Francois, Erin, Peter, Kevin, Evan, Hugh, Laura, Christy

Participants: 13-15 (Adjudicators: Laura Salt and Martin Wall)
Zeki – 1st, Owen – 2nd, Sophie – 3rd
Aaron, Aoibh, Daniel, Ruairí

Participants: 16-18 (Adjudicators: Bob Quick and Rachel Bingham)
Louise – 1st, Andrew – 2nd, Peter – 3rd
Daniel, Michael, TylerParticipants: 19 and over (Adjudicators: Brendan Breslin and James MacCafferty)
Kelly Kaya – 1st, Tom Black – 2nd, Hannah Calderwood – 3rd
Paul Wilson – 4th, Kevin Teers – 5th
Kirsty Kerr, Claire Hueston, Graham Smyth, Neal O’Kennedy, Boris Pinto, Gary Dodsworth, Richard Whiteside, Samuel Brodison, Julie du Plessis, Stephen Cairns, Aaron Watson, Ian Wilson, Mark Boyd, Nigel Hylands, David Hamilton, Bert Shaw, Nathan Moore, Stephen Murray, Chrissie Harris, David Lamb

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.

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


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)


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.


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

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”

Brass in Concert Line-Up Announced

The BBL are delighted to annouce the line-up for next month’s Brass in Concert weekend which will take place at The Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown from Friday 1st to Saturday 2nd March.

Friday night will see 5 bands run 20 minute mini-concert programmes in a non-contesting,  informal setting:

Ballyreagh Silver Band
Enniskillen Royal Grammar School Brass Band
Churchill Silver Band
Tempo Silver Band
Murley Silver Band

Saturday will see 13 bands compete in an entertainment contest. A panel of judges will mark each performance on its musical and entertainment aspects with prizes being awarded for Best March, Best Soloist, Most Entertaining Band as well as overall winners. Lineup as follows:

Poyntzpass Silver Band
Wellington Memorial Silver Band
Dynamic Brass
Dungannon Silver Band
Comber Silver Band
Ballyduff Silver Band
CWA Brass
Roughan Silver Band
Strabane Brass Band
Murley Silver Band
Third Carrickfergus Band
Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band
1st Old Boys Silver Band

Friday nights proceedings will commence at 7.30pm

Saturday’s contest start at 11am

Admission payable at door:

Friday £5 – Saturday £7.50
Special Combination Ticket £10
Children go FREE

2019 Solo & Ensemble Timings and Junior 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.

Report & Results: 2018 Festival of Brass

Festival of Brass 2018: Gary Proctor (Downshire Brass)

Report & Results: 2018 Festival of Brass

Saturday 24th November saw 16 bands descend on Belfast’s Whitla Hall as guests of The School of Arts, English & Languages at Queen’s University Belfast.

The BBL were delighted to see entries extend to include bands from both Republic of Ireland (Navan Silver) and Scotland (Lochgelly Band).

Cracking Start

Festival of Brass 2018: 1st Larne Old Boys’ Silver Band

The day got off to a cracking start with 5th grade band 1st Larne Old Boys under conductor Bill Clements taking to the stage with a highly entertaining programme which covered all the bases. The band’s William Hollinger was awarded the soloist prize for his lovely rendition of “Con Te Partiro” and the band also took the March Prize for Festival March.

Closely Fought

Festival of Brass 2018: Wellington Memorial Silver Band

The 3rd grade saw a closely fought contest with prizes distributed across all bands in the section. Davi Johnson of Dynamic Brass took the soloist prize for “Georgia On My Mind”, Dungannon Silver walked away with the prize for Most Entertaining Band but it was returning champions Wellington Memorial Silver under conductor David Hawthorne who reclaimed the title and also took the march prize for Imperial Echoes.

Festival of Brass 2018: Ballyduff Silver Band

Moving on the 2nd grade, Andrew Gordon’s gorgeous performance of “Gabriel’s Oboe” saw him take the soloist prize for Roughan Silver but it was Ballyduff Silver under Willie Hill who gathered up the rest of the prizes, winning best march for “On the Quarter Deck”, most entertaining band and the section prize.

Clean Sweep

Festival of Brass 2018: 1st Old Boys’ Youth Band

Youth Bands were up next. Despite an up-tempo audience-pleasing programme from Downshire Brass Youth Band, long-time champions 1st Old Boys Youth Band led by Jacklin Bingham once again reclaimed the title with a clean sweep. Louise Bell’s stunning rendition of “First Light” secured her the soloist prize, the band’s tight performance of “Holyrood” took the march prize and they also took the prize for most entertaining band.


Festival of Brass 2018: Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band

After a short break to allow adjudicators and audience alike to take a breather, the Championship section saw 5 bands go head-to-head. 1st Old Boys under the direction of Stephen Cairns took the prize for Most Entertaining Band, but it was to be Laganvale’s night with new conductor Keith Anderson leading the band to claim the top prize of the day, with the band also taking the march prize for “New Colonial” and Sop player Mark Ruddock the soloist prize for his rendition of Stephen Crooks’ “Legacy”.

All in all, a fine day of music making.


The BBL would like to thank Dr David Bird, Professor Michael Alcorn and the team at Queen’s University for their huge efforts both behind the scenes and on the day which helped the event run so smoothly. A huge thanks also to our competing bands for providing such an entertaining array of programmes.

BBL Festival of Brass 2018 Full Results

Saturday 24th November 2018
Queen’s University, Belfast

Music Adjudicator: Jim Davies
Entertainment Adjudicator: Beverly Coomber


Championship Section

1.  Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band (Keith Anderson)  10/8=18

2.  Downshire Brass (Gary Proctor)  9/9=18

3.  1st Old Boys Silver Band (Stephen Cairns)  8/10=18

Third Carrickfergus Band (Brian Connolly)  7/6=13

Lochgelly Silver Band (Paul McKelvie OBE)  6/7=13


Most Entertaining Band: 1st Old Boys Silver Band

Best March: Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band (New Colonial)

Best Soloist: Mark Ruddock / Laganvale (Metal Technology) Band

Second Section

1.  Ballyduff Silver Band (Willie Hill) 10/10=20

2.  Comber Silver Band (Wesley Thompson) 8/8=16

3.  CWA Brass (Ernie Ruddock) 7/9=16

Roughan Silver Band (Stephen Crooks) 9/6=15

Navan Silver Band (Stephen Murray) 6/7=13


Most Entertaining Band: Ballyduff Silver Band

Best March: Ballyduff Silver Band (On the Quarter Deck)

Best Soloist: Andrew Gordon / Roughan Silver Band

Third Section

1.  Wellington Memorial Silver Band (David Hawthorne) 10/9=19

Dungannon Silver Band (Boris Pinto) 9/10=19

Dynamic Brass (Harold Whan) 8/8=16


Most Entertaining Band: Dungannon Silver Band

Best March: Wellington Memorial Silver Band (Imperial Echoes)

Best Soloist: David Johnson / Dynamic Brass

Fourth Section

No Contest

Fifth Section

1.  1st Larne Old Boys Silver Band (Bill Clements) 10/10=20


Most Entertaining Band: 1st Larne Old Boys Silver Band

Best March: 1st Larne Old Boys Silver Band (Festival March)

Best Soloist: William Hollinger / 1st Larne Old Boys Silver Band


Youth Bands

1.  1st Old Boys Youth Band (Jacklin Bingham) 10/10=20

Downshire Brass Youth Band (Robert Mercer) 9/9=18


Most Entertaining Band: 1st Old Boys Youth Band

Best March: 1st Old Boys Youth Band (Holyrood)

Best Soloist: Louise Bell / 1st Old Boys Youth Band



Festival of Brass Line-up Announced

The Brass Band League are excited to announce the line-up for our forthcoming Festival of Brass.

In association with Queen’s University, Belfast we will present performances of 17 brass bands from across UK & Ireland on Saturday 24th November.

Each band will perform a mini-concert programme varying from 15-25 minutes with a panel of judges assessing each band’s performance on its musical and entertainment qualities.

Our first band will take to the stage at 10.30am.

Admission is £7.50 for adults with children going free. Admission is on a day-ticket basis with audience members permitted to come and go as they please throughout the day (tickets should be retained for re-admission)

Please get in touch via our contact us page if you have any queries