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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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”