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2011 North West Regional Championship — Blackpool preview

Despite losing a few bands this year, the North West continues to be the powerhouse of UK banding.

Winter GardensSome things are changing in Blackpool – and some things are not.

The Winter Gardens is undergoing a bright and breezy overhaul - which will come as a pleasant surprise to the hordes of bandsmen and women who have had to put up with a fairly decrepit venue for far too long.

Depth of quality

However, something’s remains pleasantly the same - such as the North West’s ability to provide an unparalleled depth of quality to its five competitive sections.

Not for the first time the returns from representatives at the Royal Albert Hall and Harrogate were something to be proud of, and whilst it is now five years since a top section band was crowned National Champion, another two lower section outfits returned home with the title added to their name in 2010.

Rude health

And despite the Area contest losing five bands overall there is good news in that there are four new or returnees in the Fourth Section, which remains in rude health with 23 competitors.

The North West remains the powerhouse of UK banding and the facts at the Nationals speak for themselves: 79 top six finishers – including 16 National Champions since 2000.

Sterling job

Peter Bates and his team of volunteers do a sterling job hosting this event on the one day and they deserve the plaudits – as well as a bit of extra help if anyone out there is offering! The whole event runs very smoothly – from the first note in the Third Section at 9.45am to the last in the top section around 7.30pm.

There is still some debate about the decision to carry on with just one judge in the box here – especially in the Fourth Section with its 23 competitors, but it seems to work, despite the odd moan from some quarters in the past.

Thrills and spills

This year the top section should provide plenty of thrills and spills as the rival contenders seek the two London qualification places on offer, but there may be just as much enjoyment to be found in the lower sections with high quality fields to be found in the Pavilion Theatre and Empress Ballroom.

Get there early – and make sure you check you car parking fees – by all accounts prices have gone up.

You should be in for a great day and an odd surprise or two.

Iwan Fox

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

Thursday 22 March • Mirfield Parish Church, 38 Church Lane, Mirfield WF14 9HX

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Brass Band

Friday 23 March • Regent Hall. (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C 2DJ (opposite RESERVED) W1C 2DJ

The Fairey Band - Ensembles from Bramhall High School

Friday 23 March • Bramhall High School. Seal Road. Stockport SK72JT

Croydon Citadel Band - The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army

Saturday 24 March • The Salvation Army. Booth Rd. Croydon. CR0 1XY CR0 1XY

Black Dyke Band - Newtown (Powys)

Saturday 24 March • Theatre Hafren, Llanidloes Rd, Newtown SY16 4HU

Amington Band

March 21 • Amington band are looking for back row cornets, a bass of each flavour & a bass trombone. We're a friendly, hard working bunch and welcome all to join us. We rehearse on Mondays & Wednesdays from 8-10pm in our own band room in Tamworth.

Leyland Band

March 21 • FLUGEL HORN. As a principal player, this will provide regular opportunities for solo performances in the concert and recording schedule. There will also be contest appearances at this year’s British Open Championship and the National Finals at the RAH.

Blidworth Welfare Band

March 21 • Percussionist.. Having just secured a fifth place in the Midlands Championship Section we are inviting applications for percussionist. We have a sensible diary of engagements whilst providing players with the potential to achieve success..

David Hirst

MA, B.Ed (Hons), LTCL
Conductor, adjudicator and arranger