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2011 English National Championship — Introduction to Preston

No more Little England syndrome as the BFBB looks towards European integration for the future...

Guild Hall
Things are looking up in Preston... 

English integration into Europe becomes ever more complete it seems.

The BFBB may not be quite ready to put their hand in their pockets to help bail out the fledgling Greek brass band economy, but at least the desire not to be left on the margins of the ever more powerful European Brass Band Association has seen them take progressive action.

Turning point

2011 could really be a turning point for the English National Championships, as the ‘Little England’ syndrome that so stunted the ambition of the contest is finally kicked into touch.

The BFBB has seen EBBA run highly impressive events in Linz and Montreux in the past two years, following a blueprint that although occasionally overblown, has had at its core a major brass band contest that is quality led, relevant and increasingly popular.

And after the years of broken promises, ill-conceived ideas and a fair dollop of bad luck, the BFBB has taken the step of copying it here at Preston: It could well be the event’s rebirth.


There are still issues to tackle however.

The Guild Hall remains a pretty dour venue  – a cheap, oversized millstone around the BFBB’s neck, but the insistence on developing a contesting ethos of quality rather than quantity is to be applauded. 

The top English bands are now attracted to the contest, if not necessarily Preston, in more ways than one.  

A greater degree of transparency permeates things too – something the introduction of the own choice selections to the audience before each performance, pre results comments from both sets of adjudicators and the full declaration of the results will enhance further.   

A credit sign for the BFBB


The BFBB has come in for justified criticism in the past about the way this contest has been run, but to its credit it has taken a very long and hard look at itself and decided to change.

This year there is a healthy prize fund (the winners leave with a package worth close to £6,000 to help with the costs of Rotterdam 2012), a quality mix of adjudicators in Derek Broadbent, Ian Brownbill, Steve Sykes and Andrew Duncan, a testing set work that places an emphasis on musical style and not just technical proficiency, a host of intriguing own choice selections and a transparent results process.

Time to recover

The bands should have plenty of time to recover from their set work exertions in the morning before they showcase those own choice selections in the afternoon, and with a bit of luck, the results could well be announced by 7.00pm.

Study scores will be available on the day of Martin Ellerby’s set work ‘Elgar Variations’, tickets can be bought at the door and there are plenty of places to go and have a cup of tea and a Lancashire hot-pot too.

Start times

It all starts on the stroke of 10.00am with the own choice fireworks at 2.00pm.  

4BR will be there to bring you all the action, with video interviews and round ups, twitter, live comments, pictures and plenty of post contest analysis.

We are all Europeans now – even if the BFBB will be well advised not to put a Greek salad on the lunchtime menu….  

Iwan Fox

Black Dyke Band - The Hawth, Crawley

Sunday 18 March • The Hawth, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ

Contest: Welsh Regional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Brangwyn Hall, The Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE

Contest: London & SC REgional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Contest: North of England Regional Championships

Sunday 18 March • The Gala Theatre, 1 Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

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

Knaresborough Silver Band

March 19 • Knaresborough Silver Band are looking for percussion players to join them following their recent success in the Areas 3rd section gaining our 3rd Cheltenham invitation in the last 4 years. We rehearse on Tuesday evenings @ 7.30pm.

East Yorkshire Motor Services Brass Band

March 19 • The EYMS Band has an immediate vacancy for a first class Solo Euphonium Or Solo Baritone. With The Grand Shield on the horizon and a sensible concert schedule we are looking for a talented individual to join this experienced section.

Chinnor Silver

March 19 • We are sadly loosing one of our award winning bass team soon(best basses award at areas) so we are looking for a Bb BASS . Good book of contests and concerts planned including butlins . We rehearse on Wednesday in our own bandroom

Sandy Smith

Conductor, teacher, adjudicator and arranger