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2015 Spring Festival — Introduction to Blackpool

4BR looks ahead to the 95th Spring Festival in Blackpool, as 61 bands look to take a step closer to the British Open at Symphony Hall.

Spring Festival
Prizes galore, but winning isn't everything in Blackpool this weekend

The one major difference between the European competition held in Germany last weekend and the Spring Festival at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool this Saturday, is that winning isn’t all that counts.

Black Dyke’s triumph in the rarefied atmosphere of Freiburg is perhaps something competitors here can only dream of - although you can be assured they won’t be too worried about not bagging one of the top prizes if they have been able to gain a qualification place at the Grand Shield, Senior Cup or Senior Trophy instead.  

Winning may not be the be all and end all at the Spring Festival, but just missing out on promotion certainly is.

Contest help

The contest organisers have certainly helped the bands in their qualification efforts - from pre-draw segments and generous registration rules, to a proactive approach to contesting transparency and support with links to the Wychavon Festival of Brass and Brass at the Guild contest.

Despite a few grumbles in some quarters, it is interesting to note that the bands seem very happy with the way the Spring Festival/British Open contests are set up.  

They now know exactly that if they want to be able to compete against the likes of newly crowned European champion, then the pathways (and rules) to Symphony Hall are very clearly laid out before them. 

Delphi oracle

The same ethos also drives the musical approach at the event, with a mission statement that tells you just what to expect - players, conductors and audience alike.

It reads like an extended version of the sign above the oracle at Delphi.

'We aim to preserve the established custom of encouraging new compositions to expand and question the boundaries of brass music, and to provide enjoyable challenges to participants and absorbing entertainment for the audience.’

Competitors know thyself...

Delphi
Not quite the sign at Delphi  - but close enough...

Challenging

With that in mind, you can certainly see why ’Arabian Nights’, ‘Festival Music’ and ‘Tallis Variations’ have been picked. All are all challenging and all will provide absorbing entertainment for the audiences in the Opera House, Pavilion Theatre and Spanish Hall.   

Who will gain the nod from the well balanced Pythia of judges of Paul Holland, Adrian Morris, Stephen Roberts,  Steve Sykes, Rob Wiffen and Mark Wilkinson will be interesting to see - with the three competitions packed with ambitious contenders that come with a mix of possible, probable and even fanciful hopes of progressing ever closer to Symphony Hall.

No wonder there are no clear cut favourites for victory at contests where victory isn’t all that matters.

4BR coverage

4BR will be there to bring you the action with our live coverage and twitter comments, which bring you a snapshot of the atmosphere in and around the contests as they unfold throughout the day.

The Senior Cup kicks things off at 10.00am, followed by the Grand Shield at 10.20am and Senior Trophy at 10.40am.

All three events should finish around about the same time so that the prizes can be handed out together in the Opera House.  



Gloucestershire Brass Band Association - Own Choice March & Test Piece Contest

Sunday 19 November • All Saints’ Academy. Blaisdon Way. Cheltenham GL51 0WH


Rotherham Schools' Youth Brass Band - Fountain City Brass Band

Monday 20 November • Rotherham Minster - Rotherham s60 1pd


Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Lichfield Cathedral

Friday 24 November • 19A The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD


Lofthouse Brass Band - Pudsey Churches Together Christmas Concert

Saturday 25 November • Pudsey Parish Church, Church Lane, Pudsey, LS28 7BD LS28 7BD


Lofthouse Brass Band - Lofthouse Christmas Fair

Saturday 25 November • Lofthouse Methodist Church, Leeds Road, Lofthouse, Wakefield WF3 3NE


Hucknall & Linby Brass

November 20 • Hucknall and Linby Band - 2nd section- Require a front row cornet player. We rehearse Thursdays 7.30 -9.30 in Hucknall, Nottingham. With great transport links to the city centre and the universities.


Newstead Brass

November 18 • Bb Cornet (position negotiable). . Newstead Brass, established Midlands Championship section, have opportunity for an additional cornet player. Suitable for experienced player or someone looking to take the next step in their development.


Wakefield Metropolitan Brass Band

November 17 • FRONT ROW CORNET. SOLO TROMBONE. . The band have an exciting concert/contest/marching schedule ahead. We are looking for a committed front row cornet and solo trombone player to come and join us in the Yorkshire 1st Section! MD: Richard Larder.


James McLeod

BMus (hons)
Euphonium Soloist, Teacher and Conductor