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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...

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


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.  

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..

Stuart Black

BA (Hons) Music
Conductor, Teacher, Flugel soloist