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2011 British Open Championships — Introduction to the 159th contest

There has been plenty to talk about before a note has been blown this year — and the action promises to be even tastier...

Symphony Hall159th British Open Championship
Saturday 3rd September
Symphony Hall
Birmingham
Commencing: 10.30am


The 159th British Open takes place on Saturday with 17 domestic bands battling it out not just for the chance to claim the magnificent Gold Challenge Trophy and Belle Vue Challenge Cup, but also the priceless right to call themselves ‘British Open Champion 2011’.

Each year the event throws up its fair share of pre-contest intrigue and rumour – and this time is no different.

Quality

From the gripes about the choice of test piece - although not about its quality, more about its provenance and association to a specific competitor – to the moans about the use of ‘borrowed players’ – both from home and abroad.

There have even been a few complaints about whether or not a band should be penalised if they don’t follow the choreographed arrangements of Philip Wilby’s score. (They won’t)

British Open
Up for grabs - The famous British Open Shield is waiting for someone...

It’s all good old knockabout fun, but the truth of the matter is that come the announcement of the results it will be the best performance in the opinion of the three judges that counts – nothing more, nothing less: Just like always in fact.

There may be some credence to some of the complaints – the borrowed player rule is fast making even the so called ‘best bands’ in the world look guilty of bringing our contesting sport into disrepute, although others are nothing more than a smokescreen of pre-packaged ready made excuses for failure.

WilbyThe audience won’t worry a fig about all that though after hearing ‘Red Priest’ – a cracking test of musical as well as technical character from that mastercraftsman Philip Wilby (right).

Prizes

As always there are plenty of prizes up for grabs – not just the £3,000 that goes to the winner.

Individual excellence will be recognised with the Best Soloist claiming the Stanley Wainwright Memorial Trophy, whilst prestigious awards also go to the ‘Best Soprano’ and ‘Best Euphonium’.
 
Rising stars

The rising stars of the future will also be recognised with the annual Harry Mortimer Trust Awards, whilst there is sure to be plenty of applause for Frank Renton and Michael Robertson, who will receive deserved Worshipful Company of Musician Awards in the form of the Iles and Mortimer Medals.

And whilst there is the growing excitement in the hall at the announcement of the top six bands on the day, there will also be a fair amount of anxiety for those fearing the spectre of relegation and a return to the gulag archipelago that is Blackpool and the Grand Shield.

Hall
The biggest stage of all at Symphony Hall

Reflection

As always, the day runs like clockwork thanks to the wonderful input from the officials headed by Frank Hodges and his team, whilst there is sure to be a moment of quiet reflection for absent friends, which this year include two legendary winning conductors – Peter Parkes and James Watson.

4BR will be on hand to bring you our live coverage of the day as it unfolds – which we hope will also include our ‘on the spot’ video analysis and interviews, views and opinions on 4BR Vision both before, during and after the contest ends.

It all kicks off on Saturday morning with the draw at 9.00am and the first band taking to the stage on the stroke of 10.30am, whilst the weekend’s entertainment ends on Sunday afternoon with the last of the post contest Gala Concert performances.   

Iwan Fox



The Marple Band - The Marple Band presents Music from Musicals

Saturday 23 June • Stockport Grammar School. Buxton Road. Stockport SK2 7AF


Elland Silver Band - Elland Silver Band

Saturday 23 June • Blackley Blackley Church Prospect View Elland HX5 0TD


Blidworth Welfare Band - Organist Keith Hearnshaw

Saturday 23 June • St Andrews Church, The Green, Swanwick, Derbys DE55 1AN


Besses o' th' Barn Band - Charity Celebration Concert

Saturday 23 June • St Thomas Church, Warrington Road, Ashton-in-Makerfield WN4 9PL


York Railway Institute Band - Dan Thomas - Euphonium

Saturday 23 June • Central Methodist Church. St Saviourgate. York. YO1 8NQ YO1 8NQ


Frampton on Severn Silver Band

June 22 • We are a friendly non-contesting band in Gloucestershire looking for players, particularly cornets, baritone and basses, but all are welcome. We play at many local events and bandstand jobs, and practice on Tuesday evenings just off Junction 13 of the M5.


Crewe Brass

June 22 • Crewe Brass currently have vacancies for Eb and BBb Bass, Baritone, and Cornet. We are a friendly, social first section band with a good mix of concerts and contests, and rehearse on Monday and Friday evenings in Shavington, Crewe.


Lydbrook Band

June 22 • Lydbrook Band are recruiting a 2nd Trombone to our join our Championship section band . This is a great opportunity to be part of the premier band in the Royal Forest of Dean.


Darren R. Hawken

PGdip, BMus(hons) PGCE, dipABRSM, LRSM
Conductor, Arranger, Teacher, Adjudicator, Band Trainer