As has been the case at this event over the years, the talented youngsters of the various competing bands can be relied upon to provide quite brilliant entertainment all in the aid of a great cause.
There may well be nerves and a bit of stress behind the scenes (for the competitors and the organisers) but this Sunday there will also be plenty of laughter and fun too, as some of the cream of Britain’s best youth bands descend upon the Winter Gardens in Blackpool to see who will be crowned the Action Medical Research Youth Champions of Great Britain.
Contest organiser Gary Walczak and his team of helpers work their socks in providing a contest to be proud of, but economic times are hard at present and youth banding is an expensive business to promote.
Unfortunately numbers are slightly down this year with just eight competitors, although it is hoped this is a just a temporary blip on the organisers long term investment scale.
Perhaps the bands themselves have becomes victims of their own ambitious success.
The investment in time and money required to produce many of these wonderful entertainment programmes is staggering, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one or two are taking a bit of a financial breather.
The innovative approach and friendly atmosphere helps the bands immensely, and this year three of them will already know their draw to help make the necessary travel arrangements.
As always, the day isn’t all about contesting glory (although all the bands desperately want to win!) Once more the money raised from the event will help thousands more people all over the UK.
The adjudication this year is in the experienced hands of Garry Cutt (music) (right) and Paul Norley (entertainment) – Garry in the box, and Paul out of it.
Twelve months ago, the big talking point surrounded Youth Brass 2000, who inadvertently went over the time limit – the result of which cost them the title in what appeared to be a rather Draconian interpretation of the rules.
The appreciation of a performance has perhaps never proved so costly...
It was an unsatisfactory way to decide the eventual winner, so don’t be surprised if the MDs are seen keeping one eye on the clock.
Back in the ballroom
After a couple of years in the more intimate surroundings of the Opera House, the event returns to the wide open spaces of the Empress Ballroom.
That space should give the bands plenty of room for their spectacular presentations, whilst the link with the Brass in Concert Championship gives an added incentive to claim victory. The winners get an invite to perform at The Sage in November.
The reigning champion, Rochdale Borough Youth under its innovative MD, Eric Landon returns to defend its title, and will be faced with a strong field of rivals – most notably the reigning Butlin’s Youth Champion, Youth Brass 2000.
They will be determined not to be denied by the fickle second hand of fate this year.
Meanwhile, making the trip from over the Pennines are former winner, Elland Silver Youth under the baton of Samantha Harrison, whilst near neighbours, Sellers International will be directed by Simon Kerwin (as regular MD, Alex Kerwin has a commitment with Black Dyke).
North East challengers, Houghton Area Youth will again be making the lengthy trip across the M62, whilst the emerging Enderby Youth Band will make the trip up from Leicestershire.
Poynton Youth has done well here in recent years and are now led by Fairey’s flugel player, Mike Eccles, whilst Wardle Junior Band makes its debut under the direction of Gwen Smith.
In previous years, it’s been the senior counterparts of the High School Band that have competed here, but with the half-term holiday and a clash of commitments for some of the senior players, the juniors have been given the chance to enjoy the spotlight.
It all kicks off at 10.30am with the doors opening at 10.00am. The ticket prices remain static at £7.00 for adults and for children at £4.00.
As always, 4BR will be there to enjoy the action....
It’s always a tight but enjoyable scrap for the honours, although the usual suspects do provide strong evidence for their title claims.
Rochdale showed just how a good a band they are at The Sage last November and they will be hoping to retain their title, although the Butlin’s champion, Youth Brass 2000 will be brimming with determination to stop them.
Elland Silver Youth have the creativity and musical know-how to push both all the way, whilst Enderby and Poynton Youth can’t be discounted either.
1. Youth Brass 2000
2. Rochdale Borough Youth
3. Elland Silver Youth
Dark Horse: Poynton Youth