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2017 Regional Championships
Torquay, Perth, Bedworth and Durham contest previews

4BR looks forward to the second round of regional championship events in the West of England, Midlands, Scotland and North of England this weekend.

Two down, six to go.

The 2017 Regional Championship series heads to Torquay, Bedworth, Perth and Durham this weekend, as keenly fought qualification rounds take place in the West of England, Midlands, Scotland and the North of England. 

And as any spies from the 258 competing bands that paid a recent secret visit to Blackpool or Huddersfield will now know, the test-piece challenges that need to be mastered if they are to head to London or Cheltenham later this year have already proved to be demanding to say the least.

Spot teh sies
Spot the spies? There were some familiar faces in the crowd at Huddersfield

The two golden oldies in ‘Pageantry’ and ‘Rhapsody in Brass’ have bared their teeth like pensioners with new dentures; taking bites out of the qualification hopes of bands (and especially their MDs) who have under-estimated or tried to re-invent their timeless musical characteristics.  

The message from the various boxes has been loud and clear - or more precisely – not so loud and very precise: Try and blast your way through these works at turbo-charged pace and all you will end up doing is blowing off your qualification feet off in the process.  

The rev counters and volume controls may just be turned down a bit from ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Spinal Tap’ modes.

The rev counters and volume controls may just be turned down a bit from ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Spinal Tap’ modes4BR

Meanwhile, ‘The Land of the Long White Cloud’ has also revealed itself to be ‘The piece to reward sensible musical ambition’ in the First Section, as performances that have sought to display controlled, detailed musical vistas have come out on top over those who have opted to make it sound like a rampaging pack of ‘All Blacks’ forwards.

Banding basics

There has also been a great deal to enjoy in the Third and Fourth Sections too - with Dan Price and Alan Fernie giving the competitors plenty familiar musical rope to either lasso a qualification place or string themselves up by the neck. Bands have to tread a fine line between the fun of ‘spot the tune’ and ‘miss the banding basics’. 

It’s therefore going to be a busy and highly enjoyable weekend of high hopes and aspirations, triumphs and tribulations. 

St Dennis
St Dennis proved west was best in the First Section in 2016

The Riviera Centre in Torquay hosts 80 bands for what is always a well-managed event run by Sue Oldfield and her team.  And whilst the Area still awaits a first National Champion in the top section, they have produced four section winners since 2011, including the highly impressive St Dennis in the First Section last year.

Mammoth field

There will also be a mammoth field of 80 bands at Bedworth, where Lesley Bentley and her team expertly juggle things between the Civic Hall and the Nicholas Chamberlaine Technology College. Although it’s been a bit of barren time of late in the National winner’s enclosure, the region continues to send solid contenders to both London and Cheltenham.

In terms of barren spells though, Scotland is the National equivalent of the Gobi Desert; with just one National Champion this century - and that was back in 2000. That must surely come to an end at some time as the hard work and investment of the pioneering Scottish Brass Band Association finally starts to pay over-due dividends from its 58 competitors. 

In terms of barren spells though, Scotland is the National equivalent of the Gobi Desert; with just one National Champion this century4BR 

In contrast, the smallest region in terms of number (40 bands) has been punching above its weight, as the North of England can already boast one National Champion (South Milford in 2012) with J36 coming runner-up in the Third Section last year.  

Things have been looking up of late helped by the hard-working Regional Committee making the move to Durham, so could they produce another Tony Bellew or two against supposedly bigger and better heavyweight opposition at Cheltenham and even London?


There is plenty of great action to therefore enjoy wherever you decide to go and listen this weekend. Each region offers a warm welcome, comfortable surroundings and a keen sense of friendly, excellently run competition and 4BR will be at each of them to give a band by band flavour of the action, give our opinions and bring you those all important results via our live coverage page, Twitter and Facebook.  

St Michael's Brass Band - We are playing in Middleton Town Centre.

Saturday 18 August • Middleton Gardens, Middleton. M244DF

Ibstock Brick Brass - Ibstock Country Fair

Sunday 19 August • Ibstock Showground. Pretoria Road. Ibstock. Leicestershire LE676LN

Black Dyke Band - St Wilfrid's Church, Harrogate

Saturday 1 September • Duchy Rd, Harrogate HG1 2EY

Contest: 166th British Open

Saturday 8 September • Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA

Black Dyke Band - Brass on Sunday Gala Concert, Birmingham

Sunday 9 September • Broad St, Birmingham B1 2EA

Crewe Brass

August 17 • Crewe Brass seek Eb and Bb bass, Euphonium and Baritone players. We are a friendly 1st Section Band and perform at a variety of events (including contests) under the baton of our MD Matt Pithers. Rehearsals are every Friday at 7.45pm in Shavington, Crewe.

Burnham and Highbridge Brass Band

August 16 • The Burnham and Highbridge Band has the following vacancies: Principal and 2nd Trombone, 2nd Euphonium and, Back Row Cornets.

The Corsham Band

August 16 • Due to work commitments, a vacancy has arisen for a Tenor Trombone player. First or Second position available. We are a newly promoted Second Section band with a new MD and a friendly and enthusiastic team.

Julian Bright

Conductor, Compere/MC, Cornet Soloist