Champion inspiration

The Black Dyke Band Festival recently saw 140 players of all ages and abilities take to the stage at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Keeping on eye on things
  Keeping a musical eye on things...

The sight of the famous National Championship of Great Britain trophy perched just below the magnificent Father Willis organ at Huddersfield Town Hall ensured that inspiration wasn't far away from any of the 140 players who took to the stage for the annual Black Dyke Band Festival this year.

Inclusive music making

The event, held for the 18th time, has become a staple part of the Queensbury band's outreach work, offering a day long opportunity to enjoy inclusive music making through masterclasses, workshops and performances.

Players from several local Yorkshire bands such as Armthorpe Elmfield, Delph and Hatfield & Askern were joined by those who had made the journey from much further afield. These included the Murley Silver Band from Northern Ireland, who also took the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour led by Prof Nicholas Childs of the iconic Queensbury bandroom.

As ever the day started early to ensure everything could be packed in, with players arriving at the Town Hall for an 8.30am start. As one remarked — "it's like being back at the Area contest again!"

However, on this occasion there was no needs for a nervous wait in the wings before performing, as it was straight into the first series of workshops and masterclasses led by Black Dyke players.


These were specifically tailored to engage with of players of all levels, from soprano cornet down to tubas, with the aim of developing personal skill sets in a group environment.

Led by band members Richard Marshall, Siobhan Bates, Gavin Saynor, Adam Bokaris and Mike Cavanagh, they covered different aspects of brass playing; from warm-ups and practice regimes to sight-reading sessions and ensemble works.

The inclusive approach had encouragement as the key driver — the interaction between the Black Dyke stars and the players one of respect and understanding, with delegates encouraged to enquire and explore.


A Black Dyke Band spokesperson told 4BR: "That is the great thing about the day — the sense of community and endeavour. The players come to enjoy themselves but also to leave inspired in their brass band music making.

That is at the heart of what Black Dyke Band is about — being a role model for players of all ages and abilities."

That was certainly heard from one delegate, who recently took up playing the cornet aged 69. They commented that despite their inexperience, they felt fully included in the day.

After a morning filled with workshops and learning, the festival moved into the afternoon with massed band rehearsals before the finale of a public Gala Concert.

Audience enjoyment

In addition to the Black Dyke Band, the festival also saw the members of the Yorkshire Youth Band take to the stage, with the Town Hall stage packed with players all eager to entertain the large audience.

And they certainly enjoyed the musical fayre — from Mozart's overture to 'The Marriage of Figaro', to Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now', the hymn tune 'Crimond' to Peter Graham's uplifting 'Triquetra'.

James Curnow's 'Legends in Brass' was contrasted with '633 Squadron' and John Rutter's 'For the Beauty of the Earth', whilst the finale was provided by a thrilling rendition of Dvorak's 'New World Symphony'.

We not only want to encourage the next generation of young players through our work with the Yorkshire Youth Band but to help inspire players of all ages and abilities in bands wherever they are basedProf Nicholas Childs


For Black Dyke Director of Music Prof Nicholas Childs, the day continues to endorse his band's commitment to the wider banding movement as well maintaining a popular performance connection to audiences.

"The festival is a key element in our musical outlook. Contesting success for any band — including Black Dyke being able to display the famous National Trophy is a great thing, but reaching out to audiences and showcasing what brass bands do so brilliantly in making music is even more important.

We not only want to encourage the next generation of young players through our work with the Yorkshire Youth Band but to help inspire players of all ages and abilities in bands wherever they are based."

He added: "That is what the festival is all about — and as always it certainly inspires me when you can both see and hear the response to playing together on this great stage in Huddersfield."


That was certainly heard as well from the players as they eventually left for home.

As one told 4BR: "I've been coming here now for several years and always leave rejuvenated. It's a fantastic day, the Black Dyke players are so supportive and always ready to give that extra bit of essential advice. This really is what brass banding is all about — being inspired by the very best."

A Black Dyke spokesperson added: "Our thanks got to our sponsors for their support and to everyone who made the day such a special occasion once more.

Most of all though thanks to those who attended — players and audience alike. It made for another memorable event."

Thanks to Black Dyke Band and Les Driver
Image courtesy of John Stirzaker

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