The sight and sound of a brass band will be familiar to many. What you might not know, however, is that “banding” has a vast and dedicated following, with thousands of bands meeting weekly across the country, indeed throughout the globe, to hone their craft.
As luck would have it, the very best of those bands will be coming to the UK later this month, for what’s deemed to be the biggest event in the global brass calendar.
From 28 April - 1 May in Birmingham, the European Brass Band Festival will include a number of events, concerts and contests, featuring a range of top bands and virtuoso performers from both at home and abroad. Proceedings will include a series of traditional contests, where the most elite bands will battle it out for the title of European Champion.
The Festival offers the chance to hear the world’s number 1 ranked brass band, Wales’ Cory Band, as well as the Grimethorpe Colliery Band (of Brassed-Off! fame), plus trumpet icon and YouTube star Louis Dowdeswell and his big band. There’s also a rare opportunity to see one of the UK’s military bands in action, the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines. For music-lovers of all shapes and sizes, the programme offers the chance to discover something new.
Kenny Crookston, CEO of the event organiser, Brass Bands England, commented: “Brass bands have been a part of British culture since the turn of the nineteenth century.
“It’s where the standard brass band format originated, so it’s great to see this event back on English soil. It’s a great chance for banders to gather as a community, and to introduce our music to new listeners.
There’s a lot of tradition in banding, but there’s a lot of exciting new stuff happening too. We can’t wait to showcase that within this Festival. The competing aspect of playing in a brass band ensures that the music is always of the highest quality - you won’t be disappointed.
“I hope this event gives new audiences a chance to come and discover why the genre is so well-loved, and perhaps come away loving it too.” Due to a pandemic-enforced break, it will be the first time in three years that the event has taken place, and first time back in England in 15 years.