Lancaster Music Society to host first University Brass Band Championships

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ULMS Brass Band at the Whit Friday Marches in Saddleworth. — © Max Stannard

Lancaster University will play host to the first ever University Brass Band Championships of Great Britain on Saturday, Week Five.

The event was originally conceived by a group of students from the University of Lancaster Music Society (ULMS), and they have since received support from the British Federation of Brass Bands (BFBB).

A wide range of brass band competitions are already in existence, but the majority require each player to be registered, costing large amounts of money. ULMS President Max Stannard believed there was a gap in the market for a university brass band competition, saying “After originally thinking about the possibilities of a competition at Roses against York, we decided to broaden our horizons and create a competition for all university bands from across Britain”.

The championships, which are the result of over a year’s planning, will be judged by the composer Alan Fernie and conductor Richard Evans, both of whom are highly respected within the brass band community. Fernie has spent over 20 years of his life teaching brass, whilst Evans was the one of the founding members of the National Youth Brass Band.

13 universities have signed up for the competition, and they will each perform a programme of 25 minutes. York University are amongst the competitors, and Stannard believes there will be other “interesting rivalries”, particularly referring to Cambridge and Oxford University, who will both perform at the championship. Stannard also said “there are bands representing Edinburgh, Cardiff and Bangor, meaning the contest will really find the best of British university banding.”

ULMS are hosting the championship, in association with the BFBB. Founded in 1968, the organisation’s website states they ‘aim to maintain, improve, represent and promote the practice and performances of brass band music in the UK’. Terry Luddington, Liason Officer for BFBB, said “The British Federation of Brass Bands are extremely pleased to be involved in UniBrass and we are assisting the ULMS team with some core funding and access to expert advice and guidance”. Luddington added that the event will be “major new National Brass Band Championships”.

Stannard was keen to state the contest’s wide appeal and hopes it will bring in a fresh new audience for brass band music. He said “as the contest will have an entertainment theme, we hope that those who watch the event will realise that brass band music isn’t for stuffy old men, but can be fresh, vibrant and entertaining.”

Hosting the championships signals the start of another busy year for ULMS. The group concluded 2010 with a Christmas concert, held at Lancaster Cathedral on 15th December 2010. The concert featured a variety of music including the Brass Band, the Choir, the Symphonic Wind Band and the Symphony Orchestra.

The championship will take place on Saturday Week 5 in the Great Hall. Beginning at 9am and concluding at 6pm, there will be day passes available on the door for £5. More information regarding the event can be found on the championship’s website – http://www.unibrass.webs.com.

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