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 right here to Birmingham very later this month, for what’s deemed to be the biggest event in the global brass calendar.
From 28 April – 1 May, 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.
While most brass enthusiasts will need to travel from across the country and beyond to attend, the Festival offers a unique chance for Brummies to hear the best of brass right here on our doorstep. Birmingham is already an important centre for bands, as the host of the annual British Open Brass Band Championships, which takes place annually in the city’s acoustically acclaimed Symphony Hall.
The Festival offers the chance to hear the world’s number 1 ranked brass band, Wales’ Cory Band, as well as Grimethorpe Colliery Band (of Brassed-Off! fame), trumpet icon and YouTube star Louis Dowdeswell, big bands, military bands, and more.
Kenny Crookston, CEO of the event organiser, Brass Bands England, commented: “It’s great to see this event back on English soil. Birmingham is an important home for banding and we are thrilled to be hosted by Symphony Hall and Town Hall, to bring you the very best brass bands alongside their excellent season of concerts. I hope this event gives new audiences a chance to come and discover brass music – you won’t be disappointed!”
Birmingham’s central location offers the UK brass banding community the chance to regroup after recent performing restrictions, and means that international visitors can easily travel to and enjoy the city.
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Music and the arts have always been an important part of life here in the West Midlands as well as for me personally. So I’m really pleased to hear that our region will be showcasing the very best in brass band talent at our acclaimed Symphony Hall and Town Hall venues. May I extend a warm West Midlands welcome to the many musicians from across Europe and I hope they enjoy their stay, taking full advantage of our world renowned hospitality.”
Nick Reed, the Chief Executive Officer of B:Music, who run the Town Hall and Symphony Hall venues, said: “Symphony Hall has long been a likely and welcoming home for brass bands and our team are delighted to be showcasing them by hosting this important and large-scale international event. I’m looking forward to welcoming a wide range of exceptional performing groups to our venues for our audiences to enjoy. I’m certain that everyone who attends will discover something new and find something to be inspired by.”
Due to a pandemic-enforced break, the Festival will mark the first time in three years that the event has taken place, its first time back in England in 15 years.
Event tickets can be purchased from the B:music website.