TO thousands of brass fans it’s known as ‘the best free show in the world’ and for Brighouse and Rastrick Band it was another chance to parade their National Championship trophy in triumph.
The Whit Friday March contests in Saddleworth attracted more than 120 of the best brass bands from all the UK and Europe. B & R competed in eight out of a possible 11 contests and gained two first prizes, four seconds and a third and fourth placing.
Led by guest conductor Ian Porterhouse, B & R lost the Saddleworth crown to Yorkshire rivals Black Dyke but there were prizes at Delph for Kevin Crockford, B & R’s star soprano player, and at Greenfield for principal cornet Stuart Lingard and David Thornton, prinicipal euphonium.
B & R gained first places in the contests at Greenfield and Grotton and came second at Delph, Denshaw, Dobcross and Lees and Springfield.
For the second year running B & R got the chance to parade the National Trophy. Band members wore their historic purple marching uniforms and gave spectators lining the route a fine view of the spectacular trophy.
President Paul Beaumont said: “The Whit Friday March contests are a traditional and spectacular event and attract a combined audience of tens of thousands of people.
“This year the weather was kind to us and stayed fine - unlike last year when it threw it down.
“The band played consistently at every venue and was greeted by cheering crowds. We didn’t get home until 1.30am, exhausted but having had a great time. Whit Friday and Saddleworth is always special for the band. We have a real affinity with the villages and the people who live there.
“It’s very different to a regional contest or the British Open or performing at the Albert Hall but it’s no less important and no less an event for us.”
It’s a busy year for B & R. The band is giving 33 concerts, is about to give performances in Belgium and Italy and has just recorded a new CD under the baton of Prof David King, the band’s professional conductor.
On Saturday, B & R will be on stage with The Unthanks at the Victoria Theatre, Halifax, and on June 30 the band is staging its own concert at St Bartholomew’s Church, Marsden, at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from 01484 845622.