National Concert Band Festival ( ncbf )
Some reflections by the Chairman
Since its modest beginnings 30 years ago ncbf has developed and grown in size and prestige. It is now recognised as the longest, most active and enterprising Festival for wind instrument musicians who play in wind bands and big bands throughout the United Kingdom.
Great credit must be given to the musical instrument makers, Boosey & Hawkes, who had the initiative and enterprise to start an annual Festival, which now has become the model and bench-mark for quality music making for wind bands and big bands. Initially my involvement with the wind band movement started through membership of BASBWE (British Association of Wind Bands & Wind Ensembles), which had been formed in 1981. The development of the
Boosey & Hawkes Festival from 1985 seemed to run parallel with the aims of BASBWE. Over those early years I entered youth and community bands into the Festival both at Regional and National level. My thanks go out to Anne Marie Sizer and her team of helpers from B & H. The music played was selected from annually up-dated repertoire lists, which had been chosen, as it is now, to reflect music composed in the past as well as the increasing large amount of music being written by highly skilled and successful living composers. I know exploring new music was one the most important assets of the Festival for me.
Performances were assessed, as now, at Regional events throughout the country by skilled musicians, who awarded Gold, Silver & Bronze awards. There is now a higher grade of Platinum to be achieved. The highest awards also carried an invitation to take part in the National Festival, which is now two days of non-stop music making at prestigious venues such as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, The Sage, Gateshead and the Royal Academy of Music, London. Even the festival began at the Wembley Conference Centre, after a few years it was routed to this weekend’s venue – the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
Boosey & Hawkes continued to support the Festival financially, but in 1990 passed the title, and with it the responsibility of running ncbf, to the BASBWE Educational Trust. This Trust had been set up to develop training sessions for member bands of BASBWE and was an ideal umbrella for the Festival. It was during this period that printed criteria for the each of the awards was established and issued to participating bands. My thanks to Charles Hine for promoting and developing the work of the Trust. Funding from Boosey & Hawkes was gradually phased out over a five-year period and in 2004 ncbf became a Registered Charity in its own right and bought the title from the BASBWE Educational Trust. Since then, ncbf has received financial support from the PRS Foundation, Yamaha and R Smith & Co.
Members of the Trust now responsible for the running of ncbf know that without regular funding it cannot survive and thrive so here are a few nurtured proposals which are put forward for the growth and enhancement of the Festival over the next few years, namely to :
- Increase the number of Regional events in order to ease access for bands wherever in the United Kingdom.
- encourage more bands to perform pieces for both wind band and big band by British composers.
- increase the opportunities for bands to have post-performance workshop sessions with adjudicators / clinicians and composers.
- increase the opportunity for conductors to participate in training sessions.
Some statistics :
- 120 bands – representing 5,000 musicians – take part in the Regional events. How this could grow if there were more Regions !
- Over 2,000 participants and 1,000 supporters (still increasing) are in attendance at the National Festival over the two days !
Thirty years – a great achievement !
Thank you for your support