Yes, feeling brassed off*. This weekend we should have been making our pilgrimage to the iconic Royal Albert Hall, London, for the National Brass Band Championships. Alas this is yet another event understandably cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions. This would have been my twentieth visit to the main event, attracting an audience of over 4000, and other fringe activities in London over the weekend.
The competition has been held there since 1945, and is one of the most prestigious events in the Brass Band calendar. I first attended in 1968 and was immediately impressed by the size and atmosphere of the fascinating building. The acoustics are unusual and the hall has a noticeable echo. Various attempts have been made to improve acoustics over the years as can be seen in the acoustic diffusing discs hung from the roof and lit purple and blue.
Twenty championship bands, representing all the regions of Great Britain, compete for the title and magnificent trophy. The day starts with a draw for order of play when band hope to avoid the number one spot and be first on. Three adjudicators sit in an enclosed box so they can hear but not see which band is playing. 2018 was a special year for us when Foden’s, a band very close to our hearts, were crowned winners for the fourteenth time in their history.
Maybe, just maybe, we will be there on 9th October 2021.
*For my overseas followers, ‘brassed off’ is a British expression meaning fed up or disgruntled. It is also the title of a feel-good film which tells the story of the fictitious Grimley Colliery Band facing closure but overcoming various difficulties and obstacles to go on and win the championships.