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The Marple Band are a 2nd Section (2014 National 2nd Section Champions) Brass Band based in Marple, Cheshire.
The Marple Brass Band was founded in 1900 and included reed instruments in its early days. There have been many ups and downs of musical fortune in times past, but its more recent history included appearances at the Royal Albert Hall in the National Brass Band Championship Finals in 1994 and a wonderful win at the British Open Brass Band Championship in 1996 at the Bridgewater Hall.
The current band has recently started contesting again and in March 2013 became the North West 3rd Section Regional Champions. We then competed at the National finals in Cheltenham in September 2103. The band has now been promoted to the second section at national level and again competed in the North West Regional contest in March 2014, attaining a very creditable 2nd placement. The band is again taking part at the National finals, this time as a 2nd section band. We also compete in the Whit Friday March Contest which means dashing around the small Saddleworth and Tameside villages in a 50 seater coach to compete at around 8 or 9 events.
Brass Band Contests / Festival
Often described as 'the greatest free show on Earth', the Saddleworth & District Whit Friday Brass Band Contests take place every year on the afternoon and evening of Whit Friday.
From the earliest recorded contest in 1884, the event has grown in popularity. Last year well over a hundred brass bands participated in some twenty different contests at venues scattered around the moorland villages and towns on the western edge of the Pennines. All of the contests are open-air, many in delightful surroundings. The area has a very strong tradition of brass band music. In the weeks before Whit Friday, the sounds of rehearsals echo across the hillsides from the various band rooms and village halls. There are thriving bands in some of the tiniest villages. And the best bands are world class.
The contests are open to all-comers. So the local youth bands get to match their skills against the top bands of the country. For bandsmen, the dash from contest to contest makes for an exhilarating (though exhausting) evening. See the comments in the guest book. This is a major event in the brass band calendar and bands travel the length of the country to participate, some even turning up from overseas.
Contests typically start at about 4.30pm. Bands play two pieces (marches), one on the march and then their well-rehearsed show-piece on whatever passes for a rostrum. Each performance is scored 'blind' by an adjudicator, hidden in some adjacent darkened room or caravan.
Each contest offers prizes for the best band, best youth band, best soloists etc. At one of the busier venues, you could expect to hear over 50 bands, before the winners are announced shortly after close (10.30 pm or 11.30pm, though the most popular contests can go on well into the early hours).
It is possible to look in at several contests during the evening. But with over 100 bus-loads of bandsmen about, with many of the roads closed to traffic and the inevitable parking problems, it pays not to be over-ambitious.
Each contest is organised by local volunteers. All the running costs and prize money are raised by local donations and through fund-raising events. Most provide refreshments. Helpers are always needed on the night. If you can spare a couple of hours at any of the contests, please email.
Each contest sets its own rules. Bands are required to play a published march, an unmarked copy of which should be handed to the Contest Steward on arrival at the signing-on point. Normally, no more than 25 players may play the contest piece, plus the conductor.
On the morning of Whit Friday, the traditional Whit Walks take place. Dobcross contest have introduced a Henry Livings memorial prize, open to bands who have played on any of the morning's walks.
Whilst every effort goes into ensuring this gig listing is accurate and up to date, always check with the venue before you travel.