Butlin’s Open Brass Band Festival: Further details of the 2021 event

The organisers of the Butlin’s Open Brass Band Festival have announced further details of the 2021 event, to be held at Butlin’s Skegness Resort on the weekend of 8-11 January. 

 

Entries for all sections are now being processed through the Brass Bands England (BBE) website and in order to mitigate problems and uncertainty facing bands during the Covid-19 crisis, the deadline for discounted entry has been extended until 31 August. To enter, therefore, please visit https://www.bbe.org.uk/events and select Butlin’s Open Brass Band Festival and follow the instructions through to the payment section. The entry fee remains at £100, but is reduced to £75 for bands in BBE membership. There is a further discount of £25 on all entries to the end of August, so BBE members entering before then will only need to pay £50.

 

The test-pieces for 2021 are: 

Championship: Paganini Variations (Phillip Wilby)

Sections 1-3: Own-choice test-piece

Section 4: A 20-minute entertainment programme, with open adjudication.

Championship (test-piece), 1st, 2nd and 3rd sections remain closed adjudication.

 

Awards and prize money remain the same as in 2020, with the addition that the winner of the Entertainment element of the Championship Entertainment Contest will now receive an invitation to the following year’s Brass in Concert at Sage Gateshead. The £10,000 top prize in the Championship Section remains the biggest prize in brass banding worldwide, with £2,000 each going to the winners of sections 1-4. 

 

Butlin’s has announced significant changes to the format of its youth and solo and ensemble events, also due to take place at Skegness during the Festival. The Youth Band and Debut Section (formerly Junior Ensemble) contests will now be entertainment based, with age categories closer reflecting those in operation at the National Youth Brass Band Championships and other youth band events. Similarly, the categories in the British Open Solo and Ensemble Championships have also changed, with quintets now also able to take part in the event and soloists no longer restricted to playing slow melodies or air varies in certain sections. 

 

Festival Director, Steve Walker, commented: “We are pleased to be able to make these very positive announcements, especially at a time when there has been so little good news and a lot of uncertainty. We are extremely hopeful that the 2021 event can go ahead in a manner and spirit as close as possible to the fantastic weekends we have hosted in the past and would like to encourage as many members of the brass band community as possible to come and join us. We will obviously not put anyone at unnecessary risk and will take all necessary precautions in keeping with the best advice available at the time, so if your band is looking for a first event in a long time then there may be no better choice than Butlin’s”

 

The changes are as follows:

 

Butlin’s Youth Brass Band Festival: Bands will perform an entertainment-style programme up to 20 minutes in length and will be limited to players who have not reached their 19th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest (in the case of 2021, players born on or after 1 September 2002). Up to 55 players (including percussion) can play in each band and over-age players (including tutors) are no longer allowed to perform. 

 

Butlin’s Youth Brass Band Festival – Debut Section: Bands will perform an entertainment-style programme up to 15 minutes in length and will be limited to players who have not reached their 15th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest (in the case of 2021, players born on or after 1 September 2006). Up to 55 players (including percussion) can play in each band and while over-age players are not allowed, one tutor (or similar) may play a bass part if no other bass players are available.

 

British Open Solo and Ensemble Championships: The new age categories will be:

Open Solos: Open to all. First prize £500.

Youth Solos: Open to all performers who have not reached their 19th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest. First prize £300.

Junior Solos: Open to all performers who have not reached their 15th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest. First prize £200.

Performers in all sections will be limited to six minutes, but may play a solo of any style.

 

Open Ensembles: Open to all. First prize £500.

Youth Ensembles: Open to all performers who have not reached their 19th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest. Any ensembles comprising only players who have not reached their 15th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest will be eligible for the award of Best Junior Ensemble. First prize £300 (Best Junior £200).

 

Up to five players may perform in all ensembles and the time limit in each section is ten minutes. 

 

Entry fees in the Youth Band and Debut Section are £75 per group, with the same benefits for BBE members and early sign-ups as the main contests. Soloist entry fees remain at £10 and, similarly, Ensemble fees are £20. 

 

Steve Walker concluded: “Solo and small ensemble contests have been important to brass banding for many years and we are very keen to inject new energy into this aspect of the genre, which has perhaps recently been neglected in the wider sense. We hope that the new format appeals to everyone, but to those players who have formed small ‘lockdown’ groups in recent weeks, why not come along to Skegness in January and let the rest of the banding world hear the fruits of your efforts?”

 

Full details of rules and regulations for all sections will be published on the BBE website at www.bbe.org.uk and further information is available from Contest Controller Brian Eggleshaw on 01754 450911, 07976 521080 (mobile) or by email at brian.eggleshaw@gmail.com

Accommodation packages can be booked at www.butlins.com