City of Bristol headed for the hills last weekend, for the annual Whit Friday march contests. Every year since 1884 the sound of brass music has echoed through the foothills of the West Pennines on Whit Friday, and this year was no exception. The contests saw 133 brass bands and over 3,500 musicians gather from all over the world on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border for an evening of entertainment and music making.
The Band played at five Saddleworth villages to large crowds on a beautiful summer’s evening. Widely regarded as the "greatest free show on earth", thousands of locals and visitors poured onto the sun-filled streets to watch the bands march. The organisers of Greenfield contest, estimated a vast crowd of 4000 people - quite possibly the largest audience the band has ever played to.
Whist on the march, the Band performed the theme tune to Wallace & Gromit, in homage to their home city. The bass drum even featured a Gromit mascot, alongside Shaun the sheep, and Feather’s McGraw – who all came along as support.
The band played consistently well, and even won a prize at Greenfield for their performance of the march ‘Knight Templar’ by composer George Allan (1864 – 1930) written as a tribute to the fearless knights of the Crusades.
Bands from all over the world attend the Whit Friday contests, as there is £60,000 in prize money up for grabs. 2014’s event saw bands attend from Germany, Switzerland, Holland, and amazingly, Neo Brass, a band that had travelled from Japan to take part.
Principal Cornet Steve Ellis said: “Whit Friday is a not-to-be-missed event for any brass band musician, and is one of the biggest events in the brass band calendar. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and it was an honour to represent Bristol in front of such large crowds”.
2nd Horn Player, Emma Metcalfe who organised the trip said: “It was fantastic to take City of Bristol Brass Band to the Whit Friday contests. It is a unique event, and it was the band’s first time. To have come away with a prize shows the band can compete with some of the best brass bands in the country.”