Brass Bands England (BBE) has announced that next year’s National Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain (Youth Champs), will take place at Stockport Grammar School, Greater Manchester, on Saturday 25 March.
The Youth Champs takes place annually, each time at a different location, and is organised and managed by Brass Bands England as a unique and inspiring performance opportunity for young brass players. All youth brass bands across the UK are encouraged to take part in competitive elements of the contest, whilst the Besson Prodige Showcase Section will be available for any band, regardless of its level of experience.
Format changes for Youth Champs 2023
As part of BBE’s commitment to keep the competition as accessible as possible, and in response to participant feedback, there are a small number of changes to the event format, which participants might want to note at this stage.
All Sections will take place on a single day, and with the removal of differing age categories between them. All Sections will be open to all performers who have not reached their 19th birthday on or before 31 August in the year of the contest.
A new division, the Performance Section, will provide a first taste of competitive band contesting and will replace the former Elementary and Intermediate sections, both of which have seen reduced numbers in recent years as more bands have been drawn to the Championship Section. Bands in the Performance Section will perform an own-choice programme to include at least one original work for brass band.
Recognising the need for bands to continue their recovery from the lost years of pandemic recruitment and practise, there will be no set test-piece requirement in the Championship Section, giving bands the flexibility to choose music suitable for their own particular ensemble.
Following positive feedback on last year’s draw method trial that accounted for the geographical location of bands, this will now become a permanent addition to the contest rules.
European Youth Brass Band Contest qualification
The qualification process for the English entry to the European Youth Brass Band Contest (EYBBC) has been adjusted to provide better alignment with the age restrictions for participation in EYBBC Sections.
The qualification place for the EYBBC Premier Section (aged 22 years or under on 1 January in the year of the contest) will now go to the highest placed English band in the Trophy Section of UniBrass, the National University Brass Band Championships, rather than any band participating in the Youth Champs.
The invitation to the EYBBC Development Section (aged 18 years or under) will now be awarded to the highest placed English band in the Championship Section of the Youth Champs.
Qualifying bands for Wales and Scotland will be decided by the respective banding bodies in those regions.
BBE’s Chief Executive Officer, Kenny Crookston, clarified these important adjustments: “These changes to the EYBBC qualification process are aimed at ensuring we send bands to appropriate sections of the European event. Despite the successful results some of our bands have had at the EYBBC, various aspects of the event have placed an unreasonable burden of expectation upon those which have felt the need to recruit additional players who had been ineligible for the qualification event. The changes we have made address these and other issues, while the introduction of the UniBrass qualifier also brings a further level of cohesion to the lifelong journey from beginner through youth and university to adult community banding, which is so vital for the future prosperity of brass bands in England.”
He continued: “To give bands time to prepare, the Youth Champs and UniBrass contests will continue to qualify for the following year’s EYBBC events. The 2023 events will therefore be the qualifiers for the 2024 EYBBC in Palanga (Lithuania). We are grateful to the UniBrass Foundation for accepting our suggestion to award a qualification place via their contest and look forward to working with them to ensure that university bands can take up the invitation in future years.”
Thomas Hicken, Chair of the UniBrass Foundation, added: “UniBrass are really excited to be able to work alongside BBE to give university bands this amazing opportunity to show what they can do on the international stage. We look forward to working with and supporting the qualifying bands, alongside their institutions, to make sure they represent themselves, and the whole of England, as best as possible. We are also exploring opportunities for bands in other sections of the contest to gain high quality performance opportunities on the back of their achievements with us, watch this space!”
Find out more and apply to perform
Applications to take part in Youth Champs 2023 will open on Tuesday 20 September 2022 via the Brass Bands England website.
Ahead of the entry window, bands considering participating can download a Pre-Entry Information Pack as well as access updated Aims and Rules. All documentation is now available via the Youth Champs page on the Brass Bands England website.
Got questions? All those interested in the event are welcomed to a Youth Champs online information session hosted by the BBE team on Tuesday 11 October 2022 between 6 – 7pm. Drop in at any time to ask your questions about the event.