FORMIDABLE FODEN'S - Full coverage from the 2021 National Brass Band Championships

Issue 6112

HOW TO IMPRESS - Amos Miller on flourishing in a conservatoire audition

COMPOSER CAST - Liz Lane on her fascinating early musical life

DEPARTURE - Cornet star Kirsty Abbotts leaves Carlton Main

The brass band time capsule - Simon Gresswell

Tuesday 5 October, 2021

As the dust settles on the 2021 National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, British Bandsman turns back the clock to 1993 and a momentous year for the Williams Fairey Band.

Martyn Ramsay speaks to Bb bass player, Simon Gresswell, about his memories of the build-up to the championship – and the momentous result which followed.


The Royal Albert Hall’s suitability as a contest venue has long been the subject of debate. From acoustics to cost and location, the debit column has never been short of entries but the sense of spectacle and occasion that it brings is almost undeniable. The beautiful old cavern never fails to infuse the audience with something special as they take in the final major of the British contesting season, the end of a road that every Championship band knows it can reach if it has the right kind of day in March. It is brass banding’s FA Cup final to the British Open’s Premier League. But, for all the romance that surrounds a fresh-faced qualifier, it is the biggest guns that create the biggest anticipation and none more so than when the reigning British Open champion band takes the stage. The famous ‘double’, after all, could be on.

It is a feat that has been managed only 18 times in 120 years and by only 12 conductors, but one in particular stands tallest of all. Major Peter Parkes has directly followed success at the Open with a win in London on four occasions, with William Rimmer and Philip Harper the only other two to do it more than once. The first three occurred during that legendary spell at the helm of Black Dyke, in 1976, 1977 and 1985, with the second of those producing an aggregate winning margin of seven points. Arguably his most famous double however, was his last. As big a winning margin as in 1977 but from a new base in Stockport rather than Queensbury, 1993 was the year of Williams Fairey driven by a reinvigorated Parkes and an influx of experienced players with a point to prove.


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Issue 6111 digital September 30, 2021