(12 February 2020) The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company is supporting two local brass bands competing in a prestigious championship next weekend.
Ramsey Town Band and Douglas Town Band are among the Manx contingent taking part in the North West Regional Championships in Blackpool on Sunday, 23rd February. The Steam Packet Company is supporting the bands by providing discounted travel for players and their instruments.
Both have been busy in recent months preparing for the competition at the landmark Winter Gardens.
Douglas is one of 19 bands competing in the third section of the Championships, while Ramsey is vying for success with 15 other bands in the fourth section of the contest.
Formed in 1887, Douglas Town Band will perform the selected test piece, Andrew Baker’s ‘Endurance’ – a set of ‘narrative variations’ for brass inspired by the story of Ernest Shackleton’s epic journey across the Southern Ocean.
Directed by Ken Mitchell, the group has been rehearsing twice a week in advance of the competition and will also welcome its musical advisor, world
renowned Tenor Horn player Gordon Higginbottom, to the Island for a series of workshops to finalise its preparations.
Secretary Paul Naylor said: ‘We have taken part in this contest for many years now and are extremely grateful to the Steam Packet Company for supporting us for the third year in a row. The band has a range of players aged from 15 to 70 and competing in events like this allows them to improve their musicianship which, in turn, enhances brass band playing in the Isle of Man.
‘As well as the Steam Packet Company, we are also grateful to the Mylchreests Group for the loan of a vehicle so we can transport our instruments.’
Ramsey Town Band, led by musical director Robert Quane, will be performing a work called ‘Neverland’ by Christopher Bond, a piece written especially for this contest and based on ideas from Peter Pan. This will be the 11th time the band has participated in the Area Championships since its first foray in 2006.
Committee member Stephen Woodward said: ‘On behalf of Ramsey Town Band I’d like to thank the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for its generous support, assisting us with travel to and from the UK to take part in this renowned competition.
‘We have been rehearsing three times a week since the start of the year and the majority of those practices are focused on this one piece so we are committed to putting on a good show.’
A total of 79 brass bands will be competing across five sections at the North West Regional Championships. Similar to football leagues, bands can be promoted or relegated between sections based on their results. The top bands from each section go forward to the National Finals later in the year.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘Both Ramsey Town Band and Douglas Town Band play an important part in the community, giving up their time for performances across the Island and providing opportunities for players of all ages to hone their skills.
‘We are sure they will be fine ambassadors for the Isle of Man and would like to wish them both the best of luck in Blackpool.’