On February 18th 2017, the seventh annual UniBrass championships will be contested across two sections in the Harrogate International Centre. This idyllic spa town in North Yorkshire, less than an hour away from the University of York, offers the ideal location for a banding contest, with professional facilities and a dedicated performance auditorium that will see UniBrass stage a contest on a par with the foremost in the country.
Ongoing refurbishment work at the University of York has meant that UniBrass is unable to use its Central Hall on this occasion, and so rather than compromise the contest we opted to seek out an alternative venue in the local area. We are delighted that in Harrogate we have found not only an ideal contest venue, but also the capacity to stage the entire contest day. Contest, social, gala concert and education workshops will thus all take place in the HIC, ensuring UniBrass remains a unified and inclusive event.
UniBrass has proved a phenomenal success since it began in 2011, and is now highly regarded in the brass band community (as well as amongst students) for its influence on the growth of student banding. It is essential that the contest is able to continue expanding, allowing more players and more universities to become involved in the event year on year. 2016’s contest saw nearly 700 students compete in the contest alone, in a full day of 19 competing bands. There was therefore no capacity for further growth under a one section/one day format. For this reason, along with the move to Harrogate, we have chosen to restructure the contest into two sections. This will allow more players to enjoy this fabulous event, and ensure UniBrass’ continued growth and longevity.
Rather than split the contest over two days, to the detriment of the atmosphere that UniBrass is known for, we have chosen to continue the competition as a one day extravaganza. The two sections of UniBrass 2017 will compete simultaneously, with separate adjudicators, for two discrete sets of awards (full details to be announced in due course).
The UniBrass Trophy that debuted at UniBrass 2016 will continue to be awarded to the best performing band, as decided by our adjudicators. The Trophy will be contested in the Harrogate International Centre’s main auditorium; this breathtaking arena, which hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982, will give competing bands a taste of performing in a premier performance venue.
Close to the main auditorium in the HIC, the all-new UniBrass Shield will be contested. The Shield allows bands to compete against those they are closely matched to, and ensures every competing band at UniBrass has a real chance of coming away with a prize. Spectators at the Shield will be treated to a more relaxed, cabaret-style seating layout, offering an intimate and unique experience that displays UniBrass’ inclusive nature in a whole new light.
The initial placing of established UniBrass bands between the two sections will be decided through a weighted average system of the last two years’ results, with a weighted league system to be established for future years. Bands competing at UniBrass for the first time (or returning after an absence of two years or more) will be placed on performance merit at the discretion of the UniBrass organising committee.
Competitors from both sections will come together in HIC’s main auditorium for results at the end of the contest, allowing the camaraderie between bands that UniBrass is known for to continue. The education workshops and UniBrass social will also continue to form an integral part of the event in Harrogate. More information regarding these aspects of the contest day, as well as this year’s gala concert, will be announced in the weeks to come.
The change in the structure of UniBrass is essential to allow the contest to continue to grow, and get as many people involved in university banding as possible. All spectator tickets will be valid for both sections, with movement between the two encouraged throughout the day, ensuring all our visitors have the opportunity to see everything the contest has to offer. UniBrass 2017 will see more players, more prizes and more noise than ever before, and we can’t wait to share it with you – click here to buy your tickets now
Registration for UniBrass 2017 will open at 7pm on November 10th, 100 days before the contest. Further detail on the section allocation and registration process will be sent out to established UniBrass bands via email tomorrow, November 4th. If any other bands would like this information, please email email@example.com, mentioning your university affiliation.
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Images © Harrogate International Centre