Since its founding in 2010 UniBrass has grown year on year. Going from strength to strength, the largest ever UniBrass featured 21 competing bands, from as far North as Durham, right down to Southampton. Live stream audiences have grown too, with the contest now being watched by thousands across the globe. Plus, there’s been plenty of mishaps too! From buses breaking down to students falling asleep and missing their performance, these have all added to the excitement surrounding banding’s most innovative day of the year.
2011-13: The Beginning
UniBrass was founded at Lancaster University in 2010, with the first contest taking place in February 2011. 12 bands from across the country performed at the inaugural event, with Brass United, a collaboration between the Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Manchester, taking home first place. The event soon became a firm fixture in the brass band calendar, with the second year seeing the arrival of the UniBrass education workshops, which have remained a fixture of the contest to this day.
2014-16: The Warwick Years
After three years at Lancaster University, UniBrass moved to the University of Warwick for the 2014 contest. Taking place in the Warwick Arts Centre’s Butterworth Hall, the contest expanded rapidly during its time there, where the number of competing bands jumped from 14 in 2014 to 19 in 2016. In addition, the UniBrass Gala Concert was first staged in 2015 with the Jaguar Land Rover Band, and then again in 2016 with the Black Dyke Band. Finally, a new UniBrass Trophy was commissioned for the 2016 contest, with Manchester University being the first recipients.
2017-18: A two section Event
In 2017 the contest was hosted by the University of York Brass Band, and for the first time ever took place not on a university campus, but in the impressive surroundings of the Harrogate International Centre. The expansion of the contest continued, with the bands being split into two sections, the UniBrass Trophy and the UniBrass Shield. The Royal Northern College of Music entered the competition for the first time as a standalone band, taking away a debut win in the UniBrass Trophy, with Durham triumphant in the inaugural UniBrass Shield. In 2018 the contest moved to the historic city of York for the largest UniBrass ever, featuring 21 bands and taking place in York Barbican.
2018-19: A move to Wales
After 8 years in England, UniBrass moved to Bangor, Wales in 2019 for the first event outside of England. UniBrass 2019 saw 21 bands once again competing across two sections, for the first time split across two venues. The Shield section took place in the Hugh Owen Hall with Chichester taking home the award, whilst the Trophy section took place in Theatr Bryn Terfel, with Royal Northern College of Music becoming University Brass Band Champions once again. UniBrass 2020 took place in Bangor on 8th February 2020, with the Shield taking place in Pritchard Jones Hall, and the Trophy taking place in Theatr Bryn Terfel.
2021-22: Banding's Spiritual Home
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary, UniBrass moved to Sheffield for the 2021 and 2022 contests. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2021 contest was postponed until June, when it was held as an outdoor event - not only our first outdoor contest, but making history as the UK's first post-COVID in-person contest.
UniBrass 2022 will take place on Saturday 5th February 2022.