44 members from Ardee Concert Band descended on Greater Manchester on Sunday to take part in the regional qualifiers for the National Concert Band Festival – and they’ll back again in 2018 after a stunning performance took home a first place platinum award.
The band, Ireland’s third oldest concert band, travelled across the Irish Sea via ferry and returned with a little extra something, their platinum award, having wowed the adjudicators in the Community Wind Band Class category at the competition.
Taking to the stage at the Blessed John Henry Newman Roman Catholic College in Broadway Oldham, band members young and old performed together, as ever under the guidance of Musical Director Brendan Breslin. They played two pieces – Philip Spark’s Four Noble Truths and New York by Nigel Hess.
Finishing first in their respective section saw Ardee Concert Band claim the Platinum prize for their efforts. One adjudicator in particular, sung their praises. “One of the finest community band performances we have had in some time,” they said.
Breslin added, “You are a credit to community banding, with second and third level students, as well as adults, giving a truly memorable performance today. Thank you for your patience, commitment, and fabulous musicianship!”
Despite the competition being UK based, Ardee Concert Band took the unusual step of entering for the first time in 2017, citing the fact it is graded rather than decided on a points based system – like competitions in Ireland. They also wanted to take the opportunity to take a trip away as a band whist still retaining a ‘serious musical focus.’
Speaking after the win, band PRO Sinead Nutley paid tribute to all involved. “This is a wonderful achievement for the band – to play against bands that we don’t know anything about and leave out musical stamp on the UK Band Scene.”
As the news filtered through on Sunday evening, Honorary Band President Austin Nevin announced the win to the band’s weekly Bingo goers last night. The news, as you might imagine, was met with rapturous applause. Nevin thanked the patrons of the weekly Sunday night Bingo for their continued support, the bingo being the Bands main income earner. “It’s because of them that the band is in the fortunate position it is in today,” Nutley said.
In July, Ardee Concert Band took home a staggering seven trophies from the Annual South of Ireland Band Championships in Clonakilty. They have now won 15 awards in just over two years in at the Championships. Earlier in the year, the band finished second in the 52th National Band Championships competition, as well as taking home a prize for Best Brass Section. In January, the band won Best Community Involved Group at the Ardee BAFTAs.
Before the end of the year, Ardee Concert Band will take part in their annual Christmas Concert next month and they’ll be out and about as ever in the town over the Christmas period to being a little festive cheer to shoppers and locals.
The National Concert Band Festival is the UK’s Biggest wind band and big band festival.
Ardee Concert Band are supported by the Arts Council, Music Network and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.