The History of NCBF

Since its modest beginnings 40 years ago, National Concert Band Festival (ncbf) has grown in size and prestige until it is now recognised as the largest, most active, enterprising Festival for musicians who play in wind bands or big bands throughout the UK.

Over 25 years ago the musical instrument makers – Boosey and Hawkes started an annual Festival, which now has now become the model and bench-mark for quality music making for wind bands and big bands.

A few years ago, Boosey and Hawkes passed the title – and with it the responsibility of running ncbf – to the BASBWE (British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles) Education Trust, In 2004, ncbf became a Registered Charity in its own right and bought the title from the BASBWE Education Trust.

In recent seasons, 120 bands – representing some 5,000 players – take part in the ncbf Regional Festivals – they range in age from 8 to 80. Over the two days of the National Festival, there are in excess of 2,400 participants and 900 supporters in attendance – the largest gathering of wind musicians in the UK.

"NCBF has truly created a unique place in the world of wind bands and big bands."

The music performed, largely taken from our annually up-dated Repertoire Lists, is chosen to reflect the great wind music written by composers of the past, as well as the wealth of high-quality music being written for wind instruments by successful living composers. Performances are assessed by leading exponents of band music at Regional events throughout the country. Positive feedback is provided, and awards given in conjunction with a comprehensive assessment criteria. The festivals are strictly none competitive, the solely emphasis being on providing a musically enriching experience.

The higher awards also carry an invitation to take part in the National Festival – two days of non-stop music making, which in recent years has been held at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester; the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow and The Sage Gateshead

As a registered charity, ncbf is very grateful for its sponsors support and the recent award of an Arts Council Grant has enabled the charity to be more vibrant than ever, broadening its outreach to continue to support and develop music making throughout the UK

“This festival is the life-blood of bands in the UK and has produced more quality performances each and every year – it is a hobby for life that allows musicians of all ages to pace one another on the road to excellence.”

International conductor Geoffrey Brand (ex chairman: NCBF)