NIBA Contest 2011

Here is a video of the ‘Performance of the Day’ at this years NIBA Contest 2011. The set-piece was Kevin Norbury’s ‘Variations on Maccabeus.’

The video is courtesy of TheSplash55, who spent a day in Armagh recording almost all of the bands.


St. Joseph’s Sweep the Boards!

Armagh’s Market Theatre resounded to the sounds of brass band music on Saturday, 22nd October, as brass bands from all over Ireland gathered for the 94th All Ireland Brass Bands Championships.

St. Joseph’s Brass Band, under the baton of conductor Noel Barr, certainly rose to the occasion and brought back to Strabane a collection of awards. Their splendid rendition of Kevin Norbury’s “Variations on Maccabeus” certainly left no doubts as to their musical prowess.

Not only did the band win the All Ireland Grade 2 Brass title, for the third time, but it won the overall best band award from all the bands participating in all sections of the Championship. The Bass section won the Best Bass Section award, whilst the Cornet section won the Best Cornet Section award. But, the accolades didn’t stop at that. The hard work and tenacity of the band’s conductor, Mr Noel Barr, was acknowledged when he was awarded the Best Conductor Trophy.

Band Chairperson, Mr Mark Rouse, said “this has been a wonderful day for band, for our conductor and for Strabane. Our success has been the result of many hours of dedicated practice and I would like all the members of the band to feel proud of their achievements today and congratulate them on their success. I, also,want to thank them for all their hard work. Together, we thank our conductor Noel Barr for his belief in us, for all his hard work and congratulate him on his success.”

St. Joseph’s Brass would like to thank all the people of the Strabane area for their continued support and are now preparing their Christmas programme.
The Band is hoping to start learners’ classes soon, and is always looking for new members. Anyone interested in joining the band should contact our Secretary, Paddy McGranaghan.

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Celebrations at St. Joseph’s.

With the twice weekly band practices, Learners’ classes, Music for Youth activities and the weekly Vintage Brass session, it’s back to business at St. Joseph’s Brass after a well-enjoyed summer break.

This will be a busy and important year for the band, as it sees the band celebrating two important milestones in its history – the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Vintage Brass Ensemble and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the very busy Music for Youth project. The celebrating of these milestones will take place amidst a busy calendar of events.  Besides a busy Christmas programme, the band will play at the annual O.N.E remembrance ceremonies in Cootehill, Co. Cavan on 28th November and the annual Marie Curie Cancer Lessons and Carols at the Alley Theatre on December 20th.

New members to the band, Music for Youth and Learners’ classes are always welcome and, retired brass players who feel they would like to take part in a weekly music session will be most welcome at the Vintage Brass Ensemble.

Band Chairperson, Mark Rouse, said that “the band has a busy year ahead but, as usual the members are up for the challenge.  We have a number of events planned for the year and a trip abroad next year has been mooted and the Committee are looking at its feasibility.  Some of our members have just started third level education and we wish them all the best with their studies. We look forward to seeing them when they are home on holidays. Also, we are very pleased to see that some former players, now living elsewhere, are keeping up the skills they learned at St. Joseph’s, by  playing in brass bands where they now live. This is what banding is all about. If you think you would like to join the band, or one of our activities, feel free to contact me, any band member or our Secretary, Paddy McGranaghan on 07512727373.”

Source:  Strabane Chronicle

Back in the swing…

Well the band are well and truly back in the swing now as they continue with their normal rehearsals. Vintage Brass and the training band are continuing on Monday’s, as well as Wednesday evening and Sunday morning rehearsals. The band have engagements in Cootehill and Strabane coming up over the next few months so are busy in preparation for both of them.

All new (and old) members are welcome to come out any night for a rehearsal with the band. Times are as follows:

Monday – 7:30pm-9:30pm

Wednesday – 7:30pm-9pm

Friday – 6:30pm-8pm

Anyone wishing to know any more information can contact any member or drop us an email here to:

Holiday Time!

Holidays are here once again and the band are enjoying the break! This Thursday 15th July sees the Annual presentation of awards for all the Music for Youth students, followed on Friday 16th by a march through Raphoe in Co. Donegal.

Following both of these the band will break for three weeks holidays before getting back for the long haul!


Paddy McGranaghan take a bow!

A most sincere deal of gratitude and thanks is owed to Mr. Paddy McGranaghan for all his work with the band over the past 10 years. Paddy is a man well known throughout Strabane and all over the North in Brass Band circles. Paddy was the secretary of St. Joseph’s Brass Band for some 10 years and it all happened by accident for the man who was once told to “stop standing there with your two arms the one length and pick up an instrument!”

After that initial meeting with Noel Barr Paddy found himself to be keen to progress in the band as a player, but with his infectious nature to get knee deep in everything, Paddy soon became a fixture of the band when he accepted the position of Secretary at an A.G.M. back in 2000.

Some ten years later and Paddy has documented the bands 60 year history in a book he wrote, entitled “The Band’s Out” and has been all around Ireland as an avid fan as well as member. It is owed by the band to make such a public acknowledgement of thanks and support to Paddy as he moves on from his post to take a backseat role as the band engage in a period of change from the roots up.

From all at St. Joe’s, we thank you infinitely and wish you all the best for the future.

St. Joseph’s Narrowly Miss Out

Saturday 24th April saw St. Joseph’s back in Strabane to try to emulate their success of the previous year as they tried to retain their 2nd Section title from the B.B.L. Playing Philip Harper’s ‘Kingdom of Dragons’ they spent numerous weeks piecing together all the parts to give a performance that had the audience on the edge of their seats.

The piece is relatively new, having been commissioned for the Gwent Youth Brass Band, but found itself being the chosen piece for the Nationals this year so St. Joseph’s, and their conductor Noel barr thought they would rise to the challenge and go for it.

 They did not disappoint and although narrowly missing out to Downshire by 1 point they feel they have done themselves and their town proud once more. The adjudicators remarks left them feeling a great sense of pride as he outlined how well the band played the piece and how good their interpretation was.

All that remains now is for the band to think about returning to the N.I.B.A. competition on October 24th!!

St. Joe’s go Golfing!!

Sunday 11th October saw members of St. Joseph’s take to Hill Valley Golf Centre, Sion Mills for a day out. The day promised some entertainment and some laughs and both were provided. Two non-members even turned up for the fun of it all. The day started brightly with all 14 members on the practice green for some rules and regulations. There was a prize kitty set up and even some wagers set between sections of the band. The weather conditions were testing for any experienced golfer, never mind any amateur!


Off they trod however and it was the first group who took some 15 minutes for four players to simply tee off. It was at this point that we decided it appropriate for the players to stagger the starting positions so that everyone could get moving and get the blood circulating. The laughs began for one group as they began their day from the 4th hole. Picturesque scenery was all that was in front, with a driving range to the right and this proved attractive for one member as he proceeded to lose two balls in here before decided to drop a shot down the hill. It was on this very hill that one member even decided to slide down via his derrière!

But onwards they trod through thick and blustery conditions before the weather eventually settled and the sun made an impromptu appearance. Things were going great as the putts rolled in and the occasional par and even a birdie was spotted close by. The one main piece of eventfulness came on the illustrious 13th hole. The steep downward decline led to one unfortunate member requiring a trip to A & E and a cast on a badly broken wrist. However, the show (or rather competition) must go on and that’s what happened. 12 players continued their quest for the illustrious and coveted “St. Joseph’s Brass Band Golf Trophy” and the final scores proved that there was some competition involved. There were some 39 shots difference between first and last place and even 7 points between first and second.

The winner on the day happened to be none other than Tommy Barr Jr, a non-band member, who came up and literally stole the prize! Second place went to Mark Rouse after some great shots throughout. The bass section wager went to Rob Coyle after Noel Barr took fear and relinquished his opposition. For the sake of the players I was going to keep scores from public view but that’s no fun so as follows:

1. 73 – Tommy Barr Jr.

2. 80 – Mark Rouse

3. 91 – Rob Coyle

4. 94 – Adam Barr

5. 96 – Noel Barr Jr & Oran McGranaghan

7. 98 – Jason Barr

8. 99 – Darren Barr & Noel Barr Sr.

10. 106 – Ciaran Simpson

11. 110 – Eugene McDaid

12. 112 – Amanda McGinley


The long haul to start back…

St. Joseph’s are to start back on Sunday week following the summer holidays. This will see the band begin preparations for the weekend in Dublin and Glenties plus try and get the routine stuck into everyone’s head until Christmas at least! The band had a solid 6 week break so Sunday 16th August seems destined to be a morning or valve oil for the majority of members.

Anyone wishing to come along to see the band, or think about joining, can call to the band hall on the Derry Road any Sunday morning from 11am – 1pm or Wednesday night from 7:30pm – 9:30pm from the 16th August.

North West Music Festival concludes in style!

The Alley came alive for three days of thrilling music performances, competitions and workshops, highlighting the very best in talent not only within Strabane and the North West, but across Northern Ireland and the rest of Europe. From the magnificent Swedish National Youth Brass Band to St Joseph’s Brass Band storming to victory within their section, the North West Music Festival surpassed all expectation.

The festival started on April 2nd with musical workshops for local students interested in pop, rock and brass workshops. Led by Brendan Breslin, the celebrated Irish composer and musician, over 140 students benefited from excellent tuition and hands-on experience with some of the leading musicians in their field.

In the afternoon, Radio Foyle and BBC Newsline descended onto Strabane and the Alley to promote this wonderful community festival. “The Mark Patterson Show” held an outside broadcast in the Alley’s Jenca Cafe, interviewing various participants in the festival, musicians, local business and political leaders, while Keiron Tourish, BBC Newsline North West correspondant filmed workshops in action and a performance by the Swedish National Youth Band and St Joseph’s Brass Band at the world famous “Tinnies” statues.

The Dublin Concert Brass Band and Brendan Breslin thrilled a packed audience on April 3rd with their performance of “Music from the Mills”, a collection of big band, swing, brass music, which simply pulsed with energy and rhythm.

On Saturday, April 4th over 20 brass bands from across Northern Ireland fought it out in the Alley auditorium to be crowned champions, with Strabane’s St Joseph’s Brass Band once again winning their section and Strabane Concert Brass coming a very respectable 3rd in their section. The competition started at 10 a.m and did not finish until 6 p.m, with packed audiences throughout the day enjoying some of the very best in brass band music in the UK on show.

The grand finale of the festival was the Swedish National Youth Brass Band and Steve Sykes, who gave a gripping performance of music around the world. “The Swedish group had a fantastic time in Strabane and musical friendships have been built for years to come with the exciting visit by our European partners” commented John Kerr, Alley Theatre Manager. “The North West Music Festival has been an amazing success and we look forward to welcoming the North West Festival Committee back again next year”.

Tommy Barr, North West Music Festival Director and member of St Joseph’s Brass Band commented “The festival has been a fantastic experience for everyone involved and I would like to sincerely thank all the sponsors, including Strabane District Council, The Connect Project, MK Audio and other local businesses for their support, without which this whole event would not be possible. We have now demonstrated to the musical world what talent Strabane and the North West has and we look forward to next year!”.

Source: The Alley Theatre