Two brass bands are preparing to represent the island in the final of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in Cheltenham.

Manx Concert Brass is competing in the first section on Saturday next week (September 16), where the test piece is Philip Harper’s work St James’s – A New Beginning.

And Ramsey Town Band will be competing on the same day in the fourth section, where the test piece is A Saddleworth Festival Overture, by Goff Richards.

Manx Concert Brass musical director Ian Clague told Island Life: ‘It really is an honour to qualify for the National Finals and the band has enjoyed rehearsing this challenging test piece of music.

‘Competing at this level involves a big commitment from all involved, not just during an intensive rehearsal period but also the time and cost of travelling away for a four-day period.

‘It really is a team effort with hard work and dedication and, alongside our friends at Ramsey Town Band we look forward to representing the Isle of Man, backed by our group of loyal supporters who are travelling with us to Cheltenham.’

The 28-strong band and a large party of supporters will leave the island on Thursday next week.

It qualified for the national finals in February after securing third place in the first section of the North-West Regional Championships in Blackpool.

Their test piece was commissioned to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of acclaimed British architect Sir Christopher Wren, who redesigned and rebuilt London after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

It will be the band’s fifth appearance at the national finals. From next year, the band will be competing in the championship section.

Less than a week after returning home, it will host the Manx Last Night of the Proms at the Gaiety Theatre, on Saturday, September 23.

The band will be joined by three-time Cleveland Medal winner Paul Costain and professional West End performer and island resident Damian Kneale.

They will perform a range of favourites, including customary classics such as Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory, Johan Strauss’ Radetzky March, Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem and the ever-popular Fantasia on British Sea-Songs.

Tickets, priced £18 (adults), £15 (concessions), £5 (under 16s) are available from the Welcome Centre, the Villa Marina, the box office on 600555 or

Manx Concert Brass thanked the Steam Packet for its support with travel to and from the island.

Meanwhile, Ramsey Town Band has spent the summer rehearsing its contest music around family holidays and pre-existing commitments.

It has also been busy raising funds to ensure each band member can afford to take part.

The band is now embarking on an intense 14 hours of rehearsals in 10 days to realise its best possible performance on competition day.

This will involve detailed rehearsals and tuning activities that will require much patience and time commitment from the band.

A Saddleworth Festival Overture was written to celebrate the twinning of Saddleworth, in the Pennines, with the town of the same name just north of Adelaide, in Australia. The piece combines Yorkshire melodies with Waltzing Matilda.

Musical director Robert Quane told Island Life: ‘We have been grateful for, and encouraged by, all of the best wishes we have received from supporters and the local community and we will do our best to put together our very best performance.’

The band is having an open rehearsal where it will play the test piece at St Paul’s Church, in Ramsey, today (Thursday) at 7.30pm.

Ramsey Town Band last qualified for the national finals in 2011.

It qualified this year after being placed third in the North-West Regionals’ fourth section class in February.