Marching Bands in The News Letter Festival at Ulster Hall

Derryloran Boyne Defenders Flute Band.mm2910-222ar.
Derryloran Boyne Defenders Flute Band.mm2910-222ar.

The News Letter Festival of Marching Bands, organised by the Ulster Bands Forum and sponsored by Translink & Ulster Scots, was first launched in 2009 and returns again to the Ulster Hall, now in its fourth year.

The evening promises to be a showcase of bands from across the Province taking part in front of an enthusiastic Ulster Hall audience.

This year’s schedule once again brings together the cream of Ulster’s marching bands. Among the line-up will be local band Pride of the Orange and Blue Flute Newbuildings chosen by the organisers as being one of the premier bands of their musical style and genre. Bringing blood and thunder of a flavour more recognisable in 2012, the Londonderry men have had an excellent 2012.

The evening will also feature Cloughmills Crown Defenders Flute, Antrim; Ballycraigy Auld Boys Flute, Antrim; Derryloran Boyne Defenders Flute, Cookstown; Pride of the Orange and Blue Flute, Londonderry; Whitewater Pipe, Newtownhamilton; Newtownards Melody Flute; Drum Accordion, Monaghan; and Pride of the Raven Flute East Belfast.

Everyone is eagerly anticipating playing to a capacity audience and the warm welcome they will receive.

“The latest research has verified that the Ulster band scene is very much undergoing a resurgence. There are actually more bands in the Province today than there have ever been. We are into the fourth year of the festival, and every year the interest right across the Province is phenomenal. The mixture of different styles of marching music is, without doubt, the key ingredient in making for a very entertaining musical evening” says Quincey Dougan, Ulster Bands Forum.

“The diverse line-up of styles and genres promises to deliver something for every fan of the marching band culture. Everyone loves the sounds of a marching band. It’s a natural physical reaction. An individual’s heart beat automatically marginally adjusts when a person listens to band music, as it attempts to mimic the rhythm. It’s an automatic response.”

The Festival has now cemented itself as an eagerly awaited feature of the Ulster band year, with bands from across the Province now requesting to become involved. To date 32 bands have been featured, with every County of Northern Ireland represented and every genre and sub genre of marching music on display. The Festival has always prided itself in combining high quality along with a good geographical spread and being representative of Ulster’s bands, this year is no different. For 2012 8 bands will perform, each of whom offers their own unique contribution to the massive Ulster Band movement.

From North Antrim comes Cloughmills Crown Defenders Flute, very much embedded in the North Antrim ‘jig style’ of blood and thunder. Ballycraigy Auld Boys Flute brings blood and thunder very much as it was in the beginning of the style, full of power and highly entertaining.

East Belfast provides the Pride of the Raven Flute and their strong marching melody flute style. A traditional melody flute band with strong percussion, the Raven has a distinct Corps of Drums influence. Whitewater Pipe from Newtownhamilton in South Armagh are a very hardworking band with a very young membership. A band with ambition and motivation determined to improve and compete at the highest levels.

From East Tyrone comes Cookstown’s Derryloran Boyne Defenders. A flute band based very much in a traditional style, combining the best of melody flute and blood and thunder both with flair and control. Newtownards Melody Flute are a different proposition, their approach to melody flute always sure to raise heads with its arrangements of both old and new musical standards. This year also see’s the first participants from outside the confines of Northern Ireland. Drum Accordion are just one of many thriving Ulster Bands in the southern Counties of Ulster. A band that has continually improved for the last 4 years. Finally, In all a fantastic line up of talent from across the length of Ulster, sure to provide an excellent nights musical entertainment.

William Caulfield of stage and television is welcomed this year as compere for the evening’s performance.

The festival takes place on Thursday 15th November with doors open at 6.30pm & performance starting at 7.30pm. Tickets are available, online, by telephone and will also be available at the door on the night, so make sure and get yours now. Tickets are priced at £18 reserved seating & £17 unreserved seating each and are available from the Ulster Hall by telephoning 028 9033 4455 or online at