The top British Brass bands compete for the coveted British Open title in what is believed to be the oldest music contest in the world.

The test piece this year is an exciting new work by French composer Thierry Delaruyelle making its UK debut at Symphony Hall. Inspired by the tragic events the worst mining disaster Europe has ever known, the piece is entitled ‘Fraternity’, and the composer has will be joining us in Birmingham.

The disaster took place in 1906 in Douai near Lille, and claimed the lives of 1,099 miners. On 10th March 1906 there was a massive underground explosion caused by toxic gases which caused a ball of fire that destroyed everything in its path along 110 km of underground galleries.

The music sets the scene as the miners descend into the shaft to extract the coal, and recounts the drama sadness and despair within the community as the disaster strikes.

However as well as the powerful and dramatic elements within the piece , which will test the bands, there are also moving and lyrical sections with an almost hymn like quality. A message of hope and ‘Fraternity’ emerges from the sadness as 13 miners are found by rescuers who never gave up their search, a staggering 30 days after the explosions.

The British bands will be joined by the 2016 European Champions, and as the contest has been sold out for the past three years you are advised to secure your seats early.