Forget The X Factor, here’s Brass Factor!

Alex Bray.
Alex Bray.

By Graham Chalmers

A music performer is bringing brass music bands into the 21st century and taking on X Factor at its own game. And he’s won the backing of a former Black Dyke Band luminary.

Brass Factor will be launched at the Cairn Hotel in two week’s time by graduate Alex Bray with live acts and audience voting.

To be held on Saturday, November 9, the line-up in this exciting new competition will feature six leading brass bands including York Railway Institute, Knaresborough, Catterick, Shepherd Group, Hade Edge and Selby Music Centre.

Alex, 23, who followed in his dad Andrew’s footsteps by picking up the cornet at the age of 10, first came up with the idea while studying at Huddersfield University.

The first Brass Factor was actually held at the Picturedrome in Holmfirth in 2010.

Such was its success, he followed it up with two further contests there with a fourth planned for the end of November.

Alex said the aim of Brass Factor was to inject new life into the traditional band contest.

“My aim is to create a higher profile for brass band music by opening it up to a younger and wider audience. The traditional band contest, in particular, is often seen as stuffy and staid with all the competitors playing the same test piece.

“ It doesn’t make for great entertainment. I felt it was time to introduce a little wow factor into competition.”

The Brass Factor event at the Cairn Hotel will be a three-hour competition with each band playing their choice of music in a programme lasting 20 minutes.

The whole audience vote will then vote and that vote will be is combined with the verdict of a panel of judges chaired by former Black Dyke Band’s principal tenor horn player Kevin Wadsworth.

Kevin said:“I am right behind this exciting format. It is genuinely something new, not simply a repackaging of what we already provide.”

Supporting the event is the Yorkshire and Humberside Region of the Institute of Directors, whose former regional rirector Kenton Robbins said the event appealed to enthusiasts and newcomers to brass band music.

He said: “It’s an exciting concept and I am delighted that it is coming to Harrogate. It promises to be a memorable event.”

Celebrity gardener and presenter Alan Titchmarsh, a brass band enthusiast, said he was right behind the contest format.

“It’s a refreshing idea and one that deserves every success.”

For further information about the events or to book tickets online visit or contact Alex Bray on 07917 197952.