2006 European Brass Band Championships - Preview: B Section

25-Apr-2006

4BR anticipates an enjoyable contest when four bands tackle Elaine Agnew's fine set work and their own choice pieces in their bid to be crowned B Section European Champions.


Introduction:

The First Section promises to be a very entertaining contest on the Saturday morning when four bands tackle the mix of own choice selections and Elaine Agnew's brilliant set work, "Little Christmas".

Each of the bands brings their own brand of performance to the contest too, from the slightly more traditional to the slightly more risquι, and whilst the standard of performances can vary, they can also startle you as well, as we found out last year with the performance of the winning band Oberoesterreich Brass Band, and especially their principal cornet, the quite brilliant Hans Gansch.

The First Section offers the ideal aperitif before the main course of the own choice selections from the Championship bands, and whilst the contest may not quite have the intensity of the top bands battling it out, the pride, determination and the desire to be crowned European Champions is very much the same.

Who will win then?

For us it should be a repeat of last year with Oberoesterreich Brass Band an ensemble that could fit in the Championship Section without too much of a problem. Behind them it could be a close run thing, with Torshavn Brass Band perhaps edging out Arklow and Laganvale.


Elaine AgnewTest Piece:
Little Christmas – Elaine Agnew

The night of Sunday the sixth of January 1839 was a night of madness.  On this night, Ireland was hit by a devastating storm.

The day began well enough.  Children outside playing in the snow were looking forward to the festivities that evening, as this was Little Christmas, Nollaig na mBan, the day that had been Christmas before the introduction of the Gregorian calender and it was a major social occasion with ceilis and festive meals.

Earlier that day there was a strange heat and an unnaturally calm air – voices floated between houses over a mile apart.  That evening a light westerly breeze grew to a fury and after midnight it blew a fearful gale, reaching its height between three and five a.m.  The ensuing pandemonium saw buildings blown away, people and things flung about.  In its aftermath, seaweed was found on hilltops and herrings were picked six miles inland. 

The timing of the storm was significant.  Epiphany is a feast of revelation, the day Christ made his being known to the world and Nollaig na mBan, a celebration of Little Woman's Christmas.

Little Christmas focuses on the events of that day, leading to the arrival of the storm itself.  The piece opens with a blast, which is quickly hushed by a motionless phrase whose silence suggests something not quite right.  A solo euphonium mimics the local seer who prophesizes the coming of the storm but who is ignored by the locals, who are well used to his rantings and ravings.  A brief percussion improvisation hints at an uncertainty in the air but this is quickly ignored by the following fast section with the bustle and excitement of the day's preparations.

Quiet solo chromatic lines swoosh over harmonic pillars of sound before the final "dizzy" section where the band lets rip at the arrival of the storm!


Own Choice Selections:

Artic Funk  - Thorstein Aagaard-Nilsen 
Bohemian Rhapsody  - Freddy Mercury 
Born on 4th July  - John Williams 
Candide Overture  - Leonard Bernstein arr H.Snell 
Capriccio  - Philip Sparke 
Carrickfergus  - Stephen Roberts 
Dundonnell - From Hymn of the Highlands  - Philip Sparke 
Gethsemane  - Andrew Lloyd Webber 
Funky Brass  - Otto M. Schwarz 
Prelude on 'Tallis'  - Peter Graham 
Shine as the Light  - Peter Graham 
Summer Isles - from Hymn of the Highlands - Philip Sparke 
Land of the Long White Cloud/Aotearoa  - Philip Sparke 
Toccata e Fantasia  - Thomas Doss 
Vitae Lux  - Frode Alnaes 


John BonnerArklow Shipping Silver Band – Ireland
Conductor:
John Bonner

Formed in 1968, the band took on the name of the Arklow Shipping Line as their sponsors in September 2002. Before that they were known as the Arklow Silver Armitage Shanks Band. They hail from South Green in County Wicklow in Southern Ireland.

Since their formation they have won the Irish Championship on no less than twelve times in the past fourteen years, including a run from 2000 to 2006. The week before the European Championships they defended the Irish title at the IABCB National Championships where against strong opposition they triumphed again and secured their place once more for the Championships in Birmingham in 2007.

The band has made two LP's as well as featuring on U2's album "The Joshua Tree". The band made its debut at this contest in 1998 in Kerkrade when under the direction of John Bonner they came 4th. They returned in 2001 in Montreux where they came 3rd, whilst in Brussels in 2002 they were runners up. In 2003 they were runners up again to Brottum Brass from Norway, and came 4th last year in Groningen in a six band field with a well balanced performance. 

European History:

1998: 4th place
Own Choice selection – "Land of the Long White Cloud"

2001: 3rd place
Own Choice selection – "Pageantry"

2002: 2nd place
Own Choice selection – "Tam O'Shanter's Ride"

2003: 2nd place
Own Choice Selection – "The Kingdom Triumphant"

2004: 3rd place
Own Choice selection – "Airs and Dances"

2005: 4th place
Own Choice selection – "Match – Rhythm"  


Hans BucheggerOberoesterreich Brass Band – Austria
Conductor:
Hans Buchegger

The Austrian brass band scene is one that is continuing to develop with the trend set by Brass Band Frosch Hall who won this contest on no fewer than four occasions.

Oberoesterreich Brass Band is a University Brass Ensemble and was established in 2003 as part of a "Fixed Installation" course at the University of Music and Art in Graz. They seek to continue to develop the brass band in the future and after their superb performance in wining the B Section in Groningen last year, it seems brass banding in Austria has a very healthy future.

Their debut performance in Glasgow hinted as much, but last year they took their level of performance close to that found in the Championshpi Section. Their Principal Cornet player, Hans Gansch was perhaps the star performer of the whole European weekend, whilst the band was also excellent value for their victory. More of the same could well be in order here again.

European History:

2004: 4th place
Own Choice selection – "Airs and Dances"

2005: Winners
Own Choice selection - "Match – Rhythm" 


Torshavn Brass Band – Faroe Islands
Conductor:
Ove Olsen

Torshavn Brass Band hail from the Faroe Islands and are the third brass band from the country to appear at the contest. Klaksvikar Hornorkester appeared in 1995, whilst Faroe Brass appeared in 2000. The band itself made its only other appearance at the contest in 1996 when it performed under it's other name of Havner Hornorkester and came third in Bergen.  They were conducted on that day by Ove Olsen.

The brass band has been in existence for over 30 years now and was set up by Ove Olsen himself. In the past twelve months or more they have been celebrating their centenary as a musical organisation and they purchased a full set of brass instruments and held a celebration concert with the internationally acclaimed trumpet player John Wallace in their new rehearsal facilities in 2005.

They return to the contest this year after winning in fine style in Glasgow in 2004.

European History:
 
1996: 3rd place overall

2004: Winners
Own Choice selection – ‘Airs and Dances'  


Ernest RuddockLaganvale Band – Northern Ireland
Conductor:
Ernest Ruddock

Laganvale Band was formed as a Flute Band in 1908 to provide a recreational activity with a 'temperance' outlook for the local youth from the Laganvale area (beside the River Lagan). 

Over the years, the band has competed in both local contests, graduating from the Junior section to the Senior section, and in English contests with the "big guns". 

Notable highlights include winning First Prize and the Championship of Ireland in 1949 and being the first local band to win lst prize in the Belle Vue, Manchester contest in 1954. The band has been consistent in contest results, usually achieving a top 3 position and winning the Irish Championships in 1968, 1972 and 1995.  As a result of the 1995 win, the band represented Ireland in the European Brass Band Championships that were held in Bergen, Norway in 1996. More recently, the band won the Championship Section of the High Peak Brass Band Festival at Buxton in 1999.  

The band also has a full concert schedule throughout the year, especially during the summer period performing at parks and venues around the Belfast area.  Membership of the band is maintained by providing and supporting a Learners Class and Junior Band.

European History:

1996: Championship Section; 10th overall – 10th/9th
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