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2015 4BR Awards — 4BR Band of the Year

We pick the conductors and players to fill the ranks of the 4BR Band of the Year.

Band of the Year

Who are the players (and conductors) who we have chosen to be part of the 2015 4BR Band of the Year? 

Some great performers from all around the world have made it into our line-up (chosen by the 4BR Editor), but do you agree with our choices? 
The criteria for inclusion is straightforward: It’s not a question of who are simply the best - more a recognition of those who have performed at the very top of their form during the past twelve months and have made a lasting impression on us by doing so.

We think we have made a fair selection, and although not everyone will agree with the choices (that's for sure) we believe they make a pretty formidable line-up.

As always we could have made up two or three bands without any problems.


The records speak for themselves - in both the test piece and entertainment genres. 

These two outstanding conductors have been an inspiration to their players all year long. The ability to create something of substance whatever the musical subject matter stood them out.   

Philip Harper

Allan Withington

Cornet Section:

A year when we could have easily picked at least three sections let alone one without any discernible drop in overall quality - and still had many more knocking on the door.

Having been lucky enough to travel a fair bit in 2015 we got to hear some very fine talent from all parts of the globe - but the lingua-franca of excellence remains universal - and this lot had it in spades.

The playing we heard from these nine exponents was fantastic stuff - rock solid, confident, artistic and downright bloody brilliant.    

As for the principal chair?

This year we have gone for a player who was a model of every facet of excellence; although the rest (in alphabetical order - and in no particular seat) could take over if he fancied a breather...

Principal Cornet:
Tom Hutchinson

Kirsty Abbotts
Carlton Main Frickley

Vincent Bearpark
Valaisia Brass Band

Alexis Demailly
Paris Brass Band

Dewi Griffiths

Kyle Lawson
Brighouse & Rastrick

Richard Marshall
Black Dyke

Harmen Vanhoorne
Brass Band Buizingen

Roger Webster

Soprano Cornet: 

This is fast becoming an almost impossible task each year - as the high wire soprano playing around the banding globe is now at an exceptional level.

There was plenty of stunning playing on show; from Butlins in Skegness to the Stravinski Auditorium in Montreux and all stops in between.

However, one player really did shine in a way that reminded you that there is more to playing soprano at elite level than merely being able to play higher and louder than anyone else.

Paul Richards

Flugel Horn: 

There was plenty of high class flugel playing on show in 2015 and like the soprano we could justify the inclusion of a whole host of wonderful exponents. 

However, this player showed that she continues to be worth every penny of a contest or concert entry ticket to come and listen to. 

Zoe Hancock
Black Dyke

Horn Section: 

Always a difficult task, as once again the horn was not put in the spotlight all that often - although when it was, it asked plenty of demanding questions. 

The overall quality of top flight horn playing throughout the banding world varies greatly - but this trio stood out in 2015 for their combination of artistry and rock solid temperament.   

Arfon Owen

Ailsa Russell

Jonathan Bates
Black Dyke

Euphonium Section: 

There are so many top class euphonium players around that we are simply spoilt for choice. 

The startling level of technique that is now taken for granted is breathtaking, but it is the maturity of musicianship that came with it from these two players throughout the year that stood them apart for us. 

David Childs
David Thornton

Baritone Section: 

This has given us the odd problem over the years - and continues to do so - although for the right reasons.

There was some stunning baritone playing on show all over the globe, but these two exponents took things to a different level - be it lyrical or technical. 

Katrina Marzella
Black Dyke

Adrian Bachmann    
Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern

Trombone Section: 

It gives us a huge headache each year to try and pick just three trombone players from a veritable cornucopia of talent that performs brilliantly in the best bands in the world.

This is a trio that who on each occasion we heard them were more than merely stunning. Each is a world class soloist in their own right - but also an amazingly flexible section player as well. 

Sascha Hois
Brass Band Oberosterreich

Amelie Dupayage
Paris Brass Band

Bass Trombone:
Lionel Fumeaux
Brass Band Treize Etoiles

Bass Section: 

The best sections tend to come in pairs and the two leviathans from Treize Etoiles could not be parted. These lads were awesome - pumping it out as if they had their own Large Hadron Collider fixed under their seats. 

Philip Johnston remains a phenomenon - adding yet another New Zealand Champion of Champions title to his name, whilst former Black Dyke star Joseph Cook found a great new home to showcase his superb talents.
EEb Tuba:
Philip Johnston

Woolston Brass

Joseph Cook
Manger Musikklag

BBb Tuba: 
Samuel Duc

Brass Band Treize Etoiles

Tristan Neurohr
Brass Band Treize Etoiles

Percussion Section: 

There are plenty of wonderful percussion players around the banding world, and a great deal of what they do (and do well) tends to go unnoticed unless it obliterates the rest of the band.

Rich Sweat remains the best kit-man in the business and Espen Haukas is a superb all round player with the organisational qualities of the CEO of the Red Cross.

The quartet from Valaisia was simply stunning at the Swiss Nationals - adding a sheen of polish to a brace of exceptional performances that could have reflected the smile of their MD onto the surface of the moon.

Rich Sweat
Brass Band of Central Florida

Espen Haukas
Manger Musikklag 

Barras Arthur
Cacialli Samuel
Journel Eric
Zufferey Laurent

Valaisia Brass Band

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

Thursday 22 March • Mirfield Parish Church, 38 Church Lane, Mirfield WF14 9HX

The Fairey Band - Ensembles from Bramhall High School

Friday 23 March • Bramhall High School. Seal Road. Stockport SK72JT

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama Brass Band

Friday 23 March • Regent Hall. (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London W1C 2DJ (opposite RESERVED) W1C 2DJ

The Brighouse & Rastrick Band - Boobs & Brass at Huddersfield Town Hall

Saturday 24 March • Huddersfield Town Hall. Corporation St,. Huddersfield HD1 2TA

Croydon Citadel Band - The International Staff Band of The Salvation Army

Saturday 24 March • The Salvation Army. Booth Rd. Croydon. CR0 1XY CR0 1XY

Amesbury Town Band

March 20 • Players of any standard are always warmly welcomed especially some more solo cornets and a spare percussionists to help out existing players. We don't contest, so feel free to drop in, even if you just fancy a blow or want to try another instrument.

Elland Silver Band

March 20 • We have a vacancy within our Championship Section senior band for a 2nd Trombone player. This is a great opportunity for an experienced or young player looking to join one of Yorkshire's progressive bands, conducted by Daniel Brooks.

Crofton Silver Band

March 20 • Yorkshire 2nd Section Champions are looking for the following players:. . FRONT ROW/ SOPRANO CORNET. BASS. . The band are heading back to the National Finals in September to try and repeat their success from 2016.

Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

D. Phil. (Oxon) [Ph.D Oxford University], GBSM, LTCL, ABSM, ALCM, Cert. Ed.