The European Brass Band Association's decision to move the 2019 European Championships from Palanga in Lithuania to Montruex in Switzerland has been met by an immediate, indignant response from the Mayor of the Municipality of Palanga Town, which has spoken of shock and confusion at EBBA, "...letting down a partner without significant reason."
In an open letter to all EBBA board members, Sarunas Vaitkus has questioned whether the decision now means that, "...the word Europe only means Western Europe".
It also poses the question; "Should all new countries be afraid to start preparations for the EBBC (European Championships) in the future because of what happened in Palanga?"
He adds that; "The municipality of Palanga cannot accept the e-mail that was received on Sunday 1st October, as the official answer with the final decision of the EBBA EC (Executive Committee) regarding the candidature of Palanga" and that it, "... strongly advises the board to reconsider their decision and is waiting for an official document."
As initially reported yesterday on 4BR, the decision from EBBA was based primarily on a series of sound tests, the third of which was conducted on 24th September led by Paul Hindmarsh, Chairman of the Music Commission.
On the first occasion, the digital acoustic treatment was said to be 'too lively' to be assessed, whilst on the second (featuring Stavanger Brass Band in May 2017), the acoustic treatment was faulty and turned off.
It was subsequently stated following the third test that, ' ...it was clear on that occasion that performances on the stage without any digital enhancement were too dry, recessed and did not project into the auditorium with power, dynamic range and the character and bloom that would be expected from an elite brass band'.
These findings were subsequently used as part of the e-mail correspondence given by EBBA President Ulf Rosenburg on 1st October to the Lithuanian Brass Band Association.
This stated, "...while the Palanga Concert Hall provides an attractive concert environment for general listening, it would not provide the capability and experience for the level of critical listening which the bands, conductors, jury and audience would expect at the world's most prestigious brass band contest."
This has now been vigorously rebutted by the Mayor of the Municipality of Palanga Town.
His letter is accompanied by a detailed six-page document of comments and findings from the subcontractor Laurynas Paskevicius (Scenos Techninis Servisas) and Wim Prinssen (PBTA), which concludes with the summary of their opinion that; "...the Palanga Concert Hall offers an excellent acoustic environment for the European Brass Band Championship 2019."
The mayor also states that strong political support had seen the organisers able to bring to the city a number of initiatives in preparation to the 2019 goal — including a new music festival, the hosting of the Lithuanian National Brass Band Championships and in November this year, a conference for composers.
Spent 180,000 Euros since May
He further adds that in response to EBBA's comments and reservations about the hall expressed after the May 2017 testing, the Municipality of Palanga "...took all efforts to improve the acoustics and invested approximately 180,000 Euros to meet EBBA's requirements".
He also says that they used, "...a professional team of experts" and conducted further tests where more than 800 people had listened to a concert by the De Waldsang Band.
The letter further states that; "Among the audience were classical musicians, brass band experts and conductors.
They all praised the improved acoustics of the hall and stated that the hall could compete with many big halls all over Europe, and it should be like that because the EBBC deserves the best halls in Europe"
All this suggests that the decision not to accept the hall was made before the commission processSarunas Vaitkus, Mayor of the Municipality of Palanga Town
It goes onto add that it is felt that, "...the tests have been performed by board members of the EBBA, and not even one independent professional acoustic expert has ever been invited," making the test report in their opinion, "very weak".
Further mention is also made of the "intensity of the communication" from EBBA President Ulf Rosenburg's side, and that it had "...significantly weakened over the last several months" with an avoidance of contact and that "...an absolute disregard for the presence of acoustic experts was witnessed during and after the testing of the hall".
The most damning response comes with the Mayor's opinion that in his words: "All this suggests that the decision not to accept the hall was made before the commission process."
As yet no further response has been made by the European Brass Band Association.