Drum roll please... the winners of the 2017 4BR Awards are...
2017 4BR Special Award: Paul Hindmarsh
Our special award this year goes to Paul Hindmarsh — a wonderful musician whose list of accomplishments deserve to be loudly shouted about from he top of every rehearsal room in the banding world.
Without him UK brass banding would have been left scrabbling about in the BBC wilderness for recognition. Without him brass bands would not have been able to enjoy performing a huge raft of major works from the very best composers for the genre. Without him, we would not have even heard works from many more.
His helping hand has guided, enhanced and directed countless composers — not to mention so many bands. All have been the better for it.
The academic rigour that underpins his writing and research is an example to any journalist or critic, student or fellow peer, backed as always with a deep love of the subject matter, whilst his work promoting the Brass Band Heritage Trust (amongst others) has been inexhaustible and immensely beneficial to the movement as a whole.
His desire to complete his Wilfred Heaton Edition has been an outstanding achievement.
All this and his curatorship and leadership of the RNCM Brass Band Festival have been peerless; questioning, enlightening, proactive and above all, absolutely essential.
The results of his quiet persuasion and promotion of communal diplomacy have been clear to see in whatever role he has undertaken, backed by a generosity of spirit that makes him one of the most effective, and down-right nicest people in the banding world.
4BR Special Award:
2017: Paul Hindmarsh
2016: Carole Crompton
2015: Philip Wilby
2014: Mike Shenton
2013: John Berryman
2012: Howard Snell
2011: Philip Sparke
2010: Scottish Brass Band Association
2009: Ian Williams
2008: Norwegian Band Federation
2007: Peter Roberts
2006: Markus Bach
2005: David Gallaher
2004: David Read
2003: Salvationist Publishing & Supplies Ltd
2002: Frank Hodges
2001: Alan Jenkins
After all the soul searching and head scratching, the recall mechanisms and memory re-boots, the panel of 4BR experts tasked with finding the various 2017 Award winners have come up with their results.
Overall it was a memorable fine banding year that contained plenty of truly fabulous performances and achievements.
The panel of 11 experts consisted of Iwan Fox (Editor 4BR); Malcolm Wood (4BR Senior Contributor); Kenny Crookston (Editor British Bandsman); Chris Thomas (Brass Band World Chief Contributor); Tom Davoren (Composer); Jeremy Wise (Conductor); Frode Rydland (Composer/soprano player with Bjorsvik Brass); Gordon Simpson (brass band statistician); Alex Zwaan (CU Brass contributor); Arthur Stagg and Nick Weeks (brass band enthusiasts)
So without any further fuss and bother....
After all the soul searching and head scratching, the recall mechanisms and memory re-boots, the panel of 4BR experts tasked with finding the various 2017 Award winners have come up with their results4BR
2017 Band of the Year:
The winner is...
A clear winner from the panel of judges, with eight out of the eleven going for the Norwegians who ended the year as National, European, Siddis and Brass in Concert champions.
Their playing really touched the heights and set them apart to become the first non UK Band to win the award in its 17 year history. The superlatives have already been said about their playing — and all were spot on.
There were deserved podium finishes for Swiss champion Valaisia (who gained three winning nominations) with Whtiburn gaining deserved recognition for their superb contest year.
1. Eikanger Bjorsvik
2014: Black Dyke
2011: Brighouse & Rastrick
2007: Grimethorpe Colliery Band
2006: Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) Band
2005: Black Dyke
2004: Yorkshire Building Society
2003: Yorkshire Building Society
2002: Foden's Richardson
2001: Yorkshire Building Society
2017 Conductor of the Year:
The winner is...
No real surprise that the man that inspired the fantastic success of Eikanger Bjorsvik — first at the Norwegian National Championships and then at the European Championship (to record their first win in nearly 30 years) was the overwhelming choice of our panel with seven nominations.
It was his conducting of such interpretive insight that stood out — inspiring players to give deep seated musicality to their performances that it transfixed audiences.
He revealed the hidden layers of texture, detail and balance in the complex scores of 'Variations on a Theme of Michael Tippeatt'; 'Where Angels Fly' and 'Fraternity' (twice) that were spellbinding.
Two outstanding conductors in Arsene Duc of Valaisia (with three winning nominations for his superb directions) and Florent Didier of Paris and Whitburn (with one for his inspired cross border work) took the deserved podium positions.
1. Ingar Bergby
2. Arsene Duc
3. Florent Didier
2016: Philip Harper
2015: Philip Harper
2014: Nicholas Childs
2013: Philip Harper
2012: Allan Withington
2011: David King
2010: Ian Porthouse
2009: Robert Childs
2008: Robert Childs
2007: Allan Withington
2006: Allan Withington
2005: Nicholas Childs
2004: Ray Farr
2003: David King
2002: Russell Gray
2001: David King
2017 Player of the Year:
The winner is...
A year of personal performance superlatives for the Eikanger Bjorsvik principal cornet — leading the all-conquering Norwegians with such a wonderful sense of confidence, artistry and security.
He didn't put a foot wrong all season — and his performances on 'Fraternity' at the Norwegian and European Championships in particular were stunning.
A player who has come a very long way and blossomed into a world class performer through hard work and a great deal of support from his Norwegian banding family and friends.
He gained five winning votes from the panel, with a close run battle for the podium slots finally seeing Glenn Van Looy of Valaisia and Kathleen Gaspoz gaining two winning nominations each, with the Belgian getting the nod on top three count back.
Other first place nominations came for Marielle Rey of Valaisia and Lars Otto Torsvik of Eikanger.
1. David Morton
2. Glenn Van Looy
3. Kathleen Gaspoz
2016: Helen Williams
2015: David Childs
2014: David Childs
2013: Glenn Van Looy
2012: Steve Stewart
2011: Glen Van Looy
2010: David Childs
2009: Mark Wilkinson
2008: Peter Moore
2007: Hans Gansch
2006: Katrina Marzella
2005: David Childs
2004: David Childs
2003: Martin Winter
2002: Morgan Griffiths
2001: Peter Roberts
2017 Test Piece of the Year:
The winner is...
Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)
We may as well almost repeat what we said about last year's winner once again.
A wonderful, lyrically evocative work; a brass band tone poem for the 21st century inspired by a 100 year old French mining disaster, that made a huge impression on players, conductors and audience alike wherever it was performed.
It gained five first choice preferences and three second place ones from our panel — and has quickly become a 'classic' of the brass banding repertoire. Little wonder the British Open was sold-out and that it gained plaudits from everyone who judged, played or listened to it.
It was very close for the other podium slots, with the long overdue reprise of John Pickard's wonderful 'Eden' gaining three nominations to pip Howard Snell's equally splendid 'Gallery', with one vote also going to Bart Picqueur's darkly engrossing 'Insomnia'.
1. Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)
2. Eden (John Pickard)
3. Gallery (Howard Snell)
2016: Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)
2015: The God Particle (Rolf Rudin)
2014: Vita Aeterna Variations (Ed de Boer writing as Alexander Comitas)
2013: Of Distant Memories (Music in an Olden Style) (Edward Gregson)
2012: Goldberg 2012 (Svein Henrik Giske)
2011: Breath of Souls (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
2010: Saint Saens Variations (Philip Sparke)
2009: Titan's Progress (Hermann Pallhuber)
2008: The Dark Side of the Moon (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
2007: Music for Battle Creek (Philip Sparke)
2006: Vienna Nights (Philip Wilby)
2005: Eden (Dr. John Pickard)
2004: St. Magnus (Kenneth Downie)
2003: Festival Music (Eric Ball)
2002: Masquerade (Philip Wilby)
2001: Albion (Jan Van der Roost)
2017 Lower Section/Youth Band of the Year:
The winner is...
A wonderful year is rounded off for a band that has come such a long way in such a short space of time under the inspirational direction of MD, Lee Skipsey.
Theirs is a story of how to plan to achieve — to provide a communal ethos of inclusion and aspiration and to give it absolutely every for the cause.
They narrowly missed out at Brass at the Guild and the Yorkshire Area contests, but romped to the Third Section National Championship title with a stunning performance that blew away the opposition. All that and they continue to stretch themselves and try something new — never afraid to be beaten as it's just another step along the road to getter better and better.
The Yorkshire Band was hard pushed for this title though — gaining four first preference votes to pip podium finishers Young Brass Band Willebroek (three) and Newmains & District (two). Both Elland Youth and Wardle Academy got a vote each to show just how good so many bands were this year.
1. BD1 Brass
2. Young Brass Band Willebroek
3. Newmains & District
2016: Youth Brass 2000
2015: Ebbw Valley
2014: Manger Skulemusikklag
2013: National Children's Band of Great Britain
2012: National Youth Band of Great Britain
2011: Bjorsvik Brass
2010: Hazel Grove Band
2009: Oldham (Lees) Band
2008: Smithills Schools Senior Band
2007: Sellers International Youth Band
2006: Pennine Brass
2005: Marsden Riverhead Brewery Band
2004: Smithills School Senior Band
2003: Smithills School Senior Band
2002: St. Dennis Band
2001: Peter Hawke Garages Lindley Band
2017 Contest Performance of the Year:
The winner is...
Eikanger Bjorsvik — 'Fraternity' (European Championship)
This performance was special — very special indeed. Those lucky enough to have heard it first-hand will tell you as much: It was sensational.
That it gained six first preference nominations also tells you a story, as the performance that came second to it also came from Eikanger and was also of 'Fraternity — this time at the Norwegian Championship under the same MD, Ingar Bergby. And that was stunning too.
And to top it all, the performance that came third was also of the same piece — this time Cory at the British Open, with Valaisia's sumptuous 'Turing Test' also gaining recognition.
1. Eikanger Bjorsvik — 'Fraternity' (European Championship)
2. Eikanger Bjorsvik — 'Fraternity' (Norwegian Championship)
3. Cory — 'Fraternity' (British Open)
2016: Cory — The Triumph of Time (British Open Championships)
2015: Cory — Spiriti (National Championship)
2014: Brass Band Bugermusik Luzern — Trance (Swiss National Championship)
2013: Tredegar — Arabian Nights (Fantasy on Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade for Brass Band) (British Open Championship)
2012: Foden's — Daphnis et Chloe (National Championship)
2011: Cory — Red Priest (British Open Championship)
2010: Fairey (Geneva) — Eden (English National Championships)
2009: Fountain City Brass Band — Dreams (Scottish Open Championship)
2008: Eikanger Bjorsvik — Riffs & Interludes (Norwegian Championship)
2007: Brass Band Oberosterreich — Titan's Progress (European Championship)
2006: Black Dyke — Vienna Nights (British Open)
2005: Black Dyke — Journey to the Centre of the Earth (European Championship)
2004: Black Dyke — Montage (British Open)
2003: Buy As You View Cory — Revelation (European Championship)
2002: Yorkshire Building Society — Concerto Grosso (European Championship)
2001: Foden's — Les Preludes (British Open)
2017 Newcomer of the Year:
The winner is...
A double for the inspirational Norwegian conductor who provided some of the most memorable moments of the entire banding year in conducting Eikanger Bjorsvik to success at the Norwegian and European Championships.
He did conduct Eikanger at the Norwegian Nationals in 1998, but that was so long ago that this return had such a welcome freshness that we just hope it won't be another 19 years before he pops up again.
He gained six first preference votes from our panel, with second place going to Kathleen Gaspoz (three votes) who took over as principal cornet at Brighouse & Rastrick (the first female player to hold the role) with such aplomb.
Third place went to the outstanding community project 'Portraits of Tibshelf' involving Black Dyke Band alongside composers Philip Sparke, Jonathan Bates and percussion star Simone Rebello.
1. Ingar Bergby
2. Kathleen Gaspoz
3. Portraits of Tibshelf
2016: Thierry Deleruyelle
2015: Dark Arteries Rambert Ballet and Tredegar Band
2014: The Band of the King's Division
2013: Korpsfiksert! — Eikanger Bjorsvik television series
2012: Brass in Concert
2011: Venezuelan Brass Ensemble
2010: Exit Brass
2009: Lucy Pankhurst
2008: Paul Duffy
2007: Proms Brass Day
2006: English National Championships
2005: Brass Band Aid
2004: The National Children's Band of Great Britain
2003: Emma Farrow
2002: Simon Dobson
2017 CD of the Year:
The winner is...
Dances & Arias (Black Dyke)
Conductors: Prof Nicholas Childs
Doyen Recordings: CD369
An outstanding release from a band and MD that have an ingrained, deeply satisfying appreciation of the composer's repertoire.
Superb recordings of the title track (and a work due a long overdue reprise), the beautifully crafted British Composer Award nominated 'Four Etudes', the prototype 'Patterns', elegant 'Cornet Concerto' (performed with subtle virtuosity by Richard Marshall) and awesome 'The Trumpet of the Angels', was Black Dyke at its very best — led by an MD with such a intuitive grasp of the music. It gained an overwhelming seven nominations from our panel.
The inventive arrangement of 'Tubular Bells' by the Tubular Brass ensemble gained two deserved nominations to pip Cory on cracking form on their 'Destination Moon' and 'Storytelling' releases.
1. Dances & Arias (Black Dyke)
2. Tubular Bells (Tubular Brass)
3. Destination Moon (Cory)
2016: War Memorials — Tredegar Band & Cory Band
2015: Dark Arteries — Tredegar Band
2014: Gaia Symphony — Eikanger Bjorsvik
2013: When Worlds Collide (The Music of Nigel Clarke) — Brass Band Buizingen
2012: Masquerade — Foden's
2011: Only for You: The Music of Paul Lovatt-Cooper — Black Dyke
2010: Romeo & Juliet — Eikanger Bjorsvik
2009: Maestro — Foden's
2008: New Music for Brass Band — Foden's
2007: Vienna Nights — Black Dyke
2006: Heaton: Volume 4 — Black Dyke
2005: Tales and Stories — Eikanger Bjorsvik
2004: Music of the Spheres — Yorkshire Building Society
2003: Bourgeois in Brass — Yorkshire Building Society
2002: The Heaton Collection — Black Dyke and the ISB
2001: Butterworth — Black Dyke
2017 Solo CD of the Year:
The winner is...
The Demonic Virtuoso
Featuring: Cory Band, Alun Horgan, Sion Rhys-Jones, Robert Richardson
TB Recordings: CD02
Perhaps never has a solo recording so lived up to its title. This was Owen Farr taking tenor horn virtuosity to a completely new level — and one that it is hard to imagine can be bettered any time soon. It gained seven nominations from the panel.
10 tracks so inspired by the legendary violinist that it's as if the Welshman was in contact with the diabolical rascal by weejee board. The technique on display is staggering — but it is the way in which it is presented that makes it so much more than a display of pyrotechnics.
Great accompaniment by Cory and friends allows the solo voice to be heard at all times — and what a voice it is.
Congratulations also to Steve Stewart's splendidly bravura 'Over the Horizon' (two nominations) and the intensely emotive 'Doux — Ellis Island' by Harmen Vanhoorne & Stan Nieuwenhuis and delightful 'Fantasque' by Alex Demailly that also gained recognition.
1. The Demonic Virtuoso (Owen Farr)
2. Over the Horizon (Steve Stewart)
3. Doux — Ellis Island (Harmen Vanhoorne & Stan Nieuwenhuis)
2016: Fantasy — Philip Cobb
2015: Parallel Realities — David Thornton
2014: The Symphonic Euphonium — David Childs
2013: Stories of Life — Glenn Van Looy
2012: Diamonds — Steven Mead
2011: Dreaming of the Masters — Jens Lindemann
2010: Moto Perpetuo — David Childs
2009: Salt of the Earth — Les Neish
2008: Audacious — Steven Mead
2007: Eminence — Richard Marshall
2006: The World of the Euphonium: Volume 5 — Steven Mead
2005: Blaze — Richard Marshall
2004: Legend — Peter Roberts
2003: A Winters Tale — Martin Winter