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Star sop leaves Willebroek

Bert Van Thienen leaves Willebroek.

van Thienen


One of the brass band movement’s finest soprano cornet players has taken the decision to end his playing association with former European champion, Brass Band Willebroek.


Bert Van Thienen told 4BR that a combination of musical factors has meant that his long association with the multiple Belgian champion has come to an end, although he hopes to keep in touch with the band in the future.

Highest class

Regarded as a performer of the highest class, Bert’s services have been in demand throughout the banding world since making his debut with Willebroek over a decade ago. He played an integral part in helping Willebroek claim two European Championship wins as well as numerous domestic titles.

His reputation as a fearless performer under pressure has also seen leading bands in the UK rush to ‘sign’ him too, with both Black Dyke and notably Cory in recent years benefiting from his exceptional playing to capture major British and European honours.


A fellow player told 4BR: "What a player he has been for Willebroek and for Belgian banding. We are all sorry to see him go, but we are very proud of what he has helped us to achieve. Whatever he now does, we are sure he will be an incredible success."

Bert told 4BR: "I have been increasing my conducting commitment to my own band, Brass Band Heist over recent years, and we are now the first band in Belgium to rehearse twice a week. We have become increasingly successful in this period too, and are now playing in the Championship Section."

The soprano star is still hungry for more playing as well as conducting success, despite taking the difficult decision to leave Willebroek4BR


Other musical commitments have increased too, as he explained. "Together with my commitment at the Royal Symphonic Band of the Belgian Guides and the time I enjoy with Cory, I need to balance my time to be able to see my family regularly!"

The soprano star is still hungry for more playing as well as conducting success, despite taking the difficult decision to leave Willebroek.

"MD Frans Violet and I made the decision together and we will still keep in touch and work together sporadically. I really would like to thank him for all that he has done in developing me as a player and a conductor—I owe him so much. I hope to be able to repay that some day."


At the moment Bert is recovering from a surgery to his right wrist, but hopes to be fit and back on stage with Cory in January at the RNCM Festival of Brass.

"I’m enjoying the break at the moment, but as soon as I am fit, I will be back to play with my friends at Cory and back to doing what I enjoy most—playing and making music."

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Ian Porthouse

Cornet soloist, clinician, conductor and adjudicator