2006 European Brass Band Championships - Preview: Championship Section


4BR looks at the ten bands and their records who will hope to leave Belfast on the weekend crowned as the 29th European Champions.

Brass Band Willebroek - BelgiumBelgium flag
Frans Violet

Principal Cornet: Raf Van Looveren
Principal Euph: Stef Pillaert
Principal Trombone: Walter Hoecks
Soprano: Bert Van Thienen
Flugel: Kristien Schuurmans
Horn: Stijn Berbe
EbTuba: Stefan Moeskops

4BR Ranking: 19

European Appearances: 15th time
(1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1986: 8th overall – 5th/10th
1987: 5th overall – 2nd/9th
1988: 7th overall – 8th/7th
1990: 10th overall - 10th/8th
1991: 4th overall - 6th/1st
1992: 4th overall – 4th/5th
1993: 1st overall – 5th/2nd
1994: 6th overall – 2nd/9th
1995: 3rd overall – 2nd/5th
2000: 7th overall – 7th/7th
2002: 2nd overall – 2nd/3rd
2003: 3rd overall – 3rd/3rd 
2004: 2nd overall – 3rd/3rd
2005: 4th overall – 3rd/7th

All performances have been directed by Frans Violet.

Own Choice works used:
1986: Fantasy for Brass Band
1987: Pageantry
1988: The Year of the Dragon
1990: Frontier
1991: Variations on an Enigma
1992: Partita
1993: Variations on an Enigma
1994: Harmony Music
1995: Sea Pictures 
2000: Between the Moon and Mexico
2002: …Dove Descending
2003: …Dove Descending
2004: Montage
2005: Music of the Spheres

Best Performance: Winners 1993
Last Year: 4th place overall

Frans VioletFrans Violet was born in 1954. At the age of 8, he started musical studies at the Music Academies of Boom and Willebroek.

He graduated at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp gaining first prices and diplomas for solfθge, trumpet, piano and chamber music. In 1972 he started his professional career as a trumpet soloist in the "Muntschouwburg" (Brussels opera). After a few years he joined the Symphonic Orchestra of the Belgian Radio and Television.

His love for brass band music was behind his decision in 1984 to leave all orchestral work behind him and to concentrate on teaching. Since then Frans Violet has given full attention to BBW and to his pupils at the Music Academy of Willebroek. In 1990 he was appointed professor at the Lemmens Institute of Leuven for the course "HAFABRA" (Wind band - Fanfare band and brass band) and in 1993 he started a course for soft brass instruments at the Royal Music Conservatoire of Antwerp.

Black Dyke - EnglandEngland flag
Dr. Nicholas Childs

Principal Cornet: Richard Marshall
Principal Euph: David Thornton:
Trombone: Brett Baker
Soprano: Peter Roberts
Flugel: John Doyle
Horn: Martin Armstrong
Eb Tuba: Joseph Cook

4BR Ranking: 1

European Appearances: 18th time
(1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2005, 2006)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1978: Winners overall  – n/k 
1979: Winners overall – 1st/1st
1980: 2nd overall – 3rd/1st
1982: Winners overall – 1st/1st
1983: Winners overall – 1st/1st
1984: Winners overall – 1st/1st
1985: Winners overall – 2nd/4th
1986: 2nd overall – 2nd/1st
1987: Winners overall – 1st/3rd
1988: 2nd overall – 2nd/1st
1990: Winners overall – 1st/1st
1991: Winners overall – 2nd/2nd
1992: 2nd overall – 3rd/3rd
1995: Winners overall – 1st/3rd
1996: 2nd overall – 2nd/1st
2002: 3rd overall – 3rd/2nd
2005: Winners overall – 1st/1st

The performances from 1978 to 1988 were conducted by Peter Parkes. David King directed in 1990 and 1991, whilst James Watson took the helm between 1992 and 1996. Nicholas Childs made his first appearance with the band in 2002.

Own choice works used:
1978: Connotations 
1979: John O'Gaunt
1980: Journey Into Freedom
1982: Pageantry
1983: Epic Symphony
1984: Blitz
1985: Volcano 
1986: Contest Music
1987: Contest Music
1988: Cloudcatcher Fells
1990: Harmony Music
1991: Diversions on a Bass Theme
1992: Odin
1995: Variations on an Enigma
1996: Revelation
2002: Revelation
2005: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Best Performance: 11 time winners
(1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1995, 2005)
Last Year: Winners

Nick ChildsDr. Nicholas Childs has achieved the highest international reputation as a performer, teacher/clinician, conductor, interpreter and advocate of new music, and producer of recordings. Initial success came as a euphonium soloist, performing in many of the world's most famous concert halls with the most prestigious bands and orchestras.

In recent years he has premiered with Black Dyke Band new works by leading British composers. In 2000 he directed Fodens in the premiere of Trumpets of the Angels and followed this with the RNCM Brass Band's first presentation of Danceries.

He has pursued a series of pace-setting recordings of new music, including releases of Michael Ball, Arthur Butterworth, Peter Graham and Wilfred Heaton. With Black Dyke Band as Band-in-Residence at the RNCM, he has been able to promoted several BBC Radio 3 broadcasts.

Having first been trained in the Tredegar Junior Band, he continues to give important emphasis to the development of the brass band movement. He has served as the director of The NYBB of Denmark, and has gained national championships in France, Norway, Wales and Scotland. He has won three National Championships of Great Britain, 1999 with Fodens, and 2001 and 2004 with Black Dyke. His company, Doyen Recordings, in cooperation with SP&S, Ltd., maintains the largest catalogue of brass band recordings. 

Brass Band Lyngby Taarbaek – Denmark Denmark flag
Ray Farr

Principal Cornet: Connie Trolle
Principal Euph: Bo Bollmann
Principal Trombone: Peter Lundorf
Soprano: Lars Haedersdal
Flugel: Stanley Westh
Horn: Lisbeth Joergensen
Eb Tuba: Charlie Soerensen

4BR Ranking: 52

European Appearances: 6th time
(1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

European Record:
1997: 9th overall - 8th/10th
1998: 11th overall – 11th/10th 
2003: 9th overall – 9th/9th
2004: 5th overall – 4th/8th
2005: 7th overall – 4th/9th

The performances of 1997, 1998 and 2003 were directed by Jesper Juul Sorensen. Ray Farr has conducted since 2004.

Own Choice works used:
1997:  An Epic Symphony
1998:  Fantasy for Brass Band
2003:  Montage
2004: …Dove Descending
2005: St. Magnus

Best Performance: 5th place in 2004
Last Year: 7th place overall

Ray FarrRay Farr was educated at the Birmingham School of Music and at the Royal Academy of Music. After 10 years as a professional musician with the BBC Radio Orchestra he started his career as a conductor.

He has appeared in hundreds of concerts around the world and in some of the finest concert halls and has gained a reputation as a stylish conductor and a planner of interesting concert programmes ranging from light music to "avant-garde". He is equally adept in Classical and modern music and has conducted opera, ballet and oratorio. In 1988 he won a special Arts Council Award to study contemporary music with Edward Gregson and Jorma Panula, Professor of Orchestral Conducting at Helsinki's Sibelius Academy.

He has conducted at many important and has made several L.P.'s, CDs and T.V. appearances. He has appeared with BBC Radio Orchestra, Norwegian Radio Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Sandnes Symphony Orchestra and Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra in an exciting concert of French music.

Today, he is a busy, freelance conductor, based back in the UK and now as Musical Director of the Reg Vardy Band and heading an exciting new music course at Durham University. 

Buy As You ViewWales flag
Dr. Robert Childs

Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Principal Euph: David Childs
Principal Trombone: Christopher Thomas
Soprano: Michelle Ibbotson
Flugel: Joanne Dean
Horn: Owen Farr
Eb Tuba: Gavin Saynor

4BR Ranking: 2

European Appearances: 17th time
(1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)

European Record: (set work/ own choice)
1979: 2nd overall – 3rd/3rd
1980: 1st overall – 1st/2nd
1981: 6th overall – N/K
1982: 2nd overall – 3rd/2nd
1983: 3rd overall – 7th/2nd
1984: 2nd overall – 3rd/2nd
1985: 2nd overall – 4th/1st
1986: 3rd overall – 3rd/4th
1987: 8th overall – 8th/7th
1989: 3rd overall – 1st/4th
1993: 3rd overall – 3rd/4th
1999: 5th overall – 5th/4th
2001: 2nd overall – 1st/3rd
2003: 2nd overall – 2nd/1st
2004: 6th overall – 6th/7th
2005: 2nd overall – 2nd/3rd

Denzil Stephens directed the band between 1979 and 1981. Major Arthur Kenney directed from 1982 to 1987. Brian Howard took them in 1989, Michael Antrobus in 1993 and Jeremy Wise in 1999. Since 2001 they have been directed here by Dr. Robert Childs. 

Own Choice works used:
1979: Judges of the Secret Court
1980: Triumphant Rhapsody
1981: Connotations
1982: Fireworks
1983: Variations on a Ninth
1984: Contest Music
1985: Dances and Arias
1986: Ballet for Band
1987: Dances and Arias
1989: Diversions on a Bass Theme
1993: Harmony Music
1999: Of Men and Mountains
2001: Harrison's Dream
2003: Revelation
2004: Revelation
2005: Concerto Grosso

Denzil Stephens directed the performances of 1979, 1980 and 1981. Arthur Kenney directed the performances of 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1987. Brian Howard conducted in 1989. Michael Antrobus led their attempt in 1993, whilst Jeremy Wise conducted in 1999. Robert Childs has directed the performances since 2001. 

Best Performance: Winners 1980
Last Year: 2nd place overall

Bob ChildsDr. Robert Childs is an associate of the RCM, a Fellow of the LCM and gained a distinction in a Masters Degree from the University of Leeds. He also holds a PGC in Education from the Open University.
His status as a professional musician encompasses many fields of music making.

He is Director of Brass Band Studies at the WCMD, Professor of Euphonium at the RNCM and the University of Leeds. He is a tutor and council member to the National Youth Bands of Wales and Great Britain and is also a council member of the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain. He has recently been appointed Conductor of the NYBB of Belgium. He is also an experienced record producer and director of Doyen Recordings.

He conducted and performed with Black Dyke Band for almost ten years and conducted them on several important occasions. He has also performed with many of the UK's leading orchestras.

In 2000, he became the MD of the Buy As You View Cory Band and won the British Open Championship, the National Championship and runner-up at the European Championship in a single season. In 2002, he became MD to the NYBB of Wales. In 2002, he was awarded the title 'Doctor of Musical Arts' from the University of Leeds.  

YBS Band – EnglandEngland flag
Professor David King

Principal Cornet: Stuart Lingard
Principal Euph: Steve Walsh
Principal Trombone: Jonathon Beatty
Soprano: Kevin Donaldson
Flugel: Iwan Williams
Horn: Sheona White
Eb Tuba: Ken Ferguson

4BR Ranking: 4

European Appearances: 10th time
(1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1996: Winners – 1st /2nd
1997: Winners – 2nd/3rd
1998: 4th overall – 1st/8th
1999: Winners – 4th/1st
2000: Winners – 1st/2nd
2001: Winners – 3rd/1st
2002: Winners – 1st/1st
2003: Winners – 1st/2nd
2004: Winners – 1st/1st

All performances have been directed by Professor David King

Own choice works used:
1996: Revelations
1997: Pageantry
1998: Blitz 
1999: Harmony Music
2000: Dove Descending
2001: Montage
2002: Concerto Grosso
2003: Concerto Grosso
2004: Music of the Spheres

Best Performance: Winners in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
Last Year: Did not compete

David KingAustralian by birth, David King is regarded as one of the most dynamic figures in the world of brass today. With an enviable record of musical accomplishments and successes both as an instrumentalist and conductor he is at the forefront of music education and is Head of Performance Studies at the University of Salford, the largest music department in the British university sector.

David King studied Trumpet and Cornet at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and music education at Avondale College, NSW, where he studied choral conducting with Alan Thrift, graduating in 1978. In 1982 as Australian cornet champion he was awarded a scholarship to study band musicianship at Salford College, Manchester, where he graduated with distinction in Performance in 1985.

In Britain David King pursued a distinguished career as a cornet soloist and was 'North of England Solo Champion' on three occasions (1983/84/85). He represented the United Kingdom as 'British Open Solo Champion' and won the prestigious title 'International Brass Musician of the Year' in Auckland, New Zealand in 1992.

In December, 2000 David King graduated from the Institute for Social Research, University of Salford, with a Doctor of Musical Arts degree majoring in Performance and has since been awarded his professorship.
As a conductor Dr David King holds a prominent position in Europe and is revered as one of the most successful conductors on the concert and contest platform in the last decade. He has represented England in the European Brass Band Championships on eight occasions as a conductor and has won the title seven times, twice with Black Dyke Mills Band (1990 & 91) and eight times with the Yorkshire Building Society Band (1996/1997/1999/2000/2001/2002, 2003 and 2004)  

Brass Band Fribourg - SwitzerlandSwitzerland flag
Arsene Duc

Principal Cornet: Fabien Barred
Principal Euph: David Welsh
Principal Trombone: Marc Morandi
Soprano: Dominique Morel
Flugel: Esther Oberholzer
Horn: Frederic Prelaz
Eb tuba: Valentine Mauron

4BR Ranking: 69

European Appearances: 2nd time
(2003, 2006)

European Record:
2003: 6th overall – 5th/7th

Own Choice works used:
2003: Revelation

Best Performance: 6th in 2003

Last Year: Did not qualify

Conductor:Arsene Duc
Arsθne Duc was born in 1965 in Chermignon into a family of musicians and began his very young musical career at 11 years of age on euphonium.

From 1996 to 2002, Mr. Duc belonged to the Commission of music of the national Contest soloists and quartets of copper instruments (CNSQ). He has chaired this Commission of music during the four last years.

In 1997, he was invited to direct the National Brass Band of Young People (NJBB). Arsθne Duc has directed Brass Band Freiburg since Spring 2002. 

Eikanger – Bjorsvik Musikklag – NorwayNorway flag
Bjorn Sagstad

Principal Cornet: Jayne Westervik
Principal Euph: Tormod Falten
Principal Trombone: Grethe Tonheim
Soprano: Frode Rydland
Flugel: Henning Anundsen
Horn: Monica V. Reigstad
Eb tuba: Magnus Brandseth

4BR Ranking: 29

European Appearances: 14th time
(1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2006)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1980: 7th overall – 7th/6th
1981: 5th overall – n/k
1982: 7th overall – 5th/8th
1984: 13th overall – 10th/11th
1985: 6th overall – 5th/11th
1987: 6th overall – 6th/5th
1988: Winners – 1st/1st
1989: Winners – 2nd/1st
1990: 6th overall – 8th/2nd
1992: 3rd overall – 2nd/8th
1994: 2nd overall – 1st/3rd
2000: 2nd overall – 3rd/1st
2002: 4th overall – 4th/4th

Rod Franks conducted on their inaugural appearance in 1980. Helge Haukas conducted in 1981, 1982 and 1987. Tom Brevik conducted in 1984 and 1985.  Ray Farr conducted in 1992. Howard Snell directed in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2000 and 2002

Own choice works used:
1980: John O'Gaunt
1981: The Plantagenets
1982: Triumphant Rhapsody
1984: Epic Symphony
1985: Blitz
1987: Pagentry
1988: Variations on an Enigma
1989: Variations on an Enigma
1990: Partita
1992: Trittico
1994: Year of the Dragon
2000: Concerto Grosso
2002: …Dove Descending

Best Performance: Winners in 1988 and 1999
Last Year: Did not compete

Bjorn Sagstad is regarded as one of the most exciting conducting talents to emerge from Norway for many years and has built a considerable international reputation in many differing fields of musical activity.

He originally studied at the Bergen Conservatoire before leaving for an extended period of study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.  During this period he conducted a number of brass bands, including the Point of Ayr Band from North Wales with considerable success.

On his return to his homeland he has further broadened his scope of and in 2004 was the conductor of the Kristiansand Blaseensemble and Symfoiorkester and Opera.

He was the Director of Music at the Trondheim Music Conservatoire between 1995 and 1997, whilst his international orchestral reputation has been enhanced by association with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Oulu Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Ballet and Sinfonietta and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra amongst others.

In 1997 he was the winner of the Nordiske Conductors competition as well as a finalist in the Norske Dirigent Konkurranse of 1998 and Den Norske Opera in 1997.    

Newtongrange Band - ScotlandScotland flag
Allan Ramsay

Principal Cornet: Angus Edmond
Principal Euph: Neil Philip
Principal Trombone: Alex Philip
Soprano: Graeme Williamson
Flugel: John Philip
Horn: Kevin Smith
Eb tuba: Paul McGrath

4BR Ranking: 33

European Appearances: 3rd time
(1990, 1992, 2006)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1990: 9th overall – 9th/8th
1992: 10th overall – 6th/11th
Rob Wiffen conducted the band on its first appearance in 1990. James Scott conducted in 1992. Allan Ramsay conducts in 2006.

Own choice works used:
1990: Year of the Dragon
1992: Dances and Arias
Best Performance: 9th in 1990
Last Year: Did not qualify

Allan RamsayAllan Ramsay is regarded as one of Scotland's most successful brass band conductors in recent years.

He first learned to play the cornet at the age of 7, in the Salvation Army at Govan Citadel where many years later he became Bandmaster, a position he held for 8 years.

Allan studied trumpet and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and went on to become the Principal Cornet of the CWS Glasgow Band, during which period the band became the first, and to date, only, Scottish Band to win the National Championships at the Royal Albert Hall in 1990.  In 1990, he also became the Scottish Solo Champion for the first time.

In the last decade, Allan has tasted considerable success as a conductor. In the mid 1990's he was appointed Musical Director of the Kirkintilloch Band, and for the next seven years led them through one of their most successful periods in their history, culminating in winning the Grand Shield Contest in 2001.

After a short period with the Unison Kinneil Band, Allan took up the position as Professional Conductor with the Newtongrange Band in January 2005 and led them to an historic Scottish Championship win.   He continues to be onbe of the most sought after freelance professional conductors around and has recently worked extensively with the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band in Yorkshire.

Leyland Band - EnglandEngland flag
Russell Gray

Principal Cornet: Andy Lord
Principal Euph: Brendan Wheeler
Principal Trombone: Russell Marsh
Soprano: Ian Twiss
Flugel: Janet Lewis
Horn: Leslie Howie
Eb tuba: Chris Doran

4BR Ranking: 6

European Appearances: Debut this year

European Record: (set work/own choice)

Own choice works used:
Best Performance:
Debut this year
Last Year: Did not qualify

Russell Gray
Russell Gray was born near Glasgow in 1968. He began his musical education in 1977 on trumpet and within three years had won several major junior solo competitions. At the age of 12, he was appointed Principal Cornet of the Clydebank Burgh Band and at 17, he moved to England to further his studies at the Huddersfield University. During his university studies, Russell joined Black Dyke Mills Band, which toured Australia in 1988. As a soloist, Russell has been delivering masterclasses, recitals, and gala concert performances all over the world.

From 1998 through to 2001 Russell was working and living in Norway where he was the Musical Director of the Stavanger Brass Band, and the Sola Brass Band. In August 2000 Russell was appointed professional conductor of NSK-RHP Ransoms Band. In September of 2001 Russell was appointed Cornet tutor at both the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and Salford University.

In 2002 Russell became the Musical Director of the Fodens band leading them to numerous successes, whilst since 2003 he has been a freelance professional conductor. In 2005 his record at major contests throughout the world was unsurpassed and he won National titles in five separate countries, culminating with the National Championships of Great Britain in October 2005 with the Leyland Band. Sine then his success has continued and in 2006 he led the Manger Band to the Norwegian National title as well as the other end of the spectrum, leading the Gwent Youth Band to the British Open and National Championships.

Soli Brass - NetherlandsNetherlands flag
Frans – Aeart Burghgraef

Principal Cornet: Johan Breetveld
Principal Euph: Hendrik de Boer
Principal Trombone: Ytsen Kuiken
Soprano: Dirk Vincken
Flugel: Mariska Postma
Horn: Haarsma
Eb tuba: Marco de Vries

4BR Ranking: 80

European Appearances: 6th time
(1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1991, 2006)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1982: 3rd overall – 2nd/5th
1983: 2nd overall – 2nd/5th
1984: 6th overall – 8th/4th
1985: 4th overall – 3rd/5th
1991: 5th overall – 11th/4th

Own choice works used:
1982: Spectrum
1983: James Cook – Circumnavigator
1984: The Plantagenets
1985: John O'Gaunt
1991: Brass Metamorphosis
Best Performance: 2nd in 1983
Last Year: Did not qualify

Frans BurghgraefConductor:
Frans – Aert Burghgraef was born in 1983 and soon started to learn the cornet from an early age. He subsequently moved to the euphonium where he gained a fine reputation as one of the leading players of his generation in the Netherlands.

After studying at the Noord Netherlands Conservatoire he played with Brass Band Groningen from 2005.  In January 2003 he won the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe Competition and has worked with many of the worlds leading euphonium players such as Steven Mead and Robert Childs.

His short conducting career has encountered spectacular success and he led Soli Brass to the National Championship in 2005.  


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