2008 European Brass Band Championships - Championship Section runners and riders


4BR looks at the eleven bands and their records that will hope to leave Stavanger on the weekend crowned as the 31st European Champions.

Belgium flagBrass Band Buizingen
Luc Vertommen

4BR Ranking: 52

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Harmen Vanhoorne
Principal Euphonium: Hans Goris
Principal Trombone: Jeroen Mentens
Soprano: Win Stas
Flugel: Sebastien Rousseau
Horn: Tim De Haeseneer
Baritone: Emmanuel Reynaerts
Eb Tuba: Pieter Nevejans
Bb Tuba: Jeroen Verleden
Percussion: Jeroen Hofmans

European Appearances: Debut

European Record: (set work/own choice)

Own Choice works used: N/A

Best Performance: N/A
Last Year: Did not qualify

Brass Band Buizingen was formed in 1975 and in the last decade in particular has come to the forefront of Belgian banding.

With a mix of experienced players and a highly talented MD they have not only become successful on the contest stage but on the concert and recording platform too. In the last few years they have released the well received ‘Ad Optimum’ CD and are currently in the process of finalising the follow up.

The breakthrough for the band came at the Belgian National late last year when they secured the all important second qualification berth behind reigning champion, Brass Band Willebroek, pushing them all the way to the title from the number 1 draw.

 In the last month or so they secured their first major domestic success by winning the Flemish Open, beating the reigning European champion in the process. 

Luc Vertommen was born in Leest (near Mechelen, Belgium). From an early age, he acquainted himself with brass music in his village fanfare band. He studied cornet, music theory and piano at the music academies of Mechelen and Willebroek and later studied at the Lemmens Institute Conservatory, where he gained a triple degree in trumpet, music history and "hafabra" conducting (wind, fanfare and brass band).

He later studied chamber music at the Royal Music Conservatory of Brussels gaining a masters degree in conducting. As a cornet player, he played for Belgium's top bands Brass Band Midden-Brabant and Brass Band Willebroek.

He currently teaches and conducts in the communal music academy of Zaventem and is director "hafabra" in the "Servais Academy" Halle. He currently conducts Koninklijke Fanfare "De Berthoutzonen" Halaar and Brass Band Buizingen. 

He has already written two books about brass music and recently, his arrangements for fanfare and brass band have proven to be very popular in the Low Countries and further abroad. 

Denmark flagBrass Band Lyngby Taarbaek
Christian Schmiedescamp

4BR Ranking: 43

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Connie Trolle
Principal Euphonium: Michael Thomsen
Principal Trombone: Mette Moller
Soprano: Lars Haedersdal
Flugel: Helle Hansen
Horn: Lisbeth Jorgensen
Baritone: Ea Vangkilde
Eb Tuba: Philip Garner
Bb Tuba: Peter Hansen
Percussion: Mikkel Vangkilde Nielsen

European Appearances: 8th time
(1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

European Record: (set work/ own choice)
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
2006: 10th overall – 10th/10th
2007: 7th overall – 7th/7th

The performances of 1997, 1998 and 2003 were directed by Jesper Juul Sorensen. Ray Farr conducted the band from 2004 to 2006. Christian Schmiedescamp has taken the band since 2007 at the contest.

Own Choice works used:
1997:  An Epic Symphony
1998:  Fantasy for Brass Band
2003:  Montage
2004: …Dove Descending
2005:  St. Magnus
2006:  Music of the Spheres
2007: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

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

The almost perennial Danish champion, returns once again to lock horns with the top European bands, and it seems they are returning to something approaching their best here.

7th last year was a fine return and under the direction of Christian Schmiedescamp they seem to be a much more settled and vibrant band. They won the Danish Championship for the sixth time in a row in November to book their place here in some comfort with performances of ‘Vienna Nights’ and ‘Extreme Make Over’ although they could only manage 2nd place at the Silkeblaes Entertainment contest.

Experienced, mature and confident, they could well be looking to push themselves back into the top six this time around. 

Christian Schmiedescamp, born 1972 in Esbjerg, Denmark and started playing the euphonium and later the trombone with the Esbjerg Brass Band and Esbjerg Youth Symphony Orchestra.

He studied the trombone and conducting at the Royal Academy of Music in Århus, Denmark and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen with among others Rolf Sandmark, Torbjørn Kroon, Søren K. Hansen, Mogens Dahl and conducting with Frans Rasmussen. 

He had further private trombone-studies in Chicago with Michael Mulcahy and Rex Martin and in Berlin with Stefan Schulz. During his musical studies he also finished a BA in physics from the University of Aarhus, Denmark.

He currently works professionally as 2nd trombone with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, and appears on freelance basis with most major ensembles in the region. 

He has been associated with the Lyngby-Taarbæk Brass Band since 2004.

CWales flagory
Dr. Robert Childs

4BR Ranking: 2

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Ian Williams
Principal Euphonium: David Childs
Principal Trombone: Christopher Thomas
Soprano: Michelle Ibbotson
Flugel: Joanne Dean
Horn: Owen Farr
Baritone: Susan Thomas
Eb Tuba: Steve Sykes
Bb Tuba: Fraser Bish
Percussion: Alun Horgan

European Appearances: 19th time
(1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

European Record: (set work/ own choice)
1979: 2nd overall – 3rd/3rd
1980: Winners 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
2006: 3rd overall – 3rd/1st
2007: 3rd overall – 1st/5th

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 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
2006: The Promised Land
2007: Of Men and Mountains

Best Performance: Winners 1980
Last Year: 3rd place overall

28 years and counting now for the 26 times Welsh Champion, and although that 1980 win is still a contesting victory worn with pride, it has also become a little bit of a millstone around their necks too.

Time to finally put it to rest then, and after six runner up places since that victory it is long overdue. The current British Open champion will surely be one of the bands to beat once more, and they have had at least one hand on the famous old trophy in the past two years by winning at least one section of the contest. 

Last year they fell foul of an own choice selection that didn’t quite resonate in the box, so it will be interesting to see what they opt for this time around. If they click then we could finally be hearing singing in the streets of Cory, to misquote a famous old football commentator.

The pressure is on though after their failure to retain their Welsh title at the Regionals could mean them having to wait until possibly 2010 if they can’t do it this year.   

Bob ChildsConductor:

Dr. 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 of the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Great Britain.

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 and Cory became British Open champion again – a feat repeated in 2007. In 2002, he was awarded 'Doctor of Musical Arts' from the University of Leeds.  

Switzerland flagBrass Band Fribourg
Arsene Duc

4BR Ranking: 28

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Fabien Barres
Principal Euphonium: David Welsh
Principal Trombone: Frederic Prelaz
Soprano: Dominique Morel
Flugel: Esther Oberholzer
Horn: Marc Morandi
Baritone: Regis Gobet
Eb Tuba: Valentine Mauron
Bb Tuba: Mathias Mauroux
Percussion: Lukas Oberholzer

European Appearances: 3rd time
(2003, 2006, 2008)

European Record:
2003: 6th overall – 5th/7th
2006: 2nd overall – 2nd/2nd
Own Choice works used:
2003: Revelation
2006: Music of the Spheres

Best Performance: 2nd in 2006
Last Year: Did not qualify

A return to the European stage for the 2006 runner up, and after winning the Swiss National for the third time late last year, they will surely be confident of at least coming in the top six this time around.

At their National Championships they beat long term rivals Brass Band Treize Etoiles by the narrowest of margins (third place was just a point behind) after gaining just the one point more on the set work.

Not so successful at the Swiss Open earlier in the year when they were placed 4th overall, they are still a band of considerable talent, led by a very charismatic conductor in Arsene Duc. Not as bad record here so far at the contest, but it would be a major surprise if they took the title home to the Cantons of Switzerland for the first time. You never know though…

Aresene DucConductor:
Arsène Duc was born in 1965 in Chermignon. Brought up by a family of musicians, he started out his musical career very young and, at only 11, joined the Ancienne Cécilia brass band from Chermignon as an euphonium player. He later became conductor of the band aged 23.

After obtaining a science degree he gained an academic licence at the commercial college of Lausanne. Parallel to this, he took the professional musical theory courses at the Geneva superior conservatorium and attended orchestration courses under Jean Balissat.

From 1996 he was part of the musical commission of the national solo and quartet contest (CNSQ) and was elected its President. In 1997, he was invited to conduct the National Youth Brass Band (NJBB). 

He is also frequently asked to adjudicate in different musical contests. Incorporated in the Mountain Infantry Regiment 6 of Valais, he was director of the band from 1990 to 2002. 

He has conducted Brass Band Fribourg since Spring 2002. 

Belgium flagBrass Band Willebroek
Frans Violet

4BR Ranking: 9

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Raf Van Looveren
Principal Euphonium: Stef Pillaert
Principal Trombone: Walter Hoeks
Soprano: Bert Van Thienen
Flugel: Kristien Schuermans
Horn: Stijn Berbe/Leslie Howie
Baritone: Nick Vermeiren
Eb Tuba: Bernd Van Echelpoel
Bb Tuba: Bart Van Neyghem
Percussion: Kelly Helsen

European Appearances: 17th time
(1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

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: Winners 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
2006: Winners overall – 1st/3rd
2007: Winners overall – 2nd/1st

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
2006: Journey to the Centre of the Earth
2007: Music of the Spheres

Best Performance: Winners 1993
Last Year: Winners

The 16 time Belgian champion and reigning title holders return to see if they can create history by becoming the first European based band to make it a hat-trick of wins at the contest.

Given their fantastic record over the years you would be hard pressed to find any Stavanger bookie prepared to give anything other than the shortest of odds of them doing just that, especially as they have just the once failed to come in the top three in either discipline of the contest since 2002.

That enviable consistency is the basis of their success and with an immensely talented and experience line up of players and an inspirational MD they seem to relish the challenge of this contest more than anywhere else.  

They are already booked for another assault in Ostend in 2009 after winning their national title for a seventh successive time late last year, so can they appear there looking for a quartet of wins? We will see, especially after they suffered an unexpected defeat at the Flemish Open just a few weeks ago.

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

He graduated at the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp gaining first prizes and diplomas for solfège, 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 he has given his full attention to Brass Band Willebroek 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.

England flagGrimethorpe Colliery
Allan Withington

4BR Ranking: 1

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Roger Webster
Principal Euphonium: Michael Dodd
Principal Trombone: Richard Brown
Soprano: Kevin Crockford
Flugel: Andy Holmes
Horn: Arfon Owen
Baritone: Robert Blackburn
Eb Tuba: Shaun Crowther
Bb Tuba: Gary Proctor
Percussion: Ben McCroomb

European Appearances: 4th time
(1978, 1993, 1997, 2008)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1978: 2nd overall – N/K
1993: 4th overall – 4th/3rd
1997: 3rd overall – 1st/4th

Stanley Boddington conducted the band at the inaugural European contest, followed by Frank Renton in 1993 and Peter Parkes in 1997. Allan Withington conducts the band in 2008. 

Own Choice works used:
1978: Checkmate
1993: Paganini Variations
1997: Epic Symphony

Best Performance: 2nd in 1978
Last Year: Did not qualify

The number 1 ranked band in the world has one big omission on its contesting CV – it has never won a European title. After three attempts in the past 30 years can they do it in 2008?

The double National Champions of Great Britain and current English National Champion are a quite awesome band on their day, full of some of the very best brass band players in the world and with a conductor who has won just about every major prize there is to offer too.

Many people’s bet for the title, they certainly have all the required attributes to win and win in style, although like the other fancied runners of Cory, Stavanger and Willebroek, they too come to the contest on the back of domestic defeat – this time in their own backyard at Bradford at the Regionals.

Somehow you sense that they haven’t come all this way just to enjoy the scenery though…

Allan WithingtonConductor:
Allan Withington is one of the most successful conductors in the banding world.  His playing career saw him play principal cornet at many of the top bands in the country including Wingates and Fodens, whilst he is currently Principal Trumpet of the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. 

He studied at Salford College under the tuition of Roy Newsome and has also played for the London Symphony Orchestra.

His conducting career blossomed when he took over the role of Musical Director of the Brighouse and Rastrick Band, and in his long association with them led them to two National titles, three All England Masters titles, a European success and two Yorkshire titles. 

He was appointed MD of Williams Fairey in 2002 and led them to the National title later that year and repeated the feat twelve months later. With Grimethorpe he has already led them to twin National title successes.

He has lived in Norway for many years and has been one of the most successful conductors in their banding scene, winning three National 2nd Division titles in a row with Tertnes twice and Krohnengen once between 1984 and 1986, before winning the Elite title in 2002 with Manger and twice with Stavanger. 

Norway flagStavanger
Garry Cutt

4BR Ranking: 14

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Odin Hagen
Principal Euphonium: Sverre Olsrud
Principal Trombone: Runar Valheim Varnes
Soprano: Espen Westbye
Flugel: Lise Marthe Amundsen
Horn: Iselin Lande
Baritone: Anne Berit Hansen
Eb Tuba: Oyvind Grong
Bb Tuba: Endre Abotnes
Percussion: Anders Rydberg

European Appearances: 9th time
(1982, 1985, 1986, 1993, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1982: 5th overall – 8th/ 3rd
1985: 5th overall – 6th/ 2nd
1986: 5th overall – 7th/ 5th
1993: 9th overall – 7th/ 8th
1996: 9th overall – 7th/ 10th 
2004: 10th overall – 9th/10th
2005: 3rd overall – 5th/2nd
2007: 2nd overall – 3rd/3rd

Performances in the first three years were directed by K. Larsen in 1982, 1985 and 1986. Richard Evans directed the band in 1993 and Garry Cutt in 1996. Steve Bastable conducted in 2004 whilst Allan Withington directed in 2005 and 2007. Garry Cutt returns for 2008.

Own choice works used:
1982: Fantasy for Brass Band
1985: Dances and Arias
1986: Contest Music
1993: English Heritage
1996: Essence of Time
2004: …Dove Descending
2005: Music of the Spheres
2007: Vienna Nights

Best Performance: 2nd overall in 2007
Last Year: 2nd overall

The last of the ‘big four’ fancied bands to take the title, Stavanger come to the contest with the added pressure of not only representing their country but also as the home town favourites too.

Much is expected of a the eight time Norwegian champion that on its day can thrill the pants off you, but which are also a touch fragile now and again when the stakes are high – as was shown at their Nationals in February when chasing a hat-trick of title they failed to really play to top form, although they still came runner up. 

So much quality around the stands though and despite losing their MD to his English employers for this one, Garry Cutt is top class replacement and has all the nous to make sure his band performs, and performs very well.

If they really do hit musical oil then the European trophy could be finding a new home on a mantelpiece somewhere in the city on Saturday night.

Since graduating in the early 1980's, Garry Cutt has developed a reputation as one of the banding worlds most respected and successful conductors.

His 17 year relationship with the Marple Band resulted in many contest success including their British Open victory of 1996. This was Garry's second "Open" title, having previously guided the Kennedy's Swinton Band to their 1989 win and at the same time, becoming the youngest winning conductor in the competition's history and the very first recipient of The Mortimer Maestro Award.

He was appointed MD to the Grimethorpe Colliery Band in 1991, a position he held for twelve years. Garry led the band on many sell-out tours, notably Australia on three occasions. Other overseas trips have included Japan, New Zealand, Hong Kong and in April 2003, their debut in New York's Carnegie Hall. 

He has an enviable reputation on the concert platform, cemented by six victories at Spennymoor's Brass in Concert.

In 2003, he was awarded the Iles Medal by The Worshipful Company of Musicians in recognition of his services to the Brass Band Movement. His appointment to the position of MD of the Fodens Richardson Band has also resulted in many successes including the British Open of 2004 and the inaugural English National Championships in 2006. He continues to be an Associate Conductor of The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain. 

Sweden flagStockholm
Kent Jonsson

4BR Ranking: 241

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Brynjar Kolbergsrud
Principal Euphonium: Mikael Carlsson
Principal Trombone: Håkan Björkman
Soprano: Tarjei Hannevold
Flugel: Lars Gerdt
Horn: Jan Carlsson
Baritone: Åke Lännerholm
Eb Tuba: Sami Al Fakir
Bb Tuba: Calle Jacobsson
Percussion: Henrik Ståhlberg

European Appearances: Debut

European Record: (set work/own choice)

Own Choice works used: N/A

Best Performance: N/A
Last Year: N/A

Stockholm makes their first appearance at the European contest this year after gaining qualification through the Swedish Championships of late 2006.

Strange as it may seem, but it is that contest that counted and even though Stockholm came third behind Gothenburg and Windcorp, the winners demise and with Windcorp unable to attend, the invitation went to Stockholm, who are currently the sixth highest ranked band in the country. (Windcorop are already invited to the 2009 event in Ostend)

Band Manager Michael Claesson told 4BR that the band is looking forward to the event: “We are very excited about playing at the Championships. We have a number of former Salvation Army players as well as a number who play professionally, so we hope to be able to perform well.”

Those professional player may well hold them in good stead with solo trombonist Håkan Björkman recently winning the Christian Lindberg recital competition. That success will lad to the band recording a new CD in the near future which will feature a new arrangement of a work for trombone and band by Lindberg himself.    

Kent JonnsonConductor:
Kent Jonson is currently the Principal Trumpet at The Royal Stockholm Opera and The Stockholm Sinfonietta.

He grew up in Skelleftehamn where his father was the Bandmaster of the Salvation Army band and soon became principal cornet and performed most of the Salvation Army´s solo cornet repertoire whilst still relatively young.

He studied the trumpet at Framnäs College in Piteå and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, during which time he was both principal cornet and deputy band master in the Vasa Music Corps. He also played principal and soprano cornet with Solna Brass.

After his studies, Kent returned to Skelleftehamn to take up the position of bandmaster for the SA band. In 1983 Kent was appointed principal trumpet of The Royal Stockholm Opera and became the trumpet teacher att Örebro´s College of Music.

Kent has made regular appearances as guest conductor with Gothenburg´s brass band and Oslo. He has been principal conductor for Jelöy High School brass band course and has conducted Solna Brass. He frequently appears as a soloist with a variety of brass bands, but conducting is taking up more and more of his time. Kent has been Stockholm Brass Band´s conductor since 2006. 

Scotland flagKirkintilloch
Howard Taylor

4BR Ranking: 19

Principal Players:

Principal Cornet: David Prentice
Principal Euphonium: Neil Phillip
Principal Trombone: Chris Rivera
Soprano: Steve Stuart
Flugal: Caron Robson
Horn: Allan Wardrope
Baritone: James Corrigan
Eb Tuba: Andy McKreel
Bb Tuba: David Trusdale
Percussion: Kenny Carlyle

European Appearances: 6th time
(1985, 1986, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2008)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1985: 11th overall – 14th/ 3rd
1986: 6th overall – 8th/7th
1991: 9th overall – 11th/10th
1995: 9th overall – 10th/8th
2003: 8th overall – 10th/6th

Walter Hargreaves directed the band’s debut performance in 1985. Richard Evans directed in 1986 before Frank Renton directed in 1991 and Charles Keenan in 1995. Frank Renton returned to take the band in 2003 and Howard Taylor flies in from Australia to take the band in 2008.

Own Choice works used since:
1985: Dances and Arias
1986: Pageantry
1991: Blitz
1995: Blitz
2003: Jazz

Best Performance: 6th place in 1986
Last Year: Did not qualify

The five time Scottish Champion returns to the contest for the first time since 2003, after claiming the Scottish title in 2007.

That however was the last real highlight of a year that rather imploded for the band and poor performances at the British Open, Nationals and Scottish Open (where they were conducted by Howard Taylor) saw them end the year on a low note.

2008 has started so much better however, and although they failed to retain their Scottish title, they put up a quality defence in coming runner up. Things are now looking much brighter and the band is playing to the type of form that not so long ago made them formidable challengers on all major contest stages. 

Howard Taylor has racked up the air miles from Australia to take the band and the talented Englishman could well bring the best out of them again, and a repeat of the top six place of 1986 could be a realistic ambition once again. 

Howard TaylorConductor:
Howard Taylor started his musical career in the Salvation Army in the South West of England, learning the cornet from an early age. He progressed to become Principal Cornet of the Plymouth Exeter Hall Salvation Army and Youth Band, and conductor at the age of 17.

In 1985 he joined Bodmin Band and soon took up the position of Principal Cornet and Deputy Conductor. After a spell in Australia and NZ, he took over the baton at Bodmin in 1993 leading them to be judged South West Champions and Cornish Champions 3 years in succession.

He moved to New Zealand in 1997 and his appointment as MD of Waitakere Band saw him take them to the NZ Nationals that year. In 1999 they became New Zealand National Champions, as well as Shell Band of the Year Concert title. 

Under his leadership Waitakere were crowned Auckland Champions 3 years in succession and awarded the “NZ Band of the Year” in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

In 2002 he moved to Brisbane, Australia where he was appointed MD of Brisbane Excelsior. Under Howard's direction, XLCR has won 4 State Championships, and the Australian National A Grade Championship in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

He has recently been appointed Musical Director for the New Zealand National Band 2007-2009. 

Netherlands flagBrass Band De Waldsang
Rieks van der Velde

4BR Ranking: 73

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Bert van der Velde
Principal Euphonium: Gerben Rouwenhurst
Principal Trombone: Jelle van der Wal
Soprano: Harro de Beer
Flugel: Elske van der Kooi
Horn: Folkert Veenstra
Baritone: Hans Dijkstra
Eb Tuba: Anneke Kuipers
Bb Tuba: Djurre Beek
Percussion: Anne de Jong

European Appearances: 18th time
(1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2008)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1980: 4th overall – 5th/ 3rd
1981: 3rd overall
1982: 4th overall – 6th/ 4th
1983: 5th overall – 9th/ 3rd
1984: 8th overall – 6th/ 10th
1985: 12th overall – 12th/ 7th
1987: 7th overall – 7th/ 6th
1988: 6th overall – 6th/ 4th
1989: 6th overall – 4th/ 9th
1990: 3rd overall – 5th/ 3rd
1991: 8th overall – 7th/ 8th
1993: 8th overall – 9th/ 5th
1995: 5th overall – 7th/ 2nd
1998: 5th overall – 4th/ 7th
2000: 5th overall – 5th/ 5th
2004: 8th overall – 5th/9th
2007: 9th overall – 12th/2nd

The first performances were been directed by T. Brouwer from 1980 to 1983. Dirk Lautenbach led the band from 1984 to 1987. B. Ijlstra conducted the band from 1987 to 1989 and since 1990 Rieks van der Velde had directed the band at the contest.

Own choice works used:
1980: James Cook Circumnavigator
1981: Triumphant Rhapsody
1982: John O'Gaunt
1983: Land of the Long White Cloud
1984: Connotations
1985: Blitz
1987: Contest Music
1988: Harmony Music
1989: Year of the Dragon
1990: Cloudcatcher Fells
1991: Harmony Music
1993: Paganini Variations
1995: Diversions on a Bass Theme
1998: Volcano
2000: On Alderney Edge
2004: Harrison's Dream
2007: Music of the Spheres

Best Performance: 3rd in 1981 and 1990
Last Year: DNQ

The 13 time Netherlands champion makes its 18th appearance at the European contest this year (only surpassed by Cory) and they will be looking for something of a return to the type of form that saw them regularly make it into the top six here.

The band retained its National title in some style late last year, but they could only manage 3rd place at the subsequent Swiss Open.

They have a pretty impressive record at this contest over the years too, with a high watermark of two third places. Last year though they experienced both the ups and downs of the contesting fates, coming 12th and last on the set work and runner up in the own choice discipline.

If they can just gain a touch more consistency their mix of experienced players and talented MD may well make a mark once more.    

Rieks van der VeldeConductor:
Rieks van der Velde was born in 1961 and has been the Musical Director of the De Waldsang Band since 1989. 

In addition to conducting brass bands he is a music teacher and has an extensive catalogue of arrangements and original compositions for brass and wind ensembles.

In his early teens he was a member of the Dutch National Youth Fanfare Orchestra and went to take lessons at the music school in De Waldsang it self. It was here that he was identified as an euphonium player of talent and became a member of the De Waldsang Band.

He studied euphonium and conducting at the "Muziek Pedagogische Academie" in Leeuwarden. As a conductor he is one of the most successful in the Netherlands with seven National titles to his credit as well as leading twelve bands to National titles in the Dutch Lower Sections.

austriaOberoesterreich Brass Band
Hans Buchegger

4BR Ranking: 26

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Hans Gansch
Principal Euphonium: Harald Buchner
Principal Trombone: Helmut Windischbauer
Soprano: Florian Klingler
Flugel: Thomas Beiganz
Horn: Günther Reisegger
Baritone: Franz Wachlmayr
Eb Tuba: Walter Baldinger
Bb Tuba: Walter Krempl
Percussion: Gerhard Baier

European Appearances: 5th time (2nd time in Championship Section)
(2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
2004: 4th place in B Section
Set work – "Airs and Dances" plus own choice selections
2005: Winners of B Section
Set work - "Match – Rhythm" plus own choice selections
2006: Winners of B Section
Set work – ‘Little Christmas' plus own choice selections
2007: 5th overall – 4th/9th

Where once we were amazed at the brilliance of the emerging Oberoesterreich, now all the contenders here will know that they are a band that is more than capable of taking the European title itself.

The University brass ensemble and was established in 2003 as part of a "Fixed Installation" course at the University of Music and Art in Graz, and under the direction of Hannes Buchegger their progress has been nothing short of remarkable.

Last year in Birmingham they thrilled everyone with their fantastic playing – especially in the own choice section of the contest - although it was in the set work that they found favour more with the judges. That resulted in them coming home in 5th place, and there is surely more to come, especially with the quality of their personnel.

Since then they have learnt an important lesson at Brass in Concert where they showed both their brilliance and naivety, but you sense they will have taken the experience on board – big time.    Now comes their greatest test yet – and you fell they are not about to fail.

Hannes Buchegger was born in Innsbruck in 1953 and was a student at the Tiroler Landeskonservatorium where he gained a diploma in trumpet and played and was taught by Edgar Seipenbusch.

He came to prominence in the brass band world in 1994 when he led Brass Band Fröschl Hall to the first of their four B Section European titles. 

He had been involved with brass ensembles since 1986 and this led to him being involved in the ‘Fixed Installation’ course at the University of Music and Art in Graz and the formation of Brass Band OberÖsterreich.

He is the Director of the Städtischen Musikschule Hall in Tirol and has been a leading adjudicator in many national and international music competitions.


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