2009 European Brass Band Championships - Introduction & Preview


The European Brass Band Championships return to Belgium for the second time, with the promise of plenty of fun and games at the impressive Kursaal in Ostend.

EBBAThe European Brass Band Championships returns to Belgium for only the second time in its history, and to the mightily impressive Kursaal complex on the seafront of the Flemish port of Ostend.

Brass at the Beach

The 32nd Championships are being billed as ‘Brass at the Beach’, and a quick glance at the venue that dominates the Albert I promenade on the seafront explains why.

Opened in 2004 it is the largest convention/concert hall complex in the country and even includes a Casino for those who may want the occasional non banding flutter over the weekend at the 4BR bookies. The main auditorium seats over 2000 people, and even if the weather is gloriously sunny, there should be enough entertainment on offer in doors to keep just about everyone away from the beach.

Strong culture

The Kursaal compliments a city that has a strong cultural heritage too (former residents include Marie José Charlotte Sophie Louisa Amélie Henriette Olga Gabrielle – otherwise known as the last queen of Italy and Marvin Gaye - who certainly wasn’t) and one that affords a warm welcome to visitors.

The Championships have been organised by EBBA in partnership with VLAMO, (Vlaamse amateurmuziekorganisatie - Flemish Association of Music Bands and Musicians) and there is a lot lined up for visitors to enjoy from Thursday April 30th – Sunday May 3rd.


All contesting eyes will of course by fixed on the Championship Section event that takes place on Friday and Saturday, where 11 bands battle it out for glory.

Defending champions Cory will be looking to retain the crown they won in such thrilling style in Norway 12 months ago, but they will be faced by a strong contingent of European rivals. As has become tradition, the host country provides the set test composer and this year Jan Van der Roost has produced a very interesting challenge with his, ‘From Ancient Times’, a work that draws its modern inspiration from Belgium’s proud cultural heritage.

All different

Interestingly, for the first time since 1992, each of the 11 Elite bands will perform different own choice works on the Saturday, making the job of musical comparison even more difficult than usual for the judges. As is also becoming a bit of a tradition, two brand new works will also be used to showcase very specific talents too, with Peter Graham’s intriguingly entitled, ‘Standing on the Shoulders of Giants’ and Hermann Pallhuber’s ‘Spirits of Puccini’ being used by two of the contenders.

Other attractions

With the European now marketing itself as something more than just a brass band contest for the very best bands in Europe, there are other musical attractions to enjoy over the long weekend too.

The 3 finalists
Marimba King: Lin Chin-Chen (right of picture) will entertain the Gala Concert goers 

The Final of the European Composer’s Contest takes place on the Thursday evening, as part of an opening Gala Concert that will include the European Youth Band and a solo spot from the delightful marimba player Lin Chin- Chen, who wowed the audiences in winning the European Soloist Contest in Birmingham in 2007. 

After the first leg of the Championship contest for the top bands on the Friday evening, the emerging nations of European banding will battle it out for glory on the Saturday morning as an aperitif to the Own Choice discipline in the afternoon and early evening.


Being the European, the actual results will not be announced until the conclusion of the Saturday evening Gala Concert, where reigning champions Cory lead a star studded line up of talent, in what is usually a very long, and sometimes, eccentric night of entertainment. 

Finally, there is a party bash long into the night before the event is rounded off on the Sunday with a Farewell Concert, featuring Brass Band Willebroek, the European Youth Band and the British Open Solo Champion, Belgium’s very own Glen Van Looy.

In between there is the usual mix of EBBA meetings, press conferences and talks from composer, as well as a number of open air concerts throughout Ostend by local bands.

Plenty to enjoy

Plenty to enjoy then in a city that perhaps offers more than just an easy stop over for those wishing to fill their cars with cheap beer and fags.

4BR will be there to cover all the events as they happen, and you can follow the action live through the site and through 'Twitter' as we bring you news, views, interviews, pictures and opinion.

For more information about the 2009 European Championship schedule, go to: http://www.ebba.eu.com/


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