2009 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 32nd European Champions.

Denmark flagBrass Band Lyngby Taarbaek
Conductor: Christian Schmiedescamp

4BR Ranking: 37

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Dennis R. Andersen
Principal Euphonium: Michael Thomsen
Principal Trombone: Fiirgaard Schneefeldt
Soprano: Lars Haedersdal
Flugel: Helle Hansen
Horn: Lisbeth Jorgensen
Baritone: Ea Vangkilde
Eb Tuba: Philip Garner
Bb Tuba: Peter Hansen
Percussion: Mikkel Vangkilde

European Appearances: 9th time
(1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)

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
2008: 7th overall – 4th/8th

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 at the contest since 2007.

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
2008: Apocalypse

Best Performance: 5th place in 2004

Last Year: 7th place overall

The perennial Danish champion returns once again looking to make that breakthrough to become a real challenger for the European title.

Ambitious, committed and fearless even, they do not lack for confidence, even if some of their own choice selections have perhaps not shown them in their best light at times. Some wonderfully talented players in the ranks and a fine MD at the helm, they were pushed in retaining their Danish title late last year, but still came through with something to spare.

Two sevenths in the past two years show they are on the coatails of the big boys, but can they just up their game this year to find their way into the prizes?


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. 

Wales flagCory
Conductor: Dr. Robert Childs

4BR Ranking: 1

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

European Appearances: 20th time
(1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1993, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)

European Record: (set work/ own choice)
1979: 2nd overall – 3rd/3rd
1980: Winners – 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
2008: Winners – 1st/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 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
2008: Music for Battle Creek

Best Performance: Winners 1980 & 2008

Last Year: Winners

The long wait ended last year in Stavanger, so now comes the hard part. Can Cory retain their title?

The odds and the form suggest that they are favourites to do just that, and with wins at Brass in Concert and the Welsh Regional Championships on their last two contesting outings, a third successive victory could well be within their grasp.

That said, they will need to be on their best form and much will depend on their own choice selection, which hasn’t been bullet proof in the last two years. If they can muster the form they showed in Norway once again though then they will be hard to beat. 

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.    

England flagGrimethorpe Colliery
Conductor: Allan Withington 

4BR Ranking: 2

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Robert Westacott
Principal Euphonium: Michael Dodd
Principal Trombone: Richard Brown
Soprano: Kevin Crockford
Flugel: Andy Holmes
Horn: Arfon Owen
Baritone: Michael Wells
Eb Tuba: Ken Ferguson
Bb Tuba: Gary Proctor
Percussion: Carl Ryan

European Appearances: 5th time
(1978, 1993, 1997, 2008, 2009)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1978: 2nd overall – N/K
1993: 4th overall – 4th/3rd
1997: 3rd overall – 1st/4th
2008: 2nd overall – 2nd/2nd

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

Own Choice works used:
1978: Checkmate
1993: Paganini Variations
1997: Epic Symphony
2008: Vienna Nights

Best Performance: 2nd in 1978 & 2008

Last Year: 2nd overall

Comings and goings, trials and tribulations – the everyday story of Grimethorpe is a fascinating one at the best of times, let alone when there is a bit of a rumpus in the house.

Still waters of late however, and even though they couldn’t quite find the consistency  needed to win through to the National Finals in Bradford a few weeks back, there was a tantalising glimpse or two of their awesome potential. 

On their day they are nigh on impossible to beat, and even when they are not (such as last year in Stavanger) they come pretty close. Now things are settled they could well go and win the whole damn thing with something to spare.   


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. 

austriaOberoesterreich Brass Band
Conductor: Hannes Buchegger

4BR Ranking: 38

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Hans Gansch
Principal Euphonium: Harald Buchner
Principal Trombone: Lito Fontana
Soprano: Christian Hollensteiner
Flugel: Thomas Beiganz
Horn: Paul Moser
Baritone: Franz Wachlmayr
Eb Tuba: Walter Baldinger
Bb Tuba: Walter Krempl
Percussion: Gerhard Baier

European Appearances: 6th time (3rd time in Championship Section)
(2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)

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
2008: 10th overall – 8th/10th

All performances have been directed by Hannes Buchegger.

Own Choice works used:
2007: Titan’s Progress
2008: Dreams

Best Performance: 5th overall in 2007

Last Year: 10th overall

We don’t know what the Austrain term is for throwing your toys out of the pram, but Oberoesterreich did have a bit of a paddy after last year’s contest saw them finish up in a very unlucky 10th place.

We expect so much from the band that perhaps it was time for them to taste the flip side of brass band contesting and all its disappointments. How they respond this year will be interesting to say the least.

All the talents you could wish for, a conductor who reeks of class and a commitment to music making that sees them inhabit a different planet at times. Will that time be here in Belgium though?   


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. 

Switzerland flagBrass Band Treize Etoiles
Conductor: James Gourlay 

4BR Ranking: 32

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Patrick Vergeres
Principal Euphonium: Sebastien Heritier
Principal Trombone: Bertrand Moren
Soprano: Manuel Cathoblaz
Flugel: Claude Romailler
Horn: Jocelyne Moren
Baritone: Gilles Rocha
Eb Tuba: Francois Fournier
Bb Tuba: Philippe Rapalli
Percussion: Nicolas Sauthier

European Appearances: 13th time
(1979, 1980, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1979: 4th overall - 6th/5th
1980: 3rd overall - 2nd/5th
1984: 9th overall - 5th/13th
1987: 9th overall - 9th/8th
1988: 9th overall - 7th/10th
1990: 4th overall - 3rd/8th
1994: 8th overall - 7th/8th
1999: 3rd overall - 3rd/5th
2001: 3rd overall - 2nd/2nd
2002: 5th overall - 6th/5th
2005: 6th overall - 7th/4th
2007: 11th overall – 10th/8th

Geo Pierre Moren conducted between 1979 and 1988, then gave way to Richard Evans for 1990 and 1994. Peter Parkes was at the helm for 1999, 2001 and 2002, before the original MD returned for 2005 and 2007. James Gourlay takes over for 2009.

Own choice works used:
1979: John O'Gaunt
1980: Judges of the Secret Court
1984: James Cook - Circumnavigator
1987: Dances and Arias
1988: Land of the Long White Cloud
1990: Dances and Arias
1994: Partita
1999: Between the Moon and Mexico
2001: Cambridge Variations
2002: Harmony Music
2005: Music of the Spheres
2007: Beyond the Horizon

Best Performance: 3rd in 1980, 1999 and 2001

Last Year: DNQ

Lucky number 13? Treize Etoile make their 13th appearance at the European this year, still looking to win the title in the fourth decade of trying.   

On their day they are more than a handful to say the least, and can mix it in high class company (they were 5th at the All England Masters last year). Tremendously talented performers fill the ranks and the sense that they mean business this year is shown by the appointment of James Gourlay to direct their assault.

They won both the Swiss National and Open in some style last season too and with the rejuvenated Scotsman at the helm they could well be more than just a dark horse on the weekend.


James Gourlay was born in Scotland and began to play in his local brass band at an early age.

He took part in numerous solo competitions at that time and soon became Scottish Champion at junior and open levels. After studying at the Royal College of Music he became principal tuba of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra followed by posts in the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Orchester der Oper in Zurich where he worked with most of the world’s top conductors.

As a soloist and chamber musician, James Gourlay has won international acclaim. He is a former member of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and has toured the world performing concertos with major orchestras and giving countless recitals.

He has recorded the Gregson and Vaughan-Williams concertos and has a strong commitment to new music and has given premieres of works by Bingham, Gorb, Gilbert, Lachenmann, Gregson, Horovitz, Sparke, Penderecki and Newton..

He has appeared as a guest conductor with both wind and brass ensembles all over Europe and as far away as Brazil. He is a regular guest conductor of the National Youth Wind Orchestra Great Britain and has conducted many of thee UK's top brass bands.

He has made a number of recordings with the RNCM Wind Orchestra and continues his lifelong dedication to music education with guest-teaching engagements in Lyon, Weimar, the Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. 

France flagBrass Band Aeolus  
Conductor: Bastien Stil 

4BR Ranking: 35

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Clement Saunier
Principal Euphonium: Patrick Couttet
Principal Trombone: Romain Simon
Soprano: Olivier Voisin
Flugel: Charly Villoteau
Horn: Arnaud Laporte
Baritone: Nicolas Goullet
Eb Tuba: Andre Gilbert
Bb Tuba: Jeremie Dufort
Percussion: Laurent Fraich

European Appearances: 3rd time
(2005, 2007, 2009)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
2005: 9th overall - 8th/8th
2007: 10th overall – 7th/11th

Both performances at the contest have been directed by Bastien Still.

Own choice works used:
2005: Essence of Time
2007: Music of the Spheres

Best Performance: 9th in 2005

Last Year: DNQ

The French champion returns this year with something to prove.

Beaten in their own French National Championships late last year, the band will know they have more than just pride to play for on the weekend. Packed with talented performers and a fine musican at the helm they can more than mix it in top class company as was shown at the All England Masters last year where they came 3rd. 

They were not out of their depth at this contest in 2005 and 2007 either and their warm, rounded ensemble sound and classy soloists caught the ear of many respected commentators. More of that should see them do well again, but can they just up their form to push for a top six finish and restore that battered French pride?

Bastien StilConductor: 

Bastien Stil made made his debut at the age of 4 and went on to be taught by Pierre Duvauchelle at Rouen and gaining a Diploma aged 12 at the Acadamie Leopold Bellan.

At 13 he commenced tuition at the saxhorn at the Ecole Nationale de Musique du Havre with Christian Maillard. He also studied the tuba with Philippe Legris of the  Conservatoire du Xame of Paris, in the analysis and history of music and orchestra direction at CNR de Rouen.

He formed the brass band Brass-Band Normandie and played at the Academie du national Jugend Brass-Band de Suisse under the direction of  Edward Gregson. 

He has played tuba with Fernand Lelong, Gerard Bucquet and Bernard Neuranter, and chamber music with Jens Mac Manama, composition with Bernard de Cropy, analysis with Francoise Rieunier, History of music with Sylvie Pebrier and orchestral direction with  Sebastien Billard and Claire Levacher.

He is a member of l'Orchestre des Gardiens de la Paix de Paris and a visiting professor of the tuba at the tuba at l'Ecole Nationale de Musique du Havre. In 2001 he obtained the Diplome de Formation Superieure du CNSM de Paris. 

Netherlands flagBrass Band Rijnmond
Conductor: Ivan Meylemans

4BR Ranking: 72

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Gerben Kralt
Principal Euphonium: Olaf Kruidhof
Principal Trombone: Dominique Capello
Soprano: Leon Klink
Flugel: Dik van Doorn
Horn: Irving van Veesem
Baritone: Jan Willem Willemse
Eb Tuba: Tija van der Veen
Bb Tuba: Joop de Haan
Percussion: Jos Olte

European Appearances: 5th time
(1986, 1991, 1995, 2005, 2009)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1986: 7th overall - 9th/6th
1991: 11th overall - 7th/11th
1995: 11th overall - 11th/9th
2005: 5th overall – 6th/5th

The band were conducted by L. Niesten on their debut in 1986, followed by A. Appelo in 1991 and Gareth Jones in 1995. In 2005 Erik Janssen was at the helm and Ivan Meylemans takes over this year.

Own choice works used:
1986: Land of the Long White Cloud
1991: Year of the Dragon
1995: Dances and Arias
2005: Ginnungagap…seeming emptiness

Best Performance: 5th overall in 2005

Last Year: DNQ
Rijnmond make their first appearance back at the European contest since 2005 and they have a decent record to uphold too – coming a well deserved 5th in Groningen last time out.

Their domestic form has been a little up and down since that last appearance, but they were good value for their domestic title win late last year, even if it was a bit of a surprise.

Another band with plenty of talented individuals around the stand and a true musician of international standing at the helm, they are more than capable of claiming a top six spot or better. Much could depend on their own choice selection, something that held them in good stead last time around.  


Ivan Meylemans started his orchestral conducting studies at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, graduating in 2000.
In 2002, he won the Second International Vakhtang Jordania conducting competition in Kharkov (Ukraine) and was a finalist in the renowned Donatella Flick Conducting Competition, where he conducted the London Symphony Orchestra.

In 2005 he was awarded the ‘Salon Prize’, an award aimed at encouraging young musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, resulting in a CD recording with the Royal Concertgebouw Brass.
In 2007 he ended his 13-year career as a trombone soloist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra to fully dedicate his time to his advancing career as a conductor. He became assistant to Mariss Jansons, chief-conductor of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and was appointed chief-conductor of the Belgian Collegium Instrumentale Brugense.
He has made his conducting debut with important international orchestras such as Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, the Philharmonic Orchestras of Luxembourg and Zagreb and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which will be continued in 2009 and 2010, with an extensive Japanese tour. 

Wales flagTredegar
Conductor: Ian Porthouse

4BR Ranking: 9

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Dewi Griffiths
Principal Euphonium: Darren Morris
Principal Trombone: Gareth Robinson
Soprano: Adrian Williams
Flugel: Andrea Lewis
Horn: Vicki Reynolds
Baritone: Geraint Chamberlain
Eb Tuba: Gethin Rees
Bb Tuba: Andy Russell
Percussion: Steve Barnett

European Appearances: 8th time
(1978, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2009)

 European Record: (set work/own choice)
1978: 5th overall
1991 3rd overall – 4th/3rd
1992 9th overall – 10th/6th
1995 7th overall – 7th/7th
1996 5th overall – 4th/4th
1997 4th overall – 7th/1st
2002: 7th overall – 7th/6th

David Thomas conducted the band on its first appearance, before Nigel Weeks directed in 1991 and 1992. Nicholas Childs took the helm in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and Steve Bastable in 2002. Ian Porthouse directs in 2009.

Own choice works used:
1991: Essence of Time
1992: Contest Music
1995: Year of the Dragon
1996: Montage
1997: Freedom
2002: Harrison’s Dream

Best Performance: 3rd in 1991

Last Year: DNQ

A return to the European contest for the first time since 2002 for the 2008 Welsh Champions, and they will be keen to kick start their 2009 season after a clutch of second place finishes this year.

Another one here will of course be celebrated long into the night, but they also have one eye on that other sandy beached contesting jewel of Blackpolo too a week after their performance here, as they seek a return to the British Open. A second place there will certainly come in handy too.

Outsiders for sure, but a band that has shown the ability at all major contests to mix it at the very top end of the results table at times.  A bit of a dark horse?


Ian Porthouse was born into a family of musicians and joined the Flimby Saxhorn Band where his father was principal cornet. Within 5 years he would take over as principal himself.

At 16, he became principal cornet of the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain leading for 3 years, before joining the Leyland Band in 1984. He went on to play with the Desford Colliery, becoming National Champions 3 years in succession and appeared as guest soloist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

He later became principal cornet with the Black Dyke Mills Band, winning another National title and with the Yorkshire Building Society Band, winning 3 European Championships and the British Open in 1997, and the Fairey Band, winning two more National titles. 

In 1998 Ian became MD of the newly formed Pennine Brass, taking them from the Second Section to the Championship in 2 years.

Ian is Director of Brass Band Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire, and a tutor to the National Youth Brass Band and at Accrington and Rossendale College.

His IPBrass, have performed at many prestigious venues including the gala concert at the National Championships, whilst recent conducting projects include several concerts with Grimethorpe Colliery Band and being MD of the European Youth Brass Band in Birmingham.

Ian has recently taken up the position of MD with Tredegar Band and is looking forward to a long and successful relationship, which has already seen them win the Welsh Regional title in 2008 and come ruuner up at the 2008 All England International Masters contest. 

Scotland flagWhitburn
Conductor: Russell Gray

4BR Ranking: 15

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Chris Bradley
Principal Euphonium: Evelyn Bradley
Principal Trombone: Alex Philip
Soprano: Scott Forrest
Flugel: Jim Chamberlain
Horn: Iain Fleming
Baritone: Anne Crookston
Eb Tuba: Graham Fraser
Bb Tuba: Alan Gourlay
Percussion: Rhona Barr

European Appearances: 12th time
(1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 2000, 2005, 2009)

European Record: (set work/own choice)
1980: 8th overall - 7th/8th
1981: 4th overall - n/k
1982: 6th overall - 4th/7th
1983: 4th overall - 3rd/8th
1984: 3rd overall - 4th/5th
1987: 3rd overall - 3rd/4th
1988: 8th overall - 9th/8th
1990: 2nd overall - 2nd/5th
1993: 10th overall - 10th/6th
2000: 4th overall - 2nd/6th
2005: 8th overall – 9th/6th

The first appearance was conducted by Kevin Bolton in 1980, followed by Peter Parkes in 1981 and Geoffrey Whitham in 1982. Anthony Swainson held the baton from 1983 to 1988 and again in 1993, whilst Peter Parks returned in 1990. Philip McCann was at the helm in 2000 and Andrew Duncan in 2005. Russell Gray directs in 2009.

Own choice works used:
1980: John O’Gaunt
1981: Journey Into Freedom
1982: Triumphant Rhapsody
1983: Blitz
1984: Ballet for Band
1987: Blitz
1988: Frontier
1990: Blitz
1993: Paganini Variations
2000: Dances and Arias
2005: Concerto Grosso

Best Performance: 2nd overall in 1990 in Falkirk.  

Last Year: DNQ

Whitburn arrive at the Europeans in need of a boost to their contesting morale.

The downbeat end to the 2008 season has carried over into 2009 and the failure to qualify for the National Finals in London was a huge disappointment. Why the downturn?

Hard to put a finger on it really as they are a band with talented players in all the main positions and have had the benefit of some equally talented conductors at their disposal. Russell Gray is the latest to try his luck,  and they have a proud record over the years at this contest. They are due a touch of luck, but they may need more than that if they are to feature in the prizes. 


Russell Gray was born near Glasgow, and an early interest in music saw him pick up his fathers trumpet by the age of 9. Within a few years he had won many national solo prizes including the under 17 Solo Championship of Great Britain by the time he was 12.
Russell moved to Yorkshire to study music and soon after joined Black Dyke where he stayed for two years.  He subsequently became principal cornet of Fodens and Leyland Bands.
Russell’s conducting career started when he was appointed resident conductor of the Stavanger Band in 1998. Russell moved back to England in 2001 to take over as conductor of the Ransome Band leading them to second place at the National Championships in 2000. 

In 2002, Fodens Richardson approached Russell to conduct them and within the first year had obtained three first and two second placings in five contests.
2005 was one of Russell's most productive years, winning six out of eight competitions culminating with the National Brass Band Championships on Great Britain with Leyland.
Since 2003 Russell has been freelancing as a conductor and player, and this has continued to take him around the world.  At home, Russell teaches at the Salford University, the Royal Northern College of Music and is a "Besson" endorsed artist. 

Norway flagEikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag
Conductor: Bjarte Engeset

4BR Ranking: 20

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Henning Anundsen
Principal Euphonium: Patrik Randefalk
Principal Trombone: Grethe Tonheim
Soprano: Frode Rydland
Flugel: Gyda Matland
Horn: Monica Vobe Reigstad
Baritone: Nina Mjanger Eide
Eb Tuba: Magnus Brandseth
Bb Tuba: Fredrik Berentsen
Percussion: Oyvind Oksnes

European Appearances: 15th time
(1980, 1981, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2009)

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
2006: 7th overall – 7th/7th

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. Bjorn Sagstad directed in 2006 and Bjarte Engeset conducts in 2009.

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
2006: Riff and Interludes

Best Performance: Winners in 1988 and 1999

Last Year: DNC

For many years Eikanger was the ‘European’ band – twice winners of this title and a feared rival. Willebroek may have more victories now, but they are not here this year and the Norwegians are (and still feared) – and they are in the type of form that could well see them pick up their third European crown.

The rebuilding process has not yet been completed, but it is still in pretty good shape and that was shown in retaining their National title in Bergen just a couple of months ago in superb style. 

Quality performers are dotted around the stands but their trump card may well be the man in front of them –Bjarte Engeset – a debutant maybe, but a quite inspirational conductor. If the partnership clicks then the celebratory drinks may well be on the Norwegians in the Kursaal bar… 


Norwegian conductor Bjarte Engeset gained his Diploma at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki where he studied with Professor Jorma Panula.

In 1991 he was chosen as a member of the Tanglewood Music Center Seminar of conductors where the teachers included Seiji Ozawa, Gustav Meier and Simon Rattle.

Bjarte Engeset has been Music Director of the Tromsø Symphony Orchestra, The Norwegian Wind Ensemble and Artistic Director of the Northern Lights Festival of Opera Nord.

He has also been permanent guest conductor of the Flemish Radio Orchestra and from 2007 the chief conductor of Swedens DalaSinfonietta.

Engeset has performed concerts, tours and CD productions with leading orchestras throughout the Nordic and Baltic countries as well as the Bournemouth Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestra to public and critical acclaim.

His Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts received superb reviews and in June 2006 he led the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra in a guest performance at the prestigious Wörthersee Classics Festival in Klagenfurt, Austria.

Ongoing recordings for Naxos Recordings have been met with superb international reviews. 

Belgium flagFestival Brass Band
Conductor: Manu Mellaerts

4BR Ranking: 55

Principal Players:
Principal Cornet: Senne La Mela
Principal Euphonium: Glen Van Looy
Principal Trombone: Roel Avonds
Soprano: Steven De Volder
Flugel: Rigaumont Serge
Horn: Wim Van Dessel
Baritone: Annik Geerts
Eb tuba: Jelle Thijs
Bb tuba: Joke Verschveren
Percussion: Nik Goovaerts

European Appearances: Debut

European Record: (set work/own choice)

Manu Mellaerts will direct in 2009.

Own choice works used:

Best Performance: N/A

Last Year: DNC

The only debutants this year, Festival Brass will not be short on confidence for sure.

Their victory at the Belgian National late last year may have come as a surprise, but in truth they have been making startling progress in the last few years, especially since MD Manu Mellaerts took over the baton.

Now they are a band to be feared, with some pretty talented players in the ranks who have already made their mark in the UK (Glen Van Looy is the British Open Solo Champion). This though is one heck of a step up in class, but on home soil they could well fancy their chances of upsetting the odds. 


Manu Mellaerts started his musical education at the Academy in Tienen, studying  trumpet, chamber music and pedagogy at the Lemmens-Institute in Leuven and then at the Brussels Conservatory.

He won the Belgian “Tenuto” contest in 1985 and was prize-winner at the international trumpet- contest in Toulon in France in 1987. From 1984 until 1986 he was solo trumpet at the Flamish Radio Orchestra, and also teacher at the Lemmens-Institute in Leuven until 1987.

He has been Professor at the Brussels Conservatory since 1986 and  solo trumpet at the Orchestra of the National Opera “La Monnaie “ in Brussels. He performs with chamber music ensembles, works as a guest-conductor with youth and wind orchestras and as a soloist plays in many European countries, especially in the baroque and classical repertoire.

He has been regularly invited as a guest-teacher on international summer courses all over Europe and in 2007 became Musical Director of Festival Brass.


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