2009 European Brass Band Championships - B Section - Preview and Predictions


Now in its 16th year, the European B Section is the UEFA Cup of the European weekend - an enjoyable contest and worthy prize, but still a bit of an after thought...

EBBAEBBA’s long held belief that the B Section competition at the European Championships has been a worthwhile long term undertaking has taken a bit of a bashing in recent years.

Last year just four bands took part in the contest in Stavanger, and despite the quality of the overall winners, Brass Band Frener-Reifer Pfeffersberg, the contest still had the feel of lacking any real purpose.


Now in its 16th year, it has provided a number of individual highlights, but it remains debatable if it has been responsible for really providing the foundation stones of a sustainable brass band culture in ‘emerging nations’.    

In EBBA’s defence however, the argument can be put forward that bands such as Brass Band Aeolus in France and Brass Band Oberosterreich in Austria would not have emerged to become strong contenders at the Elite level of European contesting, if it were not for their original participation in the B Section.


The contest remains something of an anomaly then – on one hand an enjoyable mix of enthusiasm and endeavor, a distinct level below that of the Elite contenders on the Championship contest - but one that showcases examples of individual excellence rather than collective growth.  


This year though there is cause for optimism, with six competing bands from Germany, Lithuania, Italy, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Austria performing on the Saturday morning before the own choice selections from the Elite bands later in the day.

However, the European being the European, there is no Belgian band – a domestic tiff by all accounts about who should represent the home nation resulting in the predictable outcome of a total disagreement and no band in the starting line up.


Bert Appermont’s test piece, ‘Cathedrals’ will be played by each of the contenders in addition to their own choice selections – a varied and interesting mix of pieces in fact that includes works such as ‘Essence of Time’ and ‘The Plantagenets’ to the cornet solo ‘The Nightingale’ and ‘Where Eagles Sing’.

The three judges are Jan Hadermann, Garry Cutt and Franz Cibulka (all three of whom will have been on duty for the set work performances from the Elite bands on the Friday evening) and they should have plenty to ponder over.


With the reigning champions not here this year, Italy is represented by Brass Band Wipptal conducted by Martin Gruber. The Irish comes in force with the Republic represented by Drogeheda directed by Michael Maher, and the North by Murley Silver under William Hill. Lithuania is represented by Brass Band Senjorai under the baton of Piet Visser.

Germany sees 3ba –brass directed by Franz Matysiak, and the new band from Austria this year is the tongue twisting Austrian Brass Band of the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, conducted by Professor Uwe Koeller. 

As for a winner?

Always hard to predict, as the B Section does throw up some delightful surprises now and then (the first appearance of Oberosterreich for instance a few years back took the breath away).

We think their compatriots then could be the band to beat, with the Germans running them very close and the two Irish bands battling it out behind.

4BR Prediction:

1. Austrian Brass Band of the University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz
2. 3ba –Brass
3. Murley Silver 

Germany3ba-brass - The Bavarian Brass Band Academy
Franz Matysiak

The Bavarian Brass Band Academy was founded April 2005 and has played a central role in the organization of the German Brass Band Championship, which they won in 2008 and which they will defend in May.  

There are five bands under the academy’s supervision, and professional and amateur musicians come from all over Bavaria as well as from Mannheim, Cologne, and Basel in Switzerland to be taught by leading brass teachers such as Roger Webster, Dankwart Schmid, Urs Bucher, Pattrick Oettiger, Michael Antrobus and Maurice Hamers.

Franz Matysiak has been the Artistic Director of the academy and of the concert band since its inception. He has led the band to victory at the German Championships in  2007 and 2008 and has worked closely with many leading brass musicians in the further development of the band. 

lithuaniaBrass Band Senjorai
Piet Visser

Brass Band Senjorai was founded in 2002, and currently brings together 37 musicians, who come from various professional musical backgrounds - teachers, students, orchestra directors, conductors and composers.

Senjorai (meaning seniors) is a member of the Lithuanian Association of Brass Bands and its current repertoire includes classical Lithuanian and European output, as well as modern and sacral music.

Besides undertaking many solo performances, the organization is also takes part in larger scale musical projects, accompanying at choir festivals, as well as appearing as a guest at a range of championships for wind orchestras. 

ItalyBrass Band Wipptal
Martin Gruber

Brass Band Wipptal was founded in the Spring of 2005 by former pupils of the music school in Sterzing.

Within a short period of time many current brass players from Sterzing and its surrounding area of Wipptal south of Brenner were attracted to the ensemble leading to a current membership of 34 players.

Through the contact and the collaboration with conductor Hannes Buchegger of Brass Band Oberösterreich there has been a strong commitment to brass band music making and a desire for long term improvement, which they hope will be shown at the European contest in Ostend on the weekend. 

Since summer 2007 Martin Gruber, a former cornet player of the band, has been the band’s conductor. 

IrelandDrogeheda Brass Band
Michael Maher

Drogeheda Band was formed in 1886, as the Colonel Leonard Fife and Drum Band - named after a local man who was reputedly a colonel in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.

In the early 1900s the band purchased the instruments of the locally-based disbanding Band of the Leinster Regiment of the British Army, and became the Drogheda
Brass and Reed Band, remaining as such until1964 when the present brass band format was adopted, becoming the Drogheda Brass Band.

The band has served the town of Drogheda, Co. Louth - Ireland’s largest provincial town, since its formation, performing at all major civic occasions including the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade and for Presidents of Ireland and other dignitaries, including Pope John Paul II in 1979.

It has broadcast on national radio and TV, and performed throughout Ireland and abroad, including two trips to the USA (Des Moines, Iowa in 1977, Oklahoma City in 1979). The band has a proud record of competitive success, winning its first National title in 1912, with many more recent successes in the Irish National Championships, Northern Ireland Championships, and Solo, Quartet & Ensemble Contests at regional and national level.

The band previously represented Ireland at the European Brass Band Championships in Birmingham in 2000, and are currently National Champions for the third year in a row after retaining its title just two weeks ago. 

Northern IrelandMurley Silver Band
William Hill
Northern Ireland 

Murley Silver Band was formed in 1924 and took its name from the local district of Murley, a few miles from Fivemiletown, Co. Tyrone (Northern Ireland) where most of the original members resided.

At present the band is located in Fivemiletown, in the heart of the Clogher Valley.

Gordon Bloomfield conducted the band from 1960 until the appointment of Jack Taylor, in 1962, whilst Harry Gault became the Musical Director of Murley in 1973 directing the band in its first recording entitled Murley Makes Music.

In 1979 and1980 the band became both NIBA and BBL Intermediate champions and in 1981 were made Band of the Year. In 1982 they competed in the Championship Section for the first time.

In 1987 the band recorded their best result in the BBL winning the ‘Own Choice’ Spring Contest held in Glengormley High School. In 1999 Keith Anderson was appointed Musical Director and under his guidance, the band had several excellent contest results and produced their third recording.

Murley’s finest hour came in 2007, after finally winning the North of Ireland Brass Band Championship – the first time in the band’s 84-year history. This achievement, under the baton of Keith Anderson, meant that the band subsequently participated in the European Championships in Stavanger, Norway in May 2008.

In June 2008, Murley appointed William Hill as their new Musical Director and subsequently completed a historic double by winning the NIBA Championship for two years running. 

austriaAustrian Brass Band of the Universality of Music and Performing Arts, Graz
Professor Uwe Koeller

The Austrian Brass Band was founded in 2001 at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz.

The founder and current Musical Director is Professor Uwe Koeller, a former Principal Trumpet of the “Deutsche Opera” in Berlin, and member of the Brass Ensemble “German Brass”. He is now Professor for trumpet at the University of Music and performing Arts Graz.

The Austrian Brass Band is the only Brass Band in Austria which is a part of a University and its members are all students at the University of Music and performing Arts in Graz itself.


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