The European Brass Band Championships return to Rotterdam, 21 years after it last paid a visit in 1991.
Much has changed in the interim – not least the newly refurbished De Doelen Concert Hall, which will play host to what should be an engrossing set of competitions and musical attractions.
Although retaining its prevailing 1960’s exterior architectural style, inside it’s a remarkable series of intertwined concert and conference halls, the biggest of which, the Grote Zaal, will seat over 1800 people in comfort.
And those seats will be needed as reports from the local organisers suggest that the main Gala Concert and the Own Choice section of the Championship event are already sold out, with tickets being snapped up for the other events quicker than a last legal cannabis joint in an Amsterdam coffee shop.
Plenty then to enjoy, even if there is a smoking ban in place for those seeking a quiet whiff of spliff...
The music starts on the Wednesday with the first concert of the festival given by the European Youth Band under the direction of the exciting Erik Van de Kolk, who won the Conductor’s Competition in Montreux last year.
Meanwhile, the contest action starts on Thursday evening with an interesting quartet of contenders in the 5th European Composers Competition, where a Welshman (Tom Davoren), an Englishman, (Paul McGhee) a Swede (Joel Engstrom) and a Swiss (Marc Jeanbourquin) will have their pieces performed as they look to claim the first prize of 2,500 Euros.
The European Youth Band will be in action in Rotterdam once more
The main action though starts on Friday, with the set test discipline of the Championship event – where perhaps the strongest ever line up of 11 contenders for the iconic Milton Stevens trophy will lock horns on ‘Vitae Aeterna Variations’ by Alexander Comitas (right) (the pseudonym of composer Ed de Boer) – a work inspired by life ‘on the other side’ – and we don’t mean Belgium either.
Strongly influenced by the assumption that there is life after death, with an eternal soul underpinning our existence in the here and now – as well as the after, it is a very expressive, deeply personal appreciation of what may be in store for us all... including the judges, Arsene Duc, Andrew Berryman and Frans Violet.
With all things ‘Karma’ out of the way, Saturday brings us the aperitif of the quartet of B Sections bands from Austria, Italy, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands, before the contest thermometer will bubble towards boiling point with the first of the top section rivals revealing their showcase bobby dazzler own choice selection for the judges, Karl Ole Midtbo, Edward Gregson and Klaas van der Woude.
And what fireworks we have in store too – with blockbusters from the pens of Neurohr, Waespi, Van der Roost, Wilby, Aagaard-Nilsen, Dodd and Lovatt-Cooper to sit back and enjoy.
All that and there are concerts to enjoy, talks by the composers, debates on banding and plenty of opportunity to chew over the highs and lows with friends from all over Europe.
The results will be announced at the end of the Gala Concert, which as always with the Dutch should promise to be entertaining if nothing else (remember the cycling brass band and the bloke playing tunes on his head in Groningen?)
Perhaps we won’t need a bit of wacky backy after all....
Will the European Trophy head back to Norway this year?
4BR will be taking out the team to cover the action, with plenty of views, news, interviews, twitter, pics, the Editor’s blog and live comments on our new look European coverage.
We will also bring you the results and all the post match analysis in our retrospectives.
We are looking forward to it – and we hope you are too.
For more information on the 2010 European Championship go to:www.ebba.eu.com/