The nominations from the 4BR team for consideration are...
Black Dyke: The Legend of King Arthur (Peter Meechan)
Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
National Championships of Great Britain
There may have been debate about the piece itself - but there was none about the quality or substance of the winning rendition given by Black Dyke at the Royal Albert Hall.
Drawn last and with a seventh ‘Double’ up for grabs, they delivered a performance of such commanding authority that the judges could have just walked out of the box and presented them and their triumphant MD with the big silver pot therefore the last note finally died away in the vast expanse of the auditorium.
Black Dyke: The Triumph of Time (Peter Graham)
Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
Own Choice - European Championship
The performance that ignited Black Dyke’s year: Once again there was debate about the piece itself - but none about how it was delivered from the Perth Concert Hall stage.
It was showcase stuff - almost an arrogant display of sheer virtuosity that left the audience slack jawed in stunned appreciation: It was rather like a 21st century update on ‘Fireworks’, as soloists and sections displayed their full array of talents. At its centre was the MD - the master manipulator of all he controlled that day.
Band Burgermusik Luzern: Trance (Thomas Doss)
Conductor: Michael Bach
Own choice - Swiss National Championship Brass
There were rumours that Luzern were ‘going for it’ at Montreux this year - and by heck they did that and more with the latest supremely inventive work from the pen of Thomas Doss.
The MD was at his thrilling best, with his players responding with such sparkling virtuosity and deep seated musicality that it was little wonder that by its close the roof of the Stravinsky Auditorium was very nearly blown off in acclamation. This had it all with bells on too - and all inspired by the troubled thoughts of an unwanted pregnancy....
Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag: Goldberg 2012 (Svein Henrik Giske)
Conductor: Prof David King
Own choice - Norwegian National Championship
Not perfect by any means - but still - what a deeply satisfying performance of such an immensely difficult work.
This was music the MD revelled in - and so did his players; illuminating its eclectic elements, from Bach to the Brekker Brothers in all their glory - including a central section of such melancholic beauty that it very nearly froze the blood in your veins. They gave a technically safer performance at the Europeans, but for sheer musical intuitiveness this was hard to beat.
Stavanger: ‘Sainteté: Difficile mais pas impossible’ (Simon Dobson)
Conductor: Allan Withington
Siddis Entertainment Championship
You have to hand it to Allan Withington: He doesn’t see musical boundaries, just exciting new possibilities to explore on the horizon. This time it was the story of Joan of Arc (created in partnership with composer Simon Dobson) - from saintly dreams and coffee house jazz, Marcel Marceau mime to flaming martyrdom.
Stavanger do this better than just about anyone around - and this mini masterclass (which won the title for a third successive year) was simply sensational. The Brits are still stubbornly waiting to be converted to Nordic entertainment genres, but more performances like this and it won’t be long.