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2018 European Championships
Championship Section - As it happened

All the action from the 2018 European Championships — Championship Section — as it happened.

Sunday 6, 00:32:21

That's it for tonight...

It's been a great day in Utrecht — especially if you are Swiss or Italian.

Valaisia are now the 2018 European Champion — to go with being the 2017 British Open and Swiss National Champion. They are some band.

The same goes for the Italian Brass Band — a wonderful band and group of musicians (they took time out from their own celebrations on stage after the results to join in the signing and applause for the Swiss)

Two great bands.


Sunday 6, 00:24:29

The Results Ceremony...

The moments when the prizes and the titles were announced...


Sunday 6, 00:10:52

Finding out from the judges...

Chris Davies talks to Joseph Parisi and Ian Porthouse


Saturday 5, 21:47:48

Results:

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Championship Section:

Adjudicators:

Set Work: Jan de Haan, Dr Joseph Parisi, Ian Porthouse
Own Choice: Russell Gray, Blaise Heritier, Erik Janssen

Test Piece: Time for Outrage (Marco Putz adapted for brass band by Paul McGhee)
(Draw): Set Work/Own Choice = Total

1. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc) (4/12) 96/99 = 195
The Turing Test (Simon Dobson)

2. Cory (Philip Harper) (5/4) 98/96 = 194
Symphonic Study for Brass Band: Jazz (Philip Wilby)

3. Stavanger (Allan Withington) (9/1) 95/94 = 189
Goldberg 2012 (Svein H. Giske)

4. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet) (6/8) 92/95 = 187*
Destination Moon (Paul Raphael)

5. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)(1/2) 90/97 = 187*
Partita for Band (Wilfred Heaton)

6. Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen) (8/7) 89/98 = 187*
Perihelion Closer to the Sun (Philip Sparke)

7. Whitburn (Professor Nicholas Childs) (12/10) 94/92 = 186
Metropolis 1927 (Peter Graham)

8. Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)(3/6) 91/90 = 180
Fraternity (Thierry Deleruylle)

9. Fairey (Garry Cutt) (7/3) 87/88 = 175*
Defiance (Andy Scott

10. 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher) (11/9) 86/89 = 175*
Fraternity (Thierry Deleruylle)

11. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor) (10/11) 88/86 = 174
Hypercube (Oliver Waespi)

12. Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl) (2/5) 85/87 =172
Actaeon (Gareth Wood)

Best Soloist: Lilian Meurin — Euphonium (Hauts-de-France)

*Points awarded for the Set Test takes precidence in case of equal overall marks


Saturday 5, 19:43:06

The Gala Concert

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'Capella de la Torre ' early music ensemble open the concert

The Gala Concert has just kicked off with the theme of 'Utrecht, Caravaggio and Europe — 1609 — 1630'.

Good to see a linear narrative to a concert — one given thought and purpose that links to other art forms with a touch of imagination.

The first half features Capella de la Torre, KO Brass! and the European Youth Band, with the second half developed further with the aid of Trumpet Soloist Adam Rapa and Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag.

At its close the announcement will be made to reveal the identity of the 2018 European Challenge Champion and Champion Band of Europe.


Saturday 5, 18:25:21

Final Thoughts

A round up of both the Challenge and Championship Sections


Saturday 5, 18:10:38

The Percussion Man...

We meet Christoph Muske — the Yamaha Percussion Specialist, who talks about his job behind the scenes at the European Brass Band Championships.


Saturday 5, 18:09:12

Finding out opinions...

We are going to go around the hall to find out the opinions of players and listeners to see if we are in touch with the general consensus.

For the time being though we have had a great time thanks to Appie Alferink, the Director of the local organisers Zimihc.


Saturday 5, 18:00:01

Championship Section — Overall Predictions

Chris Thomas Overall Placings

1. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
2. Cory (Philip Harper)
3. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
4. Stavanger (Allan Withington)
5. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
6. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
7. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
8. Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
9. Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)
10. Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)
11. Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)
12. 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher)

Steven Mead: Final Graded Places

393.5pts Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
392pts Cory (Philip Harper)
389pts Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
386pts Stavanger (Allan Withington)
384pts Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
378pts Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
375pts Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)
369pts Fairey (Garry Cutt)
364pts Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)
363pts Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
359pts 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher)
358pts Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)


Saturday 5, 17:51:40

Championship Section Own Choice

Chris Thomas Top 6

1. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
2. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
3. Cory (Philip Harper)
4. Brass Band Willebroek
5. Stavanger (Allan Withington)
6. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)

Dark Horse. Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)

Steven Mead: Final Graded Places

196pts Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
195pts Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
194.5ptsValaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
194pts Cory (Philip Harper)
191pts Stavanger (Allan Withington)
190pts Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)
189pts Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
188pts Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
187pts Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)
186pts Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)
184pts 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher)
183pts Fairey (Garry Cutt)


Saturday 5, 17:45:36

First impressions

Glenn van Looy speaks about their performance


Saturday 5, 17:17:25

Championship Section Own Choice

12. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

Test Piece: The Turing Test (Simon Dobson)

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Conductor: Arsene Duc — Valaisia Brass Band

An ethereal opening that immediately demands attention as the cogs and clicks of Turing's machine start to whir into action. And every little detail can be heard with clarity as the music unfolds. We haven't heard a player put a foot wrong so far such is the level of confidence and security that this band possesses.

Fantastic detailed work from the cornet section as the tempo increases and the ensemble work, particularly at low dynamic levels, is simply magnificent. Arsene Duc is as cool as a cucumber and has the band on the tips of his fingers. This is so impressive in its accuracy but nothing is overblown or disturbs the balance through the band.

Superb lyrical solo cornet work until one moment of fragility is heard but nothing seems to unsettle the surface tranquility of the music. Until that is there's the tiniest of slips on flugel. It will have been picked up by the judges though.

The gradual winding up into the final section is so masterfully controlled by the MD and the ending

Overall: A display of stunning technicality by Valaisia but after the band's blemish free account of the set test yesterday, this was not entirely without slips. A hugely impressive and authoritative display from the Swiss however.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19.5
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 194.5

Short Comment:

A magnificent performance by this wonderful band. Such control, and clarity of textures. It was not the perfect performance they were probably expecting despite the reaction of the crowd, I found just a couple of small errors today. The piece doesn't tick all the boxes for me, but they nailed it pretty much! What a sensational band, and I would not be surprised if they end up the winners this weekend.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 17:06:16

First impressions

Looking back at their performance Brass Band Froschl Hall


Saturday 5, 16:40:14

Championship Section Own Choice

11. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)

Test Piece: Hypercube (Oliver Waespi)

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Conductor: Corsin Tuor — Froschl Hall

The opening has an impact that is at once both dark and sonorously powerful with a fine early contribution from the band's soprano player.

There is a latent energy about much of the playing that propels the music onward in explosive fashion although ensemble isn't always entirely blemish free. My goodness it's exciting though and we are finding that the Austrians are once again making quite an impression here on the band's European debut.

Excellent soloists too as euphonium and baritone followed by euphonium and cornet give impressive displays from the front of the stage. Fabulous Eb bass too and this really is showcasing the band in a very positive way.

The orchestral like sound that we commented on early is again a feature today, as is the organic like approach to the score that allows the music to grow. And what an ending!! Knock out stuff!!!

Overall: The Austrians do it again!! Two fine shows and a highly impressive European debut indeed!!

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 189

Short Comment:

Once again the Austrian band delivers a performance of real quality. There is a maturity about this band that has really shocked me. Full of excellent soloists, but united with a common purpose to make great music. They just did this with Hypercube, and fully deserve what I'm sure is going to be a high placing in this competition this weekend.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 16:35:28

First impression

Nicholas Child of Whitburn gives his thoughts on the performance

Charley says...


Saturday 5, 16:13:54

Championship Section Own Choice

10. Whitburn Band (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

Test Piece: Metropolis 1927 (Peter Graham)

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Conductor: Prof. Nicholas Childs — Whitburn Band

The opening moves with a real sense of purpose and there's an immediate buzz about the atmosphere created. Solo cornet and euphonium do well and as the inflections of West Side Story are heard there's an edgy, grittiness about this that suits the music well.

There's a lot of movement on the stage with players rising to their feet and the soloists are not all entirely uniform with a few clips slipping in as the exposure occasionally takes its toll and intonation also causes the odd fleeting problem.

The atmosphere is so effective though and as we head back into the reprise of the opening material that initial grittiness returns before an ending of bracing American tinged excitement.

Overall: A much improved performance from Whitburn today on a piece that suited the band well.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Whitburn Band (Prof. Nicholas Childs)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 188

Short Comment:

A very convincing performance from Whitburn, led by Professor Childs, a piece that he knows very well. Excellent ensemble, extreme uses of dynamics, that work well today, and generally a very secure performance. A few nervy solo moments took off the gloss, and a touch more clarity needed at times. This was a first class performance.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 16:11:57

Taking a stroll around and about the hall


Saturday 5, 16:01:41

Long service stalwarts...

Two of Whitburn's finest — Chris Bradley and Iain Fleming have notched up over 67 of joint service with the Scottish champion.


Saturday 5, 15:48:50

3BA Concert Band discuss their performance

Championship Section Own Choice

9. 3BA Concert Band (Thomas Ludescher)

Test Piece: Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

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Conductor: Thomas Ludescher — 3BA Concert Band

The only test piece duplication today as we get our second performance of Fraternity, this time from 3BA of Germany.

The opening is impressively atmospheric and right away we sense another band that has put the previous day behind it and is playing without the levels of tension generated by the set test.

The picture painting here is excellent although there are one or two fragilities along the way, whilst the grave trombone chorale works so much better in terms of balance with three trombones rather than the four used here with tuning also not entirely perfect. Lovely solo cornet to follow however and the ending is emotional but controlled in terms of dynamic level.

Overall: Brave and atmospheric playing from 3BA that although not without a degree of fragility at times, spoke with a very direct emotion straight from the heart.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: 3BA Concert Band (Thomas Ludescher)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 184

Short Comment:

A performance of real stature from 3BA. Displaying fine sound characteristics, outstanding safe solo playing and a mighty climax. They did themselves proud today. The best performance I've ever heard from a German band. Real intensity of intention from the very beginning. Control of extremes of dynamics, and excellent tuning too. Again a big step up from yesterday.
What a pleasure to hear these bands, some of them quite new, delivering performances delivering of real star quality. It's tremendous!

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 15:44:29

Willebroek address their performance in Dutch

Championship Section Own Choice

8. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)

Test Piece: Destination Moon (Paul Raphael)

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Conductor: Frans Violet — Brass Band Willebroek

Another interesting choice of test piece as Willebroek opt to play the work now widely known to have been written by Philip Harper for Cory's appearance at last year?s European Championship in Ostende.

Willebroek's journey into space gets off to a jet propelled start as the band powers its way through the opening bars in impressive fashion. If the band's performance of the set test yesterday left us with a few doubts then this is something very different indeed.

The level of detail is exceptional and the central slow section so sonorously beguiling as we drift weightlessly through space. Such fine solo contributions from solo baritone and Lode Violet on principal cornet before cornet and euphonium rise to their feet to face each other in duet. This is so sensitively done. Quite beautiful.

And when the fast material returns we are once again treated to playing that sweeps us along on its trajectory through outer space. And the ending fading away into silence is simply magical!

Overall: Wow! Willebroek has really hit the spot today. A risky choice of piece perhaps given its close and recent association with Cory but this has paid off in spades with so much detail and vivid excitement yet with the most glorious vein of lyricism at its heart. Space helmets off to the Belgians!!

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 196

Short Comment:

Just superb from Willebroek to produce a near perfect contest performance today. Beautiful sounds throughout, total clarity of textures and balance. Confident soloists deliver with style and fantastic musicality. This goes to the top for me despite the other excellent performances today so far.The magician Franz Violet works his magic once again, as his young band delivers a quite memorable performance of Philip Harper's Destination Moon.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 15:43:56

First impressions...

Lilian Meurin comments on Hauts-de-France Brass Band


Saturday 5, 14:43:26

Championship Section Own Choice

7. Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen)

Test Piece: Perihelion — Closer to the Sun (Philip Sparke)

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Conductor: Luc Vertommen — Hauts-de-France Brass Band

Luc Vertommen and his team are looking to capitalise on an impressive show on the set test piece yesterday and they have certainly chosen a challenging piece to do it on.

Philip Sparke's Perihelion gets off to a fine start though and there is an effervescent energy about it from the start. Thee is so much detail heard and the inner parts come through with clarity as a result of careful attention to balance. My goodness this is really flying at times.

The slower music too is despatched with confidence, the soloists acquitting themselves with aplomb, notably solo euphonium who has been pivotal to the performance so far as every player and section take their spot in the limelight in what is essentially a concerto for brass band.

The breathless approach to the conclusion is just that but never at the expense of clarity with the band clearly very aware of allowing the inner detail to project through the surface material.

Overall: For the second day Hauts-de-France have impressed with the band's maturity and technical ability under Luc Vertommen. This has been a fine performance indeed of one of philip Sparke's most challenging works.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 190

Short Comment:

A really fantastic performance by the French band, outstanding euphonium solos, excellent sense of rhythm and style, and some incredibly beautiful sound pictures on the way. We don't hear this piece by Philip Sparke nearly enough. Could be right up there in the own choice section today.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 14:32:54

First impressions...

Thoughts from Brass Band De Waldsang and Rieks der Velde


Saturday 5, 14:14:36

The registration question with Martin Britt.


Saturday 5, 14:06:38

Championship Section Own Choice

6. Brass Band de Waldsang (Rieks van der Welde)

Test Piece: Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

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Conductor: Rieks van der Welde — Brass Band de Waldsang

The opening is imbued with an ominous darkness and the granite like chords that follow etched into the very coal face of the performance. Like Concord who preceded them, this is drawing playing from De Waldsang on a different level to the band's performance in the first leg.

There is just the occasional uncomfortable moment with individual entries not always entirely consistent but this is finding both the drama and the story behind the music.

Percussion do well although it just loses its focus in places and we sense that the momentum lapses when it does. Trombone chorale could be better balanced as the bodies are brought to the surface although the atmosphere is carefully and thoughtfully created, as is the final majestic and moving statement of the principal theme. What a deeply felt account this has been.

Overall: The home team of de Waldsang has lifted it's game today with an emotionally responsive and sensitive account of Fraternity. This has been a highly enjoyable rendition of a piece that never fails to hit the mark.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Brass Band de Waldsang (Rieks van der Welde)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 187

Short Comment:

Another band to step up their performance considerably from yesterday. Outstanding solo cornet cadenza, very consistent band playing, real drama in the central section and the ending very nearly works perfectly too! Much to admire about this band, and deservedly a higher mark from me today.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 13:49:16

Family Fortunes...

We catch up with Arfon Owen and his proud Mam enjoying their time together in Utrecht.


Saturday 5, 13:43:24

Concord give their thoughts

Championship Section Own Choice

5. Concord Brass Band (Jesper Juul Windahl)

Test Piece: Actaeon (Gareth Wood)

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Conductor: Jesper Juul Windahl — Concord Brass Band

Gareth Wood's Greek mythology inspired tale is another piece that is perhaps amongst the more unexpected of today's choices. But there's an immediate feeling that Concord is playing to its strengths here as the band finds another gear from its set test performance yesterday.

From the drama of the opening bars there is so much more confidence and energy about this. The drama is brought through in vivid fashion but we also hear impressive detail in the quiet and more intricate passages.

Arguably Actaeon isn't the most challenging of test pieces but Concord are very much doing it justice here as the band paints a powerful musical story aided by high quality solo contributions all round. And what an ending. Unbridled violence and emotional power in spades.

Overall: This was the Danes on a different level to the band's performance yesterday. The shackles were well and truly off with a performance of confidence and bravura in spades.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 186

Short Comment:

Played with such great conviction. This was a level or two above their performance yesterday. Absolutely committed performance with outstanding individual contributions and the music told the story. Great to hear this band flying like this. Definitely holding its own home today. Bravo all.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 13:40:15

First impressions...

Thoughts from Philip Harper


Saturday 5, 13:35:00

25 years with Cory...

We catch up with Phil Harris of Cory, who has just notched up his 25th European appearance


Saturday 5, 13:14:01

Championship Section Own Choice

4. Cory Band (Philip Harper)

Test Piece: Jazz — Philip Wilby

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Conductor: Philip Harper — Cory Band

Philip Wilby's Jazz gets a welcome reprise from Cory. An unexpected choice maybe although we hear that the composer has made one or two little tweaks to the original score especially for the occasion.

And what an opening. This fizzes along with so much initial energy and dynamism before the band's wonderful bass section changes the mood. Rhythmically this is just so alive although we suspect that some of the detail might be lost where we are sitting above the judges box.

The quieter music too is so wonderfully nuanced. The little flecks of colour and rhythmic inflection in the slow dance that follows Tom Hutchinson in fabulous form on solo cornet, as is Flowers' Paul Richards on soprano. There's just a tiny slip on solo baritone but it's nothing in the overall picture and as the tempo quickens again there's a slick style about the playing and stylistic control that is simply magnificent.

The big band style dance that follows is led by a fabulous solo horn but it is the remarkable consistency of the individual playing that you cam't help marvelling at. It seems that Cory remains a band with no musical skeletons in its cupboard. The ending is scintillating, even though the pre-warned gun shot failed to go off!

Overall: A risk in terms of the piece maybe but my goodness, what a performance from Cory. But how do you compare it the majesty of Eikanger's Partita? No doubt the judges will have their thoughts.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Cory (Philip Harper)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 20
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 194

Short Comment:

A superb performance, with some really mind blowingly exciting sonic moments. In terms of this hall, it's hard to see how effective overall this was. A lot of the complex textures and rhythms at high volume one not always clear from our vantage point. The actual judges are much closer, and they may be standing applauding in that box now, for all we know.
Hugely impressive Cory, with brilliant soloists especially solo cornet and flugel. Is it enough today? Have they done enough over the weekend to take the trophy home? Maybe, we will see!!

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 13:06:17

First impressions...

Thoughts from Garry Cutt

Straight off stage...


Saturday 5, 12:48:13

Championship Section Own Choice

3. Fairey Band (Garry Cutt)

Test piece: Defiance — Andy Scott

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Conductor: Garry Cutt — Fairey Band

Fairey's give a new work from Andy Scott it's first outing, opening with a slow hymn like introduction that soon gives way to jazz/funk and a rampant backing of kit and percussion. Gavin Wyn Saynor excels in the long unaccompanied Eb bass solo that forms the link to the fleeting slow section that follows, as does Lucy Cutt on flugel. Yet somehow this doesn't quite seem to be hanging together structurally.

The band is certainly giving it's all but we are left somewhat underwhelmed by the musical experience which feels disjointed and incohesive. What glorious cornet playing from James Fountain though leading to a majestic reprise of the opening material to close.

Overall: Fine playing from Fairey with Gavin Wyn Saynor, Lucy Cutt and James Fountain delivering in spades. We can't help feeling though that the choice of piece was a significant risk factor in the performance.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Fairey (Garry Cutt)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 17
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 183

Short Comment:

Brave to programme this new work. It was very well played indeed, with some outstanding solo playing, especially Eb tuba, flugel and euphonium. Some fine percussion work too. Andy Scott's characteristic inventiveness shines through on every page of the score.
How does it stand up in contrast to the other established brass band classics today? We will have to see. Perhaps the judges loved it, perhaps they were a little confused by, only time will tell, but very well played the Fairey Band.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 12:47:13

First impressions...

Thoughts from David Morton


Saturday 5, 12:16:11

Championship Section Own Choice

2. Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)

Test piece: Partita — Wilfred Heaton

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Conductor: Ingar Bergby — Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag

There is so much pathos and warmth of sound about the opening and we immediately sense Ingar Bergby and his player's affinity with the symphonic breadth of Heaton's writing. Fabulous trombones against the slow tread of basses and what gloriously warm sounds emanate throughout this powerful first movement with glorious solo soprano to close.

The Waltonesque rhythms of the second movement snarl and crackle before the mood lightens and there is such joy in the contrasts between the two differing moods. This is simply music making of innate understanding and the result of a very special bond between the conductor and his players. The repose of the opening material is again imbued with so much character and the close is simply scintillating.

The slow movement casts a spell over the hall as the playing simply draws us into its sound world. This is given so much space, so much emotion and so much sensitivity. Soloists are simply sublime and it is once again the affinity with the music that impresses as much as the playing itself. There is such an overwhelming sense of gravitas about this. It simply burns with intensity in the final climax and closes in gentle repose.

And then a final movement that bristles with electricity. My goodness what playing this is. That feeling of organic growth and symphonic scale remains to the very end as the final movement progresses to a radiantly majestic conclusion,. There were just one or two tiny slips in the closing stages (soprano cornet) but this has been a performance of immense musical stature.

Overall: A simply breathtaking performance from Eikanger on every level and the result of a seemingly symbiotic bond between Ingar Bergby and his players that is very special to both hear and witness.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 195

Short Comment:

Very nearly a perfect performance. What majesty of sound, complete and utter control communicated from the brilliant maestro, and so well executed by this confident champion band. A glorious sound with some simply unforgettable moments that took the breath away.
Music-making from heaven.
Sure, the door is left open with one or two tiny high slips. Don't want to criticise the musicianship, at a stratospherically high-level.
What a privilege to be here.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 12:03:51

First impressions....

First impressions from two of the Stavanger players on their performance of 'Goldberg 2012'.

Thoughts from Allan Withington


Saturday 5, 11:36:32

Championship Section Own Choice

1. Stavanger Brass Band (Allan Withington)

Test Piece: Goldberg 2012 (Svein H. Giske)

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Conductor: Allan Withington — Stavanger Brass Band

The opening is so limpid, like musical droplets of water as Allan Withington expertly builds the pace through the opening section. There are fragilities though, including principal cornet and yet it's so beautifully shaped. There are luminous colours painted with meticulous attention to balance and texture but again those little slips just threaten to disturb the musical picture.

The detail in the faster sections is often highly impressive and the colours and nuances are once again are so beautifully and delicately painted. And now solo cornet comes into her own. This is beautifully done and so so sensitive.

The funk of the latter stages hits a real groove and again the music is so brilliantly shaped by the MD, leading to an ending that sends a full house of an audience into raptures.

Overall: A curious one from Stavanger to open. This didn't seem to hit the heights of the band's performance yesterday with occasional inconsistencies noted along the way. Yet at its best it was very special indeed.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage: Stavanger Brass Band (Allan Withington)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 191

Short Comment:

What a start to this afternoon's contest. Such easy changes into the multitude of styles required for this piece. The jazz styles were particularly convincing. A few tiny errors early on could count against them but some fantastic moments and a truly stunning finale.
The crowd go bonkers, but that will be a theme of the afternoon!
Once again Alan Withington shows what a master conductor he is, always allowing the music to flow, and his gestures are never overdone as his band is so well disciplined and trained. It's been a good weekend for Stavanger whatever the result.

Steven Mead


Saturday 5, 11:32:20

From The Stands

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Live comments and analysis will again be provided by Chris Thomas and Steven Mead.


Saturday 5, 11:27:53

Draw:

Championship Section:

Own Choice Contest
Grote Zaal, TivoliVredenburg
Draw: 8.00am Saturday 5th May
Commence: 12.00pm (local time)

Adjudicators:
Russell Gray, Blaise Heritier & Erik Janssen

1. Stavanger (Allan Withington)
2. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
3. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
4. Cory (Philip Harper)
5. Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)
6. Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)
7. Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)
8. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
9. 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher)
10. Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
11. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
12. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

Own Choice Selections

Actaeon (Gareth Wood)
Defiance (Andy Scott)
Destination Moon (Paul Raphael)
Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle) x 2
Goldberg 2012 (Sven H Giske)
Hypercube (Oliver Waespi)
Jazz: Symphonic Dances for Brass Band (Philip Wilby)
Patrita for Band (Wilfred Heaton)
Metropolis 1927 (Peter Graham)
The Turing Test (Simon Dobson)
Perihelion — Closer to the Sun (Philip Sparke)


Saturday 5, 07:56:43

Introducing the famous Vikings...

One of the great sights and sounds to be heard today will come from the Swedish Vikings — who just happen to be very sensible lads in real life...


Saturday 5, 07:39:52

Good morning from Utrecht...

Welcome back! What a great day of competition yesterday — with a host of outstanding performances.

The bars were humming with viewpoints and opinions — and there were plenty of those from banding fans of all nationalities.

And as any good football pundit knows — it's a game of two halves — and whilst many believe Valaisia to be ahead as they hand out the half time oranges, there is a long way to go.

We kick off with the Challenge Section at 9.00am, followed by the own-choice selections at noon. The Gala Concert starts at 8.30pm with the results around 10.00pm.

Hope you have enjoyed our coverage so far — and there is plenty more to come....


Friday 4, 21:38:21

End of Part One

With the lights being dimmed in the hall and the stewards rattling the keys to lock up we will say goodnight and resume all guns blazing in the morning.

Goodnight everyone.


Friday 4, 21:34:41

Chris Thomas: Top 6

1. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
2. Cory (Philip Harper)
3. Stavanger (Allan Withington)
4. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
5. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
6. Fairey (Garry Cutt)

It has been a fascinating evening of contesting on Marco Putz's 'Time for Outrage!' following a draw that saw most of the leading contenders in the first half.
The top three bands gave performances of immense musical and technical stature with a number of bands vying to complete the top six after the first day.

Steven Mead: Final Graded Places

199pts Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
198pts Cory (Philip Harper)
195pts Stavanger (Allan Withington)
194pts Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
189pts Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
188pts Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
186pts Fairey (Garry Cutt)
185pts Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)
177pts Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)
175pts= 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher)
175pts= Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)
172pts Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)


Friday 4, 21:34:13

First Impressions

Nick Childs and Charlie Farrell speak about the performance

Family favourites


Friday 4, 21:03:02

Championship Section: Set Work

12. Whitburn (Prof. Nicholas Childs)

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Just making sure the valves are clear

The opening doesn't settle and there are a few nervy entries around the stands that threaten to ruffle the musical picture. Lovely solo cornet and now those early nerves seem to subside a little. We feel the music growing organically although we also hear one or two tuning issues starting to creep in as the movement reaches its close.

'Troubled' feels a touch pedestrian and this needs more drama and energy, but above all a greater feeling of urgency and intent. As we move on it does gather greater momentum and now we do hear that sense of propulsion even though the clarity of detail is not always apparent.

The detail in the final movement remains uneven although we now feel a growing dynamism and excitement as we reach the final bars.

Overall: It's been a long wait for Whitburn and we can't help but feel that the band must be a tad disappointed. This lacked any real musical focus following an opening that was marked by nerves and intonation issues.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Whitburn (Prof. Nicholas Childs)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 14
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 16
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 175

Short Comment:
This will be a very much of a marmite performance. It was incredibly exciting, challenging, but the overall effect was an overuse of loud dynamics for my ears.
Very little difference between forte and fortissimo. The judges are pretty close to the stage, so it would be very interesting to see how they react to this.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 21:02:55

First Impressions

3BA give their thoughts on their performance


Friday 4, 21:00:42

Championship Section: Set Work

11. 3BA Concert Band (Thomas Ludescher)

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Preparing to play 3BA Concert Band

Quality opening and this builds well albeit with a few tuning issues along the way. The atmosphere is carefully created though and the musical approach from the MD is clearly replicated amongst his players. A nicely judged end to the movement gently subsides into 'Troubled', although here we need the energy to be projected with greater momentum and detail.

That clarity continues to be a problem as the detail, particularly in the cornets, is often masked by other band sounds. It garners a head of steam as it progresses however and by the third movement, we hear so much more drive and cumulative power.

Rock the Culprits moves on with energy once again as we sense the band driving for the finishing line but although the ending is projected with power, that lack of transparency pervades to the end.

Overall: A bold account from 3BA that although not a model of clarity in the latter two movements, was despatched with boundless commitment.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — 3BA Concert Band (Thomas Ludescher)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 17
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 17
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 175

Short Comment:
A high-energy committed performance. Some fine individual moments, but not enough clarity and real precision to compare with the top performances today. But the Germans can be so proud of this show, such intensity and bravery on show here. Bravo all.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 20:39:03

First Impressions

Andreas Waldner and Corsin Tuor give their thoughts


Friday 4, 20:23:55

Championship Section: Set Work

10. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)

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Froschl Hall percussionists cross bows!

The opening sets the atmosphere well and this grows so well from the opening bars. It?s beautifully measured and sonorous without being forced in any way. The contrasts of dynamic are used so well with the MD finding the nuances of colour in the score to telling effect, notably in the closing bars as the music subsides into the second movement.

'Troubled' is laced with gritty intent and again this impresses in its thoughtful approach and orchestral like breadth of sound. The contrasts of dynamic are brilliantly done allied with detail that might not be quite the sharpest we have heard but is nonetheless highly impressive in its clarity.

The final movement has an almost explosive energy about it and we sense the players confidence growing by the second here. They know full well how impressive this is. The energy building towards the final bars is breathless in its momentum and what an ending to a performance of genuine stature from the Austrians.

Overall: A performance of both musical integrity and latent energy from the European debutantes. So well thought out and executed.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 189

Short Comment:
Absolutely the surprise of the day for me. It was a vivacious, fresh sounding performance that had at times a superb orchestral feel to it. Secure, well directed, and with such character. What a brilliant debut performance for Froschl Hall.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 19:53:33

First impressions...

Post performance views...


Stavanger Band give their thoughts

The Stavanger journey continues


Friday 4, 19:33:38

Championship Section: Set Work

9. Stavanger (Allan Withington)

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Stavanger chat before taking the stage

A fine opening and the music seems to grow out of the barely audible trombones in the opening bars. There's a haunting, searching quality to this and setting aside the odd moment of tuning, the music grows so organically. Nothing is overdone and as the movement draws to a close it ebbs away to silence beautifully.

'Troubled' is again so well controlled allowing the music to speak for itself with the band sound beautifully balanced but not at the expense of the anger that permeates the music and which is projected with venom. Impressive detail and as with the best performances so far, it is the pacing of the music by the MD that is crucial to the momentum.

The final movement continues to build on that latent energy and power and again we hear the detail of the inner parts as a result of careful attention to balance. This is impressive stuff indeed and the ending bristles with electricity. Fabulous stuff!

Overall: A performance of real stature from Stavanger. Directed with such intelligence and executed with exceptional clarity and transparency.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Stavanger (Allan Withington)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 19
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 195

Short Comment:
Wow, Stavanger bring their 'A game' to Utrecht. So much detail style flow, intelligence and great drive and passion for good measure.

This really works, and they'll be thrilled with this, as were the audience. Right up there in the mix!

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 19:28:50

A composer's viewpoint...

It's always good to hear opinions from a fellow composer — with Liz Lane taking time to talk through things


Friday 4, 19:27:10

First Impressions

Hauts-de-France give their thoughts on the performance


Friday 4, 18:51:02

Championship Section: Set Work

8. Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen)

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Hauts-de-France in the warm-up area

The opening of 'Breaking Silence' is quiet to the point that we wonder if its can be heard in the box (we were certainly struggling behind and above the box) but as it progresses it gathers in musical presence and atmosphere. This is competent playing but just needs a touch more panache perhaps to elevate itself above the competition.

'Troubled' drives on with a latent sense of purpose and as it does we sense the confidence of the players growing. There are moments where the ensemble doesn't quite gel but this playing of unquestionable commitment that more than makes up in energy what it fleetingly lacks in precision.

Rock The Culprits builds so well on the growing confidence of the central movement and this is now motoring. The build to the close is breathless and the sheer energy of this is hugely impressive.

Overall: What a committed performance from the French band. Directed with intelligence by Luc Vertommen and playing of vigour and musical insight.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 185

Short Comment:
What a fine show, so much character, beautiful solo moments and a real sense of precise drive as the performance concluded. So intelligently led, and the players responded, and gave it all. Very impressive.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 18:49:09

First Impressions

Jim Fieldhouse & Lucy Cutt from Fairey Band


Friday 4, 18:20:27

Championship Section: Set Work

7. Fairey Band (Garry Cutt)

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Fairey dress down for the camera

The opening is perhaps not the most delicately elusive we have heard today but grows so convincingly as the opening movement progresses. There is a real presence about this that garners ever more emotional substance as it grows in majesty. And that is perhaps the key word here. There are majestic sounds that places the music on a very different emotional strata.

'Troubled' opens well but without the sheer precision of the leading performances so far. Fleeting moments of discomfort start to impact and it loses its way a little here as the momentum falters. The musical approach is so clearly thought out but the execution not always completely in sync.

Rock the Culprits regains its drive and energy and this is building inexorably to a charged conclusion. Again the detail is not always consistent but it's fine ending to a highly committed reading.

Overall: Fairey brought something very different to the opening movement which was imbued with majestic radiance and beautifully done. The execution of the faster music was not always consistent however but so much to enjoy here.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Fairey Band (Garry Cutt)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 18
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 18
Tuning/intonation: 19
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 19
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 186

Short Comment:
A really fine show from Faireys. Some totally gorgeous playing in the slow section, and some real power and panache to close. Just missing some details and absolute pristine ensemble during quite a bit of that fast section. Right up there of course, and with such a wonderful band sound.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 18:05:26

Plugging in the adapter...

We catch up with composer Paul McGhee to talk about his adaptation of the test piece Time for Outrage...

First impressions

First thoughts on the Willebroek performance...

Iwan Fox speaks with Lode Violet


Friday 4, 17:56:05

Championship Section: Set Work

6. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)

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Willebroek Ladies Team

We have learnt over the years to underestimate Willebroek and Fran Violet at our peril. But there is no sense of underestimation here. Willebroek's opening has both textural clarity and musical meaning, with ethereal solos floated over delicate accompanying sounds. It's not without one or two slips though and just seems to lose its way a little towards the close of the movement.

Troubled has an immediate momentum that drives the music forward if without the sheer sound that has marked out the previous two bands, whilst Rock the Culprits again has drive but we hear lapses in ensemble that are very clear at times.

The build to the close is again superbly paced but those little slips in execution continue despite a fine ending.

Overall: A fine opening from Willebroek and playing of latent energy and dynamism in the latter two movements. This couldn't quite compete on the level of detail and precision for us today though.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 19

Total: 188

Short Comment:
Some truly sublime moments by this great Belgian band. So much to admire with the singing quality of the opening section, but sometimes a touch more detail needed. A couple of noticeable slips, and in today's company, it shows! A different take on this work, but much appreciated in the hall.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 17:50:30

Immediate reactions...

An expectant father Lee Drew tells us all about delivery with Cory...

Philip Harpeer & Tom Hutchinson offer their toughts


Friday 4, 17:35:51

Championship Section: Set Work

5. Cory (Philip Harper)

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In preparation — Cory

The opening has such a magical presence about it. Etheral and haunting in equal measure. The dynamic levels are breathtaking and solo baritone and cornet sing their solos with such glorious pathos. This is music making of deep emotional gravitas.

'Troubled' commences with such purpose and every nuance of detail and colour is given meaning, with the percussion section playing a major part in lending the music textural nuance. We sense that the MD is controlling this with purpose, leaving the feeling that the band always has something left to give. And it's a masterful tool to have in the box.

And that becomes even more evident in the closing movement as the level of detail and breadth of band sound truly comes to the fore leading to an ending of sheer, unbridled impact.

Overall: A second consecutive account of musical magnificence. Cory's opening was simply spellbinding whilst demonstrating a band sound unlike any other we have heard today. Yet Valaisia's remarkable level of transparency and precision could just have the edge. What a contest!

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Cory (Philip Harper)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 20
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 198

Short Comment:
Another quite brilliant performance with a sensational show from Cory. A really magical opening section, followed by precision, power and A remarkable band sound. How to separate Band number 4 and 5? For me only one tiny point due to clarity issues in the final 20 bars or so. What a contest !

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 17:06:17

Immediate reactions

We find our just how hot on stage it is with Glenn van Looy...

Arsene Duc & Marielle Rey speak after their performance


Friday 4, 16:56:10

Championship section: Set Work

4. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

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Valaisia Brass Band register

The opening is enunciated with a sense of mystery that has the audience audibly holding its breath. What a beautifully sensitive and nuanced baritone solo and the individual contributions that follow, notably principal cornet, are also given delicate, almost fragile treatment such is their level of emotional depth. The MD builds the textures with authority and there is so much confidence about this with clarity and the utmost delicacy in the closing bars of the first movement.

'Troubled' commences with such purpose and the sound is always kept under control: an essential element in this hall where forcing the sound will almost certainly result in a lack of clarity.
This is impressively clean playing with nothing impeding the flow of the music at any time, allowing the drama to come through in spades. And my is it exciting.

Rock the Culprits simply flies and again the detail is so so impressive. The merest variations of dynamic take on huge significance and what a cornet section'clarity and confidence in equal measure.

The ending is reached with masterful control and pacing and the sheer energy and drama of this sends the audience into paroxysms of cheering.

Overall: A performance of such rare authority and precision by Valaisia proving that even in a hall with limited acoustic qualities, detail and precision can still be achieved with remarkable results. This was Outrage in abundance. Woweee!!!!!

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 20
Control of full dynamic range: 20
Ensemble precision: 20
Tuning/intonation: 20
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 20
Quality of soloists: 20
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 199

Short Comment:
Sensational performance from start to finish. We hear everything, power, outrage, delicacy, human emotion . Quite an extraordinary and memorable performance

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 16:49:41

Next time it's Montreux...

The next European Championships are in Switzerland — and they have already started their preparations — including getting the chocolate sweets right...


Friday 4, 16:33:48

A Swiss role in England...

What makes a Swiss cornet player leave the cantons to start a brass band in the heart of Hampshire

Immediate reactions

Tya van der Vee gives us her view on de Waldsang's performance from the bass section...

Post performance interview with Rieks van der Velde & Willem van der Leest


Friday 4, 16:29:25

Championship Section: Set Work

3. Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks van der Velde)

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Brass Band De Waldsang prepare for the performance

One or two of the quiet opening entries are not quite together although that could be down to the dynamic. This is extremely quiet playing but to the point that we are not hearing every entry with absolute clarity. We sense the band seeking the atmosphere and haunting nature of the opening section but at the same time we are not finding ourselves being drawn into this.

As we progress through the 'Troubled' central section the band really does give it their all but the sound is limited in caparison to what we expect to hear from the front runners today and we are missing the drama and cumulative musical momentum that propels the music ever onward here.

Rock the Culprits lacks that razor like detail that we need and there are also a handful of uncomfortable moments noted in the tutti cornet section. Again the band throws everything at the music towards the end but it continues to fall away here and those key moments of untidiness will surely cost.

Overall: Committed, enthusiastic playing from the home team of De Waldsang but a few too many errors are likely to have been noted by the experienced judging team.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 16
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 18
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 18
Band sound quality: 17
Balance/clarity of textures: 18
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 18

Total: 177

Short Comment:

There was a nice flow to the music, some excellent individual contributions and here is a band that understands a little more about the unique character of the hall acoustic.

Some fatigue set in quite noticably towards the end and a little subtlety at times. However, most enjoyable.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 16:22:58

The French Connection...

We catch up with a very relaxed Frenchman in Utrecht....


Friday 4, 16:15:27

Immediate reactions...

Another 'straight off stage reaction' — this time from Claus Holm of Concord Brass.

Reaction from Steffen Maersk & Jesper Juul.


Friday 4, 15:53:52

Championship Section: Set Work

2. Concord Brass Band (Jesper Juul Windahl)

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Concord make preperation to play

The opening tempo is very slow indeed and tiny flickers of intonation fleetingly disturb the musical picture. As a result this isn't drawing us in as we progress through the ethereal early stages of the score. Tuning again causes issues although as the band brings greater warmth to the textures the musical authority begins to increase. Tuning is once again a problem at the close of the long first section however and there have simply been too many blemishes to ignore.

The opening of 'Troubled' is scrappy and the ensemble isn't always totally secure. As a result we lose the inherent drama in the music and again there are some nasty moments and musical collisions that get in the way.

The detail lacks clarity (although the hall bears some responsibility for that) and although the momentum is upped considerably in the closing stages of 'Rock the Culprits' the depth of sound through the band and balance is such that we never feel that we are quite hearing the complete musical story here.

Overall: A committed but at times untidy account from the Danes that was also hindered by issues of intonation at several key moments.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 17
Rhythmic precision and clarity: 17
Control of full dynamic range: 18
Ensemble precision: 17
Tuning/intonation: 16
Band sound quality: 18
Balance/clarity of textures: 17
Quality of soloists: 18
Overall understanding: 18
Total musicality from the band: 16

Total: 172

Short Comment:

Much to admire about this performance, great spirit and drive.
A few tuning moments and some less perfect precision moments just took off the gloss.
Percussion dominated a tad too much towards the end.
So hard to find a good way to project clarity in this hall.
Well played all, this is going to be quite a contest.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 15:40:18

Immediate reactions...

Fresh reaction just minutes after coming off stage from Grete Tonheim of Eikanger.

Joe Cook and David Morton give their views on their set-work performance.


Friday 4, 15:10:15

Championship Section: Set Work

1. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)

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Eikanger make preperation to play

The opening bars have an otherworldly feel to them and immediately we sense an atmosphere of mystery yet laced with an ominous darkness that pervades. As we progress through the slow material that follows the atmosphere turns to a gripping mix of haunting desolation. What a gloriously ethereal baritone solo and principal cornet beguiles.

As the textures thicken so does the darkness of the sound and Ingar Bergby is in his element here. Again that eerie desolation returns: music of a troubled mind indeed.

No coincidence then that the next section is subtitled 'Troubled' and although not without the merest of blemishes here and there the music proceeds with a real sense of purpose. Soprano wavers though and not for the first time.

'Rock The Culprits' packs such energy and the clarity of detail through the textures is exceptional as are the extremes of dynamic range that leap through the music, despite the limitations of acoustic that are obvious in the hall. Bergby's pacing is masterful and the build to the final climax is monstrously powerful. This has been such a musically persuasive account, laced with tremendous drive.

Overall: A powerful opening account from the defending champion, directed with customary brilliance by Ingar Bergby.

Christopher Thomas

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On Stage — Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy: 19
Rhythmic precision and clarity:19
Control of full dynamic range: 19
Ensemble precision: 19
Tuning/intonation: 20
Band sound quality: 20
Balance/clarity of textures: 19
Quality of soloists: 19
Overall understanding: 20
Total musicality from the band: 20

Total: 194

Short Comment:

A masterful debut performance, hallmarked by superb band sound.
Hard to hear all the detail in this hall. Very strange acoustic.
Small, tiny audible slips, but very minor.
Hard also, to hear the extreme precision that I am sure this band displays.
However, a remarkable opening performance.

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 14:48:15

Set-work preview...

Steven Mead, Chris Thomas and Alexander Zwaan discuss the set-work and the pros and cons of some of the main contenders this afternoon in the Championship Section...


Friday 4, 14:44:32

Draw:

Championship Section:

Test Piece: Time for Outrage (Marco Putz adapted for brass band by Paul McGhee)
Grote Zaal, TivoliVredenburg
Draw: 12.30pm, Friday 4th May
Commence: 4pm (local time)

Adjudicators:
Jan de Haan, Dr Joseph Parasi, Ian Porthouse

1. Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (Ingar Bergby)
2. Concord (Jesper Juul Windahl)
3. Brass Band De Waldsang (Rieks der Velde)
4. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
5. Cory (Philip Harper)
6. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet)
7. Fairey (Garry Cutt)
8. Hauts-de-France (Luc Vertommen)
9. Stavanger (Allan Withington)
10. Brass Band Fröschl Hall (Corsin Tuor)
11. 3BA Concert (Thomas Ludescher)
12. Whitburn (Prof Nicholas Childs)


Friday 4, 14:38:14

The Iles medal winner...

We speak to Trevor Cafful to find out more about his 2018 Iles Medal award and the connection the Salvation Army and World of Sound have had with the European contest since 2003.

Lithuanian hopes...

Lithuania is one of the exciting emerging nations of European banding — and hopes to play a central role in the contest in the future.


Friday 4, 14:33:50

The Welsh champion...

We meet up with Austn Davies of Cory — and find more about the band and two of the players who will notch up 25 years of European Championship appearances this year.

The music man...

We speak to Music Commission Chairman Paul Hindmarsh about the two set-works chosen for the Championships....


Friday 4, 14:31:36

A busy man...

Russell Gray has been a busy man this week in Utrecht — and as he tells us, there is more work to come as one of the adjudication team in the top section contest


Friday 4, 14:30:07

Around and about in Utrecht...

As the countdown begins before the first band takes to the stage we meet some of the personalities here in Utrecht — starting with composer Oliver Waespi.


Friday 4, 13:27:42

Steven Mead Analysis Outline


Criteria Mark Sheet
Marks by Steven Mead

Technical accuracy:
Rhythmic precision and clarity:
Control of full dynamic range:
Ensemble precision:
Tuning/intonation:
Band sound quality:
Balance/clarity of textures:
Quality of soloists:
Overall understanding:
Total musicality from the band:

Total:

Short Comment:

Steven Mead


Friday 4, 12:37:16

Press Room

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The 4barsrest hub is slightly removed from the contest hall here in Utrecht. To give you an idea of this is the view from the window of our work station overlooking Utrecht city.
Communication with our team in the hall will continue with our usual blend of string and paper, semaphore & appropriate hand gestures!

Only joking — our communication channels are a tad more sophisticated!


Friday 4, 11:44:41

4th & 5th May in the Netherlands are not just ordinary days

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Every year on the 4th May the Netherlands commemorates the Dutch victims of wartime violence. On the 5th May they celebrate their freedom and the European Youth Brass Band will be performing in the opening concert of the Liberation Festival, Utrecht.

At 8pm on the 4th May the entire country is silent for two minutes.
Those two minutes are announced by means of the 'Taptoe', the Dutch counterpart of the British Last Post.

Venues, large and small all honour the two minutes silence as will this Championship Contest.


Friday 4, 11:01:47

Last minute prep...

Fairey Band hard at work with their Outrage....



Friday 4, 10:57:45

A new face on the presenting front...

Chris Davies has joined the team and will be leading the interviews with the conductors and players of the bands after they have performed....


Friday 4, 10:45:57

Adjudication Team

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(L-R) Russell Gray, Ian Porthouse, Joseph Parisi, Blaise Heritier, Erik Janssen, Jan de Haan

Championship Section (set-test)/ Challenge Section:
Jan de Haan (Netherlands)
Ian Porthouse (England)
Joseph Parisi (United States)

Championship Section (own-choice):
Blaise Heritier (Switzerland)
Erik Janssen (Netherlands)
Russell Gray (Scotland)


Friday 4, 10:35:04

From The Stands

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Together — Chris Thomas & Steven Mead

Welcome from Chris Thomas

With the opening ceremony due to take place shortly we are looking forward to a terrific contest this afternoon with the set test piece starting at 4pm.
'Time for Outrage!' by Luxembourg composer Marco Putz promises to draw the very best from the stella line up of competing bands.
Together with Steven Mead we will give out thoughts and analysis on every performance.
Stay tuned for the action.

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Welcome from Steven Mead

What a superb contest this promises to be!

If you are listening/watching in Utrecht or online you might want to see how you score each band using the criteria system sheets below.

Compare your scores with those that I post live online on the 4barsrest live page. It means nothing in terms of the 'actual' result of course but it might be fun for you to try to be a judge this weekend!!

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Friday 4, 09:14:51

Press Conference...

There were some Intersting questions posed at the EBBA Press Conference...

Little report to follow...


Friday 4, 09:13:41

Good morning from Utrecht...

Iwan Fox welcomes you back to Utrecht and looks forward to another day of great action...


Thursday 3, 17:53:45

Pre-Brexit Brits...

We speak to the talented European Youth Band youngsters from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England to find out how they have enjoyed their European Youth Band experience is year — and hopefully for the years to come...


Thursday 3, 17:42:57

Europe's talented youngsters...

We meet up with Ivan Meylemans, the conductor of the European Youth Brass Band, as well as listen to the band in action with European Champions Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag, and speak (with terrible Italian!) to three of the Italian players making their debuts with the band this year.


Thursday 3, 16:52:42

European Youth on fine form...

We have spent the afternoon meeting and listening to the talented youngsters in the European Youth Brass Band who are being conducted by Ivan Meylemans.

They have already given one concert and have enjoyed themselves enormously (and so has the MD!) so it's been great to catch up with them all.

Keep an eye out for some interviews....


Thursday 3, 14:05:03

Stavanger arrive in Utrecht...

We catch up with Allan Withington and Stavanger Band as they arrive from the chilly north to the warmth of The Netherlands.


Thursday 3, 13:39:44

More places to visit...

Although the competitive action doesn't start until later this evening, we have been catching up with the bands and people as they arrive in Utrecht — the latest being the Norwegian contenders Stavanger who came wrapped up in their Nordic clothing!

We will be heading to the European Soloist Competition later today to hopefully meet up with the members of the European Youth Band under their conductor Ivan Meylemans.


Thursday 3, 11:43:52

The Pied Piper of European banding...

We catch up with the great Lito Fontana to find out more about the current state of development of the Italian Brass banding scene as well as the exciting news about the growing banding movement in Spain.


Thursday 3, 11:24:08

Chewing the Norwegian cud...

Iwan Fox talks to former Eikanger Bjorsvik soprano player Frode Rydland about how Norwegian banding has developed over the last 40 years — from the first Norwegian appearance at the European Championships in 1978, to their current levels of excellence and their commitment to inspiring a new generation of players through their education system.


Thursday 3, 11:01:07

Making the most of things...

We are enjoying ourselves here in Utrecht meeting up with old friends and acquaintances. Lots of views and opinions being aired too, so we could have some fun and games at the EBBA Press Conference!

Fair play to EBBA President Ulf Rosenberg, he always makes himself available to speak — and it's also been great to meet up with Frode Rydland to talk about how the Norwegian banding scene has developed over the last 40 years, and the 'fantastico' Lito Fontana, who has once again been inspiring new banding nations — this time in Spain.

Catch up with our interviews as soon as we get them uploaded....


Thursday 3, 10:46:47

Meeting Madam President...

We catch up Carrie Boax, the President of the Scottish Brass Band Association.


Thursday 3, 09:47:59

Meeting Mr President...

We catch up with EBBA President Ulf Rosenberg ahead of a full day of music making and decision making in Utrecht.


Thursday 3, 09:46:21

Stavanger heading to Utrecht...

The Stavanger Band has been putting its final touches to its European preparation — with tenor horn star Arfon Owen telling us a bit more about what the band will be up to as they head to Utrecht.

We will be following their progress throughout the weekend to see what it's like to play in the world's premier brass band contest...


Thursday 3, 00:22:11

Meeting Mr Cook...

Joseph Cook talks to Iwan Fox about balancing conducting, playing and family life...


Thursday 3, 00:14:34

Talking about banding...

Iwan Fox talks to David Morton, who is back enjoying his banding with the European Champion Eikanger Bjorsvik and learning from their great conductor Ingbar Berbgy.


Wednesday 2, 22:41:55

Meeting the European Champions....

Iwan Fox talks to Viggo Bjorge, Band Manager of Eikanger Bjorsvik, about how the band has enjoyed being European Champion for the past twelve months...


Wednesday 2, 22:16:52

Lots to enjoy in Utrecht...

We have enjoyed a fine day here in Utrecht — a wonderful city that has so much to offer in terms of culture and entertainment.

We took the opportunity to have a look around and to drop in on Russell Gray and Brass Band Schoonhoven who were rehearsing with the three finalists who will take part in the European Solo Competition Final on Thursday evening.

They are three very fine players too — and it's not often you get to hear extended concerto works from a baritone, bass trombone and tuba. It should prove to be a great contest to kick of the weekend tomorrow night.


Wednesday 2, 21:27:35

Welcome to Utrecht

Welcome to the 41st European Brass Band Championships....

We've already been enjoying the atmosphere and the sounds of competitive brass banding — and there is much, much, more to come....


Wednesday 2, 18:13:02

Images of the Venue

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Opened after extensive rebuilding in 2014, it's a modern, multi-auditorium music complex

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The TivoliVredenberg contemporary music complex which is the main venue for all the major Championship attractions


Wednesday 2, 18:06:28

Images of Utrecht

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...and the winner is

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Utrecht canalside relaxation

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A wonderful welcome assured in Utrecht



Newstead Brass - Christmas at the Proms

Friday 14 December • Woodborough Village Hall, Lingwood Lane, Nottingham NG14 6DX


Black Dyke Band - Huddersfield Town Hall

Friday 14 December • Huddersfield Town Hall, Corporation Street HD1 2TA


Regent Hall Concerts - Jingle Bell Brass

Friday 14 December • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street Opp. RESERVED. London . W1C 2DJ


Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Friday 14 December • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


Enderby Band - Hinckley Rock Choir

Friday 14 December • Salvation Army Hall. Lancaster Road. Hinckley. Leicestershire LE10 0AW


Freckleton Band

December 14 • Freckleton Band have a vacancy for a 2nd baritone player. The band has been promoted to the Championship section from 2019 and have a balanced concert and contest programme. Rehearsal nights are Mondays and Thursdays.


Trentham Brass Band

December 14 • Solo Trombone, Bb bass and front row cornet required to complete line up for coming months at Trentham Brass. Based in Stoke on Trent with easy access to M6, in our own band room, this friendly 3rd Section band would welcome enquiries


The Corsham Band

December 13 • Due to work commitments, a vacancy has arisen for a Tenor Trombone player. First or Second position available. We are a newly promoted Second Section band with a friendly and enthusiastic team.


Kevin Wadsworth


Conductor, adjudicator, teacher (ABBA)