Results: 5th European Composers Competition

Paul McGhee has won the 5th Composers Competition at the De Doelen Concert Hall in Rotterdam with a work of dark intent.

Paul McGhee

A work that causes people to be culled in a darkly dystopian world has won the 5th European Composers Competition in Rotterdam.


The brilliantly crepuscular composition from the pen of 32 year old English composer Paul McGhee claimed the 3000 Euro first prize, after he beat off the challenge of a trio of talented rivals at the De Doelen Hall on Thursday evening.

Entitled ‘Lullaby’, the work takes its inspiration from the horror satire novel of the same name by the American writer Chuck Palahniuk, which sees a vivid recitation of a poem imbue it with the malevolant ability to cull the people to whom it is read — men, women and children.

Regarded as a highly influential novel it was nominated for a Bram Stoker publishing award in 2002.


Despite the downbeat outcome of the original book, there was nothing but celebration to be found in the air at the conclusion of the results ceremony on Thursday after Paul was read out as the winner.

"I’m delighted but totally surprised," he told 4BR. "It’s a work that does have a very dark heart, but I believe it's an uplifting story in many ways."


On a night when four highly talented compositional voices were heard by an appreciative audience, Paul’s work caught the fancy of the international panel of judges, which included Philip Sparke, Oliver Waespi and Ed de Boer, who has written the set test for the Championship Section contest at this year’s event.

..the work takes its inspiration from the horror satire novel of the same name by the American writer Chuck Palahniuk, which sees a vivid recitation of a poem imbued with the ability to cull the people to whom it is read4BR

Keenly fought

However, the panel also revealed that they were not all in agreement in their choice of winner – although they were agreed that the overall standard this year was excellent.

In a keenly fought contest, it was the Swede, Joel Engstrom who was declared runner up, and in the process won 2,000 Euros for his pulsating composition entitled, ‘Impact’.

Welsh representative Tom Davoren was placed third with his intriguing musical self portrait, ‘Looking In, a Self Portrait for Brass Band’ which won him 500 Euros, whilst the audience prize of 500 Euros plus another 500 Euros for coming fourth, went to Marc Jeanbourguin of Switzerland with his kaleidoscopic, ‘Red Mountain.’

Sensational Cobb

With both Brass Band Rijnmond and Brass Band Groningen providing excellent performances of all four works, and with LSO Principal Trumpet, Philip Cobb on simply sensational form as guest soloist, the event provided the championships with a highly enjoyable aperitif before the main competitive action on Friday afternoon.


Nobody celebrated quite like Paul McGhee though, watched with admiration by his partner and award winning composer Lucy Pankhurst.

They had hired a barge in Rotterdam harbour with fellow finalist Tom Davoren to stay for the festival – so as Paul later told 4BR, "When we get back there, we’ll make sure it will be rocking..."

Further live coverage plus video interview can be found at:


1. Paul McGhee (England) — Lullaby
2. Joe Engstrom (Sweden) — Impact
3. Tom Davoren (Wales) — Looking In, a Self Portrait for Brass Band
4. Marc Jeanbourguin (Switzerland) — Red Mountain

Audience vote: Marc Jeanbourguin

Become a supporter and help make our future secure.

4barsrest continues to be a proudly independent voice. There are no paywalls to overcome to be able to enjoy what we do to keep our journalism at the heart of the brass banding world. Support us with a one-off donation or subscribe from just £2.50 per month.

Support us    


Contest dates for 2022 Regional Championships

October 20 • The qualification action will take place over four weekends across the UK next February and March.


Geneva's stamp of heritage

October 20 • 21 years of Geneva Instrument manufacturing has been celebrated with a new video production from the company.


Death of Ronnie Kennedy

October 18 • The death has been reported of the hugely respected player and conductor Ronnie Kennedy.


Ratby savour congratulations

October 18 • The Ratby Co-operative Band has thanked the banding community for their messages of support and congratulations following their outstanding Royal Albert Hall result.

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra

Friday 5 November • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London. WC1 2 DJ WC1 2 DJ

Regent Hall Concerts - Royal Greenwich Brass Band

Sunday 7 November • St Alfege Church. Greenwich Church St. London SE10 9BJ

Abertillery Town Band - 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Saturday 13 November • Metropole Cultural and Conference Centre, Mitre St, Abertillery NP13 1AL

Regent Hall Concerts - Magli Brass Quintet

Friday 19 November • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. London. WC1 2 DJ WC1 2 DJ

Contest: Youth Brass in Concert

Saturday 20 November • St Mary's Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead NE8 2JR

Shipston Town Band

October 20 • We are rehearsing covid safe in our refurbished band hall. We are looking to recruit Bb Cornets position negotiable Second Trom Bass Trom Eb Bass and Bb Bass to bring the band up to full strength

Chadderton Band

October 20 • Chadderton Band is a friendly non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections of the band particularly on Euph Drums and Horn. Come along for a blow most welcome.

Arrow Valley Brass

October 20 • We are a Third Section band based in Inkberrow, Worcs. Main rehearsal Sunday am. We seek a Tuned Percussionist. We should like to find an experienced player but would also consider someone, probably with some keyboard skill who would like to grow with us

John Maines

BA (Hons)
Presenter, compere and conductor


 © 2021 4barsrest.com Ltd