The final places in the starting line-up for the 2020 European Championships in Palanga are being filled, with Brass Band Oberosterreich ensuring their participation at the event by retaining the Austrian National title in Innsbruck.
Led by Ian Porthouse they topped both the set-work and own-choice elements to post a four point winning margin over rivals RET Brass Band at the excellent Haus der Musik venue, with Brass Band Froschl Hall in third.
It was the band's fifth win at the Championship, each under the baton of the Tredegar MD, who they will now face in Palanga in May next year.
Speaking to 4BR, Ian said that he was delighted by the victory and that the band continues to develop, especially after welcoming a number of new players into the ranks into the past few months.
"This was the best of the five victories together without a doubt,"he said. "To perform two works such as the test-piece, 'Titan's Progress' as well as 'Dear Cassandra...' as their own-choice, to such a high standard was outstanding.
The players and management at BBO have made such a huge commitment to enhancing their reputation by balancing the professional commitments of the players with the desire to keep working towards becoming one of the very best brass bands in Europe."
He added: "It's a great privilege to work with these players, a number of whom are new to BBO. Hearing them first hand so to speak on this form I also know they will be a band to fear in Palanga for sure."
The basis of the success came with a majestic rendition of 'Titan's Progress', one which was played, not unsurprisingly, with a great understanding of Mahler's heroic inspiration.
Adjudicators Dr Robert Childs, Steve Sykes and Glenn Van Looy certainly thought so, with Dr Childs stating in his written remarks that it had been "full of character and detail", a point echoed by Glenn who added that it contained "great ensemble playing". Steve simply called it "excellent".
A few hours later and the rendition of Ludovic Neurohr's 2019 European Championship set-work brought equally rich praise. "Fantastic performance of a very tough piece,"wrote Glenn, whilst Bob added that it was "a great performance"with Steve adding simple "Fantastic."
Behind them came two impressive, but well beaten rivals, with RET Brass Band coming runner-up for the second year in a row under Andreas Lackner.
However, the progress the band has made since 2015 when they were performing in the Challenge Section of the European Championships has been substantial, with their performances of the set-work and their demanding own-choice selection of 'Spiriti' by Thomas Doss showing that and more.
Brass Band Froschl Hall under Swiss conductor Corsin Tuor also showed that they are heading back towards the form that saw them claim this title in 2017 with strong renditions of the set-work and their own-choice selection of Ludovic Neurohr's '*****' Concerto No.10.
Despite only fielding three bands this year, the small Austrian brass band movement continues to provide ambition as well as excellence in abundance with a growing foundation base of younger players now becoming increasingly involved.
It's a great privilege to work with these players, a number of whom are new to BBO. Hearing them first hand so to speak on this form I also know they will be a band to fear in Palanga for sureIan Porthouse
Adjudicators: Dr Robert Childs, Steve Sykes, Glenn Van Looy
Set work/Own choice = Total
1. Brass Band Oberosterreich (Ian Porthouse): 95/96 = 191
2. R.E.T. Brass Band (Andreas Lackner): 93/94 = 187
3. Brass Band Froschl Hall (Corsin Tuor): 92/92 = 184