Brass Band Oberösterreich booked its place at the 2024 European Championships in Palanga with victory at the Austrian National Championships in Linz on the weekend.
It was the band's sixth National title success since the event was first held in 2014, although they were pushed hard by both 2017 winner Brass Band Fröschl Hall and defending champion R.E.T. Brass Band.
Eric Ball's classic 1967 work 'Journey into Freedom' provided a somewhat unfamiliar test for the bands, although Dr Robert Childs (who was joined by Prof. Thomas Clamour and Oliver Waespi) told 4BR that he felt all three produced "really good"performances which were faithful to the composer's intentions.
Brass Band Fröschl Hall led the way with a finely shaped account directed by Corsin Tuor, with Oberösterreich a point further back and R.E.T. Brass Band in third.
The own-choice selections however were from a different era: Oberösterreich pulling all the stops out with a superb account of Peter Graham's 'Dynasty', whilst a highly evocative rendition of Thierry Deleruyelle's 'No-Man's Land' saw R.E.T. Brass Band just a point behind with Brass Band Fröschl Hall's 'Dynasty' in third.
Oberösterreich's principal cornet Christoph Kaindlstorfer was presented with the 'Best Soloist' award, whilst the 'Best Percussion' prize went to the team from R.E.T. Brass Band.
Oberösterreich's Thomas Beiganz, who has been a pioneering force in helping establish the brass band movement in the country, was honoured by the Austrian Wind Band Federation with one of its highest accolades in recognition of the founding of the band 20 years ago and his work in maintaining its artistic profile.
He later told 4BR: "That is a very proud honour for myself, but more so for the band. We continue to try and develop the brass band tradition and movement here in Austria and are always keen to reach out to learn.
We were particularly delighted to welcome Dr Robert Childs this year and thank him and his fellow adjudicators for their work and insight."
Although there was just the one band in the First Division, Brass Band Vorarlberg delivered a brace of fine performances of Eric Ball's 'Tournament for Brass' and their own-choice selection of 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' to meet the standard to be awarded the title.
Speaking about the playing that he heard Dr Robert Childs said: "The overall standard was really good. The playing on 'Journey into Freedom' was authentic Eric Ball and testament to conductor's who understood the composer's intentions.
The own-choices were thrilling — really well picked and delivered. It was a hard decision for us to make."
Dr Childs also added that he was highly encouraged by the performance of Brass Band Vorarlberg. "Although the movement if small there is a growing strength in depth that can only be good for everyone. There was so much to enjoy from them."
Adjudicators: Dr. Robert Childs; Prof. Thomas Clamour; Oliver Waespi
Set Work: Journey into Freedom (Eric Ball)
Set Work + Own Choice = Total
1. Brass Band Oberösterreich (GÃ¼nther Reisegger): 93/96 = 189
2. Brass Band Fröschl Hall (Corsin Tuor): 94/93 = 187
3. R.E.T. Brass Band (Andreas Lackner): 91/95/186
Set Work: Tournament for Brass (Eric Ball)
Set Work + Own Choice = Total
1. Brass Band Vorarlberg (Benjamin Markl): 88/87 = 175