The sound of the joyful players of Black Dyke celebrating on the stage of the De Doelen Hall; complete with crashing gongs, cymbals and impromptu vocal chants of ‘We are the Champions’ will surely have been heard back home in Queensbury after Dr Nicholas Childs led his band to victory at the European Championships.
By producing two stunningly consistent performances of the set work, ‘Vita Aeterna Variations’, and their own choice selection of ‘Revelations’, they reclaimed the iconic Milton Stevens trophy for the first time since 2005, and in the process lay claim to also regaining the unofficial title as the best brass band in the world.
In a contest that held the audience completely engrossed over its two days, Dyke’s win in the set work, and third place in the own choice discipline gained them a clear four point winning margin over the impressive Belgian champion, Noord Limburgse, directed by the flamboyant Ivan Meylemans.
Their brace of performances over the two days drew admiration from critics and rivals alike, with a superbly constructed rendition of their own choice selection, ‘Old Licks Bluesed Up’ enhanced by the stunning prize winning contribution of bass trombonist, Erwin Kelchtermans.
There was a form of Benelux bedlam on the hall when it was announced that Brass Band Schoonhoven had been placed third—especially when compere Frank Renton had stoked up the fevered atmosphere with the news that the band had gained an almost incomprehensible 99 points for their own choice rendition of ‘Audivi Media Nocte’.
There was to be no repeat of last year’s Nordic triumph as reigning champion Manger Musikklag sank to seventh place.
They were placed an almost equally incomprehensible 9 points behind their Dutch counterparts for their rendition of the Oliver Waespi own choice selection by the judges Edward Gregson, Karl Ole Midtbo and Klaas van der Woude.
Meanwhile, Eikanger Bjorsvik Musikklag never quite lived up to their pre-contest favourites tag as they could only come fourth, whilst there was to be no emotional fairy tale contesting ending for Dr Robert Childs and Cory, as the Welsh champion’s fifth place drew gasps of surprise from the packed De Doelen hall.
There was some Celtic joy however as Co-operative Funeralcare gave Scotland their best result at the contest since 2004.
With arguably the strongest field ever assembled for the contest providing arguably some of the finest playing heared at the event too, excellent performances from the likes of Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan, Nord Pa-de-Calais, Oberosterreich and Lyngby Taabaek had to be content with the minor placings.
Here to win it
There was only one place that did count more than most though—and that was claimed by Black Dyke.
"You have to be here to win it," their champagne soaked MD told 4BR.
"I have a wonderful band to conduct, all of whom work so hard. Yesterday on the set work was very special, but to rise again to play like we did on our own choice selection was perhaps an even greater effort."
Whilst acknowledging that the victory came as a team effort, he also heaped praise on his soloists, with particular mention to his trio female leads in Sheona White, Katrina Marzella and Zoe Hancock on the set work, and the euphonium duo of Gary Curtain and Ian Yates on the set work.
With the victory ensuring that Dyke will now defend their title in Oslo in 2013, the MD also confirmed that he would be leading the newly crowned champion at the English National Championships in Preston in a few weeks time.
"That’s been in the diary for a long time, and we will be there determined to retain that title too," he added. "I want this to be a very special year for the band, so there will be no easy options."
B Section victory
Earlier in the B Section, there was delight for the players and especially the colourful MD, Uwe Koeller of Austrian Brass Band of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, as they took the title in stunning fashion.
Their performances of the set work, ‘Light in the Darkness’ and their own choice selection of ‘Music of the Spheres’ gave them a commanding victory over second placed Brass Band Heman of Holland, with Brass Band Wipptal of Italy in third.
I have a wonderful band to conduct, all of whom work so hard. Yesterday on the set work was very special, but to rise again to play like we did on our own choice selection was perhaps an even greater effortDr Nicholas Childs
Test piece: 'Vita Aeterna Variations' (Alexander Comitas)
Adjudicators: set work:
Arsene Duc, Andrew Berryman and Frans Violet
Adjudicators own choice:
Professor Edward Gregson, Karl Ole Midtbo and Klaas van den Woude
1. Black Dyke, (8/2) 98/97=195
Dr Nicholas Childs
2. Noord-Limburgse, (7/5) 93/98=191
3. Brass Band Schoonhoven, (5/10) 91/99=190
4.Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag (2/11) 95/94=189
Professor David King
5. Cory, (4/1) 96/92=188
Dr Robert Childs
6. Co-operative Funeralcare (1/9) 90/96=186
7. Manger Musikklag, (3/3) 94/90=184
Peter Sebastian Szilvay
8. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (11/8) 89/95=184
Jean Francois Bobillier
9. Brass-Band Nord Pas-de-Calais, (6/4) 86/91=177
10. Brass Band Oberosterreich, (9/7) 88/88=176
11. Lyngby-Taarbaek (10/6) 87/89=176
Best Soloist: Erwin Kelchtermans (Bass trombone) — Noord-Limburgse
Test piece: 'Light in the Darkness (Joop van Dijk) and Own Choice
Adjudicators: Arsene Duc, Andrew Berryman and Frans Violet
1. Austria Brass Band of the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (3) — 95
Professor Uwe Koller
2. Brass Band Heman (2) — 93
Anne van den Berg
3. Brass Band Wiptal (1) — 92
4. 1st Old Boys Silver Band (4) — 91
Best Soloist: Silvio Rether, Austria Brass Band