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2017 European Championship tests announced

Works by Kevin Houben, Bart Picqueur, Peter Graham and Sir Malcolm Arnold will test the best bands at all levels in Ostend in 2017.

  The set works for the 2017 European Championships have been announced

The set-works that will be performed by the competitors at the 40th European Brass Band Championship in Ostend in 2017 have been announced.

'Where Angels Fly' by Kevin Houben will test the Championship Section contenders, whilst 'Insomnia' by Bart Picqueur has been chosen for the Challenge Section. The set-works for the European Youth Championships will be 'Dimensions' by Peter Graham in the Premier Section with Malcolm Arnold's 'Little Suite No 2' in the Development Section.

The contests take place in the outstanding Kursaal venue between the 28th-30th April 2017, with the Championship and Challenge section pieces made available to competitors at least eight weeks prior to the event.

Championship Section

'Where Angels Fly' was commissioned by Vlamo, the Flemish Association for Music, Bands and Musicians, and is inscribed: 'In loving memory of Jesse Lefebvre (02/06/2007 — 24/02/2015)'.

Kevin Houben describes his virtuoso work as 'very technical and powerful, with a rather fragile and soft introduction'.

The main theme is derived from 'La Priere' ('Le Retour aux Pays') by the so-called 'Father of Belgian wind music', Paul Gilson (1865 — 1942). The 'La Priere' chorale is heard just once at the close of the work orchestrated as a grand tutti.

As a respectful nod to his teacher Jan Van der Roost, Houben has used elements of 'La Priere' as accompaniment textures, mirroring a feature of 'From Ancient Times', the set-test when the event was last held in Ostend in 2009.

Since completing his studies at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, Kevin Houben's music for wind and brass bands has become established in the repertoire of ensembles throughout Europe.

His brass band test-piece 'Arcana' (2004) won first prize in the EBBA European Composers Competition in 2006, whilst 'Lake of the Moon' (2009) has been used as a test-piece throughout the banding world.

Kevin Houben describes his virtuoso work, 'Where Angels Fly' as 'very technical and powerful, with a rather fragile and soft introduction'4BR

Challenge Section

The Challenge Section work, 'Insomnia' has also been commissioned specially by Vlamo for the 2017 event.

Although not programmatic, Bart Picqueur writes that; '…the title suggests a certain amount of restlessness' and consists of an eclectic mix of elements from minimal to serial music, baroque fugue to fusion jazz.

He adds that he hopes to create what he calls, '…a state of mind the sleepless may recognise as a million ideas crossing one's mind at the same time, but to bring together these elements into a consistent spectacle'.

The composer, conductor and clarinetist studied at the Royal Conservatory in Ghent and since 2010 has been principal conductor of the Royal Band St. Cecilia Zele, working with various professional ensembles such as the Municipal Band of La Coruña, the Slovenian armed forces and the Belgian Guides.


Bands in the Premier Section of the 4th European Youth Brass Band Contest will perform 'Dimensions', the first major competition work from Peter Graham.

Composed in 1983, the 9-minute test-piece has also been performed at senior First and Second Section levels.

Following the setting of Malcolm Arnold's 'Little Suite for Brass' (No. 1) at the event in Perth in 2014, his bright, entertaining sequel, 'Little Suite No. 2' (1962), has been chosen to challenge the Development Section bands.

Test Pieces:

Championship Section:

'Where Angels' Fly (Kevin Houben)

Challenge Section:

'Insomnia' (Bart Picqueur)

Premier Section — Youth Band Contest:

'Dimensions' (Peter Graham)

Development Section — Youth Band Contest:

'Little Suite No. 2' (Malcolm Arnold)

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Rob Nesbitt

BSc, PG Cert. Ed.
Cartoonist , illustrator, writer