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Report & Results: 2017 World Music Contest

Belgium rules the globe as Brass Band Willebroek becomes the 2017 World Champion in Kerkrade under MD Frans Violet.

  Brass Band Willebroek celebrate after being crowned World Champions

One of the great names of European banding has become a World Champion, as Brass Band Willbroek claimed the 2017 accolade following a hard fought international battle at the World Music Championships in Kerkrade.

Victory also came with a first prize of 3500 Euros and a presentation flag that will undoubtedly be flown with considerable Belgian pride over the next four years, as Frans Violet's band added yet another major title to a contesting CV that already boasts three European and 19 National Championship successes under his tenure.

Tracing Time

In what proved to be an engaging, if rather meandering event, their performances of Oliver Waespi's absorbing set-test, 'Tracing Time', following 24 hours later by a concert programme of 'Sang till Norden', the cornet concerto 'Fortune's Fool' played by Lode Violet, 'Aristotle's Air' and their own-choice of 'The Turing Test' by Simon Dobson, saw them repel a determined challenge led by the National Band of New Zealand and Carlton Main Frickley Colliery.

The Norwegians of Manger Musikklag had to be content with fourth place in a determined title defence, whilst former champion Treize Etoiles from Switzerland and Dutch favourites Brass Band Schoonhoven made up the top-six.

Despite their best efforts though, it was the remarkable Belgians that once again led the way to claim their first World Championship win.

Very proud

"We are all so happy," Frans Violet understandably told 4BR as he accepted the congratulations of chief adjudicator Edward Gregson. "My band works so hard for me and we enjoyed playing the great test piece and our programme. I am very proud of this achievement."

And with the awards ceremony taking place outside in the warm evening air near to the busy bar, little surprise that the immediate celebrations saw the Willebroek players sing along to the familiar strains of Queen's, 'We are the Champions of the World', whilst the friendly atmosphere was further enhanced when the New Zealanders congratulated the winners with an impromptu 'Haka'.

"We always want to compete against the best bands," principal cornet Lode Violet added, as he waved the World Championship flag in triumph. "This was an important contest for us this year and we really worked hard for it. To be able to be called a World Champion is very special for us and for Belgian brass banding."

New Zealand impression

Meanwhile, the New Zealanders, who made such an impression on their fourth appearance at the event, revealed themselves to be much happier at coming second than their rugby playing counterparts did in securing a draw 12,000 miles away against the British Lions.

MD Nigel Weeks told 4BR. "This has been a huge undertaking, with a concert stop off in Hong Kong before we got here. It's been a wonderful event.

I can't say too much about the rugby as I'm Welsh, but this has certainly proved that the very best New Zealand players have such an important part to play in world banding."

Yorkshire pride

Meanwhile, Ray Sykes of Carlton Main also confessed to his pride as the Yorkshire band, that was one of the musical inspirations for this event following their post War visits to Kerkrade, was a very close third.

"It has been wonderful to return and to be welcomed so warmly," he said. "I'm very proud of our association with this contest and to see the way in which bands from all over the world come together to compete in friendly rivalry. We would have loved to have won, but our congratulations go to a very fine band in Willebroek and our New Zealand friends."

Shakespearean sonnet

Oliver Waespi's latest major work certainly tested the mettle of the 10 competitors on the Saturday: Inspired in part by a Shakespearean sonnet about the passing of time, it pulsated with linear energy throughout — providing a symphonic bridge between his 'urban' works such as 'Hypercube' and those such as, 'As if a voice were in them...' that reflect on the power and majesty of nature.

With its questioning rhythmic patterns and motifs balanced between emerging melodic themes and ensemble detail, only the very best managed to create a well defined musical canvas.

They were led, according to the judges Edward Gregson, Rob Goorhuis, Michael Bach, by Willbroek, closely followed by the New Zealanders and Carlton Main, with the strongly fancied trio of Treize Etoiles, Brass Band Schoonhoven and defending champion Manger Musikklag behind.

'A very musical performance' Rob Goorhuis stated in his Brass Band Willebroek remarks, whilst Michael called it 'a really good show' and Edward Gregson, '…a stunning performance with a strong sense of musical integrity'.

Concert programme

The following day, each competitor delivered a 40 minute programme of bold ambition and excellent musicianship — with impressive solo items a feature.

Manger was the first to lay down the gauntlet under Allan Withington with an exciting set that included an epically framed 'Revelation' and tuba soloist Joseph Cook on rambunctious form with 'Cyrano'.

Meanwhile, the volume gauge almost went off the scale with the Swiss of Treize Etoiles that followed. James Gourlay's players gave everything and more, especially on 'A Tale As Yet Untold' and on a stunning performance by Jeremy Coquoz of Edward Gregson's 'Cornet Concerto'.

He then immediately swapped to soprano for a rendition of 'Procession to the Minster' that would have been perfect for the marriage of Lemmy from Motorhead and his bride let alone Lohengrin and Elsa.

New Graham work

A new major work by Peter Graham entitled 'The 39th Parallel' formed the emotive centerpiece of the impressive New Zealanders, who once again played with a rich ensemble warmth and confidence under Nigel Weeks, whilst Schoonhoven displayed their qualities with a classy display under Ivan Meylemans that included evocative renditions of 'Ivory Ghosts' and 'Journey of the Lone Wolf'.

Carlton Main and Erik Janssen certainly gave ample notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming British Open with a set that included a high class 'Fraternity' and guest principal cornet James Fountain on scintillating form with 'Jubilance'.

Atomic detail

However, it was left Willebroek as the last band to slam the door shut on any title hopes their rivals may have had -rounding their programme off with a stunning account of Simon Dobson's 'The Turing Test' that fizzed with atomic detail and power — and left the judges full of admiration.

'I put my pen down and just listen!' Edward Gregson wrote, before adding, '…This was wonderful playing…' Karl Ole Midtbo simply added: 'Yes! Brilliant concert — this being the top'.
It was wonderful playing indeed — and worthy of a new World Champion.

Division champions

A long day of competition on the Saturday also produced World Championship success for Brassband Oefening en Uitspanning from the Netherlands in the First Division. Their performances of the set-work, 'Dances & Arias' and their own-choice of 'Chivalry under Anno Appelo, saw them gain a clear cut victory from Pro Rege Heerenveen and third placed Spijkerpakkenband.

Meanwhile, there was further Dutch success with Gloria Dei in the Second Division and Gereformeerde Brassband Groningen taking the Third Division title.

This was an important contest for us this year and we really worked hard for it. To be able to be called a World Champion is very special for us and for Belgian brass bandingWillebroek Principal Cornet, Lode Violet


Championship Section:

Set Work: Tracing Time (Oliver Waespi)
Set Work: Edward Gregson, Rob Goorhuis, Michael Bach
Chosen Programme: Edward Gregson, Jan de Haan, Karl Ole Midtbo
Set Work/Chosen Programme = Total

1. Brass Band Willebroek (Frans Violet): 97.00/98.00 = 97.50
2. National Band of New Zealand (Nigel Weeks): 96.00/94.00 = 95.00*
3. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Janssen): 95.00/95.00 = 95.00
4. Manger Musikklag (Allan Withington): 91.00/97.00 = 94.00
5. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (James Gourlay): 94.00/93.00 = 93.50
6. Brass Band Schoonhoven (Ivan Mylemans): 93.00/90.00 = 91.50
7. Brass Band Heist (Bert van Thienen): 90.00/91.00 = 90.50
8. Brass Band Buizingen (Luc Vertommen): 87.00/92.00 = 89.50
9. Amsterdam Brass (Pierre Volders): 88.00/86.00 = 87.00
10. Brass Band de Waldsang (Rieks van der Velde): 85.00/88.00 = 86.50

*Set Work mark takes precedence

First Division:

Set Work: Dances & Arias (Edward Gregson)
Adjudicators: Oliver Waespi, Jan de Haan, Karl Ole Midtbo
Set Work/Chosen Programme = Total

1. Brassband Oefening en Uitspanning (Anno Appelo): 93.00/97.00 = 95.00
2. Brassband Pro Rege Heerenveen (Anne van der Berg): 91.00/96.00 = 93.50
3. Spijkerpakkenband (Erik Janssen): 90.00/95. 00 = 92. 50
4. Ensemble de Cuivres Ambitus (Francois Roh): 89.00/92.00 = 90.50
5. Brassband Bacchus (Bart van Neyghem): 90.00/89.00 = 89.50
6. Brassband Kunst naar Kracht (Erik Kluin): 86.00/88.00 = 87.00
7. Brass Band Sachsen (Eoin Tonner): 85.00/86.00 = 85.50
8. Cologne Concert Brass (Heinrich Schmidt): 84.00/87.00 = 85.50
9. Brassband Merum (Patrick Spelthaen): 83.00/85.00 = 84.00
10. Brass Band Emmental (Jan Muller): 84.00/84.00 = 84.00
11. Brassband Excelsior Kloetinge (N/K): 82.00/83.00 = 82.50

Second Division:

Set Work: Purcell Variations (Kenneth Downie)
Adjudicators: Ray Farr, Kevin Houben, Hannes Buchegger
Set Work/Chosen Programme = Total

1. Christelijke Brassband Gloria Dei (Jaap Musschenga) 96.00/96.00 = 96.00
2. Brassband Hombeek (Stan Niewunhuis): 95.00/95.00 = 95.00
3. Martini Brassband Groningen (Rieks van der Velde): 94.00/94.00 = 94.00
4. Brass Band Konkordia Busserach (Tristan Uth): 93.00/93.00 = 93.00
5. Brassband Gent (Lieven Dobbelaere): 90.00/92.00 = 91.00
6. Badische Brassband (Dominik Koch): 90.00/90.00 = 90.00
7. Brassband Schoonhoven B (Robbert Vos): 89.00/89.00 = 89.00
8. CMV Euphonia (Syd van der Ploeg): 88.00/88.00 = 88.00

Third Division:

Set Work: Introduction & Variations on Dies Irae & Own Choice
Adjudicators: Ray Farr, Kevin Houben, Hannes Buchegger
Set Work/Own Choice = Total

1. Gereformeerde Brassband Groningen (Jan Werkman): 93.00
2. KMFL Brassband Lembeek (Hans Goris): 92.00
3. Christelijke Brassband De Nije Bazun (Piet van der Heide): 89.50
4. Greidebrass (Marco Middleberg): 89.00


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