Although the French political classes may be displaying an increasing sense of Euro-scepticism, the growing brass band movement in the country seems eager and willing to buck the trend.
In the last few years Black Dyke and Cory have made the trip across ‘La Manche’ to be warmly welcomed as the featured guest band at the Gala Concert of the National Championships, whilst this year it was the turn of the equally ‘brass band formidable’ Treize Etoiles from Switzerland.
And as the reception given to them before, during and after they had given their substantive concert showed, the French banding public certainly appreciates high quality playing when they hear it - and not just from their own home nation favourites.
Under the direction of iconic founder Geo-Pierre Moren, Treize Etoiles provided ample evidence of the full gamut of their talents - and seriously impressive talents they are too; with a panoply of classy soloists backed by an ensemble that has a huge dynamic and stylistic range.
Power and precision
The first half was one of power and precision - from Bertrand Moren’s fizzy ‘Signature’ opener and TGV speed ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ to follow, to the stylish solo features from Jocelyn Moren and the cornet quartet of Jeremy Coquoz, Patrick Vergeres, Anthony Rausis and Leonie Coquez. The centerpiece was a seriously good take on ‘A Tale as Yet Untold’, with the half closing with a rousing ‘Procession to the Minster’.
The half-time buzz of appreciation was vocal in its Gallic admiration, whilst the second half added further to the enjoyment – encompassing a sprightly ‘Festive Dance’ from ‘Mindia’ to the tasty chocolate box delights of ‘Golden Brass’ to close.
Sandwiched in-between came ensemble features for percussion and the fantastic trombone section, whilst the nod of musical entente-cordial towards the West Country banding Canton of the UK was noted with ‘After the Embers’ by Jonathan Bates and Dan Price’s ‘London Nursery Rhyme’ fantasy.
Led by their revered MD who directed with such understated aplomb that he almost seeped into the band itself, this was a serious display of cross-border musical quality - and one that the political classes should never for one minute, ever contemplate closing off.