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2017 French National Championships
Auditorium de Lyon
18-19 February

Live comments

Comments and analysis by Iwan Fox.

Sunday 19, 20:32:22

Goodnight from Lyon

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Luc Vertommen — MD — Hauts-de-France Brass Band

That's it then from the 2017 French National Championships — and what an enjoyable event it was.

There was a great deal of personal, organisational and civic pride on show here this weekend with the local musicians of Lyon imaking sure they supported an event they felt brought a great deal of prestige to the city.

The number of first time volunteers helping out was remarkable — with one woman telling us that she had never heard a brass band before in her life, but after helping over the two days was now an enthusiastic convert.

French organisations are complex as well as frustrating, but they all value culture very highly and so it gains support from a variety of sources — including a robust education system that treats music with the same respect as other 'core' subjects.

As for the banding movement? It is growing slowly and sporadically — but the green shoots are taking hold on a number areas of the country, as was seen by entrants this year. Paris Brass Band was missed, but the CMF hopes that by the time the contest heads to Nantes next February, yet more bands will take part.

The French being French, will do things their own way, but on the evidence of this weekend, it seems to be working.

Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome and help — Merci beaucoup Lyon.

Sunday 19, 19:19:51


Honnuer Division:

Adjudicators: Russell Gray, Oliver Waespi, Michel Becquet

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Winners — Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen)

1. Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen) — 95
2. Aeolus Brass Band (Benoit Fourreau) — 92

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Two Winning Belgian MD's

Sunday 19, 19:17:29


Excellence Division:

Adjudicators: Russell Gray, Oliver Waespi, Michel Becquet

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Winners — Brass Band de Lyon (Glenn Van Looy)

1. Brass Band de Lyon (Glenn Van Looy) — 90
2. Brass Band du Conservatoire de Douai (Olivier Degardin) — 89
3. Brassage Brass Band (Laurent Douvre) — 86

Sunday 19, 19:14:54


First Division:

Adjudicators: Russell Gray, Oliver Waespi, Michel Becquet)

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Winners — Brass Band Cotes et Cuivres (Jerome Carre)

1. Brass Band Cotes et Cuivres (Jerome Carre) — 94
2. Burgundy Brass (Maxime Pitois) — 91
3. Brass Band Accords (Cedric Rossero) — 89

Sunday 19, 19:09:53


Second Division:

Adjudicators: Russell Gray, Oliver Waespi, Michel Becquet

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Winners — Brass Band du Hinault (Thibaut Bruniaux)

1. Brass Band du Hinault (Thibaut Bruniaux) — 93
2. Brass Band Occitania (Lucas Mazeres) — 89
3. Brass Band Gottes de Cuivre (Jerome Blanc) — 84
4. Brassaventure (Serge Desautels) — 79
5. Brass Band Loire Forez (Andre Guillaume) — 78

Sunday 19, 19:08:41


Third Division:

Adjudicators: Russell Gray, Oliver Waespi, Michel Becquet

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Winners — Brass Band du Grand Chalon

1. Brass Band du Grand Chalon (Eric Plante) — 84
2. Musicalis Algrange (Mathieu Reinhart) — 83

Sunday 19, 18:01:38

Results Ceremony:

We will be finding out who are to be crowned the various French National Champions in the next 40 minutes or so.

There is a short concert on at the moment and then it's the results.

Sunday 19, 16:19:30

Final round up before the results...

Well that was certainly a very intriguing day of contesting — with five bands giving ten performances that varied so much in style and approach — even on the set works. As for the own-choices — that really was a bag of musical liquorice allsorts. It certainly made it very enjoyable though.

Yesterday's title could go anywhere — with Brass Band du Grand Chalon maybe getting the nod in the Third Division, Brass Band Hinault could well pick up the Division 2 title and Brass Band Burgundy could take the First.

In the Excellence Division you suspect it's going to be a close run thing, but we think Brass Band Lyon may have done enough to pip rivals.

New National Champions

And as for the new 2017 National Champions?

It was close yesterday — but today it was the additional all round quality of Hauts de France Brass Band that should see them take home that glorious trophy and represent the nation at the 2018 Europeans.

Another break now and then a concert and the results later tonight.

4BR Editor's Predictions:

Honneur Division: Hauts-de-France Brass Band
Excellence Division: Brass Band de Lyon
First Division: Burgundy Brass Band
Second Division: Brass Band du Hinault
Third Division: Brass Band du Grand Chalon

Sunday 19, 15:31:17

Honneur Division:

2. Aeolus Brass Band (Benoit Fourreau)

Raveling, Unraveling (In Search of La Valse) (Philip Sparke)

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Aeolus Brass Band in search a waltz

The band tackle one of the most intriguing major works of recent times with a healthy amount of confidence and bravura. That waltz feel is maintained even in different time meters, and although the style seems to be a heavy handed in places the MD keeps the musical lines flowing.

That stridency just robs the warm gloss of its viscous qualities — it nicks and catches at times like a bar of soap in your hands with a bit of grit in it.

It's certainly full of bombast and enthusiasm — no doubt about that. MD is at his best drawing those elements out — it really does throb with glorious passion. The music grows and grows, engaging ever more with its subject matter before coming to its rather unexpected climax.

Good stuff that — but did they really pull it off?

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A bow of confidence from Aeolus

Sunday 19, 14:46:49

Honneur Division:

1. Hauts-de-France Brass Band (Luc Vertommen)

Angels and Demons (Peter Graham)

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Angels or Demons behind the stands with Hauts-de-France?

The second time that Hauts have gone 'half and half' at this contest as they say in Wales — all Angel rice and demon chips — although this version of Peter Graham's work has been tweaked — and is the one used by the MD to win the Belgian National title last year.

It's certainly cut from his fevered sci-fi imagination of the Biblical apocalypse when all hell is let loose — literally. It's wickedly exciting and moorish — like sucking on a crack cocaine Haliborange.

The band play it so well too — giving it the Demon welly just at the right time and then curling into an Angel Delight of misty miasma. Heavens knows where the whirligig hose pipes feature in the Book of Revelations but they sound great.

There is so much good dynamic playing on show — full of energy and waves of stratified balance. It all comes to a familiar reprise and heroic climax or three as the heavens open and the bells clang out. Oh, the bells, the bells!

Those lucky enough to have been good little Christians get transported to eternity then?

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...and the crowd go wild for Hauts

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