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European Championships: 4BarsRest set out our position with regard to the Own Choice test pieces, the contest, the bands and the judges.

At the end of this article, 4BarsRest will give you, the reader, the opportunity to see what we believe the competing bands at this year’s European Brass Band Championship will be playing as their “Own Choice” test piece in the Championship Section.

4BarsRest do this because we believe that the general public who have an interest in brass bands throughout the world, should be informed of what music is being played and by whom at the contest. We believe it makes the contest both transparent and relevant to those who wish to attend and for those who do not or cannot.

We would emphasise that our opinion is based on our information only, and there is no active or premeditated involvement of any of the competing bands.

We believe that the information given to us is accurate and is information that is in the public domain. We therefore print it accordingly.

If you do not wish to know, or disagree with our policy, please do not continue with this article. You will be given another opportunity to exercise your own choice at the end.

The information concerning the choice of the test pieces and the name of the judges was published by the European Brass Band Association in a newsletter and press release dated March 2001 and is available to anyone worldwide, who wishes to visit their website on www.brass.ch/ebba

The European Brass Band Championships are now in their 24th year. Since their inception in 1978 the contest has undergone many changes – nearly all for the better – so that the European Championships are now a contest worthy of the title.

4BarsRest however believe that there are some aspects of the contest that need radical re-appraisal if the European Championships are to be seen by the general public of Europe as a modern and relevant musical competition between the champion bands of its countries and regions.

In this respect we believe the contest needs to address three main issues. Firstly, the question of qualification. Secondly, the question of adjudication. Thirdly the question of transparency.

The first question we believe can be easily resolved. The criteria for qualification must be made equal throughout Europe, with only the Champion Band of each country or region being invited to compete. The use of the Regional Championships of the National Championships of Great Britain and the use of the highest placed English band at the Finals themselves is both outdated and unfair. There are structures and contests already in place within the UK to address these anomalies, and we believe these should be used.

The second question concerns the continued perseverance with “closed” adjudication. We now live in the first decade of the 21st century, yet the majority of brass band contests use a method of adjudication that belongs in the middle of the 19th century. No other major international music competition that we know, be it choral, instrumental or vocal now uses this method. It is an antiquated and parochial system to be used at this level. We believe therefore that the integrity of the judging would not be any way brought into question if the contest was openly adjudicated upon.

Lastly the question of transparency. This we believe should be the foundation of any international competition. Without it, the public finds competition irrelevant. If the organisers do not wish for the judges to be informed which band will be performing which piece, that is a matter for them address. We believe the general public has every right to be informed of the details of the competition in full. It does not make any difference to the nature or integrity of the judging of the contest if the paying audience at the auditorium or the brass band public at large are informed of what the competing bands are to play. They do not judge the winners.

The European Brass Band Association released details of both the judges and test pieces to be used at the competition two months in advance of the contest. We therefore believe that the general public has the right if they so wish to be informed of all details.

If you disagree with our policy or do not wish to know what we believe the competing bands are playing, please exit this article now.

If you agree with our policy and wish to be informed of what we believe the competing bands are playing, please continue..

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