European Championships: Contest overview, band by band analysis
and our predictions.
The Stravinsky Auditorium in Montreux, Switzerland
Wednesday May 2nd to Saturday May 5th.
The overall event includes the 2nd European Solo Competition, which
has attracted a record 64 entries from throughout Europe and oddly
the USA and Australia, the European First Section Championship and
the European Championship itself.
Full details of the solo competition and further information can
be gained from logging into the European Brass Band Associations
own website at www.brass.ch/ebba
On Wednesday the solo contest starts with the first of two preliminary
rounds with the Final on the Friday evening at the Stravinsky Hall
when the finalists will be accompanied by Brass Band Berneroberland
conducted by Tom Brevik. The winner picks up a cheque for 1500 euros.
For the majority of people though, the main event will surely be
the contest for the title of European Champions between the eleven
top class bands in the Championship Section.
Yorkshire Building Society will be out to claim the title for a
third consecutive year and for the fifth time in six years, since
they first lifted the crown in 1996. Hard on their heels however
will be a group of ten top class outfits that will also be going
all out to claim the title and the 3000 euros first prize. The amazing
fact is that no representative, apart from the reigning champions,
who competed in Birmingham last year is back again this year.
We at 4BarsRest have already given our readers details of what
the bands are playing as their “own choice” test pieces, but if
you want to remind yourself of what they will be playing then you
will have the opportunity to do so at the end of this article.
However, the bands taking part will have to get to grips with Carl
Rutti’s “Montreux Wind Dances”, which is by all accounts a pretty
tricky piece of writing that includes various time and tempo changes
and no fewer than 26 top C’s for the hard working soprano players.
We give our rundown of the competing bands and our usual dodgy
prediction at the end.
The bands who will be hoping to pick up the title are:
Aarhus Brass Band
Conductor: Preben Christensen
Record: 2nd appearance. 1999 (9th)
They came 9th overall in 1999 in Germany where they were placed
8th in the test piece section and 9th in the own choice where they
performed “Paginini Variations”.
Formed in 1924, they won the Danish National Championships in both
1998 and 2000. Michael Fowles took the band the last time they were
at the Championships and although they came last they by no means
out of their depth and actually beat CWS Glasgow on the test piece
that day. Improvements have been made and Preben Christensen and
the band travel to Montreux hoping to greatly improve on their last
Brass Band De Bazuin Oenkerk
Conductor: Klass van der Woude
Record: 3rd appearance 1996 (withdrew): 1997 (8th): 1999 (2nd)
1997 saw the band come 8th overall after coming 9th on the test
piece “Salamander” and 8th playing “Pageantry”. 1999 saw a vast
improvement with them coming 2nd on “Odyssey” and 3rd playing “Diversions
on a Bass Theme”.
Should be real challengers this year if the rate of improvement
has been maintained. Formed in 1924 they became a British style
band in 1971 and won all the title on offer in their country in
1995 and also became Swiss National titleholders as well. The band
won the National title again in 1996, 1998 and 2000 as well as winning
the Survento Festival. Outsiders.
Brass Band Midden-Brabant
Conductor: Benny Wiame
Record: 10th appearance 1980 (9th): 1981 (10th): 1983 (7th): 1994
(4th): 1995 (6th): 1996 (4th): 1997 (5th): 1998 (2nd): 1999 (7th)
The early years were very much a case of slow but firm improvement
and a ten-year break saw them return in the mid 1990’s as a true
force at the contest. The 1998 performance saw the band come 3rd
on the test piece, “Burlesque” and 3rd playing “Spectrum”, whilst
1999 saw two early draws and a slightly disappointed 7th overall
when they played “Revelation” as their “own choice”.
Formed in 1975, the bands rapid rise to a position of strength
in Europe is down to a very committed group of players and conductor
alike who have shaped the progress of the band sine its earliest
days. In 1997 the band was appointed as a Cultural Ambassador for
the region of Flanders. Possibles.
Brass Band Trieze Etoiles
Conductor: Major Peter Parkes
Record: 9th appearance 1979 (4th): 1980 (3rd): 1984 (9th): 1987
(9th): 1988 (9th): 1990 (4th): 1994 (8th): 1999 (3rd)
The very early years of the contest saw the band gain impressive
results, but by the end of the 1980’s they became less of a force
at the contest. The 1990’s have been much better for the band with
4th place in Scotland in 1990 followed by 8th the last time the
contest was in this venue. The 3rd place in Germany in 1999 was
gained by a 3rd place on the set test “Odyssey” and 5th place playing
“Between the Moon and Mexico”.
Formed in 1973, they have won the Swiss National title on seven
occasions, the Swiss Open on four occasions and the Swiss Entertainment
title three times. Peter Parkes has had a long involvement with
the band taking them to the 3rd place in 1999 in Germany and he
will be keen to add to his record of eight title wins at the contest.
Buy As You View Cory
Conductor: Robert Childs
Record: 13th appearance 1979 (2nd): 1980 (1st): 1981 (6th): 1982
(2nd): 1983 (3rd): 1984 (2nd): 1985 (?): 1986 (3rd): 1987 (8th):
1989 (3rd): 1993 (3rd): 1999 (5th)
Winners in 1980 under Denzil Stephens, Cory have been one of the
most consistent challengers for the title on each of the occasions
they have represented their country. Three 2nd places and four 3rd
places are testament to their continued success, although they missed
much of the 1990’s when the band fell into a somewhat fallow period.
The band won the set test piece section in 1980 and have been three
times runners up in that section, whilst they have been runners-up
no less than five times on the “own choice”. 1999 saw them perform
“Of Men and Mountains” as their “own choice” which gained them 4th
place and 5th overall.
Formed in 1884, the current band is both National and British Open
Champions. Enthusiastically sponsored by retail company Buy As You
View and with Robert Childs at the helm the band will be one of
the favourites this year to add the European crown to their current
titles. Could 2001 see the band emulate the 1980 vintage that saw
success on “Land of the Long White Cloud”? Contenders.
Conductor: Nicholas Childs
Record: 9th appearance 1979 (6th): 1989 (2nd): 1990 (5th): 1991
(9th): 1992 (7th): 1997 (2nd): 1998 (6th): 1999 (6th)
Never quite been able to become the first Scottish band to take
the title, CWS have however come mighty close. 2nd in 1989 and 1997
and set test runners-up in 1989 and “own choice” runners-up on three
occasions. 1997 saw the band come third on the set work, “Salamander”
and 2nd on “Pageantry” to give the band the runners-up spot under
Howard Snell. 1998 and 1999 however saw the band fall back somewhat
with them coming 5th on the set test “Burlesque” and 6th on “Connotations”
to come 6th in 1998 and coming last on “Odyssey” and 2nd on “Masquerade”
to come 6th again under Howard Snell in 1999.
Formed in 1918, they recently won their sixth Scottish Championship
title in the past eight years under the baton of Nicholas Childs,
the MD of Black Dyke who will be taking the band for the first time
at the Europeans - although he has won the “own choice” section
himself with Tredegar on “Freedom” in London in 1997. The band has
won the National title twice in the 1990’s once with John Hudson
in 1990 and again with Howard Snell in 1996. One of the favourites
this year if they can put together two, rather than just the one
inspired performance on the day. Contenders.
The Ransome Band
Conductor: Russell Gray
Record: Debut this year
No previous track record to fall back on, Ransome’s qualified
for the 2001 contest by coming a brilliant second to Buy As You
View Cory at the National Championships playing “Harrison’s Dream”.
As the top English band at the contest they therefore took the qualifying
spot ahead of the more fancied bands such as Brighouse and Rastrick
and Fodens Courtois.
Russell Gray has brought the band back somewhat to prominence Although
they fell out of the British Open last year due to a poor result
for the second year in a row, and could only manage 4th place at
the recent Area contest, although they had pre-qualified for the
A band with a proud history, they were formed in 1937 and have
been British Open Champions in their history under the guise of
many varied names. Possibles.
Sandefjord Brass Symposium
Conductor: Garry Cutt
Record: 2nd appearance 1999 (8th)
The second appearance at the European Championship for the band
following on from their 8th place in Germany where they came 7th
on the set test, “Odyssey” and 7th playing “Variations on an Enigma”
in the “own choice”.
Garry Cutt is hired as a professional conducter for this occasion.
Garry brings a lot of experience and the band is determined to better
their position of 1999.
Formed in 1987, they moved up through the sections before winning
the SIDDIS Championship Contest in 1996 and claiming the first of
their National titles in 1998 – a feat they repeated in 2000 beating
more fancied bands such as Eikanger and Manger to qualify for the
European for a second time. Outsiders.
Record: 7th appearance 1978 (3rd): 1982 (10th): 1983 (10th): 1985
(?): 1994 (10th): 1997 (10th)
After gaining an amazing 3rd place at the inaugural championships,
the band has been frequent but somewhat unsuccessful contenders,
with 10th place in London in 1997 their most recent attempt. There
they came 10th on the set test “Salamander” and 12th on “A Moorside
Formed in 1970 they have been conducted by Lars-Gunnar-Bjorklund
since 1975 and have won their National title on no fewer than five
occasions – the last of which was in 2000. 2001 should hopefully
see the band improve on their 1999 result. Outsiders.
IRELAND: Strabane Concert Brass
Conductor: Peter Christian
Record: 5th appearance 1982 (9th): 1990 (11th): 1994 (12th): 1997
One of the most popular competitors at the European Contest over
the years, the Strabane Band always give a good account of themselves
and their country, even though they have never been seen as contenders.
They continue to choose sensible “own choice” test pieces for themselves
such as “Pageantry” in 1997.
Formed in 1979 they won their first National title in 1981 and
repeated the feat again to qualify for the Europeans on three other
occasions. 2000 saw them do it again under the baton of former Williams
Fairey baritone player, Peter Christian who has been with the band
since 1996. Outsiders.
Yorkshire Building Society (Reigning Champions)
Conductor: David King
Record: 6th appearance 1996 (1st): 1997 (1st): 1998 (4th): 1999
(1st): 2000 (1st)
What a record. Since qualifying for the 1996 contest in Norway
they have won the title 4 times in 5 years and have set test piece
on three occasions to boot. Only one win on the “own choice” in
1999 however shows that they can be beaten, although it will take
two rather than one inspired performances from the rivals to do
David King has now won the title on 6 occasions, but last years
title was won not without some discomfort from Eikanger and Fodens
whilst 1999 was won only by a point from De Bazuin Oenkerk and 1997
saw them take the title without winning either section of the contest.
1998 is best forgotten as they were denied the title on “Blitz”
in somewhat controversial circumstances.
Own Choice selections have included “Dove Descending” in 2000,
“”Harmony Music” in 1999, “Blitz” in 1998, “Pageantry” in 1997 and
“Revelation” in 1996. 2001 could see the and emulate Black Dyke
in becoming only the second band in the history of the contest in
performing a hat trick of wins. Contenders.
European Championships 2000
Yorkshire Building Society. 195pts
Eikanger – Bjorsvik. 193pts
Fodens Courtois. 190pts
De Waldsang. 184pts
4BarsRest Prediction for 2001
Yorkshire Building Society
Buy As You View Cory
Brass Band Trieze Etoiles
Brass Band Middant Brabant
The Ransome Band
With thanks to Gordon Simpson.
If you wish to be informed of what we believe the competing bands
are playing, please click to continue.