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European Championships 2002:
First Section Preview
Date Posted: 28.04.02

The First Section European Contest first took place in 1994 in Montreux and 2002 sees the contest take place for the seventh time.

That first contest was won by Frosch Hall from Austria and they have subsequently gone on to win it on four occasions (1994, 1997, 1998 and 1999), but won’t be here this year to try and make it a nap hand.

Last year’s champions were Ensemble de Cuivres Euphonia from Switzerland conducted by Adrian Schneider, who were clear 8 point winners from Brass Band Nord de Calais from France, conducted by Phillipe Lorthios and Arklow Silver conducted by John Bonner from Ireland in third. They were the only three bands that took part in the contest, and this has been one of the major disappointments of the contest, which was specifically set up to try and promote brass banding especially in those countries without any real tradition in its culture.

The good news though is that this year there will be five bands on show on the Friday at the Palais des Beaux – Arts, with competitors from France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Sweden.

The set work is Jan Van der Roost’s, “Excalibur”. Own choice peices are as follows:

A London Overture – Philip Sparke;
A Malvern Suite – Philip Sparke;
Tam O’Shanter’s Ride – Denis Wright;
Corpus Christi – Robert Redhead.

This years competitors are:

Brass Band Nord Pas de Calais – France
Conductor: Philippe Lorthios
Record: 2nd place in 2001

Formed in 1992 but becoming a British style brass band in 1997, the band came a very impressive second at this contest in Montreux last year, where they incidentally played “Stonehenge” by Jan Van der Roost. As “Excalibur” form part of the composer’s trio of work on or about this type of subject, the band should be well prepared.

The bands director of music is Phillipe Lorthios, who is a trombone teacher at “L’Ecole de Musique et de l’Harmonie Municipale de Mouvaux.

The band was French Open Champions in the First Section in 2000 and came runners up to Pennine Brass in the Championship Section in 2001.

Mannheim Young Brass Ensemble – Germany
Conductor: Peter Reide
Record: Second appearance. 4th in 1999

The band from Mannheim are making their second appearance at the contest after performing with much merit in Munich in 1999 when they came 4th performing “Masquerade” by James Curnow (not Philip Wilby!).

The were formed as far back as 1996, but it wasn’t until 1999 that they changed to all brass and took part at that year’s European contest. As wind bands are more prominent in this part of Germany, it comes as no surprise that most members are also performers with the Mannheim Symphony Youth Wind Band.

Armitage Shanks Arklow Silver – Ireland
Conductor: John Bonner
Record: 3rd appearance. 4th 1998, 3rd 2001.

The band was formed in 1968 from the Arklow Boys Choir and hail from the County Wicklow area of Ireland. They first competed in 1969 and were regular travellers to the UK throughout the 1970’s to enter the Pontins contest held in Southport and Prestatyn.

Conductor John Bonner took over in 1990, and this has coincided with a real up turn in the bands fortunes. They have been All Ireland Brass Band Champions for four of the past five years and at the John McCormack Hall in Athlone on April 7th this year they completed a hat trick of title wins.

The band played “Fantasy for Brass Band” as their set work and an own choice selection which they will also perform at these championships to take the title from Drogheda and Stedfast. Adjudicator, Lloyd Landry described their performance as “clear winners”

The band also hold the distinction of appearing on the U2 album “The Joshua Tree”.

Brass Band Novedrate – Italy
Conductor: Mario Gerosa
Record: First appearance

Formed in 1997, the brass ensemble is composed of players and musicians from the immediate region. Some are professional players, whilst others are students or enthusiasts for British style brass bands. They all come from the region that boasts such towns as Massa Montana, Varisa and Montano Luciano.

Their conductor is Mario Gerosa who musical education started from the Guiseppe Verdi Conservatoire in Milan and has also included spells conducting in Switzerland and coming under the tutelage of luminaries such as Roger Bobo. Many of the students are educated at the Conservatoire of Como and of the music course at Anzani Secondary State School of Cantu.

Brass Band Berga – Sweden
Mattias Hjortlinger
Record: First appearance

Formed in 1993, the band hail from the Akersberga, a town which is approximately 25 kilometres from Stockholm.

They rehearse every Sunday evening, for around three hours and are made up of a variety of amateur players all of whom have a love for brass bands.

We know very little more about them than that, but we wish them well as they compete at this level for the very first time.

2001 Result:
1. Ensemble de Cuivres Euphonia
Adrian Scheider (Switzerland) – 183pts
2. Nord Pas de Calais
Philippe Lorthios (France) – 175pts
3. Armitage Shanks Arklow Silver
John Bonner (Ireland) – 163pts

4BR Prediction:
1. Brass Band Nord Pas de Calais (France)
2. Mannheim Young Brass Ensemble (Germany)
3. Armitage Shanks Arklow Silver (Ireland)
4. Brass Band Berga (Sweden)
5. Brass Band Novedrate (Italy)

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