European Championships 2002:
The Chain Gang YBS and Dr King take another Euro title
Date Posted: 09.05.02
In its short history, the Yorkshire Building
Society band has won many accolades and titles the Yorkshire,
British Open and All England Masters trophies have all found their
way back to the sponsors headquarters, but it has been the European
Championship that has possibly defined YBS into the band they are
today and what a band they are.
The 6th win in seven years at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels
and their fourth in consecutive years was possibly their finest
ever win, as it came against the strongest ever field assembled
from across Europe and it ended with YBS winning by the huge margin
of 6 clear points and winning both the set work and own choice
sections into the bargain. Even by their standards, this was some
achievement. With this in mind we managed to catch the Musical Director,
Dr David King at the hotel the following morning and asked him how
it all felt.
course Im delighted. he said, But Im delighted
for the members and supporters of the band rather than just myself.
This has been an achievement for the new YBS a band that
had nine new players come into its ranks at the beginning of 2002
and a band of young players, nearly all of whom are new to contesting
at this level and have overcome the disappointment of the Yorkshire
Regional Championships to come here and give, what I believe have
been two quite outstanding performances.
Asked what it felt like to equal the record of four consecutive
wins held by Black Dyke and to create a new record of six wins in
seven years, Dr King was adamant that those records have little
meaning to him.
I think we get to hung up on the quantity of wins rather than
the quality of the performances we create. Im not interested
in how many times we have won, or if we have created a new record
in doing so Im interested in the way in which we at
YBS have performed and Im not motivated by the setting of
records at all. I enjoy the competitive element of contesting for
sure, but that is not the reason why I do it. I strive to create
quality performances of important works with the band performances
that can be remembered for the musicianship of the players and the
band as a whole.
The 4BR Team meet Piet Swerts
So was Chain by Piet Swerts a quality piece of music?
Very much so. I always get vibes about a new work when I first
start looking at the score, and I really felt that this was a piece
that had so much to offer. I had heard that many people didnt
think much of the composition, and that they found it too abrasive
in character, but not for me. It so well constructed
very transparent with clearly defined musical architecture. Its
very much in the European tradition of composition with clean musical
lines and contours, and I think it has been a fine test of the bands
and the MDs.
4BR explained to Dr King that we thought it was a high-risk strategy
that he took in his bands performance in the morning, in that it
was certainly different in terms of speed from nearly all the other
I didnt think that was a high risk strategy. The composer
had clearly marked the score Agitato holding
back as if the music is exploring its way forward rather than powering
ahead without care. It for me had to portray nervousness and uncertainty,
and it wasnt until the last Energico section that
the work moves at a pace of 132 crotchets. That was the composers
aim I felt a continual movement towards that speed and build
towards the climax of the work that was the musical chain
It obviously was what the composer intended as well, as 4BR caught
up with Pete Swerts afterwards and he was delighted with the interpretation
given by YBS and couldnt speak highly enough of the way in
which Dr King and the band had performed his work. He was a very
musically satisfied man. The judges were also mightily impressed
too and gave the band 97 points and first place. There were very
few in the audience who disagreed.
As for the Concerto Grosso?
This is a tour de force of immense proportions Dr King
explained. It has all the right ingredients of a truly great
test piece, and I believed the band would give a superb performance
of it. They worked immensely hard on its preparation and I knew
all the soloists would be able to create a bit of magic. On the
day they gave an amazing performance brilliant ensemble work
as well as great individual playing. It would be unfair of me to
single out certain players in these circumstances, but Peter Smith
on tuba, Ben Godfrey on flugel and Mike Howley on euphonium were
outstanding everyone else for me was just as good.
And so. Where does this win stand in relation to the others?
Just as highly as any of them in my opinion. However, I dont
look back to see if one was better than another. 2002 saw us under
immense pressure, but we gave two outstanding performances to win
the title, and it is that which for me is the most important aspect
of the whole weekend. The quality of the achievement means more
than anything. We have superb sponsors in the Yorkshire Building
Society and they give us tremendous support and commitment to try
and achieve what I think we as a band are capable of. When it comes
off like it has this weekend, it makes it so worthwhile.
We are off to do a great concert in Stroud on the weekend
and then its preparation for the forthcoming All England Masters
But one last question. Of all the European contests you have been
involved in, which performance in terms of quality do you think
remains the most memorable experience? 4BR were being a bit cheeky
and we thought Dr King would give us the obvious answer This
one of course but no.
Blitz in Kerkrade. That was the most memorable
for me he said.
And with that he smiled and thanked us for our time and was engulfed
by even more well wishers. It was in a way the answer that told
us so much about the man himself. It was the quality rather than
the quantity that was the most important thing to him. Two firsts
and a 6th title here against 8th place and out of the prizes four
years ago. You can see what drives him on.