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European Championships 2002:
The 4BR overall verdict
Date Posted: 09.05.02

The 25th European Championships were a success. Very well organised and slickly presented, it continues to set the agenda for the movement in the 21st century. There were moments this year however in which they may have to look at themselves and ask why though?

The Maurice Andre debacle cannot be repeated. He may have been a great draw and a ticket seller, but it was obvious he was neither up the task or particularly interested enough to give of his best in the Friday night concert. It became an embarrassment, and for a rumoured 6000 euros – an expensive one at that. No real blame can be placed on the organisers, but they will have learned a very important lesson. Reputations count for nothing and next time it may be better to go for what you know rather than what hope you know.

The Composer’s Competition was another success and there was some fine young talent on show. The winner, Simon Dobson from Cornwall will be a composer of note in the future and one who we would like to hear more of if we can. The idea to present all four finalists works in the evening concert was also a fine idea and proved popular, even if the announcement of the winning composition got the title wrong!

The First Section was only a partial success though, and there is a need we believe for the format to be looked at again – possibly in time for the 2004 contest in Scotland. There is surly a need to get more bands involved and the 2004 contest could be the time to get First Section bands from Wales, England, Scotland and Norway to compete without it becoming too expensive for them or the organisers. It would surly strengthen the contest as a whole.

The test pieces for the weekend were an unqualified success, with “Excalibur” by Jan van der Roost a popular and accessible work for the First Section and Piet Swert’s “Chain” a very challenging but listenable work in the Championship. It is hoped that we get to hear more of this work – possibly for the Regional’s in the UK or Grand Shield next year? It is a true test of a band as a whole and the players individually (horn, xylo and flugel players will sweat when they see their part) and it deserves further play time.

The “Own Choice” selections continue to show that at this level, the very best bands cannot get away with just very good performances, and the vast majority of the bands in the top section gave outstanding performances. It is an essential feature of the contest that bands perform out of their skins in the afternoon and it would be fair to say that if CWS Glasgow or Tredegar had performed as they did at a contest in the UK then they would have walked away with a prize without any problem. The standard was that high.

Finally, the organisers themselves should take great credit for the way in which the whole weekend was run – not 100% perfect but very nearly and we must thank the people in the hall who made it possible for 4BR to bring you up to date highlights of the weekend. Nothing was too much trouble and their professionalism should be something that others could well do and try and copy. It made things so much easier for all concerned.

Here’s looking forward to Bergen in 2003. We’ll be there!

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