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 2003 European Championships

 26 April-4 May 2003

2003 First Section Contest

Bergen sees just three bands take part in the reconstructed First Section – the only real disappointment in a superbly organised weekend, but to be fair to the Norwegians, this part of the Championships has been a bit of a problem now for some time.

It was first set up in 1994 as the banding equivelent of the UEFA Cup with hopefully it becoming a stepping stone for bands to prgress to the Champions League that is the European contest itself. It hasn’t done so for many reasons.

Perhaps the main one is that the contest has no real identity – no British First Section representatives have competed and the so called “emerging banding nations” haven’t really used it as a competition to kick start further progress in their own countries. It needs a radical rethink and although this year we see a tinkering with the set up, the contest does need an overall for it to remain relevent. It is too important to be left wither and die from the disinterest of the bands themselves.

This year the contest format has been changed with the three competitiors having to perform a 25 minute programme for the three judges – Torgny Hanson, Goff Richards and Jan Van der Roost. It therefore gives the bands the opportunity to showcase their talents to the full, from upbeat numbers to test pieces.

Although not quite the type of competition we would like it to be, this seems to be a move in the right direction. Lets hop the three bands get plenty of support on the Friday and that 2003 proves to be the turning point for the First Section itself.

The Competing Bands:

Arklow Shipping Silver Band – Ireland
John Bonner

Principal Cornet: Tommy Byrne
Soprano: Anthony McCarthy
Euphonium: James Connolly
Trombone: Liam Walsh

John BonnerFormed in 1968, the band took on the name of the Arklow Shipping Line as their sponsors in September 2002. Before that they were known as the Arklow Silver Armitage Shanks Band. They hail from South Green in County Wicklow in Southern Ireland.

Since their formation they have won the Irish Championship on no less than nine times in the past eleven years, including a hat trick in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The week before the European Championships they defend that title at the IABCB National Championships at Wesley College, Dublin and will be looking to make it a fourth consecutive victory.

The band has made two LP’s as well as featuring on U2’s album “The Joshua Tree”. The band made its debut at this contest in 1998 in Kerkrade when under the direction of John Bonner they came 4th. They returned in 2001 in Montreux where they came 3rd, whilst last year in Brussels they were runners up.

European History:

1998: 4th place
Own Choice selection – “Land of the Long White Cloud”
2001: 3rd place
Own Choice selection – “Pageantry”
2002: 2nd place
Own Choice selection – “Tam O’Shanter’s Ride”

Malmo Brass Band – Sweden
Stefan Cooper

Malmo as a brass band date back to 1974 when the organisations from the Betel Church Band joined together with the Salem Brass Band. However, the origins of the band go back as far as 1891.

Malmo were runners up to Gothenburg at the 2002 Swedish Championships, and although the winners declined to make the trip to Bergen, Malmo make their contesting debut here in the First Section.

They have worked with many famous brass banding personalities over the years inclusing Eric Ball, Geoffrey Brand, Ray Farr and Edward Gregson as well as the famous Swedish orchestral conductor Sixten Ehrling. They have in future concert tours booked for the United States as well as Austrailia and hopefully Ireland later this year.

Brøttum Brass – Norway
Erling Myserth

Brøttum Brass was founded in 1892, with six members, one instructor and a decision on buying the instruments they could not rent.

The band grew fast and has had a high level of activity throughout these years. For instance, Brøttum played when King Oscar II opened the railway in 1894. Also on the national day, 17th of May, and at dances, the band has been of major significance in the local community.

In 1982, the band took a new, positive turn when it for the first time participated in the Norwegian national championship for brass bands. During the 80s and 90s, Brøttum developed into a band of high, musical standard, and has been among the best brass bands in Norway since. It’s qualities has turned it into a band of great importance for the other bands in the counties of Hedmark/ Oppland.

Brøttum Brass has put great effort into being a band of quality and with constant musical development. It intends to be a band for youth and grown ups that wishes an extra challenge and wants to develop their musical skills further.

The band has several times been on top of it’s leagues in the national championship, and has achieved good results in more local competitions. Brøttum has also been engaged for larger arrangements like official representation during the Winter Olympics on Lillehammer in 1994 and the celebration of the church of Norway being 1000 years old.

First Section – Programme Selections

Malaguena Arr. Mark Free
Londonderry Air Radar. Bill Geldard
Storbystev (Urban Brass) J.Ph Hannevik
Kingdom Triumphant Eric Ball
The Champions George H. Willcocks
“Rag Polka” Toot’s Suite Claude Bolling, arr. J. Winborg
For the Love of a Princess James Horner, arr. A. Duncan
The Land of the Long White Cloud Philip Sparke
Variations for Brass Band Vaughan Williams
Three Saints Goff Richards

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