2009 4BR Awards - Contest Performance of the Year


Here is a real tricky one for you to vote on. What was the very best contest performance you heard during 2009 - and we don't just mean one that took the winners prize either.

4barsrest awardsThere are literally hundreds to choose from for you here isn't there? 

Any winning performance - be it in the Fourth Section or Championship level deserves a mention, as well as those performances where the players and especially the audiences thought thrilled the pants off them, but didn't get even a mention from the adjudicators.

This could have been an endless list, but we narrowed out choices down to the five: Eikanger Bjorsvik (Norwegian Nationals Championship); Fountain City (Scottish Open);
Cory (European Championship - Set Work); Brass Band Oberosterreich (European Championship - Own Choice) and Leyland (Brass in Concert)

All brilliant in their own way – although not all winners in the opinion of the adjudicators. 

We would add that we could have easily replaced all five with some or all, so which ones did you hear and thought would be worthy of a nomination.  

Again there so many to chose from, so give it some thought and see what you come up with…

EikangerEikanger Bjorsvik (Norwegian Nationals Championship)
Rococo Variations (Edward Gregson)
Conductor: Nicholas Childs

It is not often you get to hear such commanding playing as this over two works as diverse as Edward Gregson’s ‘Rococo Variations’ and ‘Extreme MakeOver’ by Johann de Meij – all in the space of 24 hours.

Eikanger was on thrilling form in Bergen in February (especially on the set work by Gregson) as they retained their Norwegian title under the command of Nicholas Childs. The precision of the technique allied to the free flowing musicality that came with two readings of breadth and musical substance reminded you of just how good Eikanger is as a band. Really, really good, in fact.

Fountain CityFountain City (Scottish Open)
Dreams (Bertrand Moren)
Conductor: Joseph Parisi

Simply a class apart – and a class only inhabited by an elite group of bands around the world at present.

Fountain came, played and conquered with a performance of such panache, precision and pure brilliance that the three point winning margin and the 198 points awarded by the adjudicators was fully justified.  The rest of a well beaten field had not the slightest cause for complaint and may well have witnessed first hand the emergence of a truly outstanding world class band.

CoryCory (European Championship - Set Work)
From Ancient Times (Jan Van der Roost)
Conductor: Dr Robert Childs

This was the performance that won Cory the 2009 European Championship, and perhaps the truly outstanding performance from the band during a quite remarkable contesting year.

You could only sit back and admire what was being constructed – an edifice of technical brilliance backed by musicianship and execution of the highest order. At its conclusion the title was already in their grasp. It sent a shudder down the spine.

OberosterreichBrass Band Oberosterreich (European Championship - Own Choice)
Spirits of Puccini (Hermann Pallhuber)
Conductor: Hannes Buchegger

In terms of sheer unadulterated brass playing brilliance then this was hard to beat by anyone, anywhere, all year.

The piece was a showcase vehicle for a band of extraordinary individual talents, and as such was constructed in a way to fit the bill – but then again so were all the other ‘premieres’ from the top bands. 

Any work though that ends with a version of ‘Nessun Dorma’ which would have had to be sung by Pavorotti in falsetto mode at treble forte all topped with a soprano player in league with the Devil himself has got to be celebrated. Breathtakingly bonkers.

LeylandLeyland (Brass in Concert)
Wired (Lucy Pankhurst); Introduction and Flight to Sparta (Peter Meechan); Lock Horns Rage On (Simon Dobson); O Magnum Myserium (Lauridsen arr. Phillip Littlemore); Visions of Kolkhis (Tom Davoren)
Conductor: Jason Katsikaris

At a contest that is in real danger of becoming boring through prescribed musical formulation, Leyland produced a memorable showcase performance of youthful compositional talent.

It was brave, innovative, inventive and very different, but it never treated the audience with the type of lazy musical disdain that others now take for granted. Here was a band and MD trying to show that there was more to brass band entertainment than a swagger march, weak humour and all guns blazing finale.

It didn’t win, but it showed a glimpse of a musical future of more exciting possibilities than are currently in vogue.  


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