The European Brass Band Championships returns to Switzerland for the fourth time in its 34-year history – and for the third time to Montreux.
EBBA last hosted the event at the spectacular Montreux Music & Convention Centre 2m2c a decade ago, and so a return to the superb Stravinski Auditorium has been well overdue.
The Swiss have prepared for the week long Festival with their usual mix of purposeful professionalism and discreet good taste, which is sure to result in the bands, supporters and visitors being able to enjoy every minute of their stay.
There can’t be too many concerts halls in the world where you can enjoy a cup of tea with a vista as spectacular as the Alps shimmering in the background across Lake Geneva in all their glory.
The Festival itself started in earnest last Saturday, when the young performers who will make up the 9th European Youth Brass Band met under chief conductor Philippe E. Bach.
They will all remember their musical experience in Switzerland for the rest of their lives.
The band will perform at various venues throughout the week, providing entertainment at the Thursday evening Gala Concert, which also hosts the first title up for grabs – with the 5th European Conductors Competition.
The vast expanse of the Stravinski Auditorium
Bright young talent
Some of the brightest young baton wielders from across Europe have been attracted to Montruex to be put through some pretty exhausting and comprehensive musical tests – conducting brass, chamber and wind ensembles before the final three are chosen for the final.
The Convention Centre, may not be the most beautiful bit of architecture in the world, but inside its glass and concrete outer walls, it has in the Stravinski Auditorium one of the very best concert halls in the world – a vast expanse of wood lined acoustic clarity that the competing bands should revel in.
Euro youth on show once again...
It is here that the 10 Championship, and 5, B Section contenders will battle for glory on the Friday and Saturday – all to an auditorium that has just about been sold out to the public and to a welcome line up of top class judges.
Tickets for the Own Choice and Gala Concert which will be held on Saturday evening and will see the announcement of the 2011 champion made around 10.00pm (local time), are as rare as Casio watches in the local jewellers.
The Championship Section bands will have to contend with a stunning composition as the set work this year – Oliver Waespi’s (right), Tallis inspired, ‘Audivi Media Nocte’, which is highly inventive, exciting and exceptionally difficult.
The set work discipline which starts on Friday afternoon at 5.00pm (local time) promises to capture the imagination of the listeners, with its extended choreographed trios for tuba, trombone and bongos, cornet, euphonium and snare drum.
The Saturday is a sell out – although you may be able to get a ticket for what promises to be an equally entertaining B Section – with five ‘emerging’ bands getting to grips with works as diverse (and a difficult) as ‘Extreme Make Over’ and ‘Of Men and Mountains’ – as well as the compact excitement of Stephen Hodel’s test piece, ‘Vertex’.
Before the action starts there is sure to be a display of Swiss diplomacy at its very best in the Opening Ceremony and Official Reception where the draw for the Championship set work will be made, whilst there are interesting aperitifs in the ‘European Forum’ and ‘Composer’s Talk’ – where any lingering doubts about both set works will be dispelled for certain.
After the ten top section bands have given their all with their intriguing showcase own choice selections there is sure to be plenty to keep the interest from waning in the Gala Concert, before the awards are made and the protagonists can enjoy a ‘Swissness!’ party well into the wee small hours.
The European Youth Band at the Farewell Concert will clear sore heads on Sunday morning, whilst the EBBA delegates pour over the paperwork at their General Meeting.
After all of that – all eyes will be focussed on Rotterdam for 2012.
All the action
4BR will be in Montreux from Wednesday afternoon to bring you our usual coverage of all the events – from our live comments on the competitions and our usual pithy Twitter updates, to a daily blog, plenty of images and pictures and lots of video interviews and analysis.
We will also bring you breaking news, results and all the post match analysis in our retrospectives.
We are looking forward to it – and we hope you are too.
For more information on the 2010 European Championship go to:www.ebba.eu.com/