2019 Dutch National Championship
As it happened

All the action from the 2019 Dutch National Championship — as it happened.

  • Saturday 26, 23:41:53

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    2019 Champion: Brass band Schoonhoven

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    The winning MD and the cup to fill

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    Robbert Vos and Paul Holland lift the trophy

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    2019 Champion: Brass band Schoonhoven

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    Runner-up: Provincial Brass Band Groningen

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    Third Place: Brass band Rijnmond

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    Best Soloist: Eb tuba of Brass band Schoonhoven A


    Championship Division:

    Adjudicators: Arsene Duc, Steven Mead, Tijmen Botma

    1. Brass band Schoonhoven A (Paul Holland) — 97
    2. Provincial Brass Band Groningen (Richard Visser) — 95
    3. Brass band Rijnmond (Chris Derickx) — 93
    4. De Waldsang (Rieks van der Velde) — 92
    5. De Bazuin Oenkerk (Klaas van der Woude) — 90
    6. Soli Brass (Anne van den Berg) — 88
    7. Amsterdam Brass (Paul van Gils) — 86
    8. Altena Brass (Ward de Ketelaere) — 84

    Best Soloist: Eb tuba (Brass band Schoonhoven)

  • Saturday 26, 22:54:49

    Championship Section:

    Round-up and prediction:

    An engaging top flight contest that should see the clearest of winners.

    Brass Band Shoonhoven was the only band that mastered Philip Wilby's wonderful work — combining high class technical security with a high class musical interpretation from their MD. They were a class apart today. Clear winners for us.

    Who joins them on the podium is a much harder question to answer though — with De Waldsang playing with a great deal of character and cohesiveness and a slightly misfiring Groningen just behind.

    De Bazuin and Rijnmond are close behind.

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Brass Band Schoonhoven
    2. De Waldsang
    3. Provinciale Brassband Groningen
    4. De Bazuin
    5. Rijnmond

  • Saturday 26, 22:22:06

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    Championship Section:

    8. Soli Brass (Anne van den Berg)

    A fine start — a comfortable slip onto the psychoanalyst's couch to unburden the pianissimo quavers of a mind as secret and self-contained as an oyster. There was an inky oily freedom to this.

    It's followed by the touching simplicity of the Mozart theme but the next few variations have a moment or two of unease. 'Cafe life' has a lazy inviting pulse although the little 'duettino' is a tad anxious.

    'Onlookers' pass the other way somewhat without making an impression but the 'crosstalks' arguments are delivered with the forcefulness of the Rev Ian Paisly in best 'No Surrender' mood.

    The tuba led 'soliloquy' is a neat bit of tastefulness and the 'gallop' is just that. The drunken cameo staggers like sozzled Glaswegian into a doorway for a pee and the Schoenberg intro on the troms has a real intense menace.

    Unfortunate moments of unease rob the Don Giovanni scene and it never quite recovers. The essential tether links are lost and it loses its focus and stability.

    It recovers with menace for the Turkish romp — but its messy and wayward. There is spirit to the playing but its too little too late. Fine pacing to the close and there is enough left to thump out the final bars.


    A performance that promised so much but lost its bearings and security when it mattered most. A great pity.

  • Saturday 26, 21:52:51

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    Championship Section:

    7. Provincial Brass Band Groningen (Richard Visser)

    A darkly liquid start — throaty like the tar on the breath of an old loquacious mother-lover. A Freudian delight of hidden sins — like trying to catch smoke in a butterfly net.

    It's contrasted with the simple Mozart theme and the character infused approach to the following variations: the 'presto' speaks freely, 'cafe life' has a hazy taste of cool jazz and warm coffee, although the tricky little 'duettino' catches another prisoner.

    'Onlookers' pass by rather but the 'crosstalks' arguments are thumped out with passion and forcefulness.

    The tuba led 'soliloquy' works well but the 'gallop' loses a stirrup or two. It's stylish playing this (especially trom) but not without little glitches like grit on a usually smooth bar of soap. Great little tipsy cameo and the Schoenberg intro on troms is as black as a shark's eye.

    The Don Giovanni interlude is lovingly shaped, but its not without the odd trip on the boards in the lead lines. It could just do with a tad more operatic overacting. Tubas do their bit and then the drama is ratcheted up for the Turkish romp.

    Just the right hint of the barbaric in the tuba lead voice and then its bloody and raw to follow, but also high on excitement and virtuosity. The shackles are off to the close which is played with such vim and a crushing sense of finality in the last chords and double tap quaver end.


    Another exciting and at times excitable take — but the pockmark errors were littered throughout and eventually took its toll surely of their title winning aspirations. In the hunt for prizes but not for the big pot.

  • Saturday 26, 21:25:55

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    Championship Section:

    6. De Bazuin Oenkerk (Klaas van der Woude)

    Not the best of starts — a stuttering reflex on the Freud couch — a bit like the Emperor Claudius unburdening his motherly woes (and he had a few).

    The Mozart theme finds cultured repose and there is character to the playing in the following variations: the 'presto' is breezy, 'cafe life' has a cool languid jazz feel, but the little 'duettino' catches the unwary. The 'onlookers' miss a trick or two but the 'crosstalks' arguments are well mannered even in disagreement. Just needed a touch more caustic bite.

    The tuba led 'soliloquy' nearly comes off, whilst the 'gallop' gets an echo. It's a stylish bit of high energy playing though. The little drunk cameo is a sozzled delight and the Schoenberg intro on troms has a rich depth in its voice.

    The Don Giovanni interlude is a tender treat — a little troubled at times, but thoughtful and cultured. The euph layers the vibrato like a plasterer with an operatic trowel in his hand. Juicy stuff — and just right for the roles.

    The ride for home is packed with Turkish flame throwers let alone jingling jonnies — they are pumping it out from their exhaust pipes. Its whipped like an errant camel in Billy Smart's circus but it gets its hooves up right through to a stomping old close.


    Lots to enjoy and savour. Not perfect by any means in execution, but such an enjoyable take on the score by the MD and played with real verve by his band.

  • Saturday 26, 20:50:42

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    Championship Section:

    5. Brass band Schoonhoven A (Paul Holland)

    The first band to take to the stage with standing choir formation of cornets, the start bubbles with the intensity of its vocal jabberings — lucid and as dark as pitch tar. Bass trom has more plumbing on show on his shoulder than the bloke who came to fix my boiler.

    The approach has a certainty about it for sure — and the Mozart theme and following variations are engineered like the gearbox on a Mercedes — smooth and precise.

    This is classy playing; the 'presto' light, 'cafe life' has a hazy laid back cool, the little 'duettino' is carefully handled with 'onlookers' nosey but polite in their interventions. The tetchy 'crosstalks' has an edgy anger — just a few words from a punch on the hooter for someone.

    The tuba led 'soliloquy' is nicely portrayed, whilst the 'gallop' is turbo charged. The little drunk cameo is a shot glass full of alcoholic character which preludes the Schoenberg intro on troms into the operatic take on Don Giovanni.

    Super playing this — tender and cultured — all powdered wigs and heavy bosoms played with just the right touch of rubato. Gets a little ripe and fruity in places with its leanings but tuba quartet and then lead to Turkish romp is full of menace.

    Meaty in chunks of red blooded passion now — and played with precision and detail at just the right pace. It's like an army of Tommy Coopers riding into the sunset — its fezztastic. The final few chords and two quavers are brought down like Vulcan's hammer on an anvil.


    A high quality show inspired by a super interpretation by the MD. Coherent, cohesive and cultured it captured the core essence of the score with a marked stamp of classy excellence.

  • Saturday 26, 20:22:19

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    Championship Section:

    4. Amsterdam Brass (Paul van Gils)

    A curious start — a gurgling subconscious mass of notes that speak — but almost in a different tongue — like Max Cady from 'Cape Fear' as he bubbles below the waters to his death. The quirky approach continues with a stilted Mozart theme. Different this.

    So too the following variations, but it captures your attention in an odd OCD way; the 'presto' is light and 'cafe life' has an egg and chips greasy spoon feel of artisan pleasure. The little 'duettino' is beautiful with 'onlookers' rubber necking and crotchety 'crosstalks' played with undisguised augmentative anger to follow.

    The tuba led 'soliloquy' is an artistic cameo scene steal, and the 'gallop' flies by led by super sop. The little drunken interlude is curiously temperance in execution though but the operatic excerpts from 'The Don' are both bombastic and tender at the same time.

    Super build to Turkish romp — with plenty of 'barbaro' playing on show. Get the fezzes ready for this is going native. So well paced with the jingling jonny heard to fine effect all the way to rapid accel close with a hammer blow couple of quavers.


    Interesting and engaging approach by the MD and his band. An acquired taste perhaps in the box, but it was played with splendid verve and commitment.

  • Saturday 26, 19:51:09

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    Championship Section:

    3. De Waldsang (Rieks van der Velde)

    There is lucid free-thinking release about the tricky opening — a subconscious flow of musical motherly love that old Freud would have squirrelled his nose into.

    A slightly idiosyncratic approach about the Mozart theme and following variations, but it is persuasive playing; the 'presto' flirts, 'cafe life' has a smokey relaxed feel, the little 'duettino' is neatly handled with 'onlookers' and testy 'crosstalks' played with stylish character.

    The tuba led 'soliloquy' is an artistic cameo, not perfect, but nicely portrayed, whilst its Billy Wizz in the 'gallop' with a snuff pinch of wit. A dry wit drunk also preludes the little Schoenberg intro on troms that lead into the operatic take on Don Giovanni.

    This is played with tender feeling — certainly not Pavarotti belting out his lungs. Again just little smudges but the tuba quartet leads with dark drive to the Turkish border patrol.

    It splendidly ornate and waspish — just needed a little poise in places, but it builds to a great close that has a joyful flourish before the darkest of dark edged endings.


    A fine take on the score by the MD and very well delivered by the band. Just needed a touch more poise in places, but it was a Mozart fantasy delivered with a great deal of musical character.

  • Saturday 26, 19:19:34

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    Championship Section:

    2. Altena Brass (Ward de Ketelaere)

    Oh mother. There is an immediate hint of dark undercurrent dreams to the Freudian opening — and the hint of unease carries on to the Mozart theme that settles nerves.

    The following variations are well handled though — 'presto', 'cafe life' (suave and relaxed), the little, rather uncomfortable sounding 'duettino', well observed 'onlookers' and tetchy 'crosstalks' . The tuba led 'soliloquy' is a tad lumpy and the 'gallop' flies at a rate of knots Shergar couldn't match.

    A nip at the Mozart hip-flask is splendidly tipsy before the operatic leads take centre stage to perform with bravura (esp Falstaffian euph). The duets are a touch ripe but certainly have character and passion.

    We are on the raucous edge now though — full monty stuff. This is as brazen as President Erdogan in full flow let alone a Turkish romp of delight. Its given the max to close — a real thumper.


    Passionate, bravura playing that left nothing in the tank. Lots to enjoy but by heck it was robust at times.

  • Saturday 26, 19:01:38

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    Championship Section:

    1. Brass band Rijnmond (Chris Derickx)

    A slightly hesitant opening — as if old Freud's motherly questions hit a nerve, but it recovers in the following variations after the simple Mozart theme.

    The cafe scene is a tetchy affair — not quite something of an argument, more a squabble, but once again it recovers and there is some splendidly lucid playing on show. The sprightly 'Galop' is a romp headed by fleet footed sop and the drunken cameo is an alcoholic nip and tuck job.

    Operatic leads in the scena and notturno — led by muscular cornet and bombastic euph. The duets are playful and tender if a touch clog footed on the tubas, whilst the build to the romp is given the full beanz.

    This is not quite a Turkish delight — edgy and scruffy, but it has verve by the jingling jonnyful. The final homage to Schoenberg has a dark vein of menace before the final thumping quavers to end.


    A solid enough marker — boldly played, but in need of a touch of Mozart elegance to go with the power train approach.

  • Saturday 26, 18:57:12

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    Set-Work: Vienna Nights (Philip Wilby)

    Philip Wilby's masterful fantasy on Mozart's 'Piano Sonata in A', K331 is arguably his finest work for brass band.

    It is a breathtaking achievement of subtle mastery — the musical equivalent of turning base metal into pure gold. This is brass band compositional alchemy.

    The key is found in the subtitle. Wilby calls it a 'fantasy' which allows the scope to develop his own thoughts and themes, structures and ideas without ever losing the purity of the original thematic material.

    It is not an arrangement, realization or transcription. What we get is a classically structured piece in Sonata form where the germ of the original musical thought is developed without ever changing its historical DNA.

    The Mozart that forms the basis is untouched and allowed to stand in all its glory, however brilliantly Wilby surrounds it with his kaleidoscopic array of inspired personal ideas.

    It is a piece that delineates the dichotomies between the two composers to the full — the simplistic beauty of Mozart's 'Sonata' and the joie-de-vivre of the 'Turkish Rondo' allied to the complex layers of Wilby and his own homage to the 12 tone harmonics of Schoenberg.

    The piece is played in one continuous movement, broken into the sonata form: The first entitled 'Freud's Dreams' a homage to the father of psychoanalysis.

    This short introductory section leads to part 2 — 'Variations' which itself is broken into a series of continuous variations on the theme from the 'Piano Sonata'.

    The nine mini-variations cover just about every aspect of musical development you can think of, but at their core is a pure circulatory bloodline, like veins and arteries connecting every musical strand to the Mozart heart.

    The third section 'Scena and Notturno' is operatic in style before cleverly setting the scene for the finale.

    This is the romp of the 'Alla Turca' brought to life with an injection of pace that is startling.

    This is still very much Mozart, but Mozart on a diet of Red Bull chasers — wickedly joyful, devilishly difficult and quite amazing to listen too (and we suspect to play).

  • Saturday 26, 17:54:37

    Championship Division

    Adjudicators: Arsene Duc, Steven Mead, Tijmen Botma


    1. Brass band Rijnmond (Chris Derickx)
    2. Altena Brass (Ward de Ketelaere)
    3. De Waldsang (Rieks van der Velde)
    4. Amsterdam Brass (Paul van Gils)
    5. Brass band Schoonhoven A (Paul Holland)
    6. De Bazuin Oenkerk (Klaas van der Woude)
    7. Provincial Brass Band Groningen (Richard Visser)
    8. Soli Brass (Anne van den Berg)

  • Saturday 26, 17:35:24

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    2019 Champion: Pro Rege celebrate

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    2019 Champion: Pro Rege

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    Runner-up: Excelsior

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    Third Place: Oefening en Uitspanning

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    Best Soloist: Sorano cornet of Pro Rege


    First Division:

    Adjudicators: Arsene Duc, Steven Mead, Tijmen Botma

    1. Pro-Rege (Anne van den Berg) — 93
    2. Chr. Brass band Excelsior (Rieks van der Velde) — 92
    3. Oefening en Uitspanning (Anno Appelo) — 90
    4. Brass band Breukelen (Syde van der Ploeg) — 87
    5. Kunst naar Kracht (Pieter Koster) — 86
    6. Brass band Amersfoort (Vincent Verhage) — 85

    Best Soloist: Soprano (Pro-Rege)

  • Saturday 26, 17:31:54

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    2019 Champion: Gereformeerde celebrate

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    2019 Champion: Gereformeerde

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    Runner-up: Looft den Heer

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    Third Place: gloria dei

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    Best Solo cornet: Looft den Heer


    Second Division:

    Adjudicators: Sheona White, Patrik Randefalk, Kevin Houben

    1. Gereformeerde Brass band (Jan Werkman) — 95
    2. Looft den Heer (Gijs Heusinkveld) — 94
    3. Gloria Dei (Jaap Musschenga) — 93
    4. Brass band Constantijn Huygens (Richard Visser) — 92
    5. Der Lofklank (Gerk Huisma) — 90
    6. Excelsior Ferwert (Gijs Heusinkveld) — 89
    7= De Bazuin Oenkerk B (Sietse Hamersma) — 88
    7= Martini Brass band (Rieks van der Velde) — 88
    9= Brass band David (Wilbert Zwier) — 86
    9= Brass band Schoonhoven B (Paul van Dalen) — 86

    Best Soloist: Cornet (Looft den Heer)

  • Saturday 26, 16:49:21

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    First Division round-up and prediction:

    We really did have to wait to get a couple of performances worthy of winning the title — but when they came they were pretty impressive.

    Overall all though the First Division has been a disappointment — the majority of the contenders sounding closer to their counterparts in the Second Division than to possible future rivals in the Championship Section.

    Why Jan van der Roost's test-piece caused so many problems and anxieties is a bit of a puzzle — it wasn't beyond good, well directed bands — as was shown by the last two today, Pro Rege and Kunst naar Kracht.

    They get our top spots for us with Excelsior in third and Oefening just behind.

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Pro Rege
    2. Kunst naar Kracht
    3. Excelsior
    4. Oefening

  • Saturday 26, 16:41:50

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    Ones for the top spots..?

    We waited a long old time to hear a band that could scale the tricky but not Everest-like peaks of this test-piece — and we got it with the defending champion Pro Rege led by Anne van den Berg (who will also be taking Soli Brass in the top section in a few hours time).

    This was a performance built on such a solid foundation of good basics, aided by some super individual contributions — notably the solo euph who was a veritable Sherpa Tensing up in the clouds.

    There were a few intonation issues that chaffed the lining, but this was playing of confidence and control that brought the detail as will as the intention of the composer's writing off the pages of the score.

    It's followed by Kunst naar Kracht's fine effort under Pieter Koster which had a well constructed, free flowing musicality about it.

    The MDs understated approach still enabled the detail to come through and despite the occasional little clips it didn't detract from a performance of understanding and rich merit.

  • Saturday 26, 15:54:32

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    Crags and crevices on the Alpine trek

    Jan van der Roost's 'Alpina Brass' is proving to be a surprisingly treacherous test for the First Division bands here today.

    It's tricky without a doubt, but given the standard we have heard in the other three sections so far at the these Championships this has been a jolt of mediocrity so far.

    There really are no hidden traps, but the bands are falling into crevices of their own making at times and the soloist could do with putting on a set of crampons such has been their fragility.

    Amersfoort under Vincent Verhage (above) produced an Alpine trek of peaks and occasional troughs — engaging and dramatic at its best, but oh so fragile in places also.

    No doubting the boldness and fearlessness of Chr. Brass band Excelsior under Rieks van der Velde who felt at home with the more colourful, exciting elements of the score, but where undone on occasions when a little less vibrancy was called for.

    Certainly a thrilling approach though.

  • Saturday 26, 15:08:23

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    Scaling the usual First Division peaks

    Brass band Breukelen under animated conductor Syde van der Ploeg deliver the opening salvo on Jan van der Roost's 'Alpina Brass'.

    Not quite reaching the highest peaks, but solid endeavour on a tricky work with its technical flourishes, richly textured harmonies (a van der Roost signature), intricate percussion, bold trombones and viscous runs in the upper cornets.

    It's followed by a hard grafted effort from Oefening en Uitspanning, led by Anno Appelo (above).

    The balance between the technical fizz and the bucolic lyricism is a little heavy handed and intonation is occasionally wayward, but its artisan stuff (bravo euph in the rarefied air above the clouds) that holds your attention despite the clips and slips.

  • Saturday 26, 14:40:06

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    Alpine test for the First Division..

    'Alpina Brass' by Jan Van der Roost was written as the test piece for the First Division at the Cantonal Music Festival in June 2019 in Naters, Switzerland. It consists of three defined movements that are characterised by various aspects of rhythmic, balance and textural structures.

    There is no narrative inspiration or subtext — only that of a concert work that challenges the various skill sets of the performers and conductors.

    The melodic structures are not based on specific thematic material either (although there is an evocation of Alpine calls and folk tunes — and listen out for echoes of his 'From Ancient Times' bouncing down the alpine slopes), but stand along in construct leading as bridges to the next challenge.

  • Saturday 26, 14:31:39

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    First Division:

    Adjudicators: Arsene Duc, Steven Mead, Tijmen Botma


    1. Brass band Breukelen (Syde van der Ploeg)
    2. Oefening en Uitspanning (Anno Appelo)
    3. Brass band Amersfoort (Vincent Verhage)
    4. Chr. Brass band Excelsior (Rieks van der Velde)
    5. Chr.brassband Pro-Rege Heerenveen (Anne van den Berg)
    6. Kunst naar Kracht (Pieter Koster)

  • Saturday 26, 14:27:09

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    Second Section round-up and prediction:

    Congratulations to the organisers for picking another cracking test-piece. Jan de Haan's 'The Patriots' may come in at 15 minutes or so in duration but it is a piece that doesn't have an ounce of unwarranted fat on its bones.

    It's been a finely balanced mix between the modern and the old (as far back as the the Dutch Renaissance) expertly moulded together to compliment in style and substance.

    It's been a high quality contest too — with a number of differing interpretations, but each having great merit. The ones that din't quite try revolution by passion and bombast alone did best with Constantijn Huygens the classiest of would be 18th century Dutch Lenins.

    Just behind for us come the batch of Looft den Heer and Gloria Dei with Gereformeedre and Martini.

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Constantijn Huygens
    2. Looft den Heer
    3. Glria Dei
    4. Gereformeedre
    5. Martini Brassband

  • Saturday 26, 14:16:55

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    A patriotic victory in 10 parts...

    It has been a long Second Section contest here this morning (now well into the afternoon). It's been very enjoyable however despite the interminable delays to move percussion between bands.

    David gave it a good crack under the baton of Wilbert Zwier — in what was perhaps the most coherent reading of a tricky score today. Too many little errors and smudges will cost them, but the music had a lovely flow and a sense of stylish atmosphere.

    Much the same fate befell De Bazuin B to close under Sietse Hamersma — a passionate, articulate appreciation of the score just undermined by nervousness in some lead lines and occasional ragged phrasing and tiredness.

  • Saturday 26, 13:24:25

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    Impressive playing on show...

    Another brace of well led renditions from bands who certainly play with confidence on stage.

    Schoonhoven B (Paul van Dalen) gave a performance that had character and a well defined sense of style. Just a few too many little errors took the gloss off the portrait it painted — smudging the ensemble balance and just raising an eyebrow or two in some solo lines. Plenty to admire though, but it may just struggle to make a major prize winning impression today.

    Gloria Dei (Jaap Musschenga) could well feature after delivering a performance that had such a well judged balance between the lyrical and the power laden. The little estempe dance was a gem. Passionate but not over-wrought, it was delivered with clear understanding of intent (just the odd moment of unease) and purpose. Bravo.

  • Saturday 26, 12:34:12

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    A call to arms...

    The Dutch are well known for their liberal approach to life and their respect for the modern monarchy, but in olden times they certainly got their gander up for a fight with their rulers.

    That said, some of that old revolutionary spirit still seeps through the veins in a few of the approaches to Jan de Haan's engrossing test-piece today.

    The more successful bands have been led by generals at the helm who have employed their resources with intelligence — tempering dynamic excesses, playing long, well shaped phrases and allowing time for the solo lines to be played with cultured musicality.

    Those who have simply let them run amok like Beserkers have run to heavy losses — raw and exciting for sure, but ultimately losing control.

    Two cases in point.

    Gereformeerde Brassband (above) — bold, brash, feverish and occasionally frenetic under Jan Werkman (who won the Third Division title yesterday).

    Great excitement and raw power by the bucketful, but the music lost balance and its stylish character. Just a little OTT.

    Constantijn Huygens with Richard Visser at the helm trod a more considered line.

    It certainly had the power outage, but was balanced with a touch of refinement when required too. The end result a more persuasive, evocative account that used the rapier as well as the broadsword to cut a swath through royalist ranks.

    Both were impressive shows in their different ways though.

  • Saturday 26, 11:40:03

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    Patriot gains and losses...

    Two more well directed performances to enjoy in what is becoming an absorbing Second Division contest.

    The wily Rieks van der Velde directed Martini Brassband to live up to their name — anytime, any place anywhere stuff.

    Bold, a little raw at times, but certainly full of colour, exciting character and drive. It was a bit like having the Patriots NFL quarterback Tom Brady directing the moves — pointing the way to the touchdown zone helped by two great wide receivers on horn and flugel.

    It was followed by another rendition from Der Lofklank under Gerk Huisma that left nothing in the locker room either. This was primary colour stuff, just robbed off its vibrancy by some poor intonation and scruffy edges.

    Got a bit 'storming the gates of the Winter Palace' by its close, but certainly captured the revolutionary spirit of the music.

  • Saturday 26, 10:57:11

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    Gijs the guy

    The contest opens with two impressive performances from Looft den Heer and defending champion Excelsior Ferwert (above) — both conducted by the talented Gijs Heusinkveld.

    He may be small in stature (he uses the Arthur Kenney Memorial conductor's box to stand on) but he paints big pictures full of atmosphere, detail and colour. Lots to admire about his approach to the score — bringing the textures out in the muted playing, keeping a tight leash on the dynamics and pacing.

    It enables him to draw some fine playing from around the stands with both bands (especially the sops and flugels) with a stylish sense of the old and modern inflections of the score. The little estampe dance was so well portrayed in both.

    Little to choose between them for us, with Looft just having the edge, but two fine bands to start.

  • Saturday 26, 10:31:34

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    Patriot impressions

    Jan de Haan is such a skilful writer for brass bands — and he shows the full panoply of his extensive skill set with this work.

    At 15 minutes long, its a hefty slab of contesting meat, especially for Second Division level, but there is a lean, sinewy thought process that links the body parts together. The underlying theme is visited time and again, but in different guises and forms — a bit like an undercover agent working against the crown in these 18th century revolutionary times.

    Clever use of colour and texture to camouflage things too — and there is a delicacy about the music that doesn't require too much 'storm the gates' bloody sacrifice of the players. It's there when required though.

    The minor key melodies and renaissance touches with the music evoke atmosphere, foreboding and final climactic passion. The little estampe dance is a gem.

    Plenty of tests for the players all around the stands and a wide spectrum of dynamic, colour and pace (three perc players can cope well) make for a super piece of test-piece writing.

  • Saturday 26, 09:47:16

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    Second Division:

    Adjudicators: Sheona White, Patrik Randefalk, Kevin Houben


    1. Looft den Heer (Gijs Heusinkveld)
    2. Excelsior Ferwert (Gijs Heusinkveld)
    3. Martini Brass band (Rieks van der Velde)
    4. Der Lofklank (Gerk Huisma)
    5. Gereformeerde Brass band (Jan Werkman)
    6. Brass band Constantijn Huygens (Richard Visser)
    7. Brass band Schoonhoven B (Paul van Dalen)
    8. Gloria Dei (Jaap Musschenga)
    9. Brass band David (Wilbert Zwier)
    10. De Bazuin Oenkerk B (Sietse Hamersma)

  • Saturday 26, 09:40:21

    Good morning from Utrecht...

    After a very enjoyable Friday afternoon and evening of Fourth and Third Division playing it's a 10.00am start today for the action in the Second, First and Championship Sections.

    More interesting pieces to come too — starting with Jan de Haan's 'The Patriots' — nothing to do with anything Donald Trump chirps on about with his 'Make America Great Again' diatribes — but an intriguing tale of 18th century Dutch patriotism at a time of great turmoil and political instability.

    Reminds you of anything...?

    This was all about the 'divine power' of regents more interested in self-interest than they were in advocating for the good of the population.

    A civil war saw 'The Patriots' inspired to overthrow the status quo, but were defeated by the introduction of the the Prussian Army.

    The composition does not retell the story but is an evocation of time, place and passion, based on the song 'Merck anyway how sterck', which was used by the fighters and which originated in an earlier conflict between the people of the Netherlands and Spain 80 years before.

    It remains the constant thematic thread — weaved into the work in different forms and guises but always recognisable.

    Those with revolutionary blood in their veins may well enjoy this one then...

  • Friday 25, 22:56:54

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    2019 Champions: Immanuel celebrate

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    2019 Champion: Immanuel

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    Runner-up: Backum Brass

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    Third place: Greidebrass

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    Best Section: Percussion of Immanuel


    Third Division:

    Adjudicators: Sheona White, Patrik Randefalk, Kevin Houben

    1. Immanuel (Jan Werkman) — 93
    2. Backum Brass (Vincent Verhage) — 91
    3. Chr. Brass band Greidebrass (Marco Middelberg) — 90
    4. De Nije Bazun (Jaap Wils) — 89
    5. Apollo (Piet Visser) — 88
    6. Chr. Brass band Hosannah (Jappie Kuipers) — 87
    7. Kunst en Vriendschap (Henk van Loon) — 86
    8. Halleluja (Ido Gerard Kempenaar) — 85

    Best Section: Percussion (Immanuel)

  • Friday 25, 22:50:27

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    2019 Champion: Brass band Heman celebrate

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    2019 Champions: Brass band Heman

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    Runner-up: Blaast de Bazuin

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    Best Soloist: Brass Band Heman


    Fourth Division:

    Adjudicators: Sheona White, Patrik Randefalk, Kevin Houben

    1. Brass band Heman (Aline Werkman-Schipper) — 92
    2. Blaast de Bazuin (Piet Visser) — 90
    3. Chr. Brass band Euphonia (Paulus de Jong) — 89
    4. Chr. brass band Westersweach (Reimer Jan Rondaan) — 87
    5. Brass band Wilhelmina (Jaap Hoekstra) — 85
    6. Euregio Brass band (Ronny Buurink) — 84
    7. UDI (Johan Postma) — 83

    Best Soloist: Euphonium (Brass band Heman)

  • Friday 25, 22:13:41

    Results soon...

    The results ceremony for the Third and Fourth Divisions will start soon. As soon as we have the full set of results we will put them up on the site before we head for the hotel and a cool glass of something with a late night kick...

  • Friday 25, 22:07:48

    Third Division round-up and prediction

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    What a cracking piece from the pen of Stan Nieuwenhuis — 'A Buoy' of optimism, joyfulness and cool sophisticated jazz. Loved it — and the best bands played it with a sense of defined style — even if the top two were almost diametrically different in their approach. Hope we get to hear it again — and soon.

    Greidebrass for us — a super show full of nuance and stylised intent and had the elemental touch and feel for the music.

    Just behind them its Immanuel for us — with a solid, confident traditional brass band version full of detail and endeavour. The stylish Backum get the nod for third for us with from Apollo.

    4BR Prediction:

    1. Greidebrass
    2. Immanuel
    3. Backum Brass
    4. Apollo

  • Friday 25, 21:56:54

    A buoy full of contest optimism...

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    We've been treated to two very good test-pieces in the Fourth and now Third Division today — and the contest has also been rounded off with a brace of quality renditions.

    First came a super show from Greidebrass led by MD Marco Middleberg (above), who directed without the benefit of a score but who certainly had every little nuance and detail in his noggin.

    He was also the only MD who successfully managed to capture the colour as well as the spatial element of the 'off stage' ensembles — although his were standing at the side of the stage, and used a variety of practice mutes to sound 'distant'. It worked a treat though in what was a totally coherent reading and execution of the score.

    It was followed by Immanuel led with solid endeavour and confidence by MD Jan Werkman. Lots to enjoy here as well — detailed, determined and boldly coloured. The groove of the final section had a touch of funk juice in the veins.

  • Friday 25, 21:05:33

    Halleluja and Hossanah

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    There is a great tradition of bands with old Christian church links in the country, so little surprise that we get Halleluja (above) followed by Hossanah (there's also an Immanuel in the section too).

    Both may have needed a little touch of omnipotent inspiration to make the music spring to life like Lazarus though, but they were pretty good nonetheless. The pair gave solid, artisan renditions, just in need of a little more evangelical zeal.

    It's also a work that needs to feel the spirit (holy not necessarily) of the music more than anything too — just playing the notes doesn't make it jump off the page.

    Those who have managed to capture that cool, swaggering throb like a purring V12 engine on an old Ford Mustang have struck the elemental quality required — those who haven't have sounded like an electric hybrid car with an attitude.

  • Friday 25, 20:26:54

    Youngsters becoming stars...

    There have been some great young players strutting their stuff here today — notably on percussion.

    Congratulations to the young lad on kit with De Nije Bazun in particular — who played like a veteran of many a dark night in an Amsterdam jazz club. Stylish, confident and bang on keeping the music moving forward.

    He certainly contributed in full to a solid showing from his band.

  • Friday 25, 20:10:53

    Getting a whiff of crystal Metheny...

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    'A Buoy' really is a super bit of writing. From ebbing waves of sound at the opening to the sub-zero cool sophistication of the closing section that has a groove sunk deeper into the soul than the Marianas trench.

    This is music of feel, touch and taste — with the spatial awareness (above) required by the score (off stage small ensembles) that gives a wonderful detached feeling to the soundscape of opaque textures.

    Backum Brass is the one band that has come closest to it so far — relaxed as if in a haze of Amsterdam's best spliffy greenery.

    They brought character to the music — getting a constancy of pulse that drove the music on even in its lyrical sections — echoing of the coolest dude music of Pat Metheny.

  • Friday 25, 19:36:01

    Bobbling, bubbling buoys...

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    The first two performances offer an intriguing example of how two conductors can approach a work in different ways.

    Both Apollo, led by Piet Visser, and Kunst en Vriendschap, conducted Henk van Loon (above), captured the pulse and throb of the musical undercurrents, but where Visser's had a persistent, measured pace relaxed and languid, van Loon's was more frenetic and skittish.

    Both brought the music to life though — but in totally different, enjoyable ways. The groove of Apollo to close really did have a cool swagger, whilst Kunst had a meaty, arterial rawness.

    Super piece and given engaging performances of note but from diametric opposites.

  • Friday 25, 19:15:13

    All about the buoy...

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    The Third Division work is called 'A Buoy' and was written by Belgian composer Stan Nieuwenhuis for these Championships.

    It symbolises through the music a metaphorical sense of positivity and optimism that can always surface even in times of great turmoil and struggle.

    The inspiration behind the piece is the composers’s son Rover to whom it is dedicated.

    It's a work of contrasting soundscapes and rhythmic structures — from the ebb of wave lengths of the music to open to the clam melancholy of the central section. A sense of dynamism is heard at other times — each pulsating with under currents of movement and percussive drive.

    The variants are marked — originally played by the flugel horn but then encompassing strictness, free energy, that cool melancholia and a final groovy finale — with echoes of Pat Metheny — ultimately joyful and uplifting.

  • Friday 25, 19:01:31

    Third Division:


    Adjudicators: Sheona White, Patrik Randefalk, Kevin Houben

    1. Apollo (Piet Visser)
    2. Kunst en Vriendschap (Henk van Loon)
    3. Backum Brass (Vincent Verhage)
    4. De Nije Bazun (Jaap Wils)
    5. Halleluja (Ido Gerard Kempenaar)
    6. Chr. Brass band Hosannah (Jappie Kuipers)
    7. Chr. Brass band Greidebrass (Marco Middelberg)
    8. Immanuel (Jan Werkman)

  • Friday 25, 18:38:30

    Something to enjoy in the intermission...

  • Friday 25, 18:02:29

    Fourth Division round-up and prediction...

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    What a great start to the weekend here in Utrecht. A super little piece that brought out the best from the seven competitors — each so well led by their conductors.

    Perhaps not the hardest work, but its needed musical thought in its style, pacing and dynamic to work well. And each band did just that.

    The classiest performance for us came from the last band Hema, led with such musical insight by Aline Werkman-Schipper. They were super. Just behind may well be UDI with Blaast de Bazuin and Westersweach.

    Top four prediction:

    1. Heman
    2. UDI
    3. Blaast de Bazuin
    4. Westersweach.

  • Friday 25, 17:49:05

    A short, sweet and super Sinfonietta contest...

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    If only all Fourth Division contests were like this...

    The competitive action is rounded off by another well directed duo — this time from Brass band Wilhelmina conducted by Jaap Hoekstra and Brass band Heman led by Aline Werkman-Schipper.

    Wilhelmina is named after the old Queen — who reigned from 1890 — 1948 — and they did her proud too. Some little issues around intonation and it just needed a bit of drive in places, but it was another performance intelligently directed from the middle.

    A big cheer for Brass band Heman, who were in the First Division a few years ago, but who are now rebuilding under the elegant baton of Aline Werkman-Schipper.

    It was a very impressive performance too — bold but not rugged, and with such a nicely honed sense of musicality — phrased so well in line and dynamic. Mature music making in thought from the conductor and execution from the players that.

    Fine stuff. A delight to listen to.

  • Friday 25, 17:22:27

    The jury ready for work

    This was taken before a band had played!

  • Friday 25, 17:07:12

    Another good brace...

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    This is turning out to be a very enjoyable contest — thanks to the piece of course, but also because the MDs are treating it with a great deal of musical respect.

    It's been good to hear the lack of aggression in the playing — no 'up and at 'em' belts and braces approach. This has had the mark of more than a few grams of considered musical intellect fuelling the playing.

    Plenty to enjoy with Chr. brass band Westersweach under Reimer Jan Rondaan. Just a little untidy in places, but neatly presented with a clearly defined sense of style.

    It was followed by Euphonia under Paulus de Jong (above) with a confident approach. Just the occasional rub of intonation, but the lyrical sentiments of the MD were appreciated as was the well paced 'Trittico' drive to the close.

  • Friday 25, 16:39:18

    Lots to enjoy

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    It's good to hear the Fourth Division bands here given a test-piece that has a maturity of musical thought about it. There is nothing dumbed down about Etienne Crausaz's 'Sinfonietta' — just neat simplicity, good basic structures and a flowing sense of progress.

    The technical tests are within the capabilities of the players, the percussion writing adds colour and interest and the end result is a work that has a sense of defined purpose.

    It certainly brought the best of of UDI led by an excellent young MD in Johan Postma (above).

    The band sound was warm and so well balanced, the pacing excellent and the approach musical and malleable. Solid soloists were backed by an equally secure ensemble and excellent percussion (with a special mention to the young lad on clash cymbals who was nearly blown away in the back draft after bringing them together!)

  • Friday 25, 16:11:26

    Early Sinfonietta impressions

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    Two bands have taken to the stage and two bands have given well shaped, warmly toned performances.

    Bravo to Euregio Brassband (above) on what I'm told is their first appearance at the National Championships. They hail from the east of the country close to the German border — so hopefully that will now become regular competitors — the basis of a solid band was certainly heard.

    Bravo — a few little moments of unease but a warmly band sound and a fine sense of style throughout.

    The second band was Blaast de Bazuin conducted by the experienced Piet Visser. We've enjoyed this chap in action over the last few years and he certainly knows how to structure and balance a band.

    It's another stylish performance too — a neat mix of vim and vigour balanced with well-shaped lyrical interludes. A touch of classiness about that.

    As for the piece?

    Engaging for sure — and surprisingly short too. Little hints of Gregson's 'Laudate Dominum' and 'Connotations' as well as that repetitive drive of James Curnow's 'Trittico'. Neatly structured and musically interesting.

  • Friday 25, 15:37:02

    Fourth Division:


    Adjudicators: Sheona White, Patrik Randefalk, Kevin Houben

    1. Euregio Brass band (Ronny Buurink)
    2. Blaast de Bazuin (Piet Visser)
    3. UDI (Johan Postma)
    4. Chr. brass band Westersweach (Reimer Jan Rondaan)
    5. Chr. Brass band Euphonia (Paulus de Jong)
    6. Brass band Wilhelmina (Jaap Hoekstra)
    7. Brass band Heman (Aline Werkman-Schipper)

  • Friday 25, 15:28:26

    Fourth Division:

    The seven competitors in the Fourth Division will tackle 'Sinfonietta No 4' — composed for the 28th Fete Cantonale des Musiques Vaudois in 2018 by the talented Swiss composer Etienne Crausaz.

    Its a splendid work — full of vitality and clever nuance built around a basic framework that is lyrical and transparent. Elements of contrapuntal style that hark back to the Renaissance period is linked to modern harmonies with the Wilbyesque use of the cornet and euphonium (rubato cadenzas) in the central section. It then builds to an exciting climax in 3/4 time — that should get to one in a bar speed to close.

    A good test-piece on paper (around 9 mins in duration), so let's see how the competitors get on...

    Competing bands:

    Blaast de Bazuin (Piet Visser)
    Brass band Heman (Aline Werkman-Schipper)
    Brass band Wilhelmina (Jaap Hoekstra)
    Chr. Brass band Euphonia (Paulus de Jong)
    Chr. brass band Westersweach (Reimer Jan Rondaan)
    Euregio Brass band (Ronny Buurink)
    UDI (Johan Postma)

  • Friday 25, 15:01:49

    Getting ready for the start...

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    It's always he same anywhere in the banding world. Last minute preparations being undertaken by contest organisers to ensure everything is in place for the official start time.

    Its kicks off here at 3.45pm with the seven bands competing in the Fourth Section, followed by the Third. It's hoped that everything will be rounded off by 10.30pm with the results.

    The good thing though is that the trophies are all back and shined up ready to be claimed...

  • Friday 25, 11:22:33

    Good morning from Utrecht...

    Welcome to our coverage of the 2019 Netherlands National Brass Band Championships from the Tivolivredenburg in Utrecht.

    The city continues to undergo a great deal of structural change — with the central area around the hall completely transformed since the European Championships were held here a couple of years ago.

    As a venue for a major championship there are not many in the world as easy to get to. You can step off your flight into Amsterdam, get straight on a train to Utrecht (about 40 mins and costing around 20 euros) and then get off at the railway station and walk five minutes to your hotel and a further 2 minutes to the hall.

    There is a vibrant night life and the hall itself has just about everything you need under one roof — from bars and restaurants to additional attractions.

    The action starts this afternoon, so some time to have a wander around and go Dutch before its some great music making to enjoy.

  • Friday 25, 09:19:09


    Friday 25 October

    14.15hrs Draw 4th division
    15.40hrs Opening by the NBK chairman Pieter van Diepen
    15.45hrs Start 4th division (7 bands)
    17.00hrs Draw 3rd division
    19.00hrs Start 3rd division (8 bands )
    22.15hrs *Announcement of results

    Saturday 26 October

    8.45hrs Draw 2nd division
    9.55hrs Opening by NBK chairman Pieter van Diepen
    10.00hrs Start 2nd division (10 bands)
    13.00hrs First division draw
    14.30hrs Start of 1st division (6 bands)
    15.30hrs Draw of the Champion Division
    17.00hrs * Announcement of the results of the 2nd and 1st Division and award ceremony
    19.00hrs Start of the Champion Division (8 bands)
    23.15hrs * Announcement of the results of the Champion Division and prize distribution.

    * Times are subject to change.

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