2020 4BR Awards
The Nominations

The long list of 4BR annual award nominations that will be considered by our panel of judges has been released.

2020 has been a year unlike any other. There has been no precedent to compare to. 

As a result the banding world has been challenged in way that it could in no way predict or control. However bleak the outlook though, the response has been heartening, even if there may still be further frustrations ahead.

The 4BR nominations this year in each category therefore reflect the proactive responses to, as well as the excellence displayed, in producing brass band music in its varied forms and formats throughout the past 12 months – especially responses that have reached out beyond our traditional self-possessed boundaries. 

The nominations will be presented to an international panel of critics and informed observers who will give their top three in each category.  The results will be collated by 4BR with any casting vote in the event of a tie decided by the 4BR Editor.

The results will be announced on New Year’s Eve.

2020 Band of the Year

With the usual contesting schedule curtailed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, one obvious measurement of success and excellence changed somewhat.

However, some elements of contesting did remain in place although it soon became apparent that bands had to take a very different approach to their musical outlook if they were survive let alone prosper.

Each of the nominations did it in their own way – admirably so; from online competitions to teaching and tutoring, social interaction and community connections, interviews, long term education projects, cross genre initiatives and recordings that reached out to new audiences.     

They are approaches that will serve them, and others inspired by them, well in the years to come. 


Amersham Band
Black Dyke 
Brass Band Willebroek 
Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern
Eikanger Bjorsvik
Fulham Brass Band
National Brass Band of New Zealand

Past Winners:
2019: Cory
2018: Valaisia Brass Band
2017: Eikanger Bjorsvik
2016: Cory
2015: Cory
2014: Black Dyke
2013: Cory
2012: Foden's
2011: Brighouse & Rastrick
2010: Tredegar
2009: Cory
2008: Cory
2007: Grimethorpe Colliery Band
2006: Grimethorpe Colliery (UK Coal) Band
2005: Black Dyke
2004: Yorkshire Building Society
2003: Yorkshire Building Society
2002: Foden's Richardson
2001: Yorkshire Building Society

2020 Conductor of the Year

As with the bands, conductors were also faced with unprecedented musical as well as financial challenges in 2020.

The early part of the year offered an enticing, if frustratingly limited contesting indicator of who could be the ones to make a mark during the forthcoming season with their bands.

However, others also came into focus leading initiatives, projects and exciting new developments as the year progressed – becoming a focal point of keeping their bands and organisations at the forefront of the movement, as well as reaching out to potential new audiences and support.


David Bremner (National Band of New Zealand)
Nicholas Childs (Black Dyke)
Tom Davoren (University of Kansas)
Paul Fisher (Amersham Band)
Michael Fowles (Foden’s)
Michael Garasi (Brass Band of Battle Creek)
Martin Hall (Tewit Silver Band)
Philip Harper (Cory)
Ian Porthouse (Tredegar)
Allan Withington (Stavanger)

Past Winners:
2019: Philip Harper
2018: Arsene Duc
2017: Ingar Bergby
2016: Philip Harper
2015: Philip Harper
2014: Nicholas Childs
2013: Philip Harper
2012: Allan Withington
2011: David King
2010: Ian Porthouse
2009: Robert Childs
2008: Robert Childs
2007: Allan Withington
2006: Allan Withington
2005: Nicholas Childs
2004: Ray Farr
2003: David King
2002: Russell Gray
2001: David King

2020 Player of the Year

The traditional mark of excellence on the contest stage may well have been missing for the vast majority of 2020, although the peculiar circumstances that arose from Covid-19 did give rise to inventive opportunities for players who also saw it as an exciting challenge for their own professional development in other areas as well. 

Players therefore made their mark in different ways – from the promotion of recorded CD releases, to on-line tuition, masterclasses, video production and presentations. Some even combined it all together.  

A number of multi-talented performers were already exploring the new possibilities social media provided before the lockdown really took hold, but for us, these were the players that came to the fore on the contest and competition stage, concert platform, recording studio, podcast, online zoom and video production platforms amongst other initiatives. 


John Barber (Foden’s)
Chris Bradley (Whitburn)
Gary Curtin (Foden’s)
Richard Marshall (Black Dyke)
Steven Mead (freelance)
Arfon Owen (Stavanger)
Harmen Vanhoorne (North Shore Brass)
Robbert Voss (Brass Band Schoonhoven)
Ali Woodman (Cory)
Yu-Han Yang (Tredegar)

Past Winners:
2019: Tom Hutchinson
2018: Chris Thomas
2017: David Morton
2016: Helen Williams
2015: David Childs
2014: David Childs
2013: Glenn Van Looy
2012: Steve Stewart
2011: Glen Van Looy
2010: David Childs
2009: Mark Wilkinson
2008: Peter Moore
2007: Hans Gansch
2006: Katrina Marzella
2005: David Childs
2004: David Childs
2003: Martin Winter
2002: Morgan Griffiths
2001: Peter Roberts

2020 Test Piece of the Year

A hard one to call this year for obvious reasons - as we didn’t get to hear what would have been some eagerly awaited works at the European, British Open, National Finals and around Europe and the rest of the world (4BR was due to stop off in Australia this year)   

Still, there was some great original music to enjoy from composers both emerging as well as established, with these nominations all making a lasting impression on the musical mind.


'A Bournemouth Suite' (Benjamin Tubb) –  performed at Fourth Section Butlins Mineworkers Championship
'Amundsen' (Jonathan Bates) – performed at Second Division Norwegian National Championship 
'Bipolar(ity)' (Stijn Aertgeert) – performed at First Division Norwegian National Championship
'Endurance' (Andrew Baker) – performed at Third Section UK Regional Championships
'Legacy' (Tom Davoren) – performed at the First Section UK Regional Championships
'Midnight Butterflies' (Lars Nygard) - performed at Elite Division Norwegian National Championship
'Myth Forest' (Stig Nordhagen) - performed at Elite Division Norwegian National Championship (set-work)
'Neverland' (Christopher Bond) - performed at the Fourth Section UK Regional Championships
'The Golden Sabre' (Kit Turnball) - performed at the Second Section UK Regional Championships
'Venom – HorrorShow II' (Simon Dobson) - performed at Elite Division Norwegian National Championship

Past Winners:
2019: Dear Cassandra… (Ludovic Neurohr) 
2018: Concerto Grosso (Derek Bourgeois)
2017: Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)
2016: Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)
2015: The God Particle (Rolf Rudin)
2014: Vita Aeterna Variations (Ed de Boer writing as Alexander Comitas)
2013: Of Distant Memories (Music in an Olden Style) (Edward Gregson)
2012: Goldberg 2012 (Svein Henrik Giske)
2011: Breath of Souls (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
2010: Saint Saens Variations (Philip Sparke)
2009: Titan's Progress (Hermann Pallhuber)
2008: The Dark Side of the Moon (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
2007: Music for Battle Creek (Philip Sparke)
2006: Vienna Nights (Philip Wilby)
2005: Eden (Dr. John Pickard)
2004: St. Magnus (Kenneth Downie)
2003: Festival Music (Eric Ball)
2002: Masquerade (Philip Wilby)
2001: Albion (Jan Van der Roost)

2020 Lower Section Band of the Year

Although it has been an exceptionally challenging year for bands at all levels, there is little doubt that it is community bands below the very top strata of competition that may well find it more difficult than most to return to pre 2020 ‘norms’.

However, many have been proactive is tackling the long term challenges, with countless examples of fantastic interactive approaches – from weekly quiz nights and get-togethers to guest interviews, online contest performances, guest masterclasses, heritage and community projects as well as returning to regular rehearsals by implementing strong, fit for purpose Covid-19 compliant initiatives.  

There were so many super examples to choose from, but these are the ones that have shown the way for us – from contest stage success to community engagement.  


Tewit Silver 
Brass Band BlechKLANG
Coalburn Silver
Downshire Brass 
Eccles Borough Band
Youth Brass 2000
National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain
National Youth Brass Band of Scotland 
National Secondary Schools’ Band of New Zealand 

Past Winners:
2019: Wardle Academy Youth 
2018: Oldham Band (Lees)
2017: BD1 Brass
2016: Youth Brass 2000
2015: Ebbw Valley
2014: Manger Skulemusikklag
2013: National Children's Band of Great Britain
2012: National Youth Band of Great Britain
2011: Bjorsvik Brass
2010: Hazel Grove Band
2009: Oldham (Lees) Band
2008: Smithills Schools Senior Band
2007: Sellers International Youth Band
2006: Pennine Brass
2005: Marsden Riverhead Brewery Band
2004: Smithills School Senior Band
2003: Smithills School Senior Band
2002: St. Dennis Band
2001: Peter Hawke Garages Lindley Band

2020 Contest Performance of the Year

Another difficult one given the circumstances faced by bands this year, but there were still some stunning ‘live’ contest performances to savour in the early part of the season and some brilliantly inventive ones in the virtual sphere as we progressed.

These ones stood out for us though on our limited travels and from the comfort of home. 


Black Dyke (‘A Tale As Yet Untold’ - Championship Section Yorkshire Regional Championship)
Downshire Brass (Own Choice set - First Section Cory online Championships)  
Eccles Borough (‘Symphonic Episodes for Brass Band’ - First Section Butlins Mineworkers Championship)
Fountain City (Own choice set - Championship Section Cory Online Championships)
Kippax Band (‘Endurance’ - Third Section Yorkshire Regional Championship)
Manger Musikklag (‘Midnight’s Butterflies’ - Elite Division Norwegian National Championship)
Nailsworth Silver (‘Neverland’ - Fourth Section West of England Regional Championship)
Stavanger (‘Myth Forest’ - Elite Division Norwegian National Championship)
Tewit Silver (‘Endurance’ - Third Section North of England Regional Championship)
Tredegar (‘A Tale As Yet Untold’ - Championship Section Welsh Regional Championship)

Past Winners:
2019: Cory – Titan’s Progress (National Championship of Great Britain)
2018: Manger Musikklag (Siddis Entertainment Championship)
2017: Eikanger Bjorsvik — Fraternity (European Championship)
2016: Cory — The Triumph of Time (British Open Championship)
2015: Cory — Spiriti (National Championship of Great Britain)
2014: Brass Band Bugermusik Luzern — Trance (Swiss National Championship)
2013: Tredegar — Arabian Nights (Fantasy on Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade for Brass Band) (British Open Championship)
2012: Foden's — Daphnis et Chloe (National Championship of Great Britain)
2011: Cory — Red Priest (British Open Championship)
2010: Fairey (Geneva) — Eden (English National Championship)
2009: Fountain City Brass Band — Dreams (Scottish Open Championship)
2008: Eikanger Bjorsvik — Riffs & Interludes (Norwegian Championship)
2007: Brass Band Oberosterreich — Titan's Progress (European Championship)
2006: Black Dyke — Vienna Nights (British Open Championship)
2005: Black Dyke — Journey to the Centre of the Earth (European Championship)
2004: Black Dyke — Montage (British Open Championship)
2003: Buy As You View Cory — Revelation (European Championship)
2002: Yorkshire Building Society — Concerto Grosso (European Championship)
2001: Foden's — Les Preludes (British Open Championship)

2020 Newcomer of the Year

2020 provided ample, if enforced opportunities for newcomers to make their mark in many different and inventive ways. 

It was so encouraging to enjoy the proactive, exciting approaches taken in exploring the possibilities for what for the brass band movement is a new ‘virtual’ online medium, whilst it was also pleasing that a number of welcome initiatives also tackled long overdue issues too.  


B.A.N.D. (Bandspeople’s Alliance to Negate Discrimination)
Besson Fridays at Home (Online series)
BrassPass Online Recital Series: (BrassPasstv)
Cory Band: (Online Championships)
Foden’s  Band (Online Whit Friday and Solo Championships)
National Youth Brass Band at Home (Online annual course)
RNCM Brass Band Festival: (Women in Brass Bands presentation and discussion)  
Ryan Bradley: (Social media productions for Whitburn Band and others) 
Tabby Kerwin (Brass on the Mind - Mental Health Awareness in Brass Bands) 
WobPlay: (Online subscription streaming service and recordings platform)  

Past Winners:
2019: Sky Arts – Battle of the Bands television series 
2018: Thomas Nielsen
2017: Ingar Bergby
2016: Thierry Deleruyelle
2015: Dark Arteries — Rambert Ballet and Tredegar Band
2014: The Band of the King's Division
2013: Korpsfiksert! — Eikanger Bjorsvik television series
2012: Brass in Concert
2011: Venezuelan Brass Ensemble
2010: Exit Brass
2009: Lucy Pankhurst
2008: Paul Duffy
2007: Proms Brass Day
2006: English National Championship
2005: Brass Band Aid
2004: The National Children's Band of Great Britain
2003: Emma Farrow
2002: Simon Dobson

2020 CD of the Year

Although the overall number of band and ensemble CDs brought onto the market this year was down for understandable reasons, the quality certainly wasn’t - with a host of outstanding releases to enjoy in different genres.

The very best were not just examples of wonderful playing, but also of musical insight and appreciation of the repertoire performed. 


Experimental Brass
The Amsterdam Brass Quintet
Thomas Piet, Thomas Geerts, Misha Sporck, Rolf Hoogenberg, John William Banther
Featuring: David Thornton, Ilja Reijngoud
CD: ABQ:001
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd676.asp

The Music of Stephen Bulla
Brass of the Potomac
Conductor: Stephen Bulla
Guest Soloist: Joseph Alessi
de Haske Recordings: CD DHR 03 067-3
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd681.asp

Hidenori Arai, Kyohei Ando, Taishi Furumoto, Gideon Juckes
Bell Recordings: R-2050507
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd679.asp

Gregson: Music of the Angels
Works for Symphonic Brass and Percussion
London Brass
Conductors: Rumon Gamba & Edward Gregson
CHANDOS Recordings: CD CHAN 20127
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd665.asp

John Rutter: Anthems, Hymns and Gloria for Brass Band
Black Dyke Band
Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus
Conductor: Darius Battiwalla
Naxos Recordings: 8.574130
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd678.asp

Cory Band
Conductor: Philip Harper
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD400
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd677.asp

Nigel Clarke - Mysteries of the Horizon
Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Conductors: Nigel Clarke, David Thornton, Sandy Smith
Soloist: Harmen Vanhoorne
Naxos Recordings: 8.574097
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd671.a

Preludes, Rags and Cakewalks
Debussy, Joplin and the influence of ragtime on French music
The Symphonic Brass of London
Conductor: Eric Crees
MPR Recordings: MPR005
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd668.asp

Symphonies for Brass
The Brass Music of Derek B. Scott
Black Dyke Band
Conductor: Prof Nicholas J. Childs
World of Sound Recordings: WOS 155
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd664.asp

The Origin of the Species
Virtuoso Victorian Brass Music
The Wallace Collection
Conductor: Simon Wright
Soloist: John Wallace
Nimbus Recordings: NI 5470
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd674.asp

Past Winners:
2019: The Music of Bliss & Howells (Brighouse & Rastrick)
2018: Metropolis — Black Dyke
2017: Dances & Arias — Black Dyke
2016: War Memorials — Cory Band & Tredegar Band
2015: Dark Arteries — Tredegar Band
2014: Gaia Symphony — Eikanger Bjorsvik
2013: When Worlds Collide (The Music of Nigel Clarke) — Brass Band Buizingen
2012: Masquerade — Foden's
2011: Only for You: The Music of Paul Lovatt-Cooper — Black Dyke
2010: Romeo & Juliet — Eikanger Bjorsvik
2009: Maestro — Foden's
2008: New Music for Brass Band — Foden's
2007: Vienna Nights — Black Dyke
2006: Heaton: Volume 4 — Black Dyke
2005: Tales and Stories — Eikanger Bjorsvik
2004: Music of the Spheres — Yorkshire Building Society
2003: Bourgeois in Brass — Yorkshire Building Society
2002: The Heaton Collection — Black Dyke and the ISB
2001: Butterworth — Black Dyke


2020 Solo CD of the Year

Despite the restrictions that would have made recording nigh on impossible this year, there has still been an encouraging crop of high quality solo CDs that have been released or re-released as part of new projects.

What has been particularly pleasing has been the variety on show – from seriously minded concerto and recital performance repertoire to mixed easy listening, works from the past and those very much with an eye on the future.

It’s been one of the joys (and there have been so few this year) to hear players really pushing the boundaries in all directions. 

Here are the ten nominations that really hit the mark for us…


Sophie Binet-Budelot
Featuring: Sophie Thevenard, Richard Ferri, Marie Roger, Pierre-Antoine Savoyat, David Maillot, Gaelle Francois, Lucile Bailly, Stephanie Mouchet, Alexandre Roussel
CD: sdrm 001
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd659.asp

Alexis Demailly and Bastien Baumet
Brass Band Fribourg
Conductor: Maurice Donnet-Monay
Bacem Recording: BE004
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd685.asp

Eire Time
Gary Curtin
Foden's Band
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD401
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd682.asp

Music for Isolation
Rie Takeuchi & Gideon Juckes
Digital Album
Gururiyoza Records
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd672.asp

Peter Steiner
Featuring: Constance Hochwartner (piano)
Berlin Classics
CD 0301298BC
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd667.asp

Richard Marshall
Black Dyke Band
Conductors: Prof Nicholas Childs; Elgar Howarth
Doyen Recordings: CD399
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd680.asp

Step Out
Glenn Van Looy
Tredegar Town Band
Conductor: Ian Porthouse
Doyen Recordings: CD397
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd660.asp

The Birth of Time Echoes
Tim De Maeseneer
Featuring: Brass Band Willebroek
Conductor: Frans Violet
Recordings: CD Multidisc.be
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd666.asp

The Golden Age of the 19th Century Brass Virtuoso Vol.1
John Wallace (cornet); Anthony George (ophicleide)
Piano accompanists: Aaron Shorr; Simon Wright
TWC Recordings: TWC-FR2020-003
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd684.asp

The Romantic Cornet — Music for Cornet and Piano
Frank Anepool
Pianist: Vaughan Schlepp
Globe Records: CD 8711525527607
4BR Review: https://www.4barsrest.com/reviews/products/cd686.asp

Past Winners:
2019: The Symphonic Euphonium II - David Childs 
2018: Life Force — Peter Moore
2017: The Demonic Virtuoso — Owen Farr
2016: Fantasy — Philip Cobb
2015: Parallel Realities — David Thornton
2014: The Symphonic Euphonium — David Childs
2013: Stories of Life — Glenn Van Looy
2012: Diamonds — Steven Mead
2011: Dreaming of the Masters — Jens Lindemann
2010: Moto Perpetuo — David Childs
2009: Salt of the Earth — Les Neish
2008: Audacious — Steven Mead
2007: Eminence — Richard Marshall
2006: The World of the Euphonium: Volume 5 — Steven Mead
2005: Blaze — Richard Marshall
2004: Legend — Peter Roberts
2003: A Winters Tale — Martin Winter

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