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2023 European Championships
Solo, Challenge & Youth events

There are also European titles up for grabs in the Solo, Challenge and Youth Sections in Malmo.

EBBA’s desire to expand the sense of inclusivity of its flagship event has seen it develop over the years from a single day championship to a week-long festival.

Initially it was something of a curiosity Sunday addendum to the National Championships of Great Britain, but it soon caught the imagination, especially of the emerging European banding movement, and in 1983 it broke free of London in October and headed to Kerkrade in May. 

Increase in size

Since then it has gradually increased in size. In 1994 the first B Section contest took place – later renamed the Challenge Section. The first European Composer Competition was held in 1998, followed by the Soloist and Conductors’ Conductors’ events in 1999 and 2000.  The Youth Championships were first held in 2014 in Perth. The European Youth Band first took the stage in 2000.

Initially it was something of a curiosity Sunday addendum to the National Championships of Great Britain, but it soon caught the imagination, especially of the emerging European banding movement, and in 1983 it broke free of London in October and headed to Kerkrade in May. 

Some of the ideas have worked, whilst others have fallen by the wayside.  

The Gala Concert – first brought in in Kerkrade in 1983 featuring a certain rising trumpet star Hakan Hardenberger as guest soloist, remains (and he will be performing as part of the event this year), but few will possibly remember the short-lived series of Jeux sans frontier ‘Challenge’ entertainment contests of the mid 1980s that never quite caught on as a pan-European concept.


Soloist Competition:

The first title to be decided this year will be at the European Soloist Competition.  Past winners include the likes of Raf Van Looveren, Glenn Van Looy, Vidar Nordli and Felix Geroldinger (above), so we could be listening to the next emerging superstar talent. 

The qualifying rounds started earlier in the week, with three competitors making it through to the Concerto Final on Wednesday evening.

There they will be accompanied by Concord Brass Band with the winner taking home a not insignificant cash prize of €1500 plus a further €1,000 towards further study.


Challenge Section:

The Challenge Section has taken its time to finally find a purpose to its initial identity, but given that five of the year’s Championship contenders (3BA Concert Band, Gota Brass, Hauts de France, Italian Brass Band and RET Brass Band) all developed by playing in it, EBBA can justifiably claim it has been a measured success.

This year we have four representative bands: Aukstyn LT (Lithuania), Brass Band Uberetsch (Italy), Laganvale Metal Technology Band (Northern Ireland) and Malaga Brass Band (Spain)

This year we have four representative bands: Aukstyn LT (Lithuania), Brass Band Uberetsch (Italy), Laganvale Metal Technology Band (Northern Ireland) and Malaga Brass Band (Spain)

Each are at different stages of their development – Laganvale boasting over 100 years of proud history, Austyn successfully adding a senior band to their successful youth set up, Malaga making a second appearance at the contest and Brass Band Uberetsch who return after makign such an impression last year in coming runner-up. 


2022 Champion: Brass Band Regensburg from Germany

Tragic Overture

The set-work by Swedish composer Tobias Brostrom is the interestingly titled ‘Tragic Overture’.  He describes his music as being “full of frenzy and power, appearing in attacks and waves”.

How close it comes to that of Brahms we will have to wait and see, but that great old bear of a man also took the ‘tragic’ title to emphasis turbulence and torment of character in his 1880 composition. 

How close it comes to that of Brahms we will have to wait and see, but that great old bear of a man also took the ‘tragic’ title to emphasis turbulence and torment of character in his 1880 composition. 

However, where Brahms used a reversed sonata structure in his work, Brostrom keeps to the ABA form – an extended and energised first section followed by a relaxed interlude and a waspish close.  

There are also some interesting and ambitious own-choice selections to keep an eye on too, with a new work from Kenneth Downie ‘Hope Fulfilled’  up against Martin Ellerby’s ‘Terra Australis’,  Jan van der Roost’s ‘Excalibur’  and Jan Bosveld’s ‘Match Rhythm’  as well as the euphonium feature ‘Variations’  by Peter Graham.

Competing bands:

Aukstyn LT (Piet Visser)
Brass Band Uberetsch (Johann Finatzer)
Laganvale Metal Technology Band (Keith Anderson)
Malaga Brass Band (Victor Eloy Lopez Cerezo)


European Youth Championships:

Moving the Youth Championships from the Sunday to the Saturday in Birmingham last year was certainly a success – the two sections attracting substantial audiences who enjoyed the excellent level of competition.

It will be interesting then to see just how it comes off this year – although the decision to revert back to a Sunday was more to do with the logistics of hosting 14 competing bands (there were eight in Birmingham).


Last year's winner Catch Basin was led by Andreas Lackner

Premier Section:

There are seven ensembles in the Premier Section, headed by defending champion Catch Basin Brass Band from Austria. They were so impressive in taking the title last year under MD, Andreas Lackner and will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins. 

They are sure to face a strong challenge though from rivals – with 2018 champion Youth Brass 2000 returning to see if they can add to the plethora CV of title successes under MD, Chris Jeans.

Meanwhile, the home nation’s hopes rest with the Swedish Youth Brass Band, whilst Denmark sends a powerful looking National Youth Band across the famous Oresund Bridge. 

Swiss hopes rest with the returning Liberty Youth Band, who won the first Premier Section title in Perth in 2014. The rapidly emerging Lithuanian brass band movement is represented by Brass Band Sklepucini, whilst Italy sends the wonderfully named N.P.B.B. Brass Band of the Conservatoire 'N. Piccinni' of Bari Mo.

Phoenix' Chant

Alongside their own-choice works, the bands will be faced by a tricky set-test in ‘Phoenix’ Chant’  by Swedish composer Daniel Mollas. It’s inspired by his reflections on the political and cultural tensions that emerged across the world in the wake of Covid-19.

His musical metaphor is the mythical phoenix – a bird that rises from the ashes of destruction, reborn and rejuvenated. 

Alongside their own-choice works, the bands will be faced by a tricky set-test in ‘Phoenix’ Chant’ by Swedish composer Daniel Mollas. It’s inspired by his reflections on the political and cultural tensions that emerged across the world in the wake of Covid-19.

The 10-minute work, which is dedicated ‘to the voices of youth’ is optimistic in tone, although initially dark and mysterious in colouring and development. It opens with rubato motif solo lines starting on Eb tuba and leading through euphonium, horn, cornet, flugel and soprano before it hits its straps, growing in certainty and boldness.   

However, by its close the bird has certainly taken flight – underpinned by brilliant percussion effects and textures, energised, uber-confident and triumphant to its thumping fff final note.

Competing bands:

Brass Band Sklepucini (Vilmantas Vapsva)
Catch Basin Brass Band (Prof. Andreas Lackner)
Liberty Brass Band Junior (Stefan Roth)
N.P.B.B. Brass Band of the Conservatoire 'N. Piccinni' of Bari Mo (Antonio Legrottaglie)
Swedish Youth Brass Band (Berit Palmquist)
The National Youth Brass Band of Denmark (Stig Maersk)
Youth Brass 2000 (Christopher Jeans)


Wardle claimed the title under MD, Lee Rigg in 2022

Development Section:

There is also a champion defending their title in the Development Section, with the remarkable Wardle Academy Youth Band also looking to make it a hat-trick of wins under MD, Lee Rigg.

They are up against some tough (and familiar) rivals once more – with the two podium finishers from Birmingham in Smøras Skolemusikk form Norway and Elland Silver Youth Band (winners in 2017) determined to pip them this time around.

In addition to their own-choice selections the bands will be faced with an engaging set-work in Magnus Hylander’s ‘Turning Torso’ - inspired by the wonderful neo-futuristic twisting skyscraper that dominates the Malmo skyline. 

Also returning is Brass Band Aukstyn from Lithuania and the South Wales Youth Band who will fly the Red Dragon flag with as much fervour and pride as Cory and Tredegar, whilst it’s great to see Italy and Germany showcasing their youthful talent in the form of Jugend Brassband Sudtirol and PotzBlech.

Turning Torso

In addition to their own-choice selections the bands will be faced with an engaging set-work in Magnus Hylander’s ‘Turning Torso’  - inspired by the wonderful neo-futuristic twisting skyscraper that dominates the Malmo skyline. 

It was designed by the renowned Spanish architect, Santiago Calatravo, known for his amazing bridges and buildings that resemble living organisms in shape and form. Hylander’s piece also develops in odd shapes and forms too - quirky and unpredictable yet proportioned and balanced so everything works as it should.  

The central section leads the musical visitor to the top of the 190-meter building so that they can enjoy the broad vistas that stretch out before them, before taking a swift elevator ride back to the bottom so that they can peer up from whence they came. 

Competing bands:
   
Brass Band Aukstyn (Remigijus Vilys)
Elland Silver Youth Brass Band (Samantha Harrison)
Jugend Brassband Sudtirol (Johann Finatzer)
PotzBlech (Hans Jacob)
Smøras Skolemusikk (Magnus Brandseth)
South Wales Youth Band (Angela Westacott)
Wardle Academy Youth Band (Lee Rigg)

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