The 2018 European Youth Championships in Utrecht will be missing one of its leading competitors following the news that reigning Premier Section champion Young Brass Band Willebroek will not defend its title.
The band completed a hat-trick of successes at the contest in Ostend under the direction of MD Frans Violet, and recently claimed the senior Third Division honours of the Belgian National Championships in Hesit-op-den-Berg, directed by Lode Violet.
However, it's understood that due to the youth contest age limit of 22, the band felt it would be impossible to perform with a full line-up of players, whilst the financial demands on a self funded band of sending both a youth and senior band to the event (Brass Band Willebroek is also the Belgian National Champion) has proven impossible to overcome.
Their spokesperson told 4BR: "It has been a great experience for the youth band to win three European titles, especially as the last was in our home country.
However, as one financial organisation it was not possible to finance both bands to go to Utrecht, whilst developing new young players also takes time as we would have to find four tubas, horn, soprano and percussionists.
With Lode Violet now taking up the conducting duties in addition to playing principal cornet with the senior band, it meant we just could not manage it all."
They added: "We will now work towards playing at the event again, as it is such a great contest, but for now we are looking forward to competing at the Flemish Open in April. Young Brass Band Willebroek wishes all the participating bands good luck and a really enjoyable stay at Utrecht."
However, as one financial organisation it was not possible to finance both bands to go to Utrecht, whilst developing new young players also takes time as we would have to find four tubas, horn, soprano and percussionistsspokesperson
In response, European Brass Band Association General Secretary Kor Niehof stated: "We think it is quite clear that these are sufficient reasons why the band cannot compete at the Championships.
We have really enjoyed their performances and have been honoured that we had such a band participating at the event.
We are looking forward to seeing Young Brass Band Willebroek again at the European Youth Championship and wish both bands and conductors good luck with all their future plans."