Report & Results: 2019 Belgian National Championships

Brass Band Willebroek claims a 22nd National title success to head to Palanga, as Brassband Gent, Mercator Brass Band, United Brass and A.M. Brass taste success in Heist-op-den-Berg.

  Brass Band Willebroek claimed a 22nd National title success

The last piece in the qualification jigsaw for the 2020 European Championships was put in place at the Cultural Centre Zwaneberg in Heist-op-den-Berg on the weekend as Brassband Willebroek claimed their 22nd Belgian National Championship title.

Led by the inspirational Frans Violet, they secured their trip to Palanga by producing outstanding accounts of the set-work, 'Dynasty' by Peter Graham and their own-choice selection of '*****' — Concerto No 10 for Brass Band and Ondes Martenot by Swiss composer Ludovic Neurohr.

The defending champion also made it a hat-trick of victories as adjudicators Florent Didier, Peter Graham and Sheona White paced them top of both disciplines to secure a clear margin of victory over runner-up Festival Brass Band with NoordLimburgse Brass Band in third.

The set-work saw the eventual podium finishers head the field of eight contenders headed by Willebroek's commanding rendition of 'Dynasty' marked by precision and attention to detail linked to their renowned warm tonality, aided by excellent percussion.

Ambition matched

The ambition of their own-choice selection was certainly matched by the quality of their performance (the ondes martenot performed on a ipad app) as Frans Violet drew out the rich textures and timbres of each of the five linked sections of the work, whilst the individual solo lines were played with noted artistry — notably by 'Best Soloist' award winner Toon Rutten on tuba.

Festival Brass Band gave an emotive rendition of 'A Brussels Requiem', whilst the eerie sound of the ondes martenot was heard for a second time as NoordLimburgse also opted to perform Ludovic Neurohr's evocative composition, although as the judges later confirmed, Willebroek was a 'clear winner'.

Former champion Brass Band Buizingen made a highly encouraging return to the event after a year away, as they ended fourth. Directed by former principal cornet Harmen Vamhoorne, they were placed third in the own-choice element with the premiere of 'Cycles' by composer Stan Nieuwenhuis.

The remaining top-six places went to Brass Band Heist who performed 'The 39th Parallel', with Kortrijk Brass Band in sixth with their own-choice selection of 'Journey of the Lone Wolf'.

Familiar face

There was a familiar face leading a band to success in the First Division as Luc Vertommen directed Brassband Gent to the title.

The band had previously claimed the Third and Second Division titles, but this was their first taste of victory since 2011 as they overcame the strong challenge of defending champion Brassband Scaldis, with Kon BB de Grensbewoners Smermaas in third.

Gent trailed their closest rival after the 'Alpina Brass' set-work discipline, but recovered lost ground to snatch victory with an excellent rendition of their own-choice selection of Martin Ellerby's 'Chivalry'. The band's fine euphonium player Giles Demeurisse took the 'Best Instrumentalist' award.

Scaldis was unable to maintain the level of their set-work as they made a few too many minor errors on Etienne Crausaz's 'Sinfonietta No.3', whilst BB de Grensbewoners Smermaas gave a fine rendition of 'Facets of Glass' by Tom Davoren.

Single champions

Unfortunately there was only the one performer in each of the Second and Third Division competitions.

Mercator Brass Band led by Tim De Maeseneer giving two solidly delivered renditions of 'Lions of Legend' by Thierry Deleruyelle and their own-choice selection of Simon Dobson's 'A Brief Symphony of Time' to be crowned Second Division champion.

It was the band's fourth consecutive contest victory following success at the 2018 Flemish Open and Third Division Belgian National Championships and the Dutch Open earlier this year.

Well directed

United Brass conducted by Jan De Maeseneer took the Third Division title for the second time in four years with well-directed accounts of 'Purcellian Fantasia' by Jan de Haan and their own-choice selection of 'Red Mountain' by Marc Jeanbourquin.

The Open Section also saw just one entrant, although the youthful A.M. Brass from near Antwerp showed a great deal of solid endeavour in a 30 minute own-choice programme set conducted Bernd van Echelpoel.

That included 'Choralia' by Bert Appermont and 'Prelude, Song & Dance' by John Golland, followed by 'Best Instrumentalist' winner Katrijn Van Houtven giving a fine account of 'Knoxville 1800' by James Curnow on euphonium.

The ambition of their own-choice selection was certainly matched by the quality of their performance as Frans Violet drew out the rich textures and timbres of each of the five linked sections of the work4BR


Championship Division:

Adjudicators: Florent Didier, Peter Graham, Sheona White

1. Brassband Willebroek (Frans Violet): 96.00/97.00 = 96.50%
2. Festival Brass Band (Steven Verhaert): 94.00/96.00 = 95.00%
3. NoordLimburgse Brass Band (Erik van de Kolk): 93.00/92.00 = 92.50%*
4. Brassband Buizingen (Harmen Vanhoorne): 91.00/94.00 = 92.50%
5. Brass Band Heist (Bert van Thienen): 90.00/90.00 = 90.00%*
6. Kortrijk Brass Band (Warde De Ketelaere): 87.00/93.00 = 90.00%
7. Brass Band Leieland (Sam Werbrouck): 88.00/91.00 = 89.50%
8. Brassband Zele (Bart Van Der Strieck): 88.00/88.00 = 88.00%

*Set-Work mark takes precedent

Best Percussion Section (set-work): Brassband Willebroek
Best Soloist: Toon Rutten (Eb Bass) — Brassband Willebroek

First Division:

Adjudicators: Florent Didier, Peter Graham, Sheona White

1. Brassband Gent (Luc Vertommen): 93..67/91.33 = 92.50%
2. Brassband Scaldis (Raf Van Looveren): 94.67/89.33 = 92.00%
3. Kon BB de Grensbewoners Smermaas (Danny Aerden): 88.67/90.33 = 89.50%
4. Brassband Bacchus (Bart van Neyghem): 89.67/85.00 = 87.33%
5. Braz'Art (Geert Verschaeve): 84.67/86.33 = 85.50%

Best Instrumentalist: Giles Demeurisse (euphonium) — Brassband Gent

Second Division:

Adjudicators: Florent Didier, Peter Graham, Sheona White

1. Mercator Brass Band (Tim De Maeseneer): 93.67/94.33 = 94.00%

Best Instrumentalist: Stefan Dentant (cornet) — Mercator Brass Band

Third Division:

Adjudicators: Florent Didier, Peter Graham, Sheona White

1. United Brass (Jan De Maeseneer): 93.67/94.33 = 94.00%

Best Instrumentalist: Christine De Pauw (flugel) — United Brass

Open Division:

Adjudicators: Florent Didier, Peter Graham, Sheona White

1. A.M. Brass (Bernd van Echelpoel):

Best Instrumentalist: Katrijn Van Houtven (euphonium) — A.M. Brass

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