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Works inspired by prophesy and power to test Europe's best

Works inspired by the prophetic utterances of Cassandra and the infamous use of a military fortress will test the bands at the European Championships in Montreux.

Trojan Horse
  One of Cassandra's prophecies foresaw the use of the Trojan Horse...

The European Brass Band Association (EBBA) has revealed further details of the two major works that will be used as the set-tests at the forthcoming European Championships in Montreux.

The Championship Section set-work is entitled, 'Dear Cassandra' (Concerto for Brass Band No. 14), by Swiss composer Ludovic Neurohr.

Neurohr has gained a worldwide reputation for creating some of the most innovative major works for the brass band medium in recent years, with his 'Concerto No 10: ***** from Brass Band and Ondes Martenot' recently performed to widespread acclaim at the Norwegian National Championships in Bergen.

Trojan Horse

The title is taken from Greek mythology; Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, was cursed by the Gods to utter prophecies that were true but that no one believed — one of which was the use of the Trojan Horse by the Greeks to gain entry to overthrow the city of Troy.

A highly personal and virtuosic work, it Neurohr attempts, in his words, "...to interrogate through the music and the compositional process the future direction brass band music might or might not take."

Right path?

He adds: "Beyond the curiosity of knowing how the future will be written, the fear to being locked into writing only for human technical capacities haunts my thoughts, and especially composing what has already done hundreds of times before..."

'Dear Cassandra' is cast in three continuous movements, opening in exploratory mode as the players search for new sounds from a single tone. Using the rhythm of 'Dear-Cas-san-dra' (long-short-long-short) as the principal motif, the material gradually coalesces as the composer asks the question: 'Is this the right path to follow?'

Other musical elements and styles are drawn into the musical 'discussion', whilst several references are used throught its 16 minute duration to picture images created by the composer.

The finale invites the audience to imagine what the composer finally thinks about Cassandra's advice and to ask the question: 'Where are we going?'

Cassandra, the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba, was cursed by the Gods to utter prophecies that were true but that no one believed — one of which was the use of the Trojan Horse by the Greeks to gain entry to overthrow the city of Troy4BR

Fortress

The Challenge Section set-work, 'Terezin' by Mario Burki; a Swiss composer who has gained a highly respected reputation for writing inventive works.

It is inspired by a fortress built by the Emperor Josef II, ruler of the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1780-90, as well as being a noted patron of the arts and music, commissioning works from both Mozart and Beethoven.

Although the building named after his mother Maria Theresa was supposed to be used for defence, it became infamous first of all as a prison, and later during the Second World War as a Jewish ghetto and concentration camp.

Reflection

On reflecting on this, composer writes: "The many memorials it contains are depressing and sad in their inspiration for reflection. However, its spaciousness and size are also impressive and intense.

Terezin tries to reproduce these moods, which I was able to experience myself during a visit in spring 2018.

He adds: "It became very clear to me how cruelly people were treated here. I would like to believe that it is worth honouring the history of those who have been lost and that humanity will strive to avoid such malignancy."

The work is prefaced by a quote from Eva Roubickova from the Ghetto Theresienstadt, dated 22nd January 1942.

"A second transport from Pilsen arrived. People were in a deplorable state. The newcomers were cowherded, quite gratuitously..."

For more information on the composers go to: www.ebba.eu.com

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Howard J Evans

MA (Dist), Mus.B (hons), ARCM (hons), LRAM, LTCL, PGCE
Conductor, composer, arranger, tutor and pianist