2014 European judges and tests revealed
The European Brass Band Association (EBBA) has revealed the jury teams and set tests for the 2014 European Brass Band Championships on 2 and 3 May, in Perth, Scotland.
Championship Section set piece and Challenge Competition (former B-section) jury:
Hannes Buchegger (Austria)
Martin Winter (Norway)
Guido Segers (Belgium)
Championship Section jury - Own-choice piece:
Preben Nørgaard Christensen (Denmark)
Stephen Roberts (United Kingdom)
Jean-Claude Kolly (Switzerland)
RORY BOYLE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP SECTION SET TEST
The 11 Championship Section bands will tackleMuckle Flugga by the classical composer and Professor of Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Rory Boyle.
Commissioned by the Scottish Brass Band Association (SBBA), this new composition has been funded by Creative Scotland and takes its inspiration from the northern-most point of the British Isles - a small rocky island north of Unst in the Shetland Islands called Muckle Flugga.
The name Muckle Flugga comes from the old Norse ‘Mickla Flugey’ meaning ‘large steep-sided island’ and, according to local folklore, two giants - Herma and Saxa - fell in love with and fought over the same mermaid her by throwing large rocks at each other, one of which became Muckle Flugga. To rid herself of the rivals, the mermaid offered to marry whichever one followed her to the North Pole, but neither could swim and so drowned.
The composer’s programme note for the piece states: ‘In 1854, Thomas and David Stevenson started to build the lighthouse on Muckle Flugga, ostensibly to protect British ships during the Crimean War, but also to prevent all sailing vessels from floundering in this wild and dangerous place. For much of the time the lighthouse was being built, the weather was so violent that the sea crashed over the summit of the rock taking materials with it, and the workman had to crawl out of doors on their knees for fear of being pitched off the rock and out to sea. Evidently, from the day it was finished in 1857 to this day, the lighthouse has not let in a drop of water, such was the brilliance of this pioneering Stevenson family, whose lighthouses can be seen all around the Scottish coast.’
He continues: ‘After a short introduction, the music deals with giants, the drowned and the lighthouse, all in the context of the wild seas and violent winds, which are indigenous to this rocky outcrop.’
‘EMOTIVE’ B SECTION TEST
Bands competing in the B Section European Challenge will square up to The Pilgrim by another of Scotland’s talented composers and a leading bass trombonist, Josiah Walters.
Currently studying for a BMus degree at the Royal Conservatoire Scotland, Josiah Walters describes his composition as a journey of development and emotion encompassing three key stages of emotional state: from the opening sounds, which are full of anticipation and uncertainty, through to a passage of disillusionment and frustration, then moving onto a concluding stage, which reintroduces the positive elements of the opening optimism, yet closing quietly, symbolising an inner peace and contentment at the end of the musical journey.
The composer, who was BBC Radio 2’s Young Brass awardee last year, has reportedly adopted an emotive approach to the creation of the work, according to EBBA’s statement - embracing ‘a wealth of passion, anguish and enlightenment.’
EBBA continues: ‘Through his use of imaginative melody, themes and harmonic texture, Josiah has represented a collection of powerful emotions. Essentially non-programmatic, the piece opens in a contemplative manner, building with enthusiasm, and first introducing the use of bells and bell effects as a musical metaphor, which is used throughout the piece to signify the journey’s destination. As the sentiment continues, the music evolves into anAllegro Furioso section, opening up a strong sense of frustration. At this section’s climax, the symbolic use of the bells is reintroduced to create an over-tone of hops and purpose, although this does not last long as they fade into the Misterioso Molto Rubato section. As the melodies and harmonies develop onwards, The Pilgrim evolves into a more reflective phase, reintroducing the sounds and motifs of the more strident opening.’
The closing section symbolises the realisation that everything needed was already available to The Pilgrim, but travelling the journey, confronting and overcoming all of the challenges was the only route of discovery – a peacefulness prevails bringing the work to a close with a sense of contentment and enlightenment.
Says EBBA: ‘The Pilgrim, highly emotive in its creation, offers a wealth of musical imagery. Even to the uninformed listener, this fascinating, powerful and beautiful work stirs and stimulates a variety of emotional reactions – offering each listener an opportunity to apply the music to their own journey, their own personal pilgrimage.’
Josiah Walters’s inaugural published composition –Carpe Diem – met with acclaim and was premièred by the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland. His other works include a commission performed at the Scottish Parliament and an award-winning performance of his own arrangement of the last movement from Brubeck’s Concerto for Bass Trombone. Said a spokesman for EBBA: ‘He is recognised as a talent ahead of his years with creative maturity mixed with a freshness of musical perception.’