Sunday, 1 May 2016


The third edition of the European Youth Brass Band Contest brings 13 bands to Lille. An idea that started as a ‘test’ in Perth in 2014 and already has proven to be huge success!

For both the Sunday contests the EBBA Music Commission has selected two English works to be included in the programmes offered by the competing bands.

Development Section – 09.00-11.30

The bands in the Development Section have to bring a 30 minutes programme which has to include ‘Music for Greenwich’ by Edward Gregson.

Music for Greenwich

The piece was originally composed as incidental music for a play. It was commissioned in 1980 by the Greenwich Theatre, London, for a new production of Peter Buckman’s play ‘All Together Now’.

In this play, about a down-at-heels brass band in the North of England brought to a new level of self-confidence and achievement by an incoming conductor, the whole cast performed a test piece on stage every night (i.e. Music for Greenwich), in readiness for a competition which they have entered and, of course, win. Although the play is as much a social commentary as anything to do with music-making, every member of the cast had to be able to play a brass instrument to a greater or lesser extent (which turned out to be a difficult challenge for the casting Director!).

The work is structured as follows: a brief fanfare-like opening is followed by an allegro section, rhythmic and playful; a slow lyrical section is then introduced (a suitably nostalgic melody featuring solos for cornet and trombone), before a return to the fast music, a hint of the fanfare, and finally a climactic flourish to round things off.

Bands competing in the Development section – in order of draw

1)    Elland Silver Youth Band – Samantha Harrison (England)
2)    Aukstyn Brass – Remigijus Vilys (Lithuania)
3)    Tertnes Skoles Musikkorps – Jan Egil Jørgensen (Norway)
4)    Cardiff County and Vale of Glamorgan Youth Band – Charles Maynard (Wales)
5)    Wardle Academy Youth Band (def. Champion) – Lee Rigg (England)


Edward Gregson



Premier Section – 11:30-16.00

The bands in the Premier Section have to play a programme no longer than 35 minutes and must include the test-piece ‘Olympus’ by Philip Harper.

This piece was a successful test-piece in 2012 for the 3rd section of the Regional qualifying contests. The colourful depiction of chariot races, and of the ancient Greek games of the Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius > Faster, Higher, Stronger.

The music begins with a depiction of the exciting Opening Ceremony where noisy fanfares and sudden swells add to the cosmopolitan flag-waving clamour. Without a break the music leads to The Chariot Race, a fast compound-time gallop with thundering hooves in the basses and percussion, and a heroic melody introduced by the tenor horns. Chariot racing was the main equestrian event in the Ancient Greek Games, which were founded in memory of King Oenomaus. In the Greek legend he suffered defeat in a chariot race to his son-in-law and Zeus’ grandson, Pelops, but much of the music is bitter-sweet to symbolise the fact that Pelops had to cheat to win – drawing parallels with some of the issues still facing modern-day athletics.

A slow, mystical passage follows, describing The Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The statue of Zeus, who was honoured throughout the Ancient Games’ history, was housed inside the temple and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The music depicts this period of the dawn of one of mankind’s most ancient civilisations and there is a series of solo passages above a drone.

The next section is called The Olympic Flame and a broad and lyrical anthem-like melody develops slowly in the euphoniums, which gradually ascends until the horns can take it over before passing upwards again to the cornets (Higher). The music bursts into bright life at the lighting of the flame and the regular rhythmic pattern which has been established goes through an accelerando (Faster).

The final section is called The Olympic Truce and aims to capture the cooperative spirit of the ancient practice of ending wars for the duration of the games. The anthem-like melody makes an affirmatory return (Stronger) and the work ends as it began – with a blaze of colour and a real sense of optimism and global celebration.

Participating bands - in order of draw

1)    Bayerische Jugend Brass Band des 3BA – Benjamin Markl (Germany) 
2)    National Youth Brass Band of Denmark – Stig Mæersk (Denmark)
3)    Young Brass Band Willebroek – Frans Violet (Belgium)
4)    Youth Band Nord Pas de Calais - Luc Vertommen (France)
5)    Youth Brass 2000 – Chris Jeans (England)
6)    Liberty Brass Band Junior – Christoph Luchsinger (Switzerland)
7)    Greater Gwent Youth Brass Band - Gareth Ritter (Wales)
8)    Pavoverès Brass Band – Bronislovas Vilimas (Lithuania)


Philip Harper

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