2015 European Championships

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by John Brooks, May 7, 2015.

  1. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I was looking for some comment about the contest last weekend but there don't appear to be any. From what I've read on 4BarsRest, it was a terrific contest. In some ways it appears that many of the performances in the Championship section were so good, the adjudicators had a real job trying to pick a winner. I've downloaded the top performances of set and own choice and from what I've heard so far the set test was a very difficult and challenging composition and any one of the top 4 or 5 performances could have won it, based on comments from the adjudicators themselves.

    Was anyone on here in Freiburg? If so, what did you take away from the weekend? I also don't see any comment on 4BR about the Gala Concert but maybe I just missed it.
  2. Gadgie

    Gadgie New Member

    It was fabulous. The set piece on Friday night was technically demanding and the bands all turned in terrific performances with soloists really going for it in the cadenza sections. Gripping stuff all night, with Treize Etoile finishing it off just after midnight. The Saturday afternoon was as good as it gets with Black Dyke putting in a stunning show of musical theatre that showed off all the soloists and Eikanger and Willebroek delivering a couple of crackers on Trance and Journey of the Lone Wolf. The concert was a big improvement on recent years with the European Youth Band, Luzern and Jens Lindemann in the first half with the excellent German Brass ten-piece in the second half before the results.

    Playing all weekend was great. Although it was a great place to be in, I'm not sure the hall worked for brass bands. The acoustic seemed to change in different parts of the hall and from where I was sitting a couple of bands were brutally loud, especially Luzern on Trance. And although the set piece made for a great contest, it will never see the light of day again in its present format which demands at least 6 top class percussionists playing more gear than fits in most Bandrooms, including 10 timps. By the time they'd rearranged it all and with the piece taking 22 minutes or so, we were getting just under 2 bands an hour. All minor quibbles - in terms of standard of playing and the 2 test piece format, this is the top contest and the enthusiasm of the audience really make it a great experience.

    And the local beer was top class.
  3. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    I was there and listened to all performances. The standard of playing was just incredible!
    I really liked the set piece The God Particle a lot. I agree that it will probably never be played in a contest again, which I think is a great shame. I didn't think that the percussion parts were too dominant - they just added a lot of textures to the music as did the use of different mutes in the brass parts. Long gone are the days, where band music could be accused of being bland and monochrome.
    I traveled to Freiburg with 16 friends but we didn't sit together in the hall. What we discovered was that the acoustics in the hall were very different depending on where you were sitting. In the set piece I heard all the details in Eikanger's and Treize Etoiles performances (which for me was the best two performances) whereas Black Dyke sounded quite heavy (especially percussion) and lost a lot of detail and clarity (I sat at the upper tier in the back of the hall). Some of my friends sat much closer to the stage and behind the cornets. They had a very different experience and had Black Dyke in top after the first day. We all agreed though that so many of the bands played it so well, that it is almost more of a contest of interpretation than anything else.
    I would say that only 2 or 3 bands struggled to play the piece really well.

    The own choice part of the contest is surely what makes this the best contest in the world!
    I thought Black Dyke was awesome - Metropolis 1927 was clearly written with Dykes soloists in mind - not least Gary Curtin who won the best soloist award. Eikanger delivered a superb rendition of Trance by Thomas Doss - what a great piece as was Simon Dobsons Journey of the Lone Wolf which was played brilliantly by Willebroek. Oddly enough 3 of the last 4 bands played the same piece Audivi Media Nochte by Oliver Waespi. The best of them IMHO was Treize Etoiles which almost took the roof of the hall at the end. Co-operative Funeralcare played it almost as well. I was really surprised that they played so well after their well publicized troubles leading up to the contest. They can take a lot of pride from this contest!

    Cory chose one of my favourite pieces of music, which I had never dreamt of hearing at a contest - Partita by Wilfred Heaton. I knew it from the 1992 Festival of Brass CD with Fodens and Howard Snell and I was in Manchester for the 20 year jubilee of that concert where they played the same pieces as in 1992.
    It was a brave choice but I think that they played it brilliantly!

    Overall I had Eikanger first with Treize Etoiles second and Black Dyke third, but it was at the same time apparent that any notion of a unanimous winner was quite absurd. From reading the banding press and talking to my friends it was clear that we each had our preferences and I could happily accept any of a group of 7 or 8 bands as the winner.

    With the brilliant gala concert (not least the German Brass) and a concert in Geneva with Mnozil Brass the day before the European Championships, we had a great trip to Freiburg and can't wait to go to Lille in France for the 2016 EBBC.
  4. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Thanks so much for your personal insights; really appreciated. Seriously thinking of going to Lille, but then again, I seriously thought of going to Freiburg too and that didn't come together for me. I really appreciate being able to listen to the contest performances so soon after the event; that's a great innovation.
  5. Slider1

    Slider1 Member

    How come at a contest at this level the Adjudicators had to go with the Conductors interpretation, but at our Areas we were informed that everything was in the score full stop?. It makes you wonder why send a band when the conductor could go through
    the motions in a sealed room
  6. simonium

    simonium Member

    I especially liked the fact Black Dyke won despite the adjudicators agreeing there was a better band in both sections! Multiple judges is great, just not three! Having downloaded the performances Black Dyke's playing was entirely breathtaking, especially on their own choice work, which seems to me to be the best Peter Graham has written since On Alderley Edge. Sumptuous brass playing and I heartily recommend downloading them, legally, if possible.
  7. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    I think one has to accept that brass band contesting at this level, is just as subjective as is ballroom dancing and figure skating. If most skaters can do the jumps perfectly it has to come down to the judges personal preference who shall win the title.

    When the top 6 or more bands all can play whats written in the score, it has to come down to interpretation. I have often thought that they should try the adjudicating system of figure skating. Have 6 adjudicators give their individual marks after each performance - throw away the highest and lowest score and give the mean average score of the other 4 adjudicators as the bands result.

    I think of the European Championships as a festival of music rather than a contest to decide which band is the best in Europe.
  8. hobgoblin

    hobgoblin Member

    Surely this perfectly demonstrates the need for criteria based test pieces? At this level we realy should be beyond counting the splits, but we need pieces with a pre-determined amount of fast,slow, and quiet bits. I'm sure it would be more transparent to award points for something quantifyable like the ammount of pedal x's and top z's played by the end chairs rather than some vague notion of musicality or 'interpretation'.
  9. Pauli Walnuts

    Pauli Walnuts Moderator Staff Member

    Looks like it has been chosen for the next German nationals - looking forward to getting my teeth into this one!
  10. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    That sounds great! I guess that is possible due to the limited number of bands in the German top section, so time won't be too big a deal. I was quite impressed with the German debutants in this years European top section. They were maybe not as polished as some of the more established bands, but they were certainly not lacking in drive and ability.
  11. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I've listened to the top six a couple of times each and think I'm starting to detect some subtle differences and believe on another day, with another group of judges, the result might well have been different, especially on the set test. How did Lucerne's unlucky draw in the own choice impact their final placing and what was it about Cory's Partita that the judges didn't go for? All subjective questions. I agree with Euphoria, taken as a music festival, the music was the winner. Still nothing on the Gala Concert on 4BarsRest and have to assume they didn't go. Did anyone hear Jens Lindemann? What did he play and who accompanied him?

    Also, someone mentioned judging as they do in figure skating, using six judges etc. It is also apparent that the hall accoustic made an impact, so even if they did that this year, the seating of the judges could and maybe would have impacted their decision. How do you get over that? I suggest there is no answer and judging of music contests will continue to be subjective.
  12. euphoria

    euphoria Member

    I totally agree that a different set of judges would have provided a different result - just look at 4br's predictions before the official results! I don't know whether the early draw for Lucerne made a big impact. They played Trance as did Eikanger and I thought the latter was a class apart on this piece.

    I'm not sure I would agree that the judges didn't go for Cory and Partita. I really, really liked them and I had them fourth in the own choice behind Black Dyke, Eikanger and Treize Etoiles, so I can't see much ground for complaining for being placed fifth. The standard was just so incredibly high.

    Own choice contests invariably raises the question about how you compare performances of such a different style as for instance Partita and Trance - its apples and oranges. As I said in an earlier post, it is the own choice part of the contest that really sets this contest apart from pure set test piece contests. The concern about level playing fields and all that, is of no big concern for me.

    I can't remember what Jens Lindemann played at the Gala Concert, but he played a longer piece using trumpet, flugel and cornet and a slow encore. He was accompanied by Brass Band Bürgermusik Lucerne. He was quite impressive, but perhaps not quite in the same league as the piccolo soloist of German Brass - Mathias Höffs. German Brass was featured in the second half of the Gala Concert.

    See you in Lille next year John?
  13. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    If I remember correctly both Jen's contributions were written for him by Pete Meechan, but I can't be sure of the titles.
  14. Gadgie

    Gadgie New Member

    The first was the second and thirds movements (Eurydice; and Hypnotic Dance and Finale) of the Peter Meechan trumpet concerto Orpheus which Jens Lindemann commissioned for wind band accompaniment and has since been rescored both for orchestra and brass band. The second was another Peter Meechan work called Starlight.

    Euphoria has been spot on in all of his comments about the event, especially the view that it's a marvellous festival of music which you just sit back and enjoy and don't get worked up about the results. However, that's easier to say from a listener's perspective - and the enthusiastic and appreciative audience contributes hugely to the event - than it maybe is from the bands' perspective. It relies heavily on a small number of them choosing to go and paying maybe £20,000 for the privilege. As long as they continue to do that it will continue to be a great event. But if they ever decide that they no longer want to subject themselves to the cost or the subjective nature of judging or the loose registration then the event could take a step backwards.

    Let's hope they continue.
  15. bigybsfan

    bigybsfan New Member

    Well I am not sure here... Eikangers Trance is full of errors (if you listen to the recording carefully - tuned percussion is horrendous at some points), seems rushed and lacks detail compared Lucerne from my point of view. All the difficult stuff in the piece is completely hidden in the eikanger recording - and it was the same in the hall. I agree that the beginning might have been a bit more atmospheric due to additional use if percussion, but overall, in my eyes the class apart was the other way round. Lucerne clearly suffered from the draw.

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