PDA

View Full Version : Concert Review: Brass Band du Conservatoire Esch-sur-Alzette & Robert Childs



Jan H
27.10.2005, 23:34
On Thursday October 27th, a very special concert took place in the Lemmensinstituur Conservatoire in Leuven, Belgium. Guests of the evening were the "Brass band du Conservatoire Esch-sur-Alzette" together with and euphonium soloist Robert Childs.

The band is the only British-style brass band in the Grand-duchy of Luxembourg. The band was started in 1973 by the conductor, Fred Harles, and is made up of students and former students of the conservatoire of the city of Esch-sur-Alzette. In the past, the band has successfully taken part in the European Brass Band Contest and in the World Music Contest in Kerkrade. Currently, the band is preparing to record a new solo CD with Robert Childs, and some of the pieces for this CD were performed in today's concert.

In a fairly well filled concerthall (mainly by students of the conservatoire), the band started with the tricky overture to "Ruslan and Ludmilla". Unfortunately the transparency of the band was not really helped by the acoustics of the hall (at least where I was seated...).

Strangely enough, there was no introduction or other information given in the beginning or in between the pieces. This resulted in some akward silences during the intervals... But Robert Childs didn't really need an introduction: his playing in Kenneth Downie's "Concerto for Euphonium" was more than terrific. It's obvious that he has been maintaining his playing skills...

After the first solo, the band continued with a very beautiful "Nimrod" from Enigma Variations and the first part of the concert was rounded off with Jan Van der Roost's test piece "Albion". Jan Van der Roost himself, who teaches composing and conducting in Leuven, was a very attentive listener in the audience and he applauded the band enthusiastically.

After the break, tha band started with another Van der Roost classic, the march "Mercury", which was played very nicely (although I'm used to hearing it a bit faster). Then it was time for the second appearance of the guest of the night, and once again Robert Childs impressed the audience with "Fantasy for Euphonium" by Philip Sparke. A lot of the music students in the audience were obviously not very familiar with "brass bands", but nevertheless, they gave a very enthusiastic reception to the soloist.

After the guest soloist, it was time for one of the band's own soloists to shine. Sonia Mousel gave a very fine rendition of "Camille" by André Waignien (another Belgian composer). The band ended the concert with Philip Sparke's popular "Hymn of the Highlands". The soprano solo was played beautifully by Belgian soprano-phenomenon Steven Devolder, who was helping the band out for the evening. Because there was no explanation in between the pieces, the concert ended with a bit of confusion, since the band skipped the "Larg Muir" part that was announced in the program.

Everybody in the audience seemed to have enjoyed the concert very much, and the band was asked to play an encore. That was a solo for the band's Pricipal Cornet, Guy Conter (with such a second name, what other instrument could one play but cornet... ;) ). Unfortunately, the name of the piece slips my mind (although it's a very famous one...). All in all a very enjoyable evening, and I hope to hear more from this band in the future (maybe at the Europeans? Maybe not in the Championship section, but certainly in the first section!)