Changing of the guard in Ostend

Issue 5954

Famous Norwegian victory at the European Championships - full report

A grand day out for Scotland on the Golden Mile

Brassed Off 'Live' thrills the RAH audience

Kerkrade to host World Championship

Friday 9 June, 2017

The 18th World Music Contest (WMC) will be held from 6-30 July in the Dutch city of Kerkrade, which has become renowned throughout the musical world for its hosting of the event, just like the Olympics, every four years. For wind, fanfare and marching / show bands, the WMC has long been the most important contest in the world. In recent times, the brass band element of the event has gained more significance too, and this year there will be 35 bands taking part. What is less well-known, though, is that the entire event actually has its roots in the brass bands of Yorkshire.

Six years ago, I travelled to the South Yorkshire town of South Elmsall, where a TV crew from Holland met with Eber Lloyd, Eric McKinning, Alex Garbutt and David Read (pictured below) - veterans of Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band’s tours of 1949, ’51 and ’52, when Europe was still rebuilding after World War II. 

Being a leading mining band, ‘Frickley’ was invited to Kerkrade, an area also heavily dependent on coal mining. Such was the impression made on the band’s first visit that it received an invitation to return the following year and it was on that trip that the idea for an international music festival was conceived. In 1951, the International Music Contest was born. 66 years later, and now known as the World Music Contest (WMC), it is one of the largest musical events in the world.

David Read will be among the honoured guests at this year’s event, while Alec Garbutt will celebrate his diamond wedding on the brass weekend so won’t make it to Kerkrade. The WMC World Brass Band Championship will take place on 8-9 July, with bands from 1st, 2nd and 3rd divisions first playing the test-piece followed by their own-choice piece. On the Saturday evening, the ten Championship Division bands will play the test-piece and, on Sunday, their 40-minute own-choice programmes. The details are (Netherlands unless stated):

Championship Division

Test-piece: Tracing Time (Oliver Waespi)

Adjudicators: Edward Gregson (UK), Rob Goorhuis, Michael Bach (CH) - test-piece. Edward Gregson, Jan de Haan, Karl Ole Midtbø (NO) - programme

Amsterdam Brass, Buizingen (BE), Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (England), De Wâldsang, Heist (BE), Manger Musikklag (No), National Band of New Zealand (NZ), Schoonhoven, Treize Etoiles (CH), Willebroek (BE).

1st Division

Test-piece: Dances and Arias (Edward Gregson)

Adjudicators: Jan de Haan, Oliver Waespi (CH), Karl Ole Midtbø

Brassband Kunst naar Kracht, Spijkerpakkenband, Brassband Merum, Brassband Oefening en Uitspanning, Brass Band Emmental (CH), Brassband Excelsior Kloetinge (BE), Brassband Pro Rege, Cologne Concert Brass (DE), Ensemble de Cuivres Ambitus (CH), Brassband Bacchus (BE), Brass Band Sachsen (DE).

2nd Division

Purcell Variations (Kenneth Downie)

Adjudicators: Kevin Houben (BE), Hannes Buchegger (A), Ray Farr (UK)

Christelijke Brassband Gloria Deï, CMV Euphonia, Martini Brassband Groningen, Schoonhoven B, Brass Band Konkordia Büsserach (CH), Badische Brassband (DE), Brassband Hombeek (BE), Brassband Gent (BE).

3rd Division
Test-piece: Introduction and Variations on Dies Irae (Jan de Haan) 

Adjudicators: Kevin Houben, Hannes Buchegger, Ray Farr

Brass Band Aukštyn (LT), Christelijke Brassband De Nije Bazún, Gereformeerde Brassband Groningen, Greidebrass, KMFL Brassband Lembeek (BE).

Carlton Main Frickley Colliery and Manger Musikklag will be among the bands also giving concerts during the event, including the gala concert, but by far the most travelled will be the National Band of New Zealand which, along with its Kapa Haka Group led by Avril Keelan, will make its first stop in Hong Kong at the invitation of the Government to participate in the 20th Anniversary celebrations of the handover from Britain to China, before landing in The Netherlands on 4 July. Also travelling with the band will be David Bremner - principal trombone of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra - who will be widely featured as guest soloist in Kerkrade. The band will also perform a new Peter Graham piece, commissioned by the Brass Band Association of NZ in memory of the late Kevin Jarrett who was once principal cornet of the National Band and one of their best known bandsmen. It was funded by a group of his friends. Further concerts for the NBNZ will follow around Holland before it returns home on 13 July.

Speaking to BB on behalf of the WMC organisation, Jappie Dijkstra commented: “The WMC in Kerkrade remains at the forefront of brass and wind music and this year we are delighted that there will be 37 premières of new works over the course of the event. These include major new works for brass band by, among others, Oliver Waespi, Peter Graham and Ed de Boer, which emphasises the high-quality approach that everyone involved is employing. With fringe events including a conductors’ competition, young generation events, plus the major contests for march and show bands, as well as the WMC Biennial events in October and November, it is an event with someone for everyone with an interest in music. In particular, though, we look forward to welcoming visitors from around the world for the brass band weekend on 8-9 July. It promises to be memorable!”