Scots’ significant roles in Euro championships

Monday 6 May 2024

As the curtain comes down on this year’s European Brass Band Championships, it is worth noting that, while there were no Scottish bands taking part, several musicians from our nation played a significant role in the success of the week-long festival in Palanga, Lithuania.

Musical director Russell Gray led the Lithuanian band Brass LT to victory in the Challenge section of the championships and Andrew Duncan was among the adjudicators who officiated at the event, judging the Championship bands in their own-choice test pieces on Saturday and the Youth bands in the Development section on Sunday.

Scottish Brass Band Association education officer John Boax was in Palanga at the invitation of European Brass Band Association president Ulf Rosenberg to present the SBBA Trophy to the winning Youth band in the Premier section, Brass Band Sklepucini, conducted by Vilmantas Vapsva.

The SBBA Trophy was inaugurated ten years ago when Scotland hosted the 2014 EBBC in Perth and resurrected the Youth competitions as part of the championships.

But the 2024 event will probably have had most impact on the two National Youth Brass Band of Scotland (NYBBS) players who were invited to be part of the European Youth Brass Band. Cornetist Emma Brown of Bathgate Band and Freya McLeman, who plays soprano with Bo’ness & Carriden, were among 36 players from 14 European countries who were mentored, rehearsed and conducted by Cory Band musical director Philip Harper.

Emma commented: “This week has been such a surreal experience. Working with a very talented group of musicians from across Europe has helped me grow as a player. I made so many amazing memories that will last a lifetime and I’m so grateful that I was given this opportunity.”

And Freya added: “It has been an amazing week. Working with Phil and all the other incredible players in the band has been so enjoyable. Performing seven concerts in front of big audiences throughout the week has been tough but so rewarding. I’ve made friends for life and will remember this incredible week forever.” 

SBBA president Carrie Boax, who was a stay-at-home mum while husband John was in Palanga, was grateful for the “superb coverage” of the championships by 4barsrest, Wobplay, Brassing Around and other banding media.

“The live reporting of the event has been superb from start to finish,” she said. “Thank you to one and all for helping us feel like we were there. I’m looking forward to next year’s EBBC in Stavanger, Norway, already!”

FOOTNOTE: Following qualification at the Scottish Championships in Perth in March, the cooperation band has been invited to participate in the 2025 European Brass Band Championships. This will be the band's 16th appearance at this prestigious event, the first being in 1979 under Nigel Boddice.


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