Conductor Mareika Gray and `Milnrow’ brass band came 7th out of 18 bands at the Scottish Open Brass Band Championships on Sunday 25th November performing my 2010 work `Earthrise’ as their own choice test piece.

Milnrow’s powerful rendition of ‘Earthrise’ under Marieka Gray


I wish I could have been present at Mareika’s and Milnrow’s performance in Scotland but instead I was in Montreux for the 38th Swiss National Brass Band Championships to see conductor Blaise Heritier and his Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien give an extraordinary rendition of my latest brass band work`When Worlds Collide’. Their performance was full of music, magic and colour!! It was a remarkable moment, not least because the band’s wonderful principal cornet Chantel Meystre fell over on the morning of the contest and could not play owing to a badly cut lip.

Nigel in Montreux on the morning of the 38th Swiss National Brass Band Championships

The crisis was resolved with the help of Marcel Fischer (another cornet player in the band) who showed his mettle with some fabulous playing in order to help them gain an unprecedented 4th position in the contest!! I will never forget the euphoric feeling of watching this great band’s success story unfold!! The set piece for the competition, which the band also performed, was `Rush Hour’ by the Swiss composer Etienne Crausaz. The adjudicators for this event were Dr Robert Childs, Frank Renton and Benny Wiame.

Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien `When Worlds Collide‘ (Short clip 1)

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Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien `When Worlds Collide‘ (Short clip 2)

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Listen here to Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien complete performance of `When Worlds Collide’ at the Swiss National Brass Band Championships


Luc Vertommen & Brass Band Buizingen

At the same time that Milnrow and Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien were playing their hearts out, Brassband Buizingen, the band that I am proud to be Composer-in-Residence to, became Belgian National Champions playing `When Worlds Collide’ as their own choice test piece. The set piece choice was Robert Simpson’s 1971 masterpiece `Energy’ and the adjudicators were Ian Brownbill, Steve Sykes and composer Simon Dobson. Brass Band Buizingen (BBU) had their fair share of drama too, as the day before the National Finals the band’s conductor Luc Vertommen had been in a car crash and suffered minor injuries including a broken finger! I understand that he had little sleep leading up to the competition owing to the pain of his injuries, so BBU’s victory at the Nationals is even more stunning. It is the second time the band has become National Champions in the last 4 years (they subsequently gained 5th place in the 2010 European Brass Band Championships). Their next stop is Oslo to take part in the European Brass Band Championships in May. Brass band competitions bring to the fore many human emotions and I have to admit that this weekend I shed a few tears of joy!! CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!!!!!!


Here is Brassband Buizingen’s winning performance of `When Worlds Collide’ at the Belgian National Champions 25th November 2012