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The European Brass Band Association [EBBA] is pleased to announce the set test pieces for the 43rd European Brass Band Championships in association with World of Brass, Palanga, Lithuania (1 & 2 May 2020). They have been commissioned by the host organiser, Palangos Orkestras with the support of the Lithuanian Council for Culture.
The Championship set test by Philip Sparke is a three-movement work entitled A Road Less Travelled By. Although there is no programme, the title is taken from the final lines of The Road Not Taken by the American poet Robert Frost (1974 - 1963),
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
A Road Less Travelled By is cast in three movements: I. Moto Perpetuo, II. Nocturne, in which the soloists are featured in elaborate solos and ensembles, and III. Scherzo Finale, which is an example of the composer’s characteristic playful compound time dances, lightly textured to begin with, tuneful and full of energy and drive. About the work, Philip Sparke says, “I’ve tried to keep the emphasis on ‘traditional’ brass band values, both in the writing and scoring.”
The Challenge Section set work is Baltic Legends by Lithuanian composer Vaida Beinariene. It takes inspiration from wo well-known Lithuanian folk legends. Witches Hill evokes the mysterious nocturnal atmosphere of the Hill of Witches near the village of Juodkrante. The hill is covered with almost 100 wooden sculptures carved by local folk artists to illustrate Lithuanian folk legends, one of which concerns the nocturnal escapades of a coven of witches, goblins, fairies and fortune tellers, who roam the hill all night, frightening, confusing, luring and tormenting any human who crosses their path. Amber Castle is based on the legend of Jurate, goddess of the sea, and the source of the amber that still keeps arriving to the shores of the Baltic Sea - the remnants, it’s said, of Jurate’s undersea palace after its destruction by the God of Thunder.
Philip Sparke (b.1951) is recognised internationally as one of the foremost composers for brass and wind band. His music features regularly in the Own Choice section at the European Championships, including Music of the Spheres (2004), A Tales As Yet Untold (2010), Perihelion (2013) and Raveling, Unraveling (2016). Philip’s work was first used at the European Championships in 1980, when Land of the Long White Cloud was the set test. Tallis Variations was commissioned for the European Championships in Birmingham, 2000.
Vaida Beinariene (b.1977) is a graduate of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in 2002, where she studied composition with Julius Juzeliunas and Vytautas Barkauskas, the two leading Lithuanian composers. While her work often explores new sounds and unconventional playing techniques. Vaida’s chamber and solo music has received awards in competitions organised by the Lithuanian Composers’ Union.