The European Brass Band Association is pleased to announce the set test pieces for the 45th European Brass Band Championships, Palanga, Lithuania (27 April – 5 May 2024), and is delighted that the competition will be going ahead! The pieces had been commissioned by the host organiser, Palangos Orkestras, with the support of the Lithuanian Council for Culture for the 2020 EBBC, which is now able to proceed in 2024.
A Road Less Travelled – Philip Sparke
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,
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.”
Read more about Philip Sparke: https://www.philipsparke.com/
Baltic Legends – Vaida Beinariene
The Challenge Section set work is Baltic Legends by Lithuanian composer Vaida Beinariene.
It takes inspiration from two 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.
The Baltic Way – Jan de Haan
The Baltic Way, or The Baltic Chain as it is also remembered, was a demonstration staged in the Baltic states as a call for independence from the Soviet Union. On August 23, 1989, approximately two million participants linked hands from Vilnius through Riga to Tallinn, forming a human chain some six hundred kilometers long. It became the longest human chain ever created and turned out to be the final overture to much sought-after independence. This historic event is the source of inspiration for Jan de Haan’s three-movement composition.
The first movement, Struggle for Independence, opens with a reference to a nocturne for piano by the renowned Lithuanian composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875-1911), thematic material from which has been used throughout the composition. The powerful music that follows reflects the resolve and resistance of the Baltic people. A reference to the anthem of the Soviet Union in the lower brass is relentlessly pushed aside as the rest of the band plays the Lithuanian national anthem, ‘Tautiška giesmė’ (Lithuania, Our Homeland). The second movement, Decades of Suffering, echoes life under the Soviet Union. The pursuit of independence, culminating in the dramatic symbolism of the Chain of Freedom stretching right across the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is depicted in the final movement. The Baltic Way is the Youth Premier Section set test.
Lithuanian Dances – arranged by Kazys Daugėla
In ancient times, many of Lithuania’s national celebrations and rituals involved dance, which were given names according to their function. Circular or ring dances (rateliai), games (žaidimai) and paired dances (šokiai) were performed for parties and celebrations, as were polyphonic singing dances (Sutartinių šokiai), which paired specific dance steps with archaic songs. Some became so elaborate that they are also known as “games”. In the late 19th century and early 20th century game dances were gradually replaced by ring dances. Today folk dances usually go hand in hand with folk songs and are performed on stage, but originally they would include entire communities.
Lithuanian Dances is a sequence of seven popular folk dances from various regions of the country. Aštuonnytis is a dance portraying the spinning of yarn and the weaving of fabric. Gyvataras is a moody, medium tempo dance. Džigūnas (The Jig) imitates a galloping horse. Linelis (Little Flax) is one of the oldest game dances reflecting human life and work in the fields. Rezginėlė is a girls’ dance characterised by weaving figures. Sadutė is danced at the home of a bride by her closest girl-friends on the eve of the wedding. Suktinis (Twirler) is the traditional finale dance at all folk-dance festivals. The piece incorporates national folk instruments – skrabalai (wooden bells) and skudučiai (Panpipes) – for optional performance.
For this contest, Kazys Daugėla has replaced these parts with xylophone and muted brass, respectively. Lithuanian Dances is the Youth Developmen Section set test.