2023 European Championship works revealed — 4barsrest

2023 European Championship works revealed — 4barsrest

Four test pieces by Swedish composers will challenge the competing bands in Malmo later this year

The European Brass Band Association (EBBA) has announced the details of the four set-works that will be performed by competing bands at its festival event in Malmö later this year.

All come from Swedish composers and have been commissioned by the local organising committee, Brassmusik Skåne.

Test pieces

EBBC Championship Section: Aurora (Joel Thoor Engström)
EBBC Challenge Section: Tragic Overture (Tobias Broström)
EBBC Youth Championship Premier Section: Phoenix’ Chant (Daniel MöllÃ¥s)
EBBC Youth Development Section: Turning Torso (Magnus Hylander)

EBBC Championship Section: Aurora (Joel Thoor Engström)

Joel Thoor Engström (1987) is based in Stockholm. His works range from orchestra and choir to chamber/solo and opera and have been performed at several established Swedish venues. He was a finalist in the 2006 EBBC Composers’ Competition.

His music is characterised by colourful expressions in rhythm and harmony, influenced by neo-classical composers and the French tradition following Debussy and Ravel to electronic funk and progressive disco.

In describing his work, he states: “Aurora was the Roman goddess of the dawn. Every day she opened the gates of the east with her rosy fingers and riding her chariot in a glowing mantel across the sky, accompanied by children, she announced the coming arrival of her brother, Sol (the sun).

The natural phenomenon Aurora Borealis (or “northern lights”) is what inspired the Romans to this personification of the dawn and it can be a mysterious thing to behold, of both beauty and awe.

The dawn can be a symbol for many things, something beginning as well as something ending. The age old message of Aurora could therefore be considered timeless. Her call amid the joyous dance of the children of the stars that a new hope, a new light is on its way can be a comforting notion to all in the face of hardships.

This piece is in three movements, played attacca. Though not written with a programmatic intent, the writing process has evoked my thoughts on the symbolic themes of the Roman myth; the setting of an unstable and uncertain scene — like an endless fall — in the first movement, followed by a waiting and the “kindling of light” in the second, finishing with a festive song of praise in the third.

One of the key musical thematic features of this piece is a harmonic progression (first heard in the trombone section at bar 16).

It twists and turns around its axis like the waves of the northern lights, or the turns of Auroras chariot. Throughout the piece, its harmonic “magnetic fields”are constantly pulling and shaping the music into new forms.”

EBBC Challenge Section: Tragic Overture (Tobias Broström)

Tobias Broström (1978) was born in Helsingborg. Following four years of percussion studies at the Malmö Academy of Music, he undertook a Master’s degree in composition, studying with the composer Rolf Martinsson and Prof. Luca Francesconi.

Known for his rhythmically powerful music, colourful orchestration and a poignant harmonic sense, he has swiftly established himself among the foremost Scandinavian composers of his generation.

He describes his music as full of frenzy and power, appearing in attacks and waves.

He has collaborated with renowned conductors and soloists from HÃ¥kan Hardenberger to Rumon Gamba. Hardenberger has performed his work, ‘Lucernaris’ on numerous occasions.

Speaking about his work, he stated that despite the title he does not believe the work to be tragic in nature.

He stated: “Structurally, the piece has an overall A-B-A form with the first section an extended and ferocious passage in 6/8 time. It exploits the rhythmic possibilities in 6/8 and cross-rhythms and cross-dynamics are a feature and challenge that bands will need to overcome.

The Overture could be considered as absolute music, rather than having a fixed programme — the only potential tragedy being people attending the EBBC in Malmö and not hearing the performances of this exciting piece.”

Aurora was the Roman goddess of the dawn. Every day she opened the gates of the east with her rosy fingers and riding her chariot in a glowing mantel across the skycomposer

Youth Sections:

EBBC Youth Championship Premier Section: Phoenix’ Chant (Daniel MöllÃ¥s)

Daniel MöllÃ¥s (1993) is based in Malmö. He began his musical journey playing trombone and piano, through which he soon developed an interest in composing and arranging.

Since graduating he has studied composition at the Linnaeus University in Växjö (2012-13), Gotland School of Music Composition (2013-15) and at Malmö Academy of Music (MAM), including an exchange course at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in 2018.

He has worked with several ensembles, orchestras and soloists, such as the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Helsingborg SO and Norrköping SO amongst others.

Speaking about his work, ‘Phoenix’ Chant’ he said: “The initial sketches were written in the late Autumn of 2021; a time of increasing political tensions both nationally and worldwide, but also some relief that our society were starting to see the return of better times after the pandemic.

Whether this relief actually came or not might be quite hard, if not even impossible to say in today’s social climate. However just as it was then, hope remains as our strongest tool to cope with the difficult times — and above all to inspire us to work towards an actual better future.

Although maybe a bit of a cliché, the myth of the majestic firebird encapsulates this theme with an impeccable decisiveness. Consumed by its own flames, the old Phoenix is reborn from its ashes; younger, brighter and stronger than ever before.

As the sketches were developed and later on revised as the set piece commissioned by Brassmusik SkÃ¥ne for the European Brass Band Championships Youth Premier Section in Malmö 2023, the Phoenix theme became even more relevant, as it highlights the true importance and influence of the young for a sustainable journey ahead through time.

Although challenges will occur, hope remains through the voices of youth, calling for a brighter future.

This chant is for them. For all.”

EBBC Youth Development Section: Turning Torso (Magnus Hylander)

Magnus Hylander (1967) lives in Fristad and is a tuba player, who in addition to his composing can also be found conducting bands in the area.

He studied at the Malmö Academy of Music and played with the brass quintet Brassa Nova between 1992 and 1998. He has composed and arranged many pieces, mostly for brass, but also for other ensembles. Some of his works have been recorded by Göteborg Brassband, Flesland Musikklag, BrassaNova and Band of the Malmö Fire Brigade amongst others.

Speaking about his work he says: “The composition refers to the neo-futurist skyscraper built in the western harbour of Malmö in 2005.

It was designed by Spanish architect, structural engineer, sculptor and painter Santiago Calatravo. One reason for building Turning Torso was to have a new symbol for Malmö in lieu of the shipbuilding crane that had been removed a few years earlier.

The piece starts off, quiet and calmly, from a distance where you just barely can see the building. The next section describes the odd shapes and quirkiness of the building. In the middle section we are up at the top level and enjoying the spectacular view of the city on one side and over to Denmark on the other.

At last, we take the speedy elevator down for a last look at the magnificent building using the music from the opening.”