You may know my penchant for these Valencian symphonic bands. We can hear groups of this caliber almost every week at the beautiful Palau de la Musica here in Valencia.
In any case, we heard this composition by Bert Appermont, a Belgian composer who was born in 1973, last Sunday. It tells the story of Lamoral, the Count of Egmont, a descendent of one of Spain’s wealthiest families, who was a general serving under King Philip II of Spain in the Low Countries (Belgium and Holland), in 1560 ruled by Spain. He was born and raised in Holland, however, and after years of military training in Spain and distinguished service in the army, began to protest strongly against Philip II’s cruel and tyrannical government. He was eventually imprisoned and beheaded. To make a long story short, his death sparked the 80 years war that resulted in the independence of the Low Countries from Spain. You can hear the entire story in this piece.
This is a typical band from our area. There are more than 600 of them, most with music schools attached. These people all have day jobs, many of them having nothing to do with music. They do it out of love, often living in the town where they went to the local music school. Sometimes their kids play sitting next to them – I’ve seen a few who look like they’re about 12 years old. Until they are good enough, the kids play in the school band. This performance was taped during a band competition in the area.