St. Martinus Church  

VENLO - On Saturday June 12 2004, the Nederlandse Klokkenspel-Vereniging, in cooperation with the Stichting Het Venloos Carillon, organised an International Carillon Competition on the carillon of the St. Martinus Church in Venlo. This carillon has 53 bells, c1 - d1 - chrom. - f5 and does not transpose.

The competition was an 'open contest', meaning that no distinction was made between graduated and non-graduated carillonneurs. It was an interpretation competition, with as compulsory piece Bronze Green Oak Cappriccio, written in 2003 by Marcel Siebers, city carillonneur of Venlo. The composer incorporates into the piece several humorous references to the well-known Dutch folk-song 'Bronze Green Oak-wood'.

In addition to the compulsory piece, participants were expected to perform another two pieces of their own choice: one baroque or classical work and one original carillon composition composed after 1945.

The preliminary elimination process went off smoothly, resulting in ten carillonneurs being eligible for the competition - six men and four women from six different countries: Elena Sedina, Sergej Gratchev (Russia), Anne Kroeze, Wim Ruitenbeek, Nan Los (The Netherlands), Toru Takao (Japan), Els Debevere, Paul Hoste (Belgium), Charles Dairay (France), and Monika Kazmierczak (Poland).

The members of the international jury were Carlo van Ulft (President, carillonneur - USA), John Courter (composer and carillonneur - USA), Frans Haagen (carillonneur and organist - The Netherlands), Jos D'hollander (composer and carillonneur - Belgium) and John de Goede (Manager of Stichting Kunstzinnige Vorming Venlo).

As usual, judging was done according to the rules of the Nederlandse Klokkenspel-Vereniging. Despite the fact that the jury did not have an easy task, nevertheless most people present found themselves in agreement with their decisions.

The mayor presented the prizes in the historic city hall of Venlo, following the announcement of the prize-winners by the President of the jury.

The jury named Sergej Gratchev from Russia, graduated from the Royal Carillon School 'Jef Denyn' in Mechelen, as the best player of the day, for which he received a cash prize of EUR 1,000 and the promise of a recital in 2005. He impressed the jury with the contemporary composition Triton by DaniŽl Schroyens and the Fantasie in d by Wolfgang A. Mozart, arranged by Leen 't Hart.

The second prize of EUR 500 and a recital went to Monika Kazmierczak, a student of Arie Abbenes at the Dutch Carillon School. Monika performed the compulsory work very well, which was followed by an Allegro by Haydn, arranged by Arie Abbenes. Her performance of the colourful Movimenti by Geert D'hollander impressed many listeners.

The jury awarded the third prize of EUR 250 to Charles Dairay from France. He confidently presented an original reading of the Preludium III by Matthias Vanden Gheyn and a refreshing interpretation of the rather challenging composition by Boudewijn Zwart, Giocoso Frescamente.