Major Work Competition/Festival Idea

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by lynchie, Jul 26, 2004.

  1. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    Right, this is another of those crazy ideas that pops into my head while I'm particuarly bored, but anyway, here goes...

    I was listening to the proms, and the PJBE CD with Pictures at an Exhibition and Carnival of the Animals on it and thought... How about a small competition for say 6 of the top bands, and all of these bands play one major work of their choice. By major works I mean things in the style of Pictures at an Exhibition, The Planets Suite, Carnival of the Animals, etc etc... Something with lots of movements, of length of about 30-60 minutes say... Obviously the ones I've named are all orchestral works which would have to be arranged for Brass Band, but I'm sure if the idea came into fruition a few of our talented composers would like the idea and challenge of composing a seminal work for band. Also, I personally think each band should submit which work they would like to play, and have a "First Come, First Served" basis, so that no 2 bands can play the same thing. Also, to make it less about winning and more about the music, the awards could be made less distinct, by possibly going with the "Music for Youth" format of an award for "Highly Commended" and "Outstanding" performances (Or whatever it is they give out). I think something like this would allow the movement to be taken more seriously, and allow for greater press coverage (no radio or TV station wants to broadcast 20 bands all playing the same thing...)

    Anyway, sorry for the lack of paragraphing, I'm literally vomiting from my mind...

    Any thoughts?
  2. That would be good as long as im not playing. I dont have the energy to play the same piece for an hour! I dont like the music for youth awards so much ive been in them for about 4 years and they are a bit pathetic compared to prizes at other contests. After all they are only certificates.
    Just my opinion though.
  3. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    i don't think bands would go for it...
    would have to be a bloody big prize fund to get bands to rehearse a 30-60minute long piece up to contest performance standard... thats at least double the time spend on getting an average testpiece up. (beurgh)
    and i doubt there would be much of an audience.. enough trouble getting people to listen to bands even when they call it "around the world with brass" or "brass and voices" (even when they play floral dance!) ... not much chance of joe public wanting to see "Engelbert Humperdink's Mango Chutney Works Band plays... Song Cycles: The Ring"
  4. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Interesting idea Lynchie but I'm gonna have to agree with Nadia on this one I'm afraid...
  5. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    That was basically the idea of the old Bristol Festival of Brass which Bram Gay ran at the Colston Hall in early the 90's I believe. Yes, it was popular with audiences and bands. It attracted good crowds and the top bands of the day, playing new commissions and older works which had fallen into neglect. Each band had a around 45 minutes (I think!) to fill with substantial pieces of music, and it was essentially non competitive.

    Why did it stop? I guess that the money ran out. A pity, because it was a quite unique chance to hear the best bands playing decent repertoire. The Festival of Brass at the RNCM and the Northern Brass Festival are perhaps the nearest we have left, but neither has the concentration (1 whole day of wall to wall class!) of the original.

  6. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    Agree with the above two...only special bands play works that length, and usually for special reasons. Most bands would not be happy if you said about playing a piece like 'Pictures', or the Heaton 'Variations' or 'Partita' out, especially at a contest.
    Just don't think it would be practical for many, many reasons...
  7. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I'd love to see something along these lines happen. It's not just impracticality that would be the barrier. Bands' traditional resistance to change would be another in my book.

    It can happen, though. This is very similar in design to a music festival that the Fulham Brass Band entered in Germany a few years back. On that occasion it was a mixture of instrumental ensembles, most of them wind (or 'harmonie') bands. We were required to play two pieces of our choosing one after the other (we're a 4th section band so we played The Shipbuilders and Gregson's Partita) and the awards for the participants ranged from 'competent' to 'outstanding' (We achieved the latter! ;-)). We were allowed to warm up on stage, practice bits of our pieces on stage if we wanted to! One of the adjudicators saw us in a private room to discuss our performances in a very friendly and open manner (Criticisms and praise) and never did you feel that the 'result' mattered to the point of life and death nor did you feel that the contest was going to make banding headline news because of a perceived injustice in the judging. Nor did the adjudicators make you feel that the day was about them. Unlike a number of contests here.... It was simply a chance to show off what you could do for 20-25 minutes and have a damn good time, musically and socially.

    It'll never catch on here.....
  8. Jan H

    Jan H Moderator Staff Member

    That's similar to how we normally do contests here in Belgium. Most bands here are either "harmonie bands" (wind orchestras) or "fanfare bands" (brass + saxophones and lots of flugel horns). We don't really have a contesting spirit here, like you have in the UK. Most bands only take part in a contest once every 3 or 4 years or so. The normal procedure at a contest is to play 1 short introduction piece (most of the time a slow tune or a march) and 2 own choice test pieces. The test pieces have to come from an approved list (which is rather long). Normally there are three adjudicators, but they are not in a closed box. All bands get a score out of 100, and I think you also get the split results for each test piece and each adjudicator seperately.
    Next year, the fanfare band that I play in will participate at the World Music Contest in Kerkrade (NL). For the lower sections, the principle is the same as I described above, except that bands get to play 1 set test piece and 1 own choice test piece instead of 2 own choices. My band however will participate in the highest section, which is called the "concert division". For this section, there is 1 set test piece. Together with this test piece, bands should play a program of maximum 60 minutes of effective playing time. It is not supposed to be an entertainment contest. So our program will probably exist of a slow introduction piece, the set test piece, a newly commisioned test piece, a solo piece and one other piece, which may be an arranged brass band piece (last time we played Trittico by James Curnow).
    O yes, the drawing is done quite some time in advance, not on the day itself...
    Only for the Belgian National Brass Band Championships, the organisers tried to copy more or less the British way of contesting: drawing in the morning, closed box adjudicating, ... but they do include an own choice test piece for all sections (similar to the EBBC)
  9. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    Right... where's that "Shot down in flames" smiley?? :wink:

    Anyway, I'm quite surprised that people wouldn't be interested in doing something like this. It seems that one thing that most banders complain about is not getting enough coverage, and not having brass at the Proms and similar events. IMHO this sort of format would enocurage more audiences, and would be more "Sellable" to TV and radio.

    Our current contest format, where everyone plays the same thing, and half the audience is there just to listen for splits and misses, is, quite frankly, boring for your average impartial observer.

    On the subject of the prize structure, I only put that as an idea to get away from the war mentality that lies behind most contests these days. Maybe there could be one prize for the best performance, of a big cup and a load of cash, but no breakdown of points (who cares who was 3rd or 4th best, it's about the music, not the winning). Or maybe even just pay every band (there's only going to be about 6 remember) and hopefully, if enough media and sponsor interest was raised it could be worth their while :roll:

    And I know it would take a lot of work to get a major work up to standard, but it doesn't have to be every year. Maybe just hold the contest every other year, or every 4 years. That way it would probably be easier to get sponsorship and coverage because it wouldn't cost as much...

    Ah well, more difficult than I though to get new ideas past bands I guess... I guess the words brass band will be conjuring up images of "Garden fetes and cream teas" for a few more years yet...
  10. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    ps. we could always have it instead of the masters...
  11. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    Just in case ya eye sight is as bad as mine........ ;-) :lol:

    .... oh, and I doubt *that* would ever happen :p
  12. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I am! It's just that you'll probably have to hold it in Belgium, or Germany to stand a chance! ;-) Like I said, resistance to change in the UK banding world (I don't necessarily include Ireland in that.... not the UK bit, obviously, but the resistance to change) is part of the problem.

    Tell you what, lynchie, after I move to Arran later this year, we must collaborate, find a sponsor to stump up minimal prize money and do something like this, even if only on a small scale. Doesn't need 'recognised' adjudicators. Just a bit of fun. Might take a couple of years to come to fruition but who knows, it might be worth the wait. You up for it?
  13. lynchie

    lynchie Active Member

    Sure thing! If we can get 5 good bands to agree in the first place I reckon we could start something beautiful!

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