National Finals 2011 - test piece rumours

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by hvb_shizzle, Mar 16, 2011.

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  1. toby hobson

    toby hobson Member

    I'm glad BfB has been taken seriously, such suggestions don't always interest people. The only reason I mentioned BfB is that Ive recently been listening to some of the classics, pieces that I regrettably NEVER got the chance to play. I (sort of) understand how great pieces from yesteryear get passed down the sections because of this myth that has come about that bands are SO much better than they were 30 years ago. So the natural place for once top section challenging pieces is now in the Lower sections..........Personally I believe the very top of banding is as strong or even stronger than it was 20/30 years ago but the general level is much poorer than it was so you get a scenario like the area where a once great test piece like Resurgam is getting poorer bands trying to make it sound like the masterpiece it is. I would like to hear top bands doing BfB and Journey into freedom and High Peak and Spectrum etc etc etc...............It would tie in with the increasing lack of time bands have, if bands didn't have to spend a 4 weeks learning to play the latest 150 notes per second waste of time and instead rehearsed a great piece for 2 weeks concentrating on banding basics and developing lyrical interpretations, banding as a whole would improve. How about two other pieces that have curiously never been heard again... Of Men and Mountains (the last great Gregson) and for one a little outside the box Frontier, I didn't play it but remember it causing some problems at the time, it would be a good quirky area piece.
  2. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    No doubt, it's a great piece - but probably used too recently to feature, as Bass Man has reminded us. Likewise High Peak is Butlins 1st section piece next year, so isn't going to come out at the finals either. But you're right, there is a lot to be said for old-school training. An old overture and a tone-poem on the concert programme certainly do no harm at all!

    Here's hoping there's a couple of new ones in the mix though. I can think of a couple of good composers who've got nowhere near the recognition they deserve. (And who don't just write million-note-a-bar arban-studies....)
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  3. Tom Kuiling

    Tom Kuiling Member

    Pretty much hit the nail on the head really.I intimated at this a bit earlier in the thread but these old school pieces are the ones that really find bands out. Festival Music is one that would really sort bands out. Shame its been used at the area in recent years
  4. alangiff3

    alangiff3 Member

    Glorifico Aeternum would be a good one for 2nd/3rd section?
  5. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Got to disagree on that. Festival Music turned up some weird and wonderful results at areas all around the UK when it was set a few years ago.
  6. Tom Kuiling

    Tom Kuiling Member

    Perhaps the point i was making is that in the North West and Yorkshire areas which i attended that year only a handful of bands across both areas escaped unscathed. Fodens won by a couple of points that year but they were by no means faultless. Black Dyke and Grimethorpe and Rothwell all played well but a lot of the rest were error strewn

    Its one of them pieces that doesnt like that tricky when you look at the score but knitting it all together is a different ball game
  7. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    OK, so they can play the notes, but can they perform it? I have my doubts, I'm afraid, certainly given the paucity of conducting talent around brass bands these days. Apart from anything else, the gradually controlled tempo changes are deceptively hard to bring off - the gradual slowing through to the end of the slow section contrasted with the gradual accelerando all through the last third. It's a very, very cleverly structured piece that requires intelligent direction.

    Toby's two suggestions (Of Men and Mountains and Frontier!) are two of my personal favourites; having played both of them and qualified for the RAH on them when they were area testpieces I can confirm that both of them are perfectly playable by today's top section bands but like Ballet, are full of musical traps. Of Men and Mountains has another controlled accelerando, like the one in Ballet (a Gregson trademark fugue) - misjudged, it can leave the big chorale at the end sounding rushed and breathless, or turgid and tired. It's a glorious piece - if I was to pick a piece to introduce a newbie to brass band music it would be a close run thing between that and Paganini...

    The technical aspects of all three pieces would pose few problems for a half-decent top section band, but the musical challenges remain just the same as 20 years ago. I'm quite keen to see under-used pieces come back again - Odin, Seascapes, New Jerusalem, Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - but I'm significantly less keen for well-worn "classics" to make a comeback. Generally speaking there's a "received wisdom" about how these pieces should be performed, especially among the older guard of adjudicators, and I think their selection actually discourages musical creativity. When faced with something like High Peak at a contest, is the winning performance likely to be one that breaks new musical ground or one that mimics Scrogglethorpe Colliery's prizewinning performance from 1904?
  8. themusicalrentboy

    themusicalrentboy Active Member

    it was also used at Butlins in the 1st section in 2005
  9. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    To put your argument in perspective, could you give us one or two examples of pieces which are NOT full of musical traps (whatever that means)? Thanks.
  10. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Yes, I can. James Cook, Circumnavigator, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Life Divine and Sleepless Cities are examples that spring readily to mind. They (to me, at least) are "pure" test-pieces - once the technical difficulties are mastered there's not a lot else to do, because they don't have a lot of emotional depth to seek out, or much room for creative interpretation. One performance will sound pretty much like all the others and the pieces don't really serve much of a purpose outside the contest arena. Probably the ultimate example of this would be Beyond the Horizon by "Paul H. Kelly" - Bertrand Moren under a pseudonym. Fiendishly difficult and stamina sapping, but it exists purely as a flashy showcase for the fearsome technique and stamina of the band it was written for. Pieces like this are fairly straightforward to direct, in my opinion, because the principal consideration is "can the band play it, accurately and together?". Compare that with something like Resurgam, which should be well within the technical compass of any 1st section band but can be utterly ruined by insensitive direction.
  11. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    I hear and acknowledge all feedback on my previous post... yes, somewhat wishful thinking on my part; liking a piece is a double-edged sword when it comes to making a suggestion for area pieces etc.! Certainly it's painful to hear ANY half-decent piece being "just about played" rather than truly performed..

    Of Men and Mountains - there's another 'gem' - great trombone parts, although lots of mute-changes for us. I can remember playing it on a sloping stage, and watching my ET ('harmon') mute rolling away from me towards the edge...
  12. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    I understand.
  13. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Waverley Overture for 1st section also audience friendly to
  14. Surely it won't be more Berlioz for the 1st section?
  15. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    Any got a copy of BBW yet, or has the printer/publisher been subject to a spate of vandalism :rolleyes:

    Living in the south, they have to transport it via Royal Mail, which can take up to 8 days :biggrin:
  16. cockaigne

    cockaigne Member

    Indeed - a hat-trick of Berlioz pieces for those who went to the Senior Trophy as well...

    Audience-friendly, maybe - but band-friendly? ;)
  17. Mr_Chairman

    Mr_Chairman Member

    A bit off-subject but does anyone have any info on draw times and section start times - or will these be announced at the same time as the testpieces?
  18. Thirteen Ball

    Thirteen Ball Active Member

    Not if Woodenflugel is in the audience..... ;)
  19. Laserbeam bass

    Laserbeam bass Active Member

    The sections will play in the following order
    Sat 2 then 4
    Sun 3 then 1

    Start time is listed as 9am both days, but I would suggest that this is the time of the first band, and the draws will be earlier.

    No other info available to me at present.
  20. ilovespheres

    ilovespheres Member

    wow, Kapitol Promotions is taking some real time to release this year's test pieces! Let hope we'll get some good choices! :)
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