Regionals 2008: Championship Section Test Piece: Festival Music

Discussion in 'The Adjudicators' Comments' started by Di, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. Di

    Di Active Member

    Official thread for the Regionals 2008 Championship section test piece, Festival Music by Eric Ball. :)
  2. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    It's a fantastic piece, good to listen to and very difficult to bring off successfully, lots of traps, exposed bits and interesting keys - 5 / 6 sharps in the last movement! I wish that Eric Ball had had access to a modern brass band percussion section in the 1950s - I wonder what he would have written for them?
  3. I'll be honest here, I've played quite a few Eric Ball test pieces, and I aint much of a fan, but I've been told that this 1 is 1 of his better, if not best pieces.

    The last 3 champ. section area pieces, Isiah 40, J.T.T.C.O.T.E., and Rienzi have been superb choices, and I was fortunate enough to play Rienzi and to here most, if not all of the other 2, and I thoughroughly enjoyed all 3

    Lets hope this 1 can match those 3 for listenability, coz I don't think I'll be playing in the Champ. section next year somehow lol
  4. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Probably much what he wrote anyway, I'd have thought. There's a lot of Mozart influence in it and that style doesn't lend itself to tam-tams, vibraphones, etc. Plus when he wrote Kensington Concerto (1974? after Spectrum, anyway!) the musical landscape had changed somewhat and the option was there to stick a load of shed-building in, but he didn't.

    I'm looking forward to the trombone bit in the second movement already; so simple on paper, but needs a great section to make it really work.
  5. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Ooh, no, surely not. 'Rienzi' is not a great overture, was not arranged particularly well, and was yawn-inducing to rehearse. A big backward step, in repertoire terms. The difficulty level was very variable, so there were not enough tricky moments to accurately grade the bands on.
  6. Bass Man

    Bass Man Active Member

    I heard the piece for the first time on Saturday and have to say that I'm really looking forward to the area. It sounds like the sort of piece I'm really going to enjoy rehearsing
  7. andylockett86

    andylockett86 Member

    cracking piece and a good test in terms of style i think. have a recording of the Fairey band playing it prob. from 80's - good listen. not much for percussion really i don't think..............makes it two Eric Ball pieces in two years for me at the Areas having played The Wayfarer last year........wouldn't change his music for anything else though i don't think
  8. Blagger

    Blagger Member

    Cracking piece - played it at Pontins years ago with Bae Manchester.
    PM me for a great way to play the mad bit in the first movement ( you'll know when you get the part...) taught to me by Nic Childs when he taught at salford.
  9. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    Just had a look at the solo horn part. Not sure I'm looking forward to it as much as I was!!

    (By the way, just listened to our recording of Ratcliffe Highway. You were awsome as was all of "team bass". Well done :clap: )
  10. Bass Man

    Bass Man Active Member

    Cheers Mate, the whole band was excellent. Looking forward to hearing it.

    Back on topic though, is it the horn cadenza thats making you cringe?
  11. T Winch

    T Winch Member

    No. It's more the technical stuff I can't get my fingers round (yet). I just hope Graeme doesn't get it out on Wednesday. I know exactly what he'll say. (Something about my ability to read the Beano!!)
  12. Bass Man

    Bass Man Active Member

    Perhaps. We might get away with it though after Saturdays superb performance, if we're lucky.
  13. tindagrae

    tindagrae New Member

    Not likely chaps! :wink: See you Wednesday
  14. nhrg

    nhrg Member

    Norra Lorra Mozza

    There are a few obvious reasons why Mozart didn't write for brass band. This piece only emphasises this point. I play the cornet not the chuffing violin. It's a nice conceit and an interesting piece to play but really shouldn't be picked for a contest this side of the millenium.
    The flagship test piece should be written by a contemporary composer. I really feel for percussion sections here as there is NOTHING for them, what kind of test is that?
    Here's my criteria for test piece selection for Regionals.

    - a contemporary piece. This should prove we are forwarded thinking, not wallowing in our past.
    - NEVER an arrangement. Rienzi was a reasonally good arrangement but picking it showed a total lack respect for brass band composers. We want these pieces to be flagship pieces showing off how good our bands AND our composers are. Arrangements make us look inferior to the orchestral movement.
    - Eric Ball is awesome but he never wrote decent percussion parts (for good reason). A test piece should challenge ALL areas of the band.
    - Every so often a piece should be commissioned from a composer who doesn't usually write for brass bands, this will add new, fresh, interesting ideas into the brass band world and keep it alive.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  15. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Number one being that he died 25 years before valved brass instruments were invented ;)
  16. nhrg

    nhrg Member

    Yes, I was being ironic and yes that is the main one. And if they had been invented I really don't think he would have written that style of music would he...? Actually, that would be a good subject for a dissertation (I'm being sarcastic now).
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2007
  17. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by that (and my understanding is hampered by not knowing FM yet).

    Help me out - what about the piece makes it violin writing rather than cornet writing?
  18. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Which are? (apart from the obvious "they weren't around")

    Actually Mozart enjoyed both "popular" music and writing for new instruments - he was a pioneer of writing for the (then relatively new) clarinet and piano, he included trombones in the Requiem and bassethorns in Figaro.

    Plus the second movement is a big nod in the direction of Handel and the baroque - I'm sure Handel would have been tempted to write for a brass band, at least in his ceremonial works.

    Who says? There is a long and honourable tradition of orchestral transcriptions, and arguably the transcription forms an important part of brass band history. Plus some of them are extremely accomplished and make excellent tests. Every now and again, say every 5 years, why not?

    Absolutely :clap: - Kapitol should be trying to get a brass band piece from Ades, or Macmillan.

    But as a classic original work, Festival Music is one of the best "golden oldie" choices - it's certainly one of Ball's best works. I'd agree, however, that bands who only 2 years ago needed 4 talented percussionists for Journey to the Centre of the Earth will now struggle to amuse them in rehearsal. Maybe they can all sign on with 3rd section bands, who will probably need three each to get through Dark Side of the Moon? ;)

    ROBTHEDOG Member

    Great comments totally agree .. No wonder Brass bands are folding... However I too rate Eric Ball music but I've played Eric ball at contest 4 times in 4 years with Derwent... and now again next area..

    Re transcriptions, it's a difficult one as there have been some 'good ones' (not sure about Rienze, it sure was a blow !)

    Oh for some contemporary music. My current favourite Brass Band major work is Extreme Makeover ... WOW ---- but there's plenty out there or even commissions.. I think the 'push back' on Prague (I loved that too) a few years ago caused concern and subsequently back to comfort zone...

    I'm sure the Eric Ball will be a good tough test and the top bands will come to the top. I'm sure the 'tune' brigade will enjoy it - but our 4 YOUNG percussionists will be taking a holiday.. It will be interesting to see if bands choose Festival Music as own choice in events such as Brass at Guide (Preston)
  20. nhrg

    nhrg Member


    Yeh, I really liked playing Prague. It's such a shame about the reaction to that because the message that may have been sent back to the music establishment was probably that brass bands were too traditional and couldn't cope with life in the contemporary music world. Sadly this will have just reinforced the stereotypes of some at the BBC and other arts bodies that we're a dying 'heritage' movement when we are not (are we?). Wouldn't it be great if the likes of Jocelyn Pook or Thomas Ades were commissioned to write our Regional piece?

    "New music or die"

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