RNCM Festival-who went and what did you think?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by johnflugel, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    I went to the RNCM on the Friday and Saturday and thought it was excellent. Attendances seem to be up on previous years and the whole atmosphere seemed very positive.

    Highlight for me was BAYV immense performance of the Gaia Symphony. Moving music and staggering playing from all concerned. Bousfield and Haardenberger were terrific as expected.

    Another little highlight for me was sitting next to two guys who must have been 70 years +: they enthusiastically applauded Grimethorpes performance of 'Aubade'. They were telling me in the break that it was they were traditionalists and this was their first time at the RNCM. They also said that they found the music complicated but really enjoyed the experience of hearing something new and different to their ears. For music of this uncompromising nature (as opposed to traditional band repertoire), it was great to see some of the 'older' generation accepting and appreciating music that was a little out of the ordinary. The whole festival is about listening to something a little different and pushing back the boundaries - maybe my generation can learn something from these older guys who embraced something totally different.

    Was disappointed that I could not make either YBS or Dyke's concert as the programmes looked superb.

    Did you go? If so, what did you think?
  2. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    Woah! Was my first RNCM Festival and what can I say? The bands were fantastic, ensembles were great, masterclasses (I only went to the compostition one) were really informative and great to sit through.

    For me, personally I thought that YBS's whole concert was fantastic, their opener Terra Australis (?) was fantastic, yet another gem from Martin Ellerby, followed by Sheona White's amazing world premiere of Bourgeois's concerto, which was brilliantly played by both soloist and band. Both performances of the two testpieces were practically flawless - definately my favourite concerts.

    Oh - and the WoB Road Guys are fantastic too! :D
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2006
  3. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Yes indeed, another fantastic weekend of music (MUSIC, mark you - not banding).

    My personal highlights:
    • Wilfred Heaton's Variations - the second time I've heard it, the first being two years ago at this festival. No doubt about it - it's a masterpiece. Thank the lord for Howard Snell, who made it possible for us to hear it. It's the band world's equivalent of Tchaikowsky's 6th. Deeply personal, full of sorrow, pain and anguish - right up to the 'life begins with death' final chord. Utterly sensational, and played beautifully by Dyke. Can't wait for the recording.
    • Gaia Symphony - it's one thing to listen to the CD, but quite another to see it performed on stage. Fantastic concentration and stamina by the band, and great theatre to watch the percussion section in action. Now I know how they obtain the 'crackling fire' effect!
    • The first half of Grimethorpe's programme - uncompromising, contemporary music from start to finish. A flashback to the great Grimey/Howarth days of the 1970's.
    • Eden, by John Pickard. The first time I'd heard it, and a great piece of music. Does anyone else detect a hint of Derek Bourgeois's Blitz in the 'fast and furious' section of this piece? Both pieces are, after all, about destruction. I wonder...
    • David Thornton's performance of Philip Wilby's Euph concerto. Gorgeous, expressive slow movement and a truly thrilling Greek Dance. This guy is a phenomenon.
    • Ascension, by Lucy Pankhurst, in the Young Composers Premieres event. Slow and quiet throughout, with Buddhist singing bowls and jingly balls featured. A nice contrast to the usual fare. Hope we hear more of her.
    Favourite comment of the weekend: man behind me at the conclusion of Variations: "I need a drink. That's the longest piece I've ever heard them play!" There's integrity for you!

    I also thought that the use of Petroc Trelawny as MC was a great move - very professional, not condescending, and looking and sounding like he was genuinely interested in the event. Let's get more people like him on our side. Also found all the pre-performances chats with the composers highly illuminating.

    If you weren't there, edited highlights are going out on Radio 3 on Wednesday, March 8th at 7pm.
  4. matti_raz

    matti_raz Member


    An amazing performance from YBS; from the minute "The Professor" walked on and with no introductory smile or count in the band flew into Terra Australis was amazing. I felt very sorry for them because I felt both test pieces would have walked their respective contest especial "The Night to Sing"- WoW! Also of note were some of Mr K's fabulous and slightly strange new gestures to his band, great man! Adn after all the rumours abound about the demise of the band, I don't think they could have done their critics anymore harm, should be a major force again this year!

    Disagre with you Jim about Dyke and the Variations- I felt the first half was relatively poor compared to the second and that the Variations petered out- but thats the fun of the fair- It's all subjective! However, the second half was much more thought provoking and nigh on perfect but sadly still not much passion!!!

    Grimethorpe were, tecnically, very good but I felt there were no/few tunes to leave the hall with! Shame!
    And that was the whole of my weekend and my highlight was THE YBS Band- marvelous!!!
  5. zak

    zak Member

    Grimethorpe were, tecnically, very good but I felt there were no/few tunes to leave the hall with! Shame![/quote]

    I'm sorry to disappoint you but not ALL good music has tunes to leave you whistling away for the next few days!!!! :clap:

    If you look at our concert schedule perhaps a "brassed off" concert would be more appropriate for you to attend??? ;)

  6. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    :clap: hear hear. Ascension was superb, a really fresh approach that worked brilliantly. And I simply can't express how good Gaia was, a once in a lifetime thing. Awesome. I was also very impressed by the two Wilby pieces last night (the Euph Concerto and Music for the Moving Image), neither of which I'd heard before. I wasn't as impressed with the Heaton Variations as I hoped, but I think it was a lot more personal and introspective in places than I was expecting. I suspect it's a piece that needs several listens to really get hold of it; Dyke are apparently recording it soon so I might buy it and try again.

    Wish I could have got to more, I would especially have liked to hear YBS, but hey, there's always next year.:D

    Well done RNCM
  7. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    The personal and introspective aspects of the music are, in my opinion, exactly what make it such a great work. There are so few other examples of such music in the band repertoire.
  8. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Quite so. I should also have said that one of the other refreshing aspects of the Festival in general, and Grimethorpe's programme in particular, was the way in which full band pieces were broken up with pieces for different combinations. Let's be honest, seven successive concerts of music for full band can dull the senses somewhat, even for the hardened afficionado. So Grimethorpe's programme, which included two pieces for smaller ensembles, and a piece for unaccompanied trumpet, made for a welcome variation in sound.

    And, as someone from Grimethorpe is monitoring this thread, may I respectfully suggest that it isn't necessary for the percussionists to be on stage when they have nothing to play? They did look rather surplus to requirements during Hansel & Gretel! Professional orchestras don't expect players to be on stage if not required - perhaps bands could follow suit? Just a thought.
  9. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    I'll definitely have a listen to it again; I think I was just a bit unprepared for it.I was expecting something more along the lines of the Partita. It's certainly different; I wonder how much of Snell is in there?
  10. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    About 2/3rds?
  11. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I know he realised about that much of the score. What I meant was, when he realised the last 2/3rds of the score, how detailed were the notes he had to work from? How much of it did he actually have to compose "in the style of" Wilfred Heaton? For instance, the "elegy" variation (I think it was var.11) is an extremely personal statement, and the scoring makes a big difference to it; yet Heaton didn't actually score it. I was just wondering how much detail Snell had to work with.
  12. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    From what I have read, Heaton himself scored the work fully up to variation 4. The rest of the work was left only in the form of outlines, and it is from these outlines that Snell worked. It has been done before of course - Derryck Cooke brought a complete version of Mahler 10 to life, and Anthony Payne did a similar job on 'Elgar's' 3rd symphony - in the latter case, to critical acclaim.

    Provided that Snell's input is always acknowledged, I for one will not feel that I'm not listening to the music of Wilfred Heaton.
  13. Seedhouse

    Seedhouse Active Member

    My first time at the RNCM Festival of Brass, and I absolutely loved every minute of it!
    Highlights for me (divided into each different concert):
    - Stunning performance of Aubade;
    - Really enjoyed the Sibelius pieces, with the smaller Grimey ensemble;
    - Exposed Throat, Hakan Hardenberger, absolutely mind blowing :eek: (although though it was a bit long! :rolleyes:)
    - Hadn't listened to Malcolm Arnolds Fantasy for Brass Band for a while, and really enjoyed Grimeys performance of it.
    RNCM Brass Ensemble
    - Loved the Concerto for Tuba, groovy funky music! :D Jim seemed to be really enjoying himself too!
    - Fantastic concert, and liked the program
    - Dave Childs was great in Fantasy (didn't think Dave was announced as Bob's brother though which someone mentioned elsewhere)
    - Gaia was stunning to listen to live, absolutely terrific piece and playing, and the band sound was so broad!
    - Performances of Whitsun Wakes and Kenilworth
    - Simon Dobson's new piece, Taliesen and the Cauldron, really enjoyed it
    - Some of the lyrics in Philip Wilby's Unholy Sonnets (those there will know what I mean!!! A few *** needed!!!)
    - For me were the most impressive over the weekend,
    - Loved the opening Terra Australis- impressive band sound, and playing!
    - Horn Concerto premiere, fantastic playing by Sheona White, but still think segments of the opening theme of the first mvt sound like some of the Gladiator movie soundtrack!!!
    - Two test piece performances were phenomenal!
    Black Dyke
    - Terrific playing by Dave Thornton in the Concerto for Euphonium, and great plate smashing!!! :D
    (Wasn't too keen on Variations- not my kind of music- each to their own!)
    - Philip Wilby's Music for the Moving Image!

    Would highly recommend anyone to go for the weekend, even if for a few concerts. Lots of interesting new modern music, and some old classics! :rolleyes:
    Really enjoyed myself! :D

    (Sorry it's a long post!!! :()
  14. Pete Meechan

    Pete Meechan Member

    For me there were too many highlights to mention - but perhaps my favourite piece of the weekend was the Variations - what a musical mind Heaton had.

    Gaia was omething else too - hearing it on CD is one thing, but being ni the concert hall was beyond belief - amazing.

    Perhaps the most encuoraging thing was the attendance - not too many spare seats all weekend, and maybe this tells us something. Play interesting music (That doesn't need to mean contemporary, just something that has musical value) and people WILL like it and people WILL come to listen.

    Roll on the 2007 festival of brass!
  15. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    Actually, I rather got the impression that some of the lyrics of M is for Man, Music, Mozart were rather more earthy than the one example in Unholy Sonnets. The words weren't printed in the programme, and there was (as always with brass and voice) a problem of balance, but I'm pretty sure I detected the occasional use of some interesting Anglo-Saxon! And incidentally, was I the only one confused by the apparently abrupt ending of this piece? The programme seemed to indicate that the last movement was a song, but it never came. Or is this a musical joke on the part of the composer?

    Don't apologise, we like some intelligent opinion.
  16. Pete Meechan

    Pete Meechan Member

    Not sure about the movements in M is for....

    But I think you are correct on the anglo-saxon front! Also, some of the words and phrases used in the alphabet were maybe a little unsuitable for the under 18s!
  17. Brian Kelly

    Brian Kelly Active Member

    How many TMPers made it to the masterclasses by Haken Hardenberger (I hope I spelled that correctly) and Ian Bousefield?

    I couldn't go to Ian Bousefields' class, alas, but Haken Hardenberger was excellent. Most of what he said to his class applies to all brass instruments. He places a lot of emphasis on physical relaxation and lack of tension when playing, airflow, and intonation.

    Some memorable quotes:

    "Don't just aim straight ahead at a point 10 feet in front of your bell, think wide"

    "Paint the walls of the room with the colour of your sound"

    "We have to accept that we are part of Western civilisation. Bad intonation is unacceptable on every other instrument, and it is unacceptable on the trumpet"

    I learned a few things on Saturday morning, especially what he had to say about not being tense while playing, and have started to try and apply them to my own playing.
  18. euphfanhan

    euphfanhan Member

    I originally only booked a dyke ticket but ended up watching ybs to bridge the gap between my lesson and the dyke concert, and found myself enjoying ybs more :clap: .
    I thought Sheona White's solo was fantastic, and the rest of the programme demonstrated the bands ability without being too heavy for the audience. The highlight of the dyke concert for me was David Thornton's solo and Four Cornish Dances, the rest of it was, imho a bit too much to take after an afternoon of brass (especially variations, thought it would never end!) Don't get me wrong, they sounded fantastic as usual but I (along with several people I talked to) would have preferred something a bit lighter. I thought Music for the Moving Image was fantastic though and hearing from various composers throughout the concerts was really interesting. I'll def be going back next year! :biggrin:
  19. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    The Festival appears to be gaining in popularity rather quickly...sounds like one might have to either order their tickets early for next year...or expect tauters ;)
  20. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    The Dyke concert was very full, I must say Pat!

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