Test Pieces outside of Contest

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by DublinBass, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    It seems sad to spend quite a bit of time on a testpiece and only play it once at contest (which often happens).

    Our band played Chivalry at a concert last night (it was our test piece two months ago) and it was nice to go through the music again just to enjoy it. We also did this a few years back with Curnow's Trittico.

    Do any other bands play a test piece after contest is over or do you just hand it back in?

    What are some of the test pieces you may have kept in the folder?
  2. Okiedokie of Oz

    Okiedokie of Oz Active Member

    Yes, I have replayed a testpiece just as a concert item. Also, good test pieces become own choices!!!
  3. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    We just hand it back in at Leyland.

    When I was in lower section bands sometimes we played the piece out at a concert, either before or after the contest, which I think is a great idea. This is something I'll be doing when I'm conducting full time. There's some lovely test pieces that make good concert items, or some of the slow middle movements are nice to play.
    Some test pieces however, aren't really appropriate for concert performances... some audiences can only take so much, ermmm, clutter.

  4. Aidan

    Aidan Active Member

    we play quite a few test pieces regularly in concerts, normally the old classics such as carnival romain and roi d'ys.
  5. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    Certain test pieces do gradually migrate into concert repetoire, but only if suitable. Usually the orchestral transcriptions and such. Test pieces of the past like Carnival Romain and Le Corsair are now often aired by bands in their concerts. A lot of test pieces however, would be unsuitable. Depends on the audience really. I can't see Maunsell Forts or Prague going down well with the audiences at Burnley Mechanics or Stroud! :roll:
  6. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I don't actually like the term 'test-piece' because to me it implies that they are primarily of technical, rather than musical, value - which is certainly not the case for the vast majority.

    I always like to include pieces from the serious end of the band repertoire when it is appropriate for the audience and setting, and I'm generally disappointed when I hear bands giving concerts made up of entirely light music. There's also a large body of serious work, unsuitable for contests, which rarely sees the light of day: Vinter's Challenging Brass or the Britten Russian Funeral for example.

    If you're interested and will forgive the blatant plug, check out our programme for the Harrogate Festival on our homepage: www.harrogateband.org

  7. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    Have done Year of the Dragon and Journey into Freedom at concerts , also the last "March " from Symphony of Marches..
    As Chris posts you not gonna program " Prague " at a light concert job.
    One test Piece which could work well is by Torstien Aagard Nilsen called SVoR - published byNordic Sounds I think , cracking test and good for the audience.
    The Krohnegan band played J.Curnow Trittico on the Welsh leg of their recent tour , didn't seem out of place.
  8. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    We are currently working on 2 test pieces (Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Moon and Mexico) to keep our stamina and reading up to speed, as well as our concert stuff. Doubt we'll play them out anywhere but they are useful to rehearse!
  9. Depends on the piece. Philip sparke's tests are probably equally as presentable as concert overtures, maybe in some cases I think better suited to concerts than modern contests.
  10. Lucky Beaver

    Lucky Beaver Member

    Likewise Goff Richards. We recently played The Aeronauts at a concert and it seemed to go down well.
  11. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    We have played "test pieces"at a couple of our concerts recently, and I have to say they always seem to go down suprisingly well. We played Spectrum at a joint concert with Jericho Brass from the US, primarily as a run-out for a contest, but our conductor took the time to explain what the piece is about and the colour each movement portrayed. He even explained that the last movement is purple rather than violet because Vinter was terminally ill at the time and purple is a colour more associated with death - hence the rather morbid ending. I have no idea if there is an ounce of truth in that but it made an interesting point anyway. :?

    I couldn't agree more. I have said on here before that it seems to be counter-productive to the movement to assume any "serious" piece has been written with the sole objective of providing a series of technical hoops to jump though.

    Anyway some others we have done in concerts are: Variations on a Swiss Air (Partita??) - Phillip Sparke (went down really well that one :D ), Entertainments, the "Elergy" from "A Downland Suite". All were well recieved.

    To answer the last question - we have loads of test pieces in our folders - I'm guessing something like 10-15. Everything from Year of the Dragon to Resurgum, generally we will spend some time on one of them at the end of a practice.
  12. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Interesting. When I inititally took the Houston Brass Band through my (intended) Test Piece Boadicea, the responses from the band were very enlightening. Two players were scared stiff initially, but then realised that they could play most of the notes at sight or at the second attempt. The one statement that made me smile though, was "When you said it was a test piece, I assumed it would be tricky for the sake of it. It's actually very melodic."

    Boadicea is testing for a band of 4th section level, and Houston found it so in the lead up to the concert. They gave a nervous performance on the day, (as if it was a contest) that would have got them a mid table place in a contest, but the perfomance was enjoyed very much by the audience, judging by all the comments received afterwards.
  13. missflugel

    missflugel Member

    We're playing Pagannini Variations in a concert tomorrow night and our conductor chose it because its a test like Laura said which builds our stamina up but its also an entertaining piece that the audience will know the main theme of

    Jo x
  14. Humphrey

    Humphrey Member

    Edward Gregson told me that he had written Connotations with exactly those objectives in mind. I don't know if thats counter-productive.(?) The ad lib cadenzas which are a feature of some popular brass composers often appear idiomatic. If well done they don't detract from the music but it seems to me that the argument the composer has deliberately provided a series of technical hoops to jump through, can be made.
  15. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    Well that *beeps* on my chips then. Connotations is one of my favourite pieces! :D

    Seriously though I don't see how it can be healthy to automatically refer to serious pieces as "test pieces". After all how many times have you referred to a piece as "a good test", meaning it was challenging but had as much musical form or melody as someone emptying a bag of spanners down a steel staircase??!!! :shock: :? :)
  16. JessopSmythe

    JessopSmythe Active Member

    My old band used bits of Year of the Dragon a few times in concert and in entertainments contests.

    Abergavenny Band played Chivalry in our concert just last week.
  17. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    That is an unfortunate label, however (as already mentioned), some piece are comissioned soley for contests and lack (in my opinion) musical value. I think if we all looked back at tMp's 100 greatest test pieces we'll see the more musical/ concert worthy ones on the list.

    I have also seen ISB perform "Essence of Time" and "Resurgam" since those test pieces have a good religous context and they (obviously) are not a contesting band.
  18. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I'm sure most composers who are commissioned to write test pieces also want their work to be performed in concert — and why not? However, one might wonder how different some such pieces would have been if commissioned for concert use instead. For one thing, having to make the piece sufficiently difficult as a test of technique, particularly at championship level, may run contrary to the composer's best creative instincts.

    This isn't to say concert music should not be difficult. High demands may be required of players and band for composers to express what they really want. That "on the edge of the seat" sensation one gets listening to certain passages of difficult music can add to the overall thrill. But certain test pieces come to mind where the level of difficulty can cause unwanted tension which prevents a comfortable listening experience (particularly in quite, sensitive passages) and is counter-productive in a concert.

    Those test pieces that have become classics and rightfully appear on concert programmes were probably written by composers who did not allow technique (sometimes quite impracticable) for its own sake to be the governing factor.
  19. Heppy

    Heppy Member

    Check out B&R's concert at Durham Uni on Saturday. Full of test pieces. Contest Music and Masquerade to name a few. Glad i'm not doing that!
    Hepworth have played Les Preludes in a concert before. Also done other pieces like Journey before and Rhapsody for Brass. Wouldn't exactly call them test pieces specifically but are effective pieces to use.
  20. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    The advertized B&R concert at Durham is a commendably "serious" programme for a university. I wish I could attend.

    Transcriptions of classical orchestral works do not qualify for what is meant here by "test pieces", i.e., original band works. The composers did not write them to test brass bands, even if transcriptions of them were first used at contests.

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