The Year of the Dragon

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by kevinbsm, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. kevinbsm

    kevinbsm New Member

    Hi everyone!

    I'm hitting a brick wall with my prep for the LRSM direction diploma in November. Philip Sparke has provided me with some info regarding his composition, Thanks to Philip. I am in need, however, of as much info/ programme notes/ personal experiences/ history etc as possible regarding the Year of the Dragon. If there is anyone out there (spotters are more than welcome) that can help I would be more than grateful.

  2. SteveDunster

    SteveDunster New Member

    Hi Kevin

    Sorry I can't help, but I too could do with some info on Year of the Dragon. If I discover any over the next few weeks I will pass it on to you ...perhaps you could do the same for me if you strike lucky

    All the best to you

    Steve Dunster
    MD Woodfalls Concert Brass
  3. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    I have some information which might be useful. Hunted for a while to find the LP, ... so here are the sleevenotes from The Cory Band (Major H.A. Kenny) LP called 'Dances & Arias' (1985, PRL025D, Polyphonic Reproductions Ltd.).

    "The Year Of The Dragon" - Philip Sparke
    - The highlight of Cory's centenary celebrations throughout 1984 was a concert in St. David's Hall, Cardiff, in March. The band, with the aid of funds provided by the Welsh Arts Council, commissioned Philip Sparke to write a work for it's first performance at this concert. The result was 'The Year Of The Dragon' of which the composer writes:

    "At the time I wrote 'The Year Of The Dragon' Cory had won two successive Nationals and I set out to write a virtuoso piece to display the talents of this remarkable band to the full. The work is in three movements:

    1. Toccata opens with an arresting side drum figure and snatches of themes from various sections of the band which try to develop until a broad and powerful theme from the middle of the band asserts itself. A central dance-like section soon gives way to the return of this theme which subsides until faint echoes of the opening material fades to a close.

    2. Interlude takes the form of a sad and languid solo for trombone. A chorale for the whole band introduces a brief spell of optimisim but the trombone solo returns to close the movement quietly.

    3. Finale is a real tour-de-force for the band with a stream of rapid semiquavers running throughout the movement. The main theme is heroic and march-like but this is interspersed with lighter, more playful episodes. A distant fanfare to the sound of bells is introduced and this eventually returns the work to a stirring close."
  4. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    You may or may not be aware that there is now a wind band version, with the trombone solo given to the cor anglais, apparently at least in part because it was felt that wind ensembles may not have trombonists of sufficient ability to do it justice.
  5. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    To paraphrase this a little, from a players perspective:

    Toccata is a bright rhythmical movement which is not too difficult but requires tight ensemble playing, controlled niote lengths and dynamics and careful control of tempos to keep a feeling of moving foreward.

    Interlude is in places almost a slow movement of a trombone concerto, with a technically and lyrically difficult blues-like solo part that is sometimes played with the soloist standing up facing the audience. The ensemble chorale is absolutely fantastic, with the moment after the climax (at letter J) being listed by many as one of, if not the most beautiful moment in any Brass band piece - I can still remember playing it at the Grand shield in 1993 and feeling that time stood still.

    Finale - lots of words to describe it but for some reason on tMp they all end up as rows of *****'s ;) . Nice rhythmical bits reminiscent of the first movement interspersed with hideous semiquaver runs, difficult both because of the fingerings and the articulation, which is sometimes groups of 4 & sometimes 2. Tempo varies from "slow" (to allow people to get the fingering and articulation right - but still is difficult and relies on everyone being able to play it note perfect as mistakes stand out more) to "extremely fast" (in which case you might be able to get away with some bluffing of both fingering and tongueing but risk the ensemble falling apart completely). Either way careful planning of who is going to breathe where is essential or else there are gaps or diminuendos where there shouldn't be!.
  6. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    The wind band version was out by 1988. I first played Year of the Dreagon in a Wind Orchestra during a fund raising day at Newham Academy of Music.

    Personally, I think the following...
    • Shock chords at the opening are awesome, and there is an immediate test of the band's ability to play the dynamics.
    • Wondrous opening to the second movement - (An angry look emanated from our Solo Trombone's face when someone said "I thought that was the tenor horn playing that!")
    • The opening sequence to the Finale is amazing - and I experienced an awe inspiring moment where all the basses nailed their semi quaver passages.
    • The ppp Eb Bass duet is excellent- though it is not long enough!
    Many a band has played the piece, but (at contests at least) it has proven too much for the them. It is truly a test piece, but cannot be described as "Music composed on graph paper". If I hear that a band is going to play it at a contest, I'll rush into the auditorium to hear it.

    A great, great piece.
  7. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Isn't there also something about the necessity for the sop player to have spherical objects fabricated in titanium-reinforced concrete at the start of the Finale ... ?
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    First contest performance of The Dragon?? Was it Desford at the 1986 European Championships?
  9. ronnie_the_lizard

    ronnie_the_lizard Active Member

    They won it, but were they no1 draw?
  10. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    [BOC]According to's archive section, Willebroek drew No 1, Desford played 8th [/BOC]
  11. Redhorn

    Redhorn New Member


    Perhaps what Peter should have said was:

    You may or may not be aware that there is now a wind band version, with the trombone solo given to the cor anglais, apparently at least in part because it was felt that wind ensembles may not have ANYONE of sufficient ability to do it justice! ;)
  12. B'aht a band

    B'aht a band Member

    If this is any help (i.e, none whatsoever).....

    The chinese years are in 12's. So the year of the dragon is any of these....
    1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 and 2000.
    Hope that didn't help in any way...