Last edited by nhrg; 04.10.2007 at 12:44.
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.
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?
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)
Better to B# than out of tune !
"Loving it in Derbyshire"
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"
I am a firm believer in brass bands constantly moving forward, and I agree that we should really embrace contemporary composers (I particularly agree in inviting composers from other musical arenas).
But, this has to be balanced with musical heritage.
It would be a complete disaster if orchestras decided just to play totally contemporary music and didn't balance this with bringing out Beethoven, Mozart etc. on a regular basis (are we including Mahler and Stravinsky as heritage? we really should as music constantly moves on – should a piece be played once and never again? I realise this is the bizarre extreme, but where does the ‘contemporary’ music definition end?)
There was a lot of rubbish written in Mozart's time but this doesn't get played. Mozart does as it remains some of the finest music ever written, and is still an inspiration to musicians today. So Mozart gets played much more than many other composers of his day.
I'm not saying that Eric Ball is quite in Mozart’s league, but he was a shining example of how to write melodic music for the Brass Band. Rhythm and effect are all wonderful things, music has to progress, our tastes and preconceptions must constantly be challenged, but when music is this good, it doesn't matter when it was written, it should remain within our contest programming.
(And I'm afraid the argument that there isn't much for percussion doesn't hack it. Shall we specify to all new contest composers that each part has to have the same amount of work to do, the same technical content etc? This is music, not a car factory. Contests are about progressing musically, not about ticking boxes, or measuring criteria)
Contest pieces really are all about ticking the "right" boxes and maybe because of this we are in danger of stagnating musically.
When did you last listen to an orchestral piece and make a judgement on its' musical merit based on whether there was a hard enough.......( insert name of instrument here)..... solo or plenty of opportunity for the strings to scurry about a lot ?
I agree there should be balance. Wholeheartedly. The Nationals and the Regionals are the flagship contests, there are plenty of opportunities in the banding year to play Eric Ball et al in concerts and other contests. Adopting this criteria would send an important message, continue to generate new music and should really challenge conductors, players and the movement.
As for arrangements, the day I go to a jazz gig or a classical concert and hear them play an arrangement from a brass band piece is the day I will advocate picking pieces like Rienzi for our top contests.
How to define what classes as contemporary is an interesting debate.
Contemporary music is more likely (looking at the evidence) to have testing parts for all areas of the band including percussioninsts.
If you were to test how good an orchestra was, how would you do it? If you just asked each to play technically difficuly contemporary pieces you would be able to judge one aspect. But what about the rest? how good is an orchestra that can't play Mozart?
sorry last post should have said concerts and minor contests. too late to edit!