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Thread: English Nationals 2012

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephenmrry View Post
    Firstly to clarify the soloist issue the soloist prize was based only on the test piece and not the own choice contest. I was at the contest yesterday and I have to admit as good as the likes of Fodens, Fairey and Leyland were Black Dyke were on a different wave length. Masquerade was admittedly a lot closer but the own choice was simply outstanding with particular mention to Gary Curtin who was superb. It is the best live performance I have ever heard and it will take something special to top that anytime soon. If you get a chance to hear it on soundcloud do because it was that good.

    Take Dyke out and the other three bands could have finished in any order. My prediction was Dyke (1st and 1st) Fodens (2nd 3rd) and Fairey (3rd 2nd) and Leyland (4th 5th). Hepworth really impressed me on their own choice and they could be a band to watch in the future they are certainly on an upward curve and could be a dark horse at the Open this year if they can carry that form forward. Of the other bands no band disgraced themselves but they were just outclassed at this level. They are good bands in their own right just hard to compete with the class shown at the top end.

    Of the contest itself the new format (now in its second year) is excellent but the crowds are not coming to the contest and it still fails to draw Grimethorpe (back) or Desford in along with Carlton Main and Brighouse not going. That was my fourth English Nationals and it has come along way from my first one back in 2008. I see it as a good cheap contest and I make the trip from Ireland every year. Perhaps it's the location for some people but it does seem hard to see how they can continue to have the contest if it only attracts 300 - 400 people to a 2000 seater venue. I will still continue to attend and I hope more people do as well in the future!

    You got it absolutely. I completely agree with your placings for both the morning and afternoon. I felt Leyland were less tidy in the detail at times and so had Foden and Faireys above them. But great interpretation by Leyland in the morning.

    Cant understand why attendance is so low - playing standard was breathtaking and great to hear a good range of superb works on show on the day. It is a well organised contest and thanks to the organisers. Dykes were stunning and well ahead in the morning and afternoon. I really try to be neutral but goodness me, that was a stonker and the last time I heard such unified agreement in a contest hall on a clear winner was when Alan Withington was winning with Grimethorpe some 6 years ago.

    If you haven't been to the Nationals then you are missing a real treat!

  2. #17
    tMP Senior Friend toby hobson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost View Post
    Cant understand why attendance is so low!
    Maybe because the contest is in the only town (sorry city) that is more depressing than Corby!!! And possibly because this contest (mainly because of the European qualification element) seems to be a fortress for music that may test the players but merely tests the patience of the listeners. Personally I am sick of the squeaks and the silly standing up and the wonderfully bizarre harmony. I and I'm sure many other people want to hear a band (preferably my old band) go on there and play Year of the Dragon or Harmony Music or Blitz or Enigma or any other barn stormer that contain tunes and licence to tonk at full tilt. I am sick of turgid, pretentious waffle that excites the MDs but bores the players and puts off the listeners!!!

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    Maybe because the contest is in the only town (sorry city) that is more depressing than Corby!!! And possibly because this contest (mainly because of the European qualification element) seems to be a fortress for music that may test the players but merely tests the patience of the listeners. Personally I am sick of the squeaks and the silly standing up and the wonderfully bizarre harmony. I and I'm sure many other people want to hear a band (preferably my old band) go on there and play Year of the Dragon or Harmony Music or Blitz or Enigma or any other barn stormer that contain tunes and licence to tonk at full tilt. I am sick of turgid, pretentious waffle that excites the MDs but bores the players and puts off the listeners!!!
    And whats wrong with Corby?!

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    Maybe because the contest is in the only town (sorry city) that is more depressing than Corby!!! And possibly because this contest (mainly because of the European qualification element) seems to be a fortress for music that may test the players but merely tests the patience of the listeners. Personally I am sick of the squeaks and the silly standing up and the wonderfully bizarre harmony. I and I'm sure many other people want to hear a band (preferably my old band) go on there and play Year of the Dragon or Harmony Music or Blitz or Enigma or any other barn stormer that contain tunes and licence to tonk at full tilt. I am sick of turgid, pretentious waffle that excites the MDs but bores the players and puts off the listeners!!!
    Well quite obviously you were not in the audience on Saturday! You seem to have dismissed two Wilby pieces, one by Peter Graham and one by Mr Sparke! In other words you have driven a truck through a major body of our wonderful and recent work. Of course you are entitled to your opinion but I dont feel your argument will hold water with the majority. No hard feelings - if I see you there next year I will happily buy you a drink!

  5. #20
    tMP Senior Friend toby hobson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost View Post
    Well quite obviously you were not in the audience on Saturday! You seem to have dismissed two Wilby pieces, one by Peter Graham and one by Mr Sparke! In other words you have driven a truck through a major body of our wonderful and recent work. Of course you are entitled to your opinion but I dont feel your argument will hold water with the majority. No hard feelings - if I see you there next year I will happily buy you a drink!
    Well I havnt disliked much by the last two composers on that list. The first was partly responsible for me calling it a day from playing. I would prefer to rip out my toenails before sitting through 5 or so hours of that stuff. Then there is the Euro guff that is currently in vouge. Bands have forgotten what they are and who listens to them!!! :-(

  6. #21
    tMP Friend in Training fatstickmanslim's Avatar
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    and why are all the big contests on a saturday? alot of us work on a saturday.

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    After sitting through both sections on Saturday I feel compelled to stimulate the old debate of how to manipulate the score to achieve maybe what is not the intent of the composer. The use of mutes and other articles to cheat away from the score is rife in some bands and along with facing the wrong way to hide your quiet playing is a joke. Why can't it be a level playing field, all play what is written, all use same mutes and do not use tea towels, an old mattrasses or anything else draped over the bell end to deaden the sound. Dyke's sop was facing the wrong way playing into the reps back.....why not just walk off stage and be done with it!

    Also, although the playing level was very high yesterday and a two fine performances clinched it on the day for Black Dyke I am interested on how the adjudicators - Wormald and Roberts differentiate between different pieces to judge the performing bands. Do they have a system of how difficult a piece is and correlate this to how well its played and therefore is Rococo Variation easier to Audivi Media Nocte?? Is it better to play a, what is on the surface, a difficult piece not very well or choose a one with hidden styles and play it very well?? I would very much like a reply on how they judged this aspect.

    Was this the right set of results yesterday?, I don't think so. Did all band play fair and square and abide by the composers instructions? I dont think so either. Maybe we should an on-stage referee who ensure fair play takes place. Don't move chairs, play the right mutes and refrain from hanging upholstery from the instrument. Maybe then we should see fair play on the contest stage.




  8. #23
    tMP Senior Friend toby hobson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenegiant2 View Post
    After sitting through both sections on Saturday I feel compelled to stimulate the old debate of how to manipulate the score to achieve maybe what is not the intent of the composer. The use of mutes and other articles to cheat away from the score is rife in some bands and along with facing the wrong way to hide your quiet playing is a joke. Why can't it be a level playing field, all play what is written, all use same mutes and do not use tea towels, an old mattrasses or anything else draped over the bell end to deaden the sound. Dyke's sop was facing the wrong way playing into the reps back.....why not just walk off stage and be done with it!

    Also, although the playing level was very high yesterday and a two fine performances clinched it on the day for Black Dyke I am interested on how the adjudicators - Wormald and Roberts differentiate between different pieces to judge the performing bands. Do they have a system of how difficult a piece is and correlate this to how well its played and therefore is Rococo Variation easier to Audivi Media Nocte?? Is it better to play a, what is on the surface, a difficult piece not very well or choose a one with hidden styles and play it very well?? I would very much like a reply on how they judged this aspect.

    Was this the right set of results yesterday?, I don't think so. Did all band play fair and square and abide by the composers instructions? I dont think so either. Maybe we should an on-stage referee who ensure fair play takes place. Don't move chairs, play the right mutes and refrain from hanging upholstery from the instrument. Maybe then we should see fair play on the contest stage.



    Maybe we could use those goal line blokes from the football; I really donít know what they are meant to be doing!!! While the old tricks are an annoyance to the watcher I guess they have always gone on and always will do because we are playing to a man in a box. Should the adjudicators be musically savvy enough to hear blatant, cadenza chopping up, dusters over bells, dusters in mutes, playing into backs, Bb basses playing low eflat parts and visa versa, Sops playing high cornet parts...(all of which Iím told went on this Saturday, even by the winning band) maybe they should. Maybe itís one of the downfalls of us sometimes having judges who havenít played at the top level in bands, not in any way meaning to disregard what they bring from their particular field, it's a valuable opinion from a different musical perspective, but those who have been there and done it in recent times would be able to see the old tricks coming out of the box before they arrive and possibly be looking out for letís say creative re-arranging. Is splitting a solo/cadenza up any better than peddling which attracts all sorts of opinions these days!!!

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    I and I'm sure many other people want to hear a band go on there and play Year of the Dragon or Harmony Music or Blitz or Enigma or any other barn stormer that contain tunes and licence to tonk at full tilt.
    Maybe you should acquire a time machine and go back to the mid-80's then?

    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    Then there is the Euro guff that is currently in vouge.
    IMO the majority of this 'Euro guff' written in recent years are amazing pieces of music. I guess the modernity of a piece like 'Audivi Media Nocte' is way too much to take for some people (even though half of it is written in the style of Thomas Tallis!)

    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    Bands have forgotten what they are and who listens to them!!! :-(
    ... Europeans mostly!

  10. #25
    tMP Friend for Life Anno Draconis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    Maybe because the contest is in the only town (sorry city) that is more depressing than Corby!!! And possibly because this contest (mainly because of the European qualification element) seems to be a fortress for music that may test the players but merely tests the patience of the listeners. Personally I am sick of the squeaks and the silly standing up and the wonderfully bizarre harmony. I and I'm sure many other people want to hear a band (preferably my old band) go on there and play Year of the Dragon or Harmony Music or Blitz or Enigma or any other barn stormer that contain tunes and licence to tonk at full tilt. I am sick of turgid, pretentious waffle that excites the MDs but bores the players and puts off the listeners!!!
    Bit harsh. Nowhere is more depressing than Corby...
    Andrew Baker

  11. #26
    tMP Friend for Life Anno Draconis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    And possibly because this contest (mainly because of the European qualification element) seems to be a fortress for music that may test the players but merely tests the patience of the listeners. Personally I am sick of the squeaks and the silly standing up and the wonderfully bizarre harmony. I and I'm sure many other people want to hear a band (preferably my old band) go on there and play Year of the Dragon or Harmony Music or Blitz or Enigma or any other barn stormer that contain tunes and licence to tonk at full tilt. I am sick of turgid, pretentious waffle that excites the MDs but bores the players and puts off the listeners!!!
    And on a more serious note, I think that's a bit harsh, too. Remember how many people thought Blitz was a load of old spherical objects when it came out? It doesn't lack in bizarre harmony either. Neither does Harmony Music, in places, come to think of it.

    Personally I went largely so I could hear the live performances of Audivi Media Nocte and Extreme Makeover, both of which I think are great. The pieces that really boil my urine are the empty "showpiece" commissions that were trendy for a few years at the European, like Spheres, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Shoulders, Red Priest, etc. I found the two "European" pieces to be the best music of the day on saturday. However I'm a bit of a geek. And a BOC. You might well be right that it puts off the general listener, but I think that's probably true of test-pieces in general. I don't think just playing older or "more melodious" test-pieces on would make any difference.

    The question should be asked, why does that apply here in the UK but not in Norway or Switzerland? I sat next to a Norwegian friend for part of the contest, who made the point that were the same contest to take place in Norway the hall would have been at least 4 times as full.

    The other urine-boiler is all this guff about how facing the back of the stage, using dusters, swapping parts etc. is cheating. Personally I don't like it because I'd rather see the composer's wishes followed to the letter and because players at this level ought to be able to play pianissimo without putting their heads between their legs and playing into the floor. However, it appears to win contests, and that's all that matters! Isn't it...?
    Andrew Baker

  12. #27
    tMP Prime Friend James Yelland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toby hobson View Post
    Maybe... (the failure of judges to punish duster use, part swapping etc.) is one of the downfalls of us sometimes having judges who haven’t played at the top level in bands...
    Maybe. Or maybe it's because the judges can't see what's happening on the stage. Or maybe it's because the rules don't prohibit any of the practices you mention and therefore are not eligible for punishment. In fact, thinking about it, I think my suggestions are more likely reasons.
    Jim Yelland
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  13. #28
    tMP Prime Friend James Yelland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coverhead View Post
    Maybe you should acquire a time machine and go back to the mid-80's then?
    I fear that even the 1880's would be dangerously modern for the arch reactionary Mr H.
    Last edited by James Yelland; 26.06.2012 at 08:31.
    Jim Yelland
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  14. #29
    tMP Senior Friend toby hobson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James Yelland View Post
    I fear that even the 1880's would be dangerously modern for the arch reactionary Mr H.
    Ha ha. The pop music was certainly better then!

  15. #30
    tMP Friend for Life Anno Draconis's Avatar
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    He has something of a point about the quality of pieces, though. If you're a connoisseur of test-pieces, the 80s were a bit of a golden age. Think of all the Nationals pieces that became classics - Blitz, Contest Music, Ballet for Band, Dances and Arias, Cloudcatcher Fells, Harmony Music, English Heritage. All pieces of high compositional quality which are also accessible and enjoyable to listen to, and at least four of them by composers who'd never written a Nationals peice before, 3 of whom had made their name in the wider classical music world before being commissioned to write a band piece (McCabe, Horovitz and Lloyd). Then try and think of a similar list from the last 20 years. Not so easy.

    After Paganini Variations, I struggle to think of a really memorable, high quality test written specifically for a major UK contest. Dances & Alleluias, Rococo Variations and Vienna Nights, maybe, they were by established names who'd written loads of works before. Eden is the only really decent new work for a UK contest by an "outside" composer, and although personally I love it and I think the ending is heartbreakingly beautiful, the central section certainly isn't immediate accessible to the casual listener.
    Andrew Baker

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