2014 Set Pieces for Areas


The three most recent Second Section pieces for the Areas have been The Plantagenets (2013), Cross Patonce (2012) and Resurgam (2011). Each of these was either criticised for being 'too difficult' a test, or (in the case of Resurgam), too special (musically, as opposed to too technical a challenge) - from various quarters including posts on these forums, bands I've worked with, and the "pundits" at 4barsrest, all4brass, British Bandsman inter alia.

"Chaucer's Tunes" is by no means an easy piece - the writing is not overly virtuosic, but does make technical demands on the tutti/lower chairs in each section. There may not be many stand-out solo moments, but most players will feel a bit of the spotlight shone on them at various moments. This sort of writing makes sense, given the piece's origins (in brass band form) as a test piece for the national youth championships - I'm not sure for which section it was set, but I would imagine at the higher end, where confident young players would be glad of the opportunity to shine from whatever seat they were playing.

Strong Section 2 bands will not struggle, but the score is intricate enough to demand much hard work on the way to a perfect performance - something which should be far more achievable in recent years. Music Panellist Paul Holland, adjudicator for the 2nd and 3rd sections at Stevenage in March 2013, remarked (in his summing-up before the results) that he didn't feel any band in either section had "really nailed the piece". This piece surely presents a chance to really nail it - and also a fairer challenge for the weaker bands in this section, rather than a demoralisingly unachievable target.

In my experience (though I wouldn't wish to pre-suppose anything), people who grumble that a test piece is "too easy" very often haven't got down to the nitty-gritty of it as yet. It's a good, fun piece, and I'm greatly looking forward to working on it.
I totally agree with you, the bands who have had a glance at Chaucers Tunes and decided to put it away as it is 'too easy' may regret it. Personally I don't like it but the band who will win on the day will be the one who has paid every attention to detail and made music. It may not be technically as hard as Plantagenets or Cross Patonce but it still has to be played!