2015 Area piece rumours??????

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Please no. Pass the vodka. If I wanted to play ******* Sally Army music, I would have joined.
Torchbearers the test piece isn't a Sally Army piece. It's a test piece inspired by a Sally Army march, written by someone who's written some brilliant test pieces that until then we're published outside the Sally Army. The Sally Army doesn't have any music challenging enough for the championship section, with the exception of pieces like Isaiah 40 which was written specifically for a non-SA contest.

no one playing championship section should expect to ever see any normal SA music on their stand for a contest.

However, I do think given the concerns about the lower sections getting from time to time some fairly musically empty tests, I think there are many Sally Army publications that could produce a good test, whilst being more interesting for the bands involved.
 

simonium

Member
no one playing championship section should expect to ever see any normal SA music on their stand for a contest.
No one playing in any section should expect to see SA music on their stand for a contest. Leave the prating religious nonsense for occasions I'm not involved in, thanks very much.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
It's music. Come on. Much of the greatest music in history is inextricably tied up with religious intention. Do you throw that out?
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
No one playing in any section should expect to see SA music on their stand for a contest. Leave the prating religious nonsense for occasions I'm not involved in, thanks very much.
Strange comment; much of Eric Ball's non-SA "contest" music is firmly rooted in religious conviction; the only thing that differentiates it from his published SA music is the fact that it doesn't contain a recognisable hymn tune or religious song.
 

GJG

Well-Known Member
The Sally Army doesn't have any music challenging enough for the championship section, with the exception of pieces like Isaiah 40 which was written specifically for a non-SA contest.

no one playing championship section should expect to ever see any normal SA music on their stand for a contest.
Not sure I'd agree with that; some of Ray Steadman-Allen's stuff is considerably more difficult that "Isaiah 40", at least in terms of musical difficulty, and being difficult to "put together", if not in terms of "black-notes-per-square-inch".

I'd imagine "Song of Courage" would give many bands a few headaches as well; quite a bit harder that much of Eric Ball's non-SA test-pieces ...
 

simonium

Member
It's music. Come on. Much of the greatest music in history is inextricably tied up with religious intention. Do you throw that out?
Not necessarily, crusading is what gets my goat. I find religious ideology fairly abhorrent so try to avoid it wherever possible, although in certain circumstances I will endure it. If need be, and the first section suffer the dire Torchbearer next year, I will pack my beta blockers in the same bag as my Hitchens and Harris books!
 

ploughboy

Active Member
I understand what you're saying..but. Let's say band A play fab all the way through but 1st Euph cadenza or solo is very poorly played..band B plays the same all the way through but cadenza etc is fab..then the soloist would be pivotal in winning the competition? And given last years area the 1st Euph had the biggest part to play, I've listened to the King Arthur piece
However King Arthur is a favourite of a member of the panel who is not conducting at the RAH this year I believe, he's been working for it to be a National Final piece for a couple of years at least (since before the Ravel), so any suggestion it was picked by a Conductor with a good Euph is a little off target.

However, Why are all the guys on the panel working (or retired) in the top sections generally, surely we'd like someone on there who represents the other 3 or 4 5ths of banding!
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I think that as an odious generalisation it tends to be that the better the band, the better the players around the stands. It's not uncommon to find 4th section bands with quality players on the end seats who effectively carry the group musically, but the standard around the band in the championship section tends to be much more even, and the difference between say 3rd and front row cornet more a matter of range specialism than ability. This wasn't always the case, and older testpieces reflect that the corner players carried a substantially heavier burden than their section players up until the first growth of 'modern' testpieces in the 70s.
I would argue that strength down the line is more important as an indicator of a band's quality than whether one can lay one's hands on a superstar solo player for a contest.
That all seems logical to me though it might be that test pieces for the 4th and maybe 3rd sections should (still) expect a large skill gradient across the band. Of course there will be 'false' results if a band brings in some superstar solo player for a contest and I would regard that practice as a form of cheating to be looked out for.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
though it might be that test pieces for the 4th and maybe 3rd sections should (still) expect a large skill gradient across the band.
This was the point I was - perhaps clumsily - trying to make regarding how it works today. The average championship section principal player is not as much better than the average 4th section principal player as the average championship section section player is better than the average 4th section section player.

Of course there will be 'false' results if a band brings in some superstar solo player for a contest and I would regard that practice as a form of cheating to be looked out for.
You don't suggest doing anything about it, but if one did consider doing so, one would find it hard to regulate and also in some cases hard to diagnose. If a band pays a Belgian superstar euph who has never played for them before (to pick an example) to fly in and nail the standout part on the day, then, provided they've registered them according to the rules, no law has been broken - though the spirit of the rules will have taken a dent. Would you regard that as cheating? How about if a band has a vacancy on the principal seat and needs to pull in a dep to make the contest performance happen at all? How about if it deliberately keeps that seat vacant in order to pull in a superstar? How about if the superstar is a regular member of the contest team, but not of the rehearsal or concert team? How about if the whole band team sees relatively rapid turnover such that it is actually rather hard to say in a number of cases who is regular and who isn't? There are many shades of grey to this (hopefully not 50!).

Whatever the moralities of the various situations, the setting of pieces that test the whole band more equally offers some insurance against the ability of any such model to produce consistently improved contest results over the traditional model.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
You don't suggest doing anything about it, but if one did consider doing so, one would find it hard to regulate and also in some cases hard to diagnose. If a band pays a Belgian superstar euph who has never played for them before (to pick an example) to fly in and nail the standout part on the day ............... Whatever the moralities of the various situations, the setting of pieces that test the whole band more equally offers some insurance against the ability of any such model to produce consistently improved contest results over the traditional model.
I do not take part in contests so the finer details of the rules are not familiar to me. Yes, some bands and people will always cheat in some way and it is difficult to stop them; all you can do is put in places measures to make it more difficult and hope that that makes things fairer for all involved. I'm inclined to think that any member of a band that plays in a contest, deputies from the same or a lower section excepted, should have to play in that band's concerts, live within an appropriate distance of the band and have been a regular rehearsal attender for the two months before the contest - sorry, all hard to proove but it's a start and it gives other bands grounds to appeal if they can support an accusation of 'cheating'.

I see your point on the value of 'spreading the pain' to get improved contest results in that it's more difficult to cheat. But, in the lower sections, some bands may not have that strength in depth and so may produce results below what their (more important?) performance of entertainment pieces would suggest. No system is perfect and I guess folk just have to accept and work with that concept.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
A few thoughts, numbered for clarity:

1) Back in the very early days of contesting, some contests did indeed attempt to insist that all players had played for their bands for a certain amount of time. This died an evolutionary death as a concept - presumably because it was felt to be too restrictive.

2) I wasn't suggesting for lower sections, having already recognised that the set of problems there is a bit different.

3) Sailing near the wind in contesting practice tends to be restricted to the top section, where there is anyhow a widespread recognition that most things that aren't specifically proscribed are fair game. People don't tend to have lasting problems with what happens in reality.
 

GordonH

Active Member
I've heard that London Overture is the strong favourite for 1st section, but that's about all I've heard really.
It better not be as I am rehearsing it for an own choice contest in four weeks.
Couldn't stand having to hammer away at the same test piece for months afterwards.
 

iancwilx

Well-Known Member
over rehearsed piece = boredom :x
There's always more to find in a piece of music or more you can put into it if you look for it.
I know that sounds a bit twee, but a performance can always be improved upon. I bet Michael Angelo got bored painting the Sistine Chapel ceiling, but the end result was worth it !

~ Mr Wilx
 

Mello

Active Member
Having done my share of contesting at various levels ( mostly at the top end ) I am nowadays trying to become a listener.....and I get a little tired of technicalities for the sake of it in some of our pieces....I honestly believe many of the audience attend because they love Banding, and having talked to other listeners....we generally like pieces which require music which is pleasant & satisfying to listen to, with a few tightrope walking bits from soloists etc...Fast & Furious is ok as part of a piece but pure flurries and discordant music with clashes just for effects sake are very off putting. In fact at some recent contests I am sad to say I left after a couple of bands......went home and watched football on TV. It is really a turn off when pieces are so difficult than many bands cannot get anywhere near playing the notes , never mind the music. So as long as the pieces demand musical emotion, artistry and tuneful musical interpretation , with SOME Florid work...I am happy ...and will probably stay to listen all the bands. It does not worry me if some feel it is too easy - but I remember when Lorenzo was labelled so at the British Open ....in fact it really sorted out the bands that day . At the present rate , we may end up having pieces such as Grimethorpe Aria as tests. Good in the right place , but not on a contest please. Just thought I would give an audience point of view , seeing as we are diminishing in numbers. No offence meant to anyone ....just my own thoughts .
 

stevetrom

Well-Known Member
Having done my share of contesting at various levels ( mostly at the top end ) I am nowadays trying to become a listener.....and I get a little tired of technicalities for the sake of it in some of our pieces....I honestly believe many of the audience attend because they love Banding, and having talked to other listeners....we generally like pieces which require music which is pleasant & satisfying to listen to, with a few tightrope walking bits from soloists etc...Fast & Furious is ok as part of a piece but pure flurries and discordant music with clashes just for effects sake are very off putting. In fact at some recent contests I am sad to say I left after a couple of bands......went home and watched football on TV. It is really a turn off when pieces are so difficult than many bands cannot get anywhere near playing the notes , never mind the music. So as long as the pieces demand musical emotion, artistry and tuneful musical interpretation , with SOME Florid work...I am happy ...and will probably stay to listen all the bands. It does not worry me if some feel it is too easy - but I remember when Lorenzo was labelled so at the British Open ....in fact it really sorted out the bands that day . At the present rate , we may end up having pieces such as Grimethorpe Aria as tests. Good in the right place , but not on a contest please. Just thought I would give an audience point of view , seeing as we are diminishing in numbers. No offence meant to anyone ....just my own thoughts .
A different point of view.

When I hear the top bands I want to be dazzalled/amazed.
I want them to play stuff that me (and my band) could dream of playing.
This can be technical or musical moments, preferably a bit of both.
I want to get excited by what is possible.

If the piece is not technically demanding and it comes down to interpretation and after all it's meant to be a 'Band' contest not a 'Conductors interpretation' contest.
 

Mello

Active Member
A different point of view.

When I hear the top bands I want to be dazzalled/amazed.
I want them to play stuff that me (and my band) could dream of playing.
This can be technical or musical moments, preferably a bit of both.
I want to get excited by what is possible.

If the piece is not technically demanding and it comes down to interpretation and after all it's meant to be a 'Band' contest not a 'Conductors interpretation' contest.
That's great - if all the bands can play the piece, but when only a couple can master it and the others are floundering ...I personally get no pleasure at all from listening.
It doesn't have to be pure speed & effect to be difficult...take the Cnt Solo in Contest Music as an example, ...the player is allowed to use his/her artistry / range/ articulation/ breath and lip control plus intonation ( specially at the close of solo ) to display their prowess and to make the music come alive. .

Not many average bands posses soloist's that can pull it off in the same way as the legends such as McCann / Marshall /Webster etc , The beauty of their class often shines through like a beacon.
Unfortunately pieces are becoming devoid of providing the platform of opportunity for wonderful players to fully express themselves ,no matter what instrument they play . Remember, what they express is not down to the conductors , who normally do not dictate the subtleties of the individual, but rather use their skills by controlling the background - in itself is a true art. . Indeed, few could equal David Childs being directed by Bob in a Lyrical solo .
So whilst I appreciate you want to be dazzled and amazed, surely one can be so dazzled by the pure magic produced by our best players...I know I am . The best example I can offer is Geoff Whitham's performance of the euph solo in
Le Roi d'Ys, for Dyke, at the RAH - Directed by George Willcocks . For months afterwards people were in awe,firmly believing that Geoffs artistry won the Championship for Dyke that year ( 1959 ).
That alone proves that some musicians can truly be dazzled and amazed at hearing a melodic performance like that.
In conclusion - whilst I agree virtuosic fireworks have a place....please don't lose sight of the beauty of artistry . The old saying " play it with feeling " . should never be forgotten.
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
So whilst I appreciate you want to be dazzled and amazed, surely one can be so dazzled by the pure magic produced by our best players...I know I am . The best example I can offer is Geoff Whitham's performance of the euph solo in Le Roi d'Ys, for Dyke, at the RAH - Directed by George Willcocks . For months afterwards people were in awe,firmly believing that Geoffs artistry won the Championship for Dyke that year ( 1959 ).
That alone proves that some musicians can truly be dazzled and amazed at hearing a melodic performance like that.
In conclusion - whilst I agree virtuosic fireworks have a place....please don't lose sight of the beauty of artistry . The old saying " play it with feeling " . should never be forgotten.
That performance is talked and written about to this day. Which appears to support the other "old" adage that people like to listen to a test with a tune they can go home singing or whistling!!
 
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