2019 Area test piece discussion thread

Jack E

Well-Known Member
@CousinJack: re. the importance of 'growing your own' players; I couldn't agree more!
That is exactly the approach taken by the band I play with (in the Juniors, despite being an old codger!). At every concert, our MD plugs the training available, and that the band has a stock of loan instruments. At several concerts per year, the Junior band plays three pieces during the Main band's intermission, and the MD points out how many of the top players in the Main band started with the Juniors. In fact, the first time I saw the band play (with about thirty four players on stage), the MD said that all bar five of them started in the Juniors and worked their way up.
As the Main band is now in the first section, the gap between the Juniors and Main band is considerable, so there are now two intermediate development groups (higher and lower; those in the higher dev. group all now play in the Main band). As well as forming stepping stones between Juniors and Main, they also give the MD the time and space to go through all the required skills and knowledge required to move up into the main band, and the time to continue their in-depth coaching so that, for example, they don't get to play 3rd cornet, and still find themselves on 3rd cornet five years later, because they don't have the skill to move up a slot. He can do that far more effectively away from a Main band rehearsal.
With the numbers of learners we have coming through now, the tutoring we get from players in the main band, and the support from the main band when we reach a point of sitting in on main band rehearsals, it's quite reasonable to suppose that in the next few years we may have enough intermediate players of a sufficently good standard to do concerts in their own right - and possibly start contesting, too.
But it has to be said that it's largely down to the hard work, support and persistance of the MD and his team of tutors, players in the main band, and the solid support of the committee - and, like Porthleven Town and Helston Town, it's not because there isn't another band for miles around. On the contrary; there are well over a dozen within 20 miles.
I've been sitting at the back, listening and taking notes whilst the Main band has been working up 'Festival of Marches', and I have to agree with comments posted earlier - i.e., that it's not as simple a piece as it might appear at a quick listen. Bearing in mind my novice status, my impression of it is that it's the sort of piece which is not too hard for a decent band to play, as such - but quite tricky to play really well.
I'll be going along to Bedworth on Saturday, to root for our band - and having listened to them working on this piece for several months, it will be very interesting to compare how other bands play it.
But good luck to you all!
 

GER

Active Member
Yorkshire is an odd area because, iirc, the top section is the biggest section. This is wrong, are there really 13 top bands in Yorkshire and only 8 4th section bands? I doubt it.
How can you doubt it? 13 bands competed in the top section, 8 competed in the 4th. There may be more 4th section bands, but only 8 considered they had a a good enough ensemble to take to the areas, or alternatively, could afford to go.
Also I believe the grading will work out so that 4 first section bands could be promoted which would skew the top heavy grading even more.
That's the grading system, whether it be from Yorkshire area or any other area, it may need changing, but all the area's have to agree
It might be worth Yorkshire doing a 'reset' and regrading their bands or even just demoting an extra band or two from each section this year (even if this would be very unpopular!)
Again, for that to happen, it would take all the area's to agree to it.
I agree borrowing players is a short term solution, but if (and it's a big if) this encourages more struggling bands to compete it may help in the regeneration of the Yorkshire banding scene. I think Yorkshire is top heavy on upper section bands because they weathered the decimation of the main industry that supported the bands in the 80's better, and probably took the better players from the lower sections. The strange thing to anyone from outside the area is how can an area lose so many bands, yet the remaining bands struggle for players? for example in my home town there used to be 11 brass bands within 5 miles of the town centre, today there are 3, one has only about 12 players one doesn't have a band room and is short of players, just 1 has a full complement of players. All the bands that have dissolved were colliery bands, I believe when the colliery's closed people not only lost their jobs, they lost their way of life, brass banding was part of that way of life. Yorkshire (especially South Yorkshire) is slowly regenerating, I think banding will re-grow in the area, but I think in the meantime there is massive work to be done. Why? your point about junior/training bands are correct, but it is not as easy if you only have a few players in the main band-banding is a hobby and not everyone wants the commitment of teaching. Engaging with the community? absolutely, the problem is what happens when the community has died?.
 

2nd tenor

Well-Known Member
I agree,unfortunately one fix doesn't fit all, yorkshire had 8 bands competing in the 4th section, most of those bands did not have a full compliment of players. Scotland and the North west are in a slightly better position both of them having 12 competing bands, however Midlands, London & Southern counties and west of england all have around 20 bands competing. Borrowing players may help those areas that are struggling, but where banding is flourishing (relatively speaking) it may not be such an issue.
I don’t think that there is a simple fix as otherwise it probably would be in place already but, looking to the mid and longer term, something is needed. As players typically gravitate upwards the higher section Bands will almost certainly never be, but for rare exception, without a full set of players. It’s the lower section Bands that have the problems and they have them on competition day so a fix at that time (so for their immediate problem) is needed.

Perhaps they already exist but if not then some guidelines for Adjudicator’s on how to (fairly to all) judge under strength Bands relative to full strength ones would be a start point. However, as I said in an earlier post, things will only change if suitable ideas are put forward to ‘the powers that be’ by the Bands effected.
 

Slider1

Active Member
How can you doubt it? 13 bands competed in the top section, 8 competed in the 4th. There may be more 4th section bands, but only 8 considered they had a a good enough ensemble to take to the areas, or alternatively, could afford to go.

That's the grading system, whether it be from Yorkshire area or any other area, it may need changing, but all the area's have to agree

Again, for that to happen, it would take all the area's to agree to it.
I agree borrowing players is a short term solution, but if (and it's a big if) this encourages more struggling bands to compete it may help in the regeneration of the Yorkshire banding scene. I think Yorkshire is top heavy on upper section bands because they weathered the decimation of the main industry that supported the bands in the 80's better, and probably took the better players from the lower sections. The strange thing to anyone from outside the area is how can an area lose so many bands, yet the remaining bands struggle for players? for example in my home town there used to be 11 brass bands within 5 miles of the town centre, today there are 3, one has only about 12 players one doesn't have a band room and is short of players, just 1 has a full complement of players. All the bands that have dissolved were colliery bands, I believe when the colliery's closed people not only lost their jobs, they lost their way of life, brass banding was part of that way of life. Yorkshire (especially South Yorkshire) is slowly regenerating, I think banding will re-grow in the area, but I think in the meantime there is massive work to be done. Why? your point about junior/training bands are correct, but it is not as easy if you only have a few players in the main band-banding is a hobby and not everyone wants the commitment of teaching. Engaging with the community? absolutely, the problem is what happens when the community has died?.
I Liked your comment, but with sadness
 

Pastit

Member
Does anybody know:
a) Who Sydney Herbert was?
b) What his (even approximate) dates were?

He seems to be a total mystery to everyone... Which maybe hints at an earlier rather than a later date.

FWIW, I had a chat with someone the other day about this - apparently the Herbert Holst arrangement was played regularly by the Yorkshire Youth Band in the late 50s, so it predates its contest popularity by some years at least. I wonder if that 1988 date that I set store on above is reliable - has anyone here ever played Balmoral Inventions? Set at the 1988 North Wales Rally in the 2nd section, three bands competed on it - Rhos and District (the now defunct Wrexham Brass as was), Ifton Welfare (now Ifton Colliery), and Royal Buckley Town (who still have the same name). Anyone from those bands on the forum, able to look up its copyright date in the library?
If I remember correctly, Balmoral Inventions was composed (and played off manuscript) for the contest at the request of the North Wales Committee by John Herbert who was at the time a trombone player with Ifton and also had played with Porthywaen and occasionally Rhos. I'm not sure it was even published. He is still around playing in local pit orchestras and the like.
 

CousinJack

New Member
With the final round of area contests coming up this weekend is anyone aware of any rumours for the final test pieces? I know that we'll find out this weekend (I believe any way) but it's interesting to see if anyone has heard anything?
 

Slider1

Active Member
With the final round of area contests coming up this weekend is anyone aware of any rumours for the final test pieces? I know that we'll find out this weekend (I believe any way) but it's interesting to see if anyone has heard anything?
Whatever Kapitol Can get their Hands on presumably:rolleyes::rolleyes:
 

GER

Active Member
The worst/best/ trickiest/simpleist/old school/ modernist/full of no/hidden suprises pieces they can find :):):)
 

CousinJack

New Member
I guess not then! I think it's pretty easy to guess what kind of piece each section will have:

Championship section will either have a new piece or, more likely, a recent piece commissioned by a European band or a European band association.

First section will have an old Champ section test piece.

Second section will have a new piece or a recycled piece from the 90s/early 00s

Third section will have a piece no one has heard of (but it'll be better than the area test piece)

Fourth section will have a recent piece that hasn't be set for a contest, but will be a massive step up from the area test piece (and also better than the third section area test piece) or a recycled piece from the 60s that has been set a million times before for various contests
 

LynneW

Member
With the final round of area contests coming up this weekend is anyone aware of any rumours for the final test pieces? I know that we'll find out this weekend (I believe any way) but it's interesting to see if anyone has heard anything?
To my knowledge the finals testpiece is never announced at the end of the areas. It's usually at least a couple of months later
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
I will miss Seascapes. Proper music, stuff that you could keep digging in and find more and more patterns - plus it combines listenability with harmonically advanced writing in a way that I wish more band composers (or composers in general indeed) would emulate.

Now how about Odin for the Areas next year while we're reprising undeservedly neglected 1980s pieces...
 

iancwilx

Well-Known Member
Are you thinking that the Holst arrangement is "very, very old" because it says "Copyright 1921" at the bottom? I've heard a number of people think so in recent online discussion.

I'm not at all convinced that that actually is the date of the arrangement. In fact, I'm convinced that it isn't...
For first, the typesetting of it looks nothing like 1920s band publications. For second, the percussion usage is untypical of the 1920s brass band. For third, and most clinching, when we look at the usages of Sydney Herbert works on BrassBandResults, we see three pieces - this one, an arrangement of the Holst Second Suite in F, and an original piece called Balmoral Inventions, which is recorded there with a composition date of 1988. The first recorded usage of the First Suite arrangement is in 1970, and the first recorded usage of the Second Suite arrangement 1969.
It's pretty inconceivable that Herbert made the arrangement half a century before it suddenly began to see immediate and widespread contest usage, and it's pretty inconceivable that someone writing at high level in 1921 would still have been writing in 1988, 67 years later. I suggest that the simplest explanation is that the First Suite arrangement dates from 1969 or so.

So why does it say 1921 on it? I think this must be because it was the date of first publication of the original wind band version; Wikipedia tells us that it was completed in manuscript in 1909, premiered in 1920 and published by Boosey in 1921. So that clears that up, I think. Still a confusing thing to do to put the wind band copyright date on the brass band edition!
Just for info, I played the 1st suite (Same arrangement) with the Yorkshire Schools Brass Band in 1960 (I have the programme) and the 2nd suite (Same arrangement) with the same band in 1962 (Also have programme).
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Just for info, I played the 1st suite (Same arrangement) with the Yorkshire Schools Brass Band in 1960 (I have the programme) and the 2nd suite (Same arrangement) with the same band in 1962 (Also have programme).
I asked you about this at the time Mr Wilx! On Facebook. And posted the info to the thread (see first quote below).

We did get Sydney Herbert sorted out eventually, with the help of some genealogy resources - see second quote below. He lived 1875-1932. So 1921 does seem correct for that arrangement.

Does anybody know:
a) Who Sydney Herbert was?
b) What his (even approximate) dates were?

He seems to be a total mystery to everyone... Which maybe hints at an earlier rather than a later date.

FWIW, I had a chat with someone the other day about this - apparently the Herbert Holst arrangement was played regularly by the Yorkshire Youth Band in the late 50s, so it predates its contest popularity by some years at least. I wonder if that 1988 date that I set store on above is reliable - has anyone here ever played Balmoral Inventions? Set at the 1988 North Wales Rally in the 2nd section, three bands competed on it - Rhos and District (the now defunct Wrexham Brass as was), Ifton Welfare (now Ifton Colliery), and Royal Buckley Town (who still have the same name). Anyone from those bands on the forum, able to look up its copyright date in the library?
We have a family subscription to Ancestry - not much to do this evening, so just looking for records pertaining to this Sydney Herbert (which I think with fair confidence is the correct one)...

Here's his probate record:
View attachment 5136

And his death record:
View attachment 5137
Age 56 on 4/10/1932 makes him born in 1876 or late 1875 (unless the age is wrong, which is not unheard of). Poor chap - 56 is no age. But then I suppose Holst himself didn't live to much more of an age; their dates are very similar - Holst lived 1874-1934. Perhaps Herbert and Holst knew each other, hence favoured arrangement permission access? Just speculating.

Then, working backwards, we find him getting married aged 26 on 19/5/1902, with profession given as "writer" (or have I misread the Edwardian scrawl?):
View attachment 5138
On this record we see his signature.

We also find him in the 1911 census with wife and children in Lewisham (aged 35), listed as "Artist (fashion)", in 1901 with his mother in Deptford, listed as "Sign painter" (aged 24 - 1 year out), in 1891 with his mother and siblings in Deptford, listed as "Coach painter" (aged 15 and as "Sidney" with an "i"), and in 1881 as a child with parents and siblings in Deptford (aged 5). Helped out on these by the pre-existing research of another user of Ancestry, in whose family tree he appears. It's intriguing to see his job titles over the years! He evidently tried a few professions.

Finally, we find his birth recorded in his baptismal record from St. Paul, Deptford, from 1878:
View attachment 5139
So he was born 22nd May 1875.

Unless we've got the wrong Sydney Herbert entirely (seems unlikely?), that's added a lot of context for him. My apologies for rather hijacking the thread over this! It's been interesting to me - I hope it's been interesting to others too. This would have been much more difficult if not for the info provided by @Sunnyside - thank you! Have now updated his entry on BrassBandResults with this info.

By the by, we also learn from the family tree I found that some of his grandchildren are still alive.
 
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