Composers not yet 'lost' to brass bands.

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
You might think I am, but I'm not actually disagreeing with you Jim!

Appreciated. And thanks to you (and everyone) for not pointing out my obvious blunder when I said that my little list contained no works written as testpieces!

The title of this thread is 'composers not YET lost to brass bands'. I took that to mean composers who haven't yet written anything but might yet be persuaded, rather than composers who are merely still alive. My worry is that if upcoming composers don't want their music subjected to the contest treatment, and bands don't play their music in concerts, then they will quickly move from the 'not lost' to 'lost' category despite still being alive. And that' s where I felt things were heading when I listened to the discussion between Lucy Pankhurst, Gavin Higgins, Peter Meechan, Andy Scott and Dan Price at the RNCM festival. I see Mr Meechan is monitoring this thread - I wonder if I'm summing up fairly?
 

jockinafrock

Active Member
"Others would be Lucy Pankhurst, Andy Scott for starters"

Lucy Pankhurst and Andy Scott have already written a number of significant works for brass bands. In Pankhurst's case, one of them was sufficiently significant to win her a British Composer Award last year.

If, on the other hand, by 'significant work' you really mean 'testpiece', I think you can probably rule Andy Scott out. Anyone present at the composers forum during the RNCM festival in January will have heard what he thought about treating music as a mere technical exercise. I agree with him.

Andy wrote a piece for Fodens, 'Battle of Barossa' - what a fabulous piece! Whilst not written as a 'test-piece' I am certain that it would be a corker if used. It is a demanding piece and would test most bands, but hasn't been written for that purpose. It is, though, very listenable to and full of wonderful sounds. The 'Hymn to Barossa' is just part of the piece and has been played independently of the rest of the work at concerts. :clap:

 

Dave Payn

Active Member
Having heard the UK premiere of her Percussion Concerto yesterday in Glasgow, I'd like Sally Beamish to dip her composing toes into the brass band genre.
 

Will the Sec

Active Member
Come to think of it - what would it take to get Dave Payn to compose something for band, as opposed to the myriad of qulaity arrangements he has down?
 

Dave Payn

Active Member
Come to think of it - what would it take to get Dave Payn to compose something for band, as opposed to the myriad of qulaity arrangements he has down?

Nice of you to say so :) but currently too busy teaching, conducting and trying to fit SOME practice around all that to compose something!
 

Thirteen Ball

Active Member
Appreciated. And thanks to you (and everyone) for not pointing out my obvious blunder when I said that my little list contained no works written as testpieces!

The title of this thread is 'composers not YET lost to brass bands'. I took that to mean composers who haven't yet written anything but might yet be persuaded, rather than composers who are merely still alive. My worry is that if upcoming composers don't want their music subjected to the contest treatment, and bands don't play their music in concerts, then they will quickly move from the 'not lost' to 'lost' category despite still being alive. And that' s where I felt things were heading when I listened to the discussion between Lucy Pankhurst, Gavin Higgins, Peter Meechan, Andy Scott and Dan Price at the RNCM festival. I see Mr Meechan is monitoring this thread - I wonder if I'm summing up fairly?

Then perhaps we should look at the criteria that the panel use for selecting something as a test-piece, and suggest a certain broadening of the approach in order to accommodate more adventurouse works?

Or potentially look at restructuring the format of contesting altogether to allow the bands themselves to select more adventurous works?
 

jockinafrock

Active Member
Then perhaps we should look at the criteria that the panel use for selecting something as a test-piece, and suggest a certain broadening of the approach in order to accommodate more adventurouse works?

Or potentially look at restructuring the format of contesting altogether to allow the bands themselves to select more adventurous works?

Not sure who's actually on the panel that selects test pieces, but I would hazard a guess that there are some old war horses there. I'm not knocking them, but I would go as far as to suggest inviting the likes of Lucy, Andy, Peter et al to add a more contemporary outlook on these decisions. :)
 

JR

Member
if you dont ask.....

I'm not knocking them, but I would go as far as to suggest inviting the likes of Lucy, Andy, Peter et al to add a more contemporary outlook on these decisions. :)

Correct!

Let's at least ask these people - if we don't ask we might never find out if they're interested

P.S one more plug for Paul "Military Wives" Mealor - I have it on good authority he's interested...

John R
 

JR

Member
nearer 40 years ago...

As I'm at a loose end this afternoon, which pieces do I think are of real significance in the BB repertoire? Here are the main ones which come to mind:

Denis Wright's Cornet Concerto - the first full scale cornet concerto
Joseph Horovitz's Euphonium Concerto - the first full scale euph concerto which inspired dozens of others
A Moorside Suite (Gustav Holst) - the first original work by a composer of international stature
The Trumpets (Gilbert Vinter) - the first (I think) large scale choral work (c. 45 minutes) in which band, choir, bass and trumpet soloists are given equal prominence
Grimethorpe Aria (Harrison Birtwistle) - the first (I think) atonal work for band
Echoes (Tim Souster) - the first work for band and live electronics
Cataclysm (Paul Patterson) - the first (I think) work which features contemporary notation and aleotoric passages
Songs of the Aristos (Robert Lennon) - the first (I think) work for band and recorded electronics

Two observations. One, none of these pieces (as mentioned above) were written for contests. Two, the most recent of them (Echoes) is already 22 years old.

Besses with Ifor James premiered a work with electronics at the Harrogate Festival in 1974 - I was there - The gigantic reel - to - reel machine broke down half way through....

I can't remember for the life of me the name of the composer - don't think it was Bob Lennon though (who used to play euph for me at Yorks Co-Op - we pemiered his tribute to 9/11 called Fallen Citadel ten years ago)

JR
 

Anno Draconis

Well-Known Member
Well , there you go then..... :-?

Can't think what you mean ;)

To be fair, this very panel picked Pentacle a few years ago, which I think is a superb piece, and got a load of flak for it. It's a bit of a thankless task - slated by newer music fans every time they revert to Ball and Vinter, slated by traditionalists every time they pick something new and different (Ian Perks, j'accuse...)

I've got another suggestion - Benedict Mason. If you get chance, listen to Lighthouses of England and Wales, it's ace.
 

Anno Draconis

Well-Known Member
The thing is with all these suggestions, someone's got to pay for a new commission. The only organisation in a position to do this for the Nationals is Kapitol, so put yourself in their shoes for a minute.

Option 1: Spend £4-6,000 commissioning a composer to write a piece for one of the sections at the Regionals.

Option 2: Pick a load of existing "tried and tested" pieces, costing nothing.

Is option 1 going to result in more bands entering, or in any way generate additional revenue for Kapitol - it being a private company, after all is said and done? I think we all know the answer to that one.
 

Anno Draconis

Well-Known Member
And they picked some piece about King Arthur too!!

Vaguely remember that, now you mention it. Wasn't as good as Pentacle, though!

I'm a big fan of the often suggested "rotation" system - over a three year cycle, pick a "golden oldie" (e.g. from pre-1970) or a transcription, a modern classic, a new piece or a recent commission from another band/contest. This could be applied to all 5 sections. So if you get Gems of Schubert this year at least you know there's a chance of Dances and Arias the year after.
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
Can't think what you mean ;)

I've got another suggestion - Benedict Mason. If you get chance, listen to Lighthouses of England and Wales, it's ace.

He has in fact written a short piece for band - Line Drawing by Candlelight. He wrote it for Grimethorpe in the 1990's (I think). I heard it many years ago, but unfortunately can't remember much about it, because (surprise) it never gets played.
 

Bayerd

Active Member
Or potentially look at restructuring the format of contesting altogether to allow the bands themselves to select more adventurous works?

There is a version of this currently available, European entrant commissions something for own choice, The Open select it a couple of years later, then it finds its way to the Grand Shield. It's a shame that the format for the piece doesn't differ too much from loud/fast/daft time signature- slow/exposed- loud/fast/mostly huge ending.
 

Will the Sec

Active Member
The Once and Future Anno Draconis said:
Option 1: Spend £4-6,000 commissioning a composer to write a piece for one of the sections at the Regionals.

Or run a competition.

No prize money, just the privilege of having your piece used as a set work. Of course, there would be varying degrees of reward depending on who publishes a set work, and subsequent interest in the composer's other works, so there are benefits if there is no prize.

Quick straw poll of all the Sibelius composers (alright, Finale and Print Music and quill/quink brigades too) -

1. How many pieces do you have on tap that are (in your view) suitable to be used as a test piece.

2. Would you enter a competition where the only prize was your piece being used as a set work for the Regionals?

I'll start you with (1) three, and (2) yes.
 

Will the Sec

Active Member
An afterthought - 3. Would you play in a band that was playing your piece as the set work... (I mean, what if you can't play the very notes you have written!?!?!?!?!?)
 

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