What pieces would you like to see at the 2020 areas?

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Slight correction needed! MOTS is indeed written for 25 not 26, as the 2nd Flugel replaces the Repiano part. The piece is perhaps a bit too long to use as a set piece. 19 mins. 20 bands would take 9-10 hours, I would guess.
Didn't the premiere feature four trombones?
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
I know someone on here is often seen calling for Odin to be set!
Ah excellent. I don't even need to post now :)

Trouble with a lot of those 80s national finals pieces is they'd be perfect for 1st section nationals, but would probably turn 1st section areas into a technical contest and championship areas into lotteries. Not sure if Odin falls into that (having a listen and I don't think it would) but looking at some of the other test pieces from that era they would fall into that.
Odin would be a lot too hard for 1st section finals. It's at the difficult end of the pool of possible championship area pieces. It was the 1989 championship final piece, so as much 90s as 80s in era. The other 80s championship final pieces were:
1988 - Seascapes - made a good championship area test just this year
1987 - Harmony Music - made a good championship area test in 2013
1986 - Diversions - odd one this, not much used. Something like a 1st section area piece, would be my feeling from having run through it a couple of times in rehearsal, but maybe it could even be set a little further down the pyramid. Hard to recall the detail enough to be sure.
1985 - Cloudcatcher Fells - banding classic, but as Tom says, could do with a bit more technical challenge for the championship section areas - 1st section finals seems about right - but it's almost too good a piece of music to waste on contesting - and the difficulty is disproportionately in the cornet parts, which doesn't help in setting it
1984 - Dances and Arias - another banding classic, but one that's lost popularity in the last few years, so is perhaps due a revival? Solid 1st section finals piece, I would say.
1983 - Ballet for Band - solid bunch of pieces these... This one's another older cracker. Much overplayed around the early 2000s, including an ill-advised setting as the first section area piece in 1997. Made a good 1st section finals piece in 2016.
1982 - Contest Music - they just keep coming... Great piece - and one that could still be set for the championship area - indeed the championship final - let's not forget that it was an Open piece in 2004.
1981 - Blitz - made a good championship area piece in 1999 - but that's 20 years ago now. Due a revival, I would say, and still definitely hard enough.
1980 - Carnival Overture - and we blot our copybook to finish, not such a great piece to set for a modern band contest I would say, very old school and not in a way that inspires me at least.

So we can rule out Seascapes and Harmony Music as recentlyish set, and perhaps Blitz as well. Cloudcatcher Fells, Dances and Arias, and Ballet for Band I would suggest would find a more natural home half a tier down. Diversions - 1st section area? In addition to Odin then, Contest Music would also make a solid choice.

While we're here, let's see where banding went:
1990 - English Heritage - made a good championship area piece in 2010
1991 - Energy - now this is good music and hard music too! But it doesn't fit the band contesting mould very well (as is sadly often the case with the good music we have).
1992 - The New Jerusalem - definitely could work for championship area, although the principal cornet demands are a bit non-standard
1993 - The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - made a good championship area piece in 2012
1994 - Theme and Cooperation - very neglected, don't know it - word is not Horovitz's best
1995 - Songs for BL - caused a ruckus at the time! Too 'modern' for banding ears, and definitely still would be, as we've retreated into musical conservatism since.
1996 - Isaiah 40 - and here the musical backlash started - from the astringency of Howarth in iconoclast mode to the comfortable major chords of Redhead
1997 - On Alderley Edge - would definitely do the job at the championship areas
1998 - Between the Moon and Mexico - we did play this as an own choice some years ago - memory is of a piece that had some difficult solo lines but not such difficult ensemble work - as such, I'd be inclined to skip over it. But perhaps memory plays tricks.
1999 - Concerto for Band no. 1 - by Bourgeois - would def do the job at ch level
2000 - Harrison's Dream - and here we start to get into pieces that would I think be too hard for the championship areas. Not all that have followed fit this bracket at all, but there was a new level of technical difficulty to this piece when it was released. It could be set and it would do the job, but it would be as it was with St Magnus - somewhat too many bands struggling to get around the notes. Which is a pity, because I'd love to play it - one of Graham's best.

So from those, we have the following possibles for a 2020 area choice:
Championship: Contest Music, Odin, The New Jerusalem, On Alderley Edge, Concerto for Band no 1
1st: Diversions

Scanning down the Open piece list for the same years, I'd also suggest the following additions:
Championship: Revelation, ...Dove Descending
1st: Three Figures, Variations on a Ninth, Salamander

I'd love to suggest Wilby's Masquerade for championship, but it's a bit hard...
 
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Tom-King

Well-Known Member
Sorry Dave, can't possibly agree with Carnival Overture as a first section piece - old hat maybe, but at tempo it's very difficult in the cornets and psychotically difficult on the sop.

Easily difficult enough for championship areas, but as can be said of other pieces a disproportionate test of upper Vs lower band.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
On a personal level I wouldn't be unhappy to see something slightly off the wall (Images again? Much maligned but a worthy test and completely neglected)
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Fair enough - I suspect you know the arrangement much better than I. I'll strike it from the list above.

Images I don't remember as being really technical enough to sort out championship bands. But that's a memory from a couple of rehearsals on it a few years ago.
 

John Brooks

Well-Known Member
Really enjoying following this thread. I agree with Contest Music and Odin and would be happy with either. Would love to hear a new recording of Odin in particular.
 

PeterBale

Moderator
Staff member
Really enjoying following this thread. I agree with Contest Music and Odin and would be happy with either. Would love to hear a new recording of Odin in particular.
Foden's recently recorded Odin in an interesting selection of music:

 

CousinJack

New Member
I'm a big fan of Blitz as a piece, maybe not too recent to be set again but as there is such a wealth of suitable music from the time would be a shame not to hear something being revived.

On a personal level I wouldn't be unhappy to see something slightly off the wall (Images again? Much maligned but a worthy test and completely neglected)
It always makes me sad that a lot of McCabe's music (other than Cloudcatcher Fells) has largely been rejected by banding in the UK for being too 'modern' (whatever that means...). I've listened to Images and Salamander and thought that neither are more or less 'modern' than something like Seascapes, for example, or even a lot of Vinter's writing. Perhaps this is my tastes as a composition student coming through though!

Speaking of much new pieces I'd like to see Metroplis 1927 set for the championship areas at some point. Being selfish I'd rather it not happen until I'm involved at championship level as a player or conductor but, then again, that may never happen! It's my favourite Graham piece so I would happily sit through a whole section in Stevenage playing that.
 

Tom-King

Well-Known Member
It always makes me sad that a lot of McCabe's music (other than Cloudcatcher Fells) has largely been rejected by banding in the UK for being too 'modern' (whatever that means...). I've listened to Images and Salamander and thought that neither are more or less 'modern' than something like Seascapes, for example, or even a lot of Vinter's writing. Perhaps this is my tastes as a composition student coming through though!
Indeed, I like all of his (and the old Fodens McCabe CD is really enjoyable to listen through).

Would have to respectfully disagree with regards to Vinter, McCabe is much more modern to my ears...

I've never quite understood the dislike for Salamander, it's great descriptive writing without being so abstract as to not be relatable to its title...
On the other hand, I do understand why bandsmen would dislike Images or Maunsell Forts (though I'm a big fan of both) - they're rare in being so horribly difficult to put together and pull off convincingly and yet relatively straightforward on individual parts... A different kind of technical challenge to modern pages of black, but those two (IMHO) are still more than difficult enough for championship, where Cloudcatcher may not (quite) be.
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
I'm mostly with Tom on this (as seems to often be the case on matters musical, I've observed) - perhaps the defining characteristics of pieces that are prone to get described as "modern" in bands are harmony beyond a certain point of dissonance and small-scale structure loosened beyond a certain point of immediate coherence - and McCabe's works can sit on either sides of those lines, depending on who he was writing for and the mood he was in. In contrast, neither Vinter nor Steadman-Allen ever came anywhere near crossing either - both are rooted solidly in traditional concepts of tonality and musical unit, which McCabe regularly felt free to explore further away from.

Salamander I feel is a piece due a revival - it's unjustly neglected and isn't the challenge to banding ears that Images is - indeed, the middle section ought to be a classic band slow movement. Though as with much of McCabe's band writing that I can think of, the challenge is weighted towards the top end of the band, it would make a cracking 1st section area piece. Images I don't really see gaining banding popularity any time soon - when it was written banding was feeling more musically adventurous than it now does, and it was a bit much for bands then (written 1978, but the 1982 area was when it was mostly used). But The Maunsell Forts, though as neglected, is not quite as aurally stark as Images, simply having the misfortune to be commissioned (2002) as we settled into the trough of musical conservatism that we're currently wallowing in. When British bands start programming it, then we'll know that we've emerged back into a healthier musical place.
 

CousinJack

New Member
So I've seen the first rumours thread crop up on the 4barsrest.com Facebook group. It's looking like a new piece from Tom Davoren for the first section. This is pretty inline with what I wanted so I'm happy with that. Also seen either 'Dances and Arias' or 'A Tale as Yet Untold' for championship section. Would Dances and Arias be a bit on the easy side perhaps as it's largely been set as a first section piece recently?

Not that this thread is *really* for discussing rumours, I'm glad that there is at least one new piece (if the rumour does turn out to be true!)
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
Dances and Arias would do the job and is good music. But is seen as a bit 'old hat' - everyone in the section already knows it and has played it before. Too hard for first section areas by some way - imagine a band newly promoted from second section presented with that!

FWIW, A Tale As Yet Untold is what I heard a while back. New one on me, and congratulations to @Anglo Music Press if so.
 
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