The Music Panel for the National Final series, comprising Alan Hope as Administrator, Richard Evans, John Maines, C. Brian Buckley, Philip Morris and Paul Holland have announced the test-pieces for the 2013 Regional Championship qualifying events of the National Finals as:
Harmony Music Philip Sparke.
Brass Triumphant Gareth Wood
The Plantagenets Edward Gregson
Hollywood Goff Richards
A Devon Fantasy Eric Ball
THE 2011 REGIONAL TEST-PIECES
Paganini Variations (Philip Wilby)
Le Carnaval Romain (Hector Berlioz, arr. Frank Wright)
Resurgam (Eric Ball)
A Little Light Music (Philip Wilby)
Prelude Song and Dance (John Golland)
THE 2010 REGIONAL TEST-PIECES
The Music Panel for the National Brass Band Championships, comprising C. Brian Buckley, John Maines, Richard Evans, Philip Morris and Alan Hope (Secretary), has announced the test-pieces for Sections 1 - 4 and the Championship Section of the 2010 Regional Championships.
They 2010 test-pieces are:
Championship Section: English Heritage (George Lloyd) R. Smith & Co.
Section 1: A Moorside Suite (Gustav Holst) R. Smith & Co.
Section 2: Kingdom of Dragons (Philip Harper) Harper Music
Section 3: Labour and Love (Percy Fletcher) R. Smith & Co.
Please note that this piece has been re-scored and a new printed version of the score and parts released by R. Smith & Co. to include the following changes.
1. The horn parts have been reduced to three parts, as per modern
practice - omitting the lower split part of the 2nd horn.
Please also note the following - bands should ensure that, whichever edition of this music they have,
the old one or the newly revised one, the fourth tenor horn part should be deleted from the score and if you have been issued with a part for this, it should not be used. The line may appear as a split part shown on the 2nd horn part.
2. The trombone parts have been set in the normal position in the
score and the upper two trombone parts have been written in treble clef.
3. The percussion part, added some years ago on a separate sheet, has been added to the score and is
included with the band parts.
Section 4: Saint-Saens Variations (Philip Sparke) Anglo Music Press
A full survey of the five pieces by Roy Newsome, which appeared in the October edition of Brass Band World magazine, appears below
To order a copy of Brass Band World magazine containing the 2010 'Regional' test-piece survey, please call Philip Morris on 02920 704325 or 07786 371603. Alternatively, you can e-mail him at email@example.com
PAST AND PRESENT COLLIDE
Roy Newsome surveys the 2010 ‘regional’ challenges.
English Heritage (George Lloyd)
The selection panel has again been busy with its thankless task of choosing test-pieces for the ‘Area’ Contests. Bands in the Championship Section will perform English Heritage,commissioned by the organisation of the same name and first performed at Kenwood Lakeside on 2July 1988 by Black Dyke and Grimethorpe, conducted by Geoffrey Brand. It was subsequently selected as the test-piece for the National Brass Band Championships of 1990.
George Lloyd (1913 - 1998), who wrote the piece, was a major British composer and amongst his later compositions were four important brass band works. English Heritage is highly chromatic, written throughout in open key. Rhythm, melody and colour are strong features and there is an abundance of technical problems. Structurally, the work has characteristics of the symphonic poem.
There are five principal sections. The first introduces much of the material on which the work is built, with the two main melodies taking the role of 1st and 2nd subjects. These recur, often in a modified form. The second main section, whilst relying heavily on the 2nd subject, also introduces other ideas. A brief cadenza-like passage, featuring solo cornet and flugel horn, leads to a beautiful slow movement based almost entirely on the 2nd subject. The fourth main section re-introduces the 1st subject, but the other subject, having already had several airings, is omitted.
Much of the work, hitherto, has been of a fairly serious nature. Now the mood changes as a trombone solo displays a more light-hearted, even playful character. However, there is a further statement of the 2nd subject before the Coda, built on motifs heard at the beginning of the work and with the trombone tune played fff on the lower band, brings this colourful work to an exciting close.
A Moorside Suite (Gustav Holst)
Section 1 bands will play A Moorside Suite, first heard at the National Championships of 1928. This was a landmark work in the history of brass band music, being the first original work by a major British composer, Gustav Holst (1874-1934).
One of the hazards in selecting music from this period for contest purposes is the change in status of our percussion sections. In ‘Moorside’, percussion requirements are minimal by present-day standards and this will no doubt create organisational problems in rehearsals. Nevertheless, the piece lives up to its reputation as being one of the very best and it will also provide a stern test. Conductors will need to work patiently on the varying styles and the light scoring will need further careful handling.
There is no programme note, but the sub-titles of the work’s three movements give strong clues as to the style of the music. The first four notes provide much of the material for the first movement. Headed ‘Scherzo’, this needs to be light and dance-like, with a slight pulse on the first beat of each bar.
The Nocturne opens with a melancholy cornet solo, and a gentle echoing figure played by flugel and solo horn. These look harmless, but require nerves of steel. A historic moment occurs at letter C when, for the first time in brass band music, the whole band is asked to play ppp. After 11 bars of almost painful restraint, the sound grows to reach a welcome ff. The climax is only momentary, however, and the ensuing diminuendo swift. The solo line is now taken over by soprano (again with more echo figures) followed by a duet in canon between solo horn and E flat bass. The closing bars are like chamber music, a dozen or so individual lines leading to the final hushed chord built in three layers – trombones, tubas and cornets.
Entitled March, the third movement releases the tension built in the close of the second, with an ff call to attention played by all cornets. Percussion is finally brought into play and its previous absence makes it that much more effective. Everyone will enjoy the March, with its dance-like sections and lush Elgarian melody in the Trio. This returns at the end to make a great finish to a wonderful piece of music.
Several of the melodies in the work are based on the ancient modes, rather than major or minor scales, which was a characteristic of much English music of the period
Kingdom of Dragons (Philip Harper)
A work commissioned by the Gwent Music Service for this year’s 50th anniversary celebrations of the Gwent Youth Brass Band has been set for Section 2 competitors. Its composer, Philip Harper, is one of a group of younger musicians making their mark, either as conductors or composers – in Philip’s case, as both. With the evocative title, Kingdom of Dragons, the work, though continuous, has four sections, each representing one of the authorities that make up the County of Gwent.
The first, Monmouthshire, begins with a two-bar fanfare, which sets out all the thematic material of the piece. The mood of pageantry that follows describes some of Monmouthshire’s ancient castles, with rolling tenor drums and fanfaring cornets. After a majestic climax, the music subsides and quite literally descends into the coalmines of Blaenau Gwent. Here, the percussion provides effects that suggest industrial machinery clanking into life and the music accelerates to become a perilous white-knuckle ride on the underground railroad. There is a brief respite as a miner’s work-song is introduced and, after a protracted build-up, this is restated at ff before the music comes crashing to an inglorious close, much like the UK’s mining industry itself.
In the third section, Torfaen, the middle sonorities of the band portray the tranquillity of Pontypool Park, a place of great natural beauty. Brief cadenzas for cornet and euphonium lead to a reprise of the pastoral mood. At the end of this section we find ourselves at the top of the park’s Folly Tower, from which the distant castle turrets of Monmouthshire are visible. Pontypool RFC was one of 11 clubs in the first Welsh league, in 1881, and a brief but bruising musical portrayal of the formidable front row, the ‘Vie Gwent’, leads into the work’s final section.
Entitled Newport, the final section portrays the largest city in the region – a symbol for progress and optimism for the future. The music is a vigorous fugue that advances through various keys and episodes before the final triumphant augmented entry, which brings the work to a magnificent conclusion. (The above is virtually a direct quote from the score, for which acknowledgement is hereby given. RN).
Section 2 bands should find this work stimulating. It calls for three percussionists and quite a large amount of percussion, but I feel sure that any necessary extra outlay will be rewarded by the performance of this exciting work.
Labour and Love (Percy Fletcher)
Labour and Love has been selected for Section 3 bands. Composed for the 1913 ‘Nationals’, it was the first original work. Earlier test-pieces had generally been either operatic selections or collections of melodies by a particular ‘author’; the composer of Labour and Love wisely wrote in the style of the earlier ‘selection’. Percy Fletcher (1879-1932) was primarily a composer of choral and light orchestral music. However, he had already written for military band and was to return to the brass band scene in 1926 with An Epic Symphony.
A workingman and his wife represent the musical argument in Labour and Love, each portrayed by particular themes that recur in different transformations. This is where the work, a tone poem, differs from the ‘selection’. The man views himself as a downtrodden slave and the early parts of the work see him blindly labouring on, with no purpose in view. In the euphonium solo, his soul cries out in a lament of anguish and despair and, in a trombone recitative, he declares that he can no longer work under these conditions.
Enter his wife, ‘the voice of love’. She convinces him that, for the sake of her and the children, he must go on and her delight is expressed in the cornet cadenza. In the latter part of the piece, the man is back at work with a new resolve. The theme, which represents his wife and appears first of all as a cornet solo, returns triumphantly towards the close, depicting the triumph of good over evil. It is a rather trite story, but one that easily relates to a working class family in the early 20th Century and is certainly an aid to interpretation. This is another work calling for very modest percussion.
Symphonic Metamorphosis (Philip Sparke)
The work chosen for Section 4 was completed this year by Philip Sparke and is a reworking of his Symphonic Metamorphosis, commissioned in 2006 by the Sierra Vista High School Symphonic Band of Las Vegas. CalledSaint-Saëns Variations,it is sub-titled, A Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes from the ‘Organ’ Symphony. Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was a prolific composer and amongst his output are three symphonies. The last of these calls for two pianos and an organ, and it is the essential use of the organ in the second-half of the work that has given it the title Organ Symphony. ‘Metamorphosis’ is a term use to describe the manner in which a composer may change tempo, rhythm and even the notes of a theme, whilst preserving its essential characteristics.
Much of the Sparke work is full of energy, often toccata-like. Familiarity with the Organ Symphony will aid recognition of many of the themes used, either as direct quotes or derivatives of them. The work falls into five sections, all linked: Introduction, Scherzo, Transformation, Meditation and Apotheosis. All except the Meditation have a working base of 80 pulses to the minute and these should be strictly adhered to in performance to maintain the correlation between sections. There is plenty of variety within this framework, however, with the pulse, in turn, being the equivalent of minim, crotchet or dotted minim. The Meditation is marked crotchet = 69, but conductors should guard against taking this too slowly – it is a poco lento! The Apotheosis returns to ideas from the Introduction before launching into a grandstand Vivo at 100 minims.
Bands in Section 4 are fortunate to have such a fine work from this supreme master of the brass band test-piece. It is a most welcome addition to the repertoire and appropriate as a concert piece for bands of all levels.
THE 2009 REGIONAL TEST-PIECES
The test-piece for the Championship Section:
Salute to Youth (Gilbert Vinter)
Introduced with the booklet notes to the 2009 Regional CD on the Doyen label, reproduced courtesy of World of Brass
The Music Panel’s choice of the brilliant Salute to Youth marks next year’s centenary of the birth of Gilbert Vinter and the 40th anniversary of his death.
Written in 1961 and first used as a regional championship test-piece the following year, this three-movement suite was inspired by the composer’s son, Andrew, who was then 17.
The movements are entitled Resilience, Romance and Relaxation, the latter marked so as to evoke the rough and tumble of youthful exuberance.
The piece was used as the set test for the qualifying rounds of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in 1962.
Salute for Youth costs £50.00 (plus £4.00 plus P&P) for a full set of parts and a score, or £20.00 (plus £2.00 P&P) for a score. Available from all the usual band dealers or, in case of difficulty, from Studio Music Company. Telephone 01582 432139. Fax: 731989. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Address: Cadence House, Eaton Green Road, Luton, LU2 9LD.
About Gilbert Vinter
Gilbert Vinter was born on 4 May 1909 in Lincoln. He played bassoon in the BBC Wireless Band and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and taught at the Royal Academy of Music. During World War II, he was a member of the Royal Air Force Central Band and later served with several RAF bands. After the war, he was Staff Conductor with the British Broadcasting Corporation and many of his works were written for brass band. Among his finest works was The Trumpets, which is scored for a large brass band, chorus and bass soloist.
Vinter died in Tintagel, in Cornwall, on 10 October, 1969.
The test-piece for Section 1
Pentacle (Graham Cole)
Introduced with the composer’s notes to the score, reproduced courtesy of Faber Music
The music is modern and originally conceived as a test-piece, but developed in the composer’s own stylistic way.
The origins of the Pentacle go back to remotest historical antiquity and have been honoured by many civilisations. To the Jewish people, it symbolically designated the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses. To the followers of Pythagoras, it was called the Pentalpha and composed of five interlaced As or alphas. The ancient Celts considered the five-pointed star to be a symbol of life and of the divine human. This ‘star of life’ became stigmatised as a sign of heretical thought and eventually as something evil. In more dangerous times, to be caught in possession of a pentacle could very well endanger life. Despite being over 8,000 years old, the pentacle became the most famous symbol of witchcraft.
The pentacle is an image of an upright, five-pointed star drawn inside a circle with a single continuous line making the five points equally spaced. To a witch or magician, it is symbolic of the mysteries of creation. Pentangles are used in rites and rituals for consecration, evocation, transformation and banishment. Traditionally, each of the five angles has been attributed to the five metaphysical elements of the ancients. These provide the titles of the sections, which are to be played as one continuous movement, as follows:
1. Earth: (lower left hand corner) represents stability and physical endurance.
2. Wind: (upper left hand corner) represents intelligence and the arts.
3. Fire: (lower right hand corner) represents courage and daring.
4. Water: (upper right hand corner) represents emotions and intuition.
5. Quintessence: (at the topmost point) represents the all and the divine spirit.
It is interesting to note that five-fold symmetries are rarely found in non-organic life forms but are uniquely inherent to life, as in the form of the human hand, a starfish, flowers, plants and many other living things. This pattern of five exists even down to a molecular level. Five therefore embodies the form and formation of life - the very essence of life - and this is reflected in the way the piece has been composed.
There are many uses of the number five in the composition, some more obvious than others. Quintuplet and other combination rhythms based around five are used frequently throughout the piece. Much of the harmony is based on the motifs being a fifth or combined fifths apart. There are five sections to the piece and many of the phrases are five bars in length. Each movement follows each other based around a harmonic cycle of fifths and has a time signature based on each of the numbers one to five.
Bi-tonal melodies and harmonies that rapidly shift between major and minor scales, as well as triads, are used extensively throughout the piece. This gives the music an ambiguity of tone, time and place - echoing the use of the pentacle across the many factions of history.
Pentacle was conceived as a brass band test-piece, but I have interpreted the conventions of that genre in my own stylistic terms. For example, the passages using pulsating polyrhythms, certain ‘scalic’ combinations and tone painting – such as the twisting figures heard in the movement Wind, the rippling of the movement Water and the flutter tonguing in the Fire section. Whilst certain sections of the piece are highly dissonant and use irregular beat groupings and layers (the chaotic, semi-aleatoric climax in Fire, for instance), I have also brought a strong lyrical element to the slow sections and have included the traditional ‘big finish’.
Percussion requirements for Pentacle
Percussion: 2 players.
Player 1: Glockenspiel, xylophone, mark tree, bongos, medium tam-tam (28”). Performance note: At bar 238, the composer asks for the tam-tam to be bowed. The player is requested to use a well-rosined double bass bow on the back-edge of the instrument.
Player 2: Snare drum, tenor drum, suspended cymbal, cowbell (fixed), vibraslap and whip.
Pentacle is available from usual brass band suppliers, as well as from Faber Music. The set, score and parts (item code: 0-571-56949-8) are £69.95. Scores (item code: 0-571-56948-X) are also available separately at £19.95. To order, telephone: 01279 828982. Or log on to the Faber Music website.
About Graham Cole
Graham Cole gained a Master of Music with distinction at Leeds University in 2004, specialising in composition and film scoring under the supervision of Professor Philip Wilby. In 1998, after completing his first music degree and teacher training at the University of Huddersfield, Graham Cole was appointed to the music staff at Heckmondwike Grammar School. As well as teaching music, he is Course Leader for A- level Music Technology and conducts the school orchestra, for which he arranges a wide range of music. He has also arranged concert tours abroad for the groups, including to Florida in 2006. Graham Cole also enjoys playing trumpet and flugel for big band, the electric guitar and studio recording.
His involvement with brass bands began with Drighlington Band, for which he played solo horn until 2001, since when he has devoted more time to composing and teaching. However, Graham Cole was reunited with Drighlington Band in 2006, when he recorded and produced the band’s double CD.
Leading bands in Graham Cole’s native West Yorkshire have played his original compositions and arrangements, including Hepworth (Cookson Homes) and Drighlington bands. His Brass Quintet No. 2 was performed by Fine Arts Brass in 2004 and his work, Seven Wonders of the World, won the 2005 Clocktower Composition Competition, for which Lindley Band gave the winning performance.
The test-piece for Section 2
New World Sketches (Daniel Price)
Introduced with the composer’s notes to the score, reproduced courtesy of Kirklees Music
New World Sketches is a descriptive journey through the landscapes and images of America in the early part of the 20th century. The images and caricatures chosen epitomise all that is the ‘New World’, and the musical language draws upon influences of sound and technique that American composers have introduced into the musical vocabulary.
The work is cast in three movements as follows:
The work opens with a busy street scene from 1930s New York. The hustle and bustle of the city can be heard through percussive scoring of car hooters, trams and pedestrians going about their business. There is the sound of a Broadway show at Figure B and a two-bar glimpse of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, just before Figure D, where the music enters a change of both mood and neighbourhood into a Harlem jazz club, or a speak-easy. A reprise of the main theme (seven bars before Figure F) heralds a return to the sidewalk, which brings the first movement to a close. A two-bar quote from George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue adds to the authenticity of this ‘symphonic jazz-style’ movement.
The Deep South
As the sub-title suggests, the second movement of New World Sketches evokes images of the Deep South of the 1890s, beginning with a simple spiritual. Played first on unaccompanied solo euphonium, the melody is then joined by bass trombone, depicting a slave ‘work song’. The tempo increases at Figure 1 and a resounding tubular bell announces the arrival of a steam locomotive. The music is marked ‘ritmico’ and care must be taken to ensure that the ‘laziness’ in the melody is not lost. The train’s ‘love chime’ whistle can be heard on back row cornets and trombones.
The final movement steers away from the jazz influences synonymous with America’s musical history and turns towards the music of Aaron Copland for inspiration. The opening unison rune, played on trombones and cornets, accompanied by poly-chords (Ab major superimposed on Bb major), creates a ‘big country’ sound, whilst the fast pseudo-Irish jig, accompanied by ‘bodhran’ (played on floor tom), provides the energy and flair of a rodeo. Section B is a slightly more relaxed folksong portraying images of cowboys at a campfire, or village folk dancing a cakewalk at a party.
The folk song evolves rapidly in this middle section and the choral scoring represents that of a small church. The contrasting nature of the way in which the melody is scored is, perhaps, the preacher ‘wisening’ us to the frivolities and sins occurring at the village dance. A reprise of the opening rodeo music and a quotation of the opening city motif bring New World Sketches to a close.
New World Sketches is only available from Kirklees Music. A full set is £55.00 and a score is £25.00 (+£2.00 P&P). Telephone: 01484 722855; fax: 01484 723591. Or e.mail: email@example.com Address: Kirklees Music, 609, Bradford Road, Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse, West Yorkshire. HD6 4DN.
About Daniel Price
Born in the Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire, Daniel showed an interest in music from an early age.
Starting on trombone, he soon moved on to tuba, which became his main instrument, and he joined his local youth band, Perscoran Brass. After gaining a few years’ experience, he joined Alcester Victoria Silver Band and, for a short period, City of Coventry Band.
At high school, Dan Price also learned double bass and clarinet, and developed a keen interest in composition and arranging. After leaving school, he embarked upon a career as an hotelier but continued to take his music seriously. In addition to playing with the many town bands in his area, he also started his own 1920s and thirties dance band, using his own transcriptions and arrangements. He developed his jazz musicianship further during the late nineties through playing sousaphone, double bass and bass saxophone in a number of ensembles, including the internationally acclaimed Pasadena Roof Orchestra.
In 2003, the composer decided to return to full-time education and studied for a music degree at the University of Salford. In the final year of his degree, he gained his first real taste of recognition as a composer/arranger when he was asked to arrange That’ll Do from the film Babe for Black Dyke Band. He was also runner-up in The Mouthpiece March competition in 2005 with The Traditional, and finalist in Brighouse and Rastrick’s 125th anniversary composers’ competition, in 2006, with Celebration Prelude.
In 2007, Dan Price’s 4th Section test-piece, An Elgar Portrait, was chosen as the set work for the Swiss National Brass Band Championships and has subsequently been chosen to test the 4th Section at the Pontin’s championships, Prestatyn, in October 2008. Earlier in 2008, he completed a Masters Degree in composition under the direction of Peter Graham, and was awarded a distinction. Dan Price is currently working on several exciting projects alongside some of the UK’s top brass bands.
The test-piece for Section 3
The Once and Future King (Andrew Baker)
Introduced with the composer’s notes to the score, reproduced courtesy of Jagrins Music Publications
The Once and Future King is a suite of three movements, each inspired by an Arthurian legend. The title is taken from King Arthur’s legendary dying words and gravestone inscription: “Bury me in Britain, for I am the Once and Future King.”
The first movement, Tintagel, concerns the famous Cornish promontory said to be the birthplace of King Arthur. In Arthur’s time, Tintagel was part of the court of King Mark of Cornwall and the music imagines a visit by the King of the Britons to his Cornish neighbour and the place of his birth. Reflecting the ceremony and drama of such an occasion, the music is strongly antiphonal, contrasting the more strident fanfares of the cornets and trombones with the warmth of the saxhorns and tubas.
The second movement, Lyonesse, takes its inspiration from the mythical land that once joined Cornwall to the Isles of Scilly. One legend claims that, after the disastrous battle of Camlan, in which Arthur and Mordred were both killed, the remnants of Arthur’s army were pursued across Lyonesse to Scilly, whereupon Merlin cast a spell to sink Lyonesse behind them and drown the pursuers. Some say the bells of the 140 churches inundated that day can still be heard ringing. All the material in this movement derives from two short motifs heard in counterpoint at the very beginning, which are intentionally dissonant and bi-tonal in character.
The final movement, Badon Hill, takes its title from the legendary site of Arthur’s last battle with the Saxons and is a lively toccata based on the medieval secular song L’Homme Armée (The Armed Man). The music uses a number of medieval devices including ‘hocketing’ (passing melody from one voice to another). Although the actual site of Badon Hill is unknown, it has been associated with Badbury Rings in Dorset and a lot of evidence now points towards the town of Bath. Arthur’s victory at Badon Hill was the last great victory for Celtic Britain over the Saxon invaders but, in the end, it only set the conquest back by a few decades.
Arthur himself was dead by then, betrayed and defeated by his nephew, Mordred, but it is said that Arthur only sleeps and will return in a time of dire need - hence the legend surrounding Arthur’s dying words: “Bury me in Britain, for I am the Once and Future King”.
Timpani: 3 timpani; tambourine (shared)
Percussion 1: Suspended cymbal, side drum, tambourine (shared), tam-tam (shared), triangle, tenor drum (or low tom), high tom.
Percussion 2: Clash cymbals, glockenspiel, bass drum, suspended cymbal, tam-tam (shared).
All cornets, baritones and trombones will require metal straight mutes.
All cornets and trombones will require cup mutes.
The Once and Future King is available direct from the publisher, Jagrins Music Publications. A full set of parts and a score is £60.00 (+ £5.00 P&P). Send a cheque, for the correct amount, to: Jagrins Music Publications, 14 St John’s Drive, Ton Pentre, Rhondda Cynon Taff. CF40 2RQ. South Wales Alternatively, telephone 01443 433618 (24-hour answer ‘phone) or log on to www.jagrins.com
About Andrew Baker
Andrew Baker began playing the cornet with Northop Youth Band in North Wales. After graduating in Music from Nottingham University (where he studied composition with Nicholas Sackman and conducted the University Wind Band and Student Sinfonia) he worked in orchestra administration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Hallé Orchestra, assisting with premières of works by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, James MacMillan and Michael Nyman among many others. He was for a time a member of the National Youth Brass Band of Wales as well as principal trumpet of the North Wales and Clwyd Youth Orchestras, and the Nottingham University Philharmonia.
Andrew Baker has played at most of the major band contests and, from 2003-2005, was the Musical Director of Blackley Band in Manchester. His composition, The Well of St. Winefrid, for viola, cello and piano, was premièred by the Opus 3 Piano Trio in Chicago, in March 2003. He also won the Morecambe Band Centenary Composition Competition in 2004 with the concert overture, The Cistercians.
Until January 2008, Andrew Baker played for Middleton Band in Manchester, which commissioned and recorded his composition, The Sword and The Star. In November 2007, his test-piece, The Once and Future King, was the set test-piece for the Section 3 of the Swiss National Championships in Montreux and, in January 2008, Gavin Pritchard won the Best Soloist prize at the Butlins Mineworkers’ Championships playing Kopanitsa, commissioned from Andrew for the occasion. Andrew currently conducts Coppull and Standish Band near Wigan.
The test-piece for Section 4:
The Talisman for Brass Band (Frank Hughes)
Introduced with the composer’s notes to the score, reproduced courtesy of MMI Music
This is the first time that a work from this composer, a native of the north west of England, has been selected for the Championships.
The Talisman was initially conceived as a quartet for the then Foden’s Motor Works Quartet. The idea for the piece came to Frank Hughes during a rainstorm when he was with Foden’s Band in Hyde Park, which halted the band’s performance. It lay dormant until the mid-1980s, when the composer was asked to re-score it by the conductor, James Scott, and he enlarged the work for full band and also extended the final movement.
Although based on the novel by Sir Walter Scott, the composition is not programmatic but a tone picture of events at the end of the Third Crusade, set mostly in the camp of the Crusaders, in Palestine.
Scheming and partisan politics, as well as the illness of King Richard the Lionheart, are placing the Crusade in danger. The main characters are the knight, Kenneth, who is the fictional character of David Earl of Huntingdon, who in fact returned from the Third Crusade in 1190, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin and Edith Plantagenet, a relative of Richard.
Kenneth is sent on a mission to discuss a potential peace treaty with the Saracens. He meets, fights and befriends a lone Saracen emir, who eventually turns out to be Saladin in disguise.
The suite contains detailed and demanding music throughout the band parts, and is cast in three movements: A Prelude, which sets the scene of the Crusade and Richard the Lionheart; a short Nocturne - a simple melody that develops depicting a tranquil scene of peace and a lively and a rhythmical Scherzo that portrays the Crusades themselves.
This is set in irregular time of 8/8 – two compound beats and a simple beats. The first movement sets the scene of the Crusades and Richard the Lionheart.
The composer remembers that the second movement is very simple in its plan to be “a little love song” and that it has an unusual rhythmic pattern, which develops into a simple melody that would “fit any tranquil scene of peace.”
The Scherzo is boisterous, depicting the Crusades.
Percussion 1: Timpani, glockenspiel.
Percussion 2: Side drum, bass drum, suspended cymbal, triangle, claves, tambourine, tam-Tam.
The Talisman for Brass Band is available from Just Music, Band Supplies, First Brass (which will be selling it at the Harrogate National Finals). A full set of parts and a score costs £50.00 (plus £1.25 P&P) and a score costs £20.00 (+ £0.75 p&p). Or order direct from mmi-music.co.uk Telephone: 01280 700000. Address: PO Box 6141, Brackley, Northants. NN13 6YS.
About Frank Hughes
Born in Wigan, Frank Hughes’ musical career began with him playing cornet in his local band, Pemberton Old. He later played with Besses Boys, Wingates Temperance and Foden’s Motor Works Band, and was a cornet player with the latter for a number of years.
Composing has always played an important part in Frank Hughes’ musical life; many of his works were recorded and broadcast by Foden’s and Leyland Vehicles bands, and he has received many requests for solos and band pieces from the various conductors including Harry Mortimer, who took his work to many of his other bands.
Still writing today, Frank has a considerable output and his works feature in many of the country’s band libraries.
All the test-pieces for the 2009 regional championships can be heard on the new recording ‘Regionals 2009’ (stock code 24980) released by World of Brass on the Doyen label and available from the World of Brass website. http://www.worldofbrass.eu/acatalog/24980.html