National Finals tests released

The Music Panel of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain has released the test-pieces for the 2017 Finals in September and October as follows:

The Championship Section will square up to Howard Snell’s Gallery, published by Rakeway Music and commissioned by the Scottish Brass Band Association for the 2015 Scottish Open.

Howard Snell was inspired by his days living in the West Coast of Scotland and his love of art when he wrote Gallery, which evokes various pictures, four by Scottish artists, which created strong emotion in the composer. One of Scotland’s best-known paintings, Henry Raeburn’s The Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, is represented in movement 3, The Skater’s Waltz. Movement 7 - Landscapes is represented by Two Views from Ben Lomond (looking South- west and North-west) by the famous landscape artist, John Knox and movement 5 - Love Story was inspired by contemporary artist, Caitriona Campbell’s painting, Old Couple. Movement 1 evokes the entrance of Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, visited by Howard Snell as a child and the three other movements are: 4 - The March Back to Camp based on the painting Gassed by American artist, John Singer Sargent; 6 - Cut-Outs based on Jazz by French artist, Henri Matisse; and 2 - Street Market inspired by Englishman Paul Cox’s painting, The Barras.

Section 1 will perform Tournament for Brass by Eric Ball, published by R. Smith & Co - first performed at the 1954 British Open at Belle Vue. The piece is not descriptive - the tournament being within the band itself - and the first movement features small groups of instruments, mainly duets and trios in ‘conversation’, whilst the second takes the form of a theme with variations in which the main soloists are put through their paces. The final scherzo calls for ensemble playing and some soloists again carry responsibility.

Stephen Ponsford’s Music of a Legacy, published by SP&S Ltd., will challenge Section 2 finalists. Bandmaster Carl Saunders requested the composition for a recording by the Household Troops Band and The International Staff Band revisited the piece at The Salvation Army’s 2015 Boundless Congress. Nostalgic and musically accessible, the rhapsodic one-movement composition pays tribute to several iconic SA works, progressing through different styles; firstly marches followed by meditation, major works and solos. Although paying homage to SA banding heritage, the composer wanted the work to ‘stand alone’, so the music never wanders far from the hymn melody - Timothy Dudley-Smith’s Lord of the Years.

Gareth Wood’s charming love story, Hinemoa, published by R. Smith & Co., has been set for Section 3. Commissioned by the New Zealand Brass Band Association, Hinemoa was used at the 1980 National Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand, to commemorate the nation’s contesting centennial. The piece tells the story of its namesake, the daughter of a great Maori chief Amukaria, who fell in love with Tutanekai - a chief and brave warrior from Mokoia.

Finally, Section 4 will tackle the four ‘minatures’ contained in Eric Ball’s Petite Suite for Ballet, published by R. Smith & Co. This ballet music is not without technical demands for players and the first movement, Parade, brings many balletic movements. In the next, Pas Seul (solo dance), a lone figure centre-stages with grace and sauciness, whilst the third movement is a stately Minuet. The final Ensemble, commencing with the return of the lone figure, gradually brings the whole company to the stage.

Announcing the music selection for the 2017 National Finals, Chairman of the Music Panel, Philip Morris, commented: “The Music Panel has been careful to select music for each section that it thinks will be challenging, but very enjoyable to rehearse and perform.”

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