BERLIN BOUND - Isobel Daws secures place at Karajan Academy

Issue 6125

SCOTTISH FUNDING - SBBA receives Creative Scotland award

CONTEST CANCELLED - West of England Regionals off

CURTAIN RISING - RNCM Festival set for take-off

PUSHED BACK - Australian Nationals postponed

RNCM Festival set for 2022 return

Wednesday 15 December, 2021

Following a COVID-enforced absence, the Royal Northern College of Music has unveiled the full programme for the 2022 RNCM Brass Band Festival, which will be taking place over the weekend of January 28-30. The unique festival returns featuring six of the country’s leading brass bands, all of which are guaranteed to be on razor-sharp form the week after a re-scheduled British Open Brass Band Championships.

British Bandsman looks ahead to the action.


The RNCM Brass Band Festival is a jewel in the crown of the UK banding calendar. A non-competitive outing for major brass band repertoire, performed by eminent bands and conductors, is rare and its return is a welcome sight. Joining the line-up for 2022 are international soloists, Peter Moore (trombone), who revives the concerto Simon Dobson composed for him a decade ago, and Rex Richardson (trumpet), who brings with him a new concerto he commissioned from Peter Graham. There is also a major contribution showcasing the skills and talents of the RNCM brass students.

The concerts mark the contribution to the brass band medium by some of Britain’s finest 20th composers as part of wider national celebrations, as artistic director Paul Hindmarsh explained: “A month ago the centenary of the birth of Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006) was marked with concerts, workshops and documentaries, revealing a wealth of creativity born out of sometimes extremely turbulent personal circumstances. Sir Malcolm loved the bracing sound of the brass band, as did Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), one of the great figures of English music of the 20th century. Celebrating Sir Malcolm at 100 and being part of the nationwide RVW150 celebration has provided with a rich seam of invention to bind together the various strands of the weekend’s music making.”

Among the works showcased will be the first performances of new performing editions by Phillip Littlemore. He has drawn on a life-long enthusiasm for Vaughan Williams and his experience as brass band arranger to fashion a performing edition of English Folk Suite in the composer’s original key and has also prepared a new edition of Variations for Brass Band, correcting a vast number of errors and, having consulted the composer’s full score, which is substantially different than Frank Wright’s contest edition published for the 1957 National Brass Band Championships, restoring as appropriate some of the composer’s original intentions. This receives its first concert performance, with permission of the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust and publishers Boosey and Hawkes.

A contemporary of Arnold, the brass specialist composer Ray Steadman-Allen (1922-2014) is best known for his major contribution to the repertoire of The Salvation Army. Within SA circles RSA was regarded as a musical adventurer, pushing the boundaries of hymn tune-based music to the limits of contemporary tonal style.

Following his retirement from full-time service in that organisation, RSA turned to the wider brass band world. Both aspects of his prolific output feature in a centenary tribute, including one of his finest works, Hymn at Sunrise and his RVW tribute piece, the rarely heard Meditation on Randolph. No RNCM Brass Band Festival would be complete without a substantial offering of new or recent work, as Paul Hindmarsh commented: “Back in the early 2000s there was significant and, at times, vociferous resistance to the brass band music of one of the major contemporary composers in British music, Judith Bingham, largely as a result of my decision to select her 1995 BBC commission Prague as a Regional test-piece. I regard this work as a masterpiece of the band medium and in the year of Judith’s 70th birthday, I thought it was time that her work was heard again. I’m also thrilled that Tredegar Town band agreed to revive the equally impressive These are our Footsteps.”

In musical terms, the programmes as a whole highlight the importance of the variation form in the evolution of the brass band repertoire, from Wilfred Heaton’s Variations on an old gospel song, Celestial Prospect, composer in around 1947, via the distinctive contributions of Vaughan Williams, Edmund Rubbra, Eric Ball and Robert Farnon to Edward Gregson’s latest major opus, The World Rejoicing.

The festival also continues to provide a platform for new writing, through the sixth John Golland Award. Recent works by Philip Wilby, Bruce Broughton and Edward Gregson will be heard for the first time in concert settings. World or national premieres from the pens of Peter Graham, Simon Dobson and Liz Lane will also feature.

Paul added: “With a number of revivals of forgotten treasures, workshops discussions and a presentation by festival partner, Brass Bands England, I hope the 2022 RNCM Brass Band Festival will give you as much listening pleasure as I had planning it.”


Friday, January 28

6.15pm-7pm | Carole Nash Recital Room
RNCM student ensembles perform a selection of original compositions and arrangements

7.30pm-9.30pm | RNCM Concert Hall
Michael Fowles, conductor
James Cook, Circumnavigator Gilbert Vinter (1909-1969)
The Shining River Edmund Rubbra (1901-1985)
Prague Judith Bingham (b. 1952)
Sinfonietta (1981) Howard Blake (b. 1938) first performance of new performing edition by Paul Hindmarsh
Little Suite No. 1 Malcolm Arnold (1921-2006)
Hymn at Sunrise Ray Steadman-Allen (1922-2014)

Saturday, January 29
11am-12.15pm | RNCM Concert Hall RNCM BRASS BAND
Justine Gormley, piano
David Thornton, conductor
Four Minute Mile (1991)
Judith Bingham Piano Concerto (1990)
Bill Connor (b. 1949)
Chrome (1997)
Errollyn Wallen (b. 1958)
Scottish Dances Malcolm Arnold (arr. Farr)

1.30pm-2.30pm | RNCM Theatre
RNCM Engage workshop led by Philip Goodwin, trombone tutor RNCM, with student ensembles and local youth brass bands.

3pm-4.15pm | RNCM Concert Hall
Peter Moore, trombone
Ian Porthouse, conductor
Flourish for Brass Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
English Folk Song Suite
Vaughan Williams
1. March: Seventeen Come Sunday

2. Intermezzo: My Bonny Boy 3. March: Folk Songs from Somerset
first performances of new performing editions by Phillip Littlemore
Shift (Trombone Concerto No. 1) Simon Dobson (1981)
Rhosymedre (from Three Preludes founded on Welsh Hymn Tunes) Vaughan Williams (arr. Hindmarsh)
These are our Footsteps Judith Bingham Variations for Brass Band
Vaughan Williams first performance of new performing edition by Phillip Littlemore Concert supported by The Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust and Yamaha

4.45pm-5.30pm | RNCM Theatre
Leslie Neish, Jon Malaxetxebarria, conductors

Programme to include: Rebellion Simon Dobson Tree Song Gavin Higgins

6.15pm -7pm | Carole Nash Recital Room
PRE-CONCERT DISCUSSION 7.30 pm-9.30pm | RNCM Concert Hall
Rex Richardson, trumpet
Brett Baker, trombone
Nicholas Childs, conductor
COMMISSIONS A Fantasy of Joy Fredrick Schjelderup (b. 1990)
Four Cornish Dances Malcolm Arnold (arr. Farr)
Master of Suspense Peter Graham (b. 1958) commissioned by Rex Richardson, first performance
Beethoven Philip Wilby (b. 1949) Interval
The Royal Border Bridge Arthur Butterworth (1923-2014)
The Light Fantastic Philip Wilby commissioned for Brett Baker by Janina Harrison
Heroes Bruce Broughton (b. 1945)
Rex Richardson’s appearance is supported by Yamaha 

Sunday, January 30

11am-12.15pm | RNCM Concert Hall
David Thornton, conductor
Overture Henry the Fifth Vaughan Williams
Innovation 216 Liz Lane, premiere of standalone brass band version
Sinfonietta: At the Edge of Time Ray Steadman-Allen
Elegy (In Memoriam Gerard Schurmann) Jack Stamp (b. 1954)
Caledonian Suite Buxton Orr (1924-1997)

1.30pm-2.30pm | RNCM Theatre
THE 2022 JOHN GOLLAND AWARD FINAL Students from the RNCM perform works for brass ensemble by the finalists in the 6th John Golland Award for young composers. The recital also includes a performance of Phantasy for brass quartet by John Golland (1942 - 1993) and Music for Brass Sextet, the original version of Toccata, O the Blessed Lord by Wilfred Heaton Supported by The John Golland Trust

3pm-4.15pm | RNCM Concert Hall
Philip Harper, conductor
Celestial Prospect (Variations on an old gospel song) Wilfred Heaton
Un Vie de Matelot (Theme and Variations for brass band) Robert Farnon (1917-2005)
Main Street (Variations for brass band)
Eric Ball (1903 - 1989)
The World Rejoicing Edward Gregson (b. 1945)

4.45-5.45pm | Carole Nash Recital Room BRASS BANDS ENGLAND presentation

6.30pm-8pm | RNCM Concert Hall
March Pelorus Jack (1910)
Alexander Owen (1851 - 1920)
Suite The Unfortunate Traveller (1929)
Imogen Holst (1907 - 1984)
Prelude on Randolph (1958) Ray Steadman-Allen
Meditation on Aberystwyth (1941) Wilfred Heaton
Paganini Variations Philip Wilby