A TALE OF PERSEVERANCE - Mareika Gray - the story of an unlikely musical journey

Issue 6006

ON THE BEAT - The first in a new series by Gavin Pritchard discussing all things percussion

PRODUCING A RECORDING - Adam Goldsmith reveals the secrets to a successful recording

Spring Festival tests unveiled

Wednesday 8 November, 2017

The organisers of the British Open have announced the test-pieces for next year’s Spring Brass Band Festival, to be held at The Winter Gardens, Blackpool on Saturday 12 May.

As widely predicted, the test-piece for the Grand Shield will be Professor Peter Graham’s The Triumph of Time, with G. Baileys Diadem of Gold for the Senior Cup and A Kensington Concerto by Eric Ball for the Senior Trophy.

The Triumph of Time was commissioned by Professor Nicholas Childs for Black Dyke Band to play at the 2014 European Championships in Perth. In his notes to the score, Peter Graham states: "As I began preparations for the commission it occurred to me that 2014 marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of one of my earliest works for brass band, The Essence of Time. Listening to the piece for the first time in a number of years, I was struck by its energy, optimism and sheer joie de vivre. Reflecting on these impressions I wondered if I might capture something of the spirit of The Essence of Time in a new work, and whilst not using any of the existing musical content perhaps draw upon some of the structural elements. Like The Essence of Time, The Triumph of Time is a set of variations for band which follow roughly the same moods and characteristics of its older relative.’

The Triumph of Time was used at the British Open in 2016 and, as was the case then in agreement with the composer, the opening chiming bells heard on CD in its original première will not be part of the performances in May.
Diadem of Gold  was originally known as Ouverture Caractéristique and composed by Guillaume Balay, who was conductor of the famous Garde Républicaine, Paris. Frank Wright, using the name G. Bailey, transcribed the work for the 1953 National Finals and it was also used at the Open in 1977. Whilst it has been performed as an own-choice work by bands over the years, it was last selected as a set test-piece at the Danish National 

Championships in 2015, with its last competitive appearance in the UK being in 2001 at Pontins.

Eric Ball’s A Kensington Concerto is in one continuous movement and was first heard in 1972 at the National Brass Band Championships in London. The work is a test of musical lyricism right from the opening melody on solo cornet.

The interest from bands wishing to gain entry to the qualifying contests for the British Open remains as high as ever, with the highest placed band not already invited in the Championship Section at the Bolsover Festival of Brass, Wychavon Festival of Brass and the Fife Charities Contest earning them an invitation to compete in the Senior Trophy. Two further qualification places in the Senior Trophy will be made available for the highest placed band in the Championship Section at next year’s Brass at the Guild on Sunday 28 January and the Welsh Open in Porthcawl on Saturday 17 February. A spokesman for the British Open commented: “Our congratulations go the bands that have already qualified to compete in the Senior Trophy in the three contests this autumn. We would also like to thank the contests themselves for their enthusiasm and willingness to offer a direct qualification link to the Spring Festival.”

Details of the start times, prizes, the competing bands, adjudicators, venues and ticket information will be announced in due course.