BATTLE OF THE TITANS - Bands gear up for a titanic battle at the Royal Albert Hall

Issue 6016

COMPOSERS' CORNER - Dr Liz Lane looks at the subject of  networking 

HERE IS THE NEWS - Looking back at the Daily Herald's Nationals sponsorship

Brass in Concert: LIVE

Sunday 17 November, 2019

Read a full report on the weekend of activities at Brass in Concert in the next edition of British Bandsman!

 

Live results

 

1) Cory Band, 197 points

2) Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band, 184 points 

3) Flowers Band, 168 points

4) Brighouse & Rastrick Band, 167 points

5) Tredegar, 165 points

6) Friary, 148 points

7) Brass Band Schoonhoven, 148 points

8) NASUWT Riverside, 126 points

9) City of Hull, 126 points

10) Hammonds Band, 113 points

11) Reg Vardy, 108 points

 

Audience Entertainment Trophy & £1,000: Friary Band

Quality of Performance, Banks Group Trophy & £1,000 : Cory Band

Highest in Programme Content, Musicians' Union Trophy & £500: Cory Band

World of Sound Trophy & £500: Best Performance in Entertainment & Presentation: Cory Band

The Cyril Beere Memorial Trophy, Best New Composition or Arrangement: La Suerte de los Tontos arr. Philip Harper, Cory Band

The Geoffrey Whitham Trophy, Best Soloist: Kirsty Abbott, Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band

The Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Trophy, Best Soprano Cornet: Steve Stewart, Cory Band

The Harry Mortimer Trophy, Best Principal Cornet: Tom Hutchinson, Cory Band

The FESA Trophy, Best Flugel Horn: Danny Winder, Tredegar

The Gordon Higginbottom Trophy, Best Tenor Horn: Zoe Wright, Hammonds Band

The North of England Regional Committee Trophy, Best Baritone: Ben Stratford, Tredegar

The Thomas Bulmer Memorial Trophy, Best Euphonium: Chris Robertson, Brighouse & Rastrick Band

The Don Lusher Trophy, Best Trombone: Isobel Daws, Friary Band

The John Fletcher Trophy, Best Bass Section: Brighouse & Rastrick Band

Louis and Colin Johnson Memorial Trophy, Best Percussion: Cory Band

Youngest Player, The Dougie Grieve Trophy: Harry Porthouse, Tredegar Band Age 15

 


There we have it: the end of a packed day of music making. Eleven programmes, contrasting greatly, experimenting with themes to differing degrees of success.

Some worked a treat. A ‘theme’ isn’t the be all and end all, though; elsewhere there were engaging, light touches of humour underpinned by stellar playing. Either way, Brass in Concert in 2019 requires thought to be given to all aspects of the performance, musical and visual, and some bands succeeded more than others.

Likewise, certain programmes found favour with the audience in the Sage more than others but that is to be expected when it comes to this most subjective of areas: entertainment. 

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the vicinity of the adjudicators.

This could go any number of ways but for the sake of putting one’s neck on the line, let’s opt for the high-energy, classy and well-executed programme from Cory, during which no stone was left unturned by this globetrotting band and its tireless musical director. 

Prediction:

1) Cory
2) Brass Band Schoonhoven
3) Brighouse and Rastrick
4) Tredegar Town
5) Carlton Main Frickley Colliery 
6) Friary

Expect Flowers to be in the mix too.

 

11) NASUWT Riverside | David Roberts
The Heritage of North East of England

The Dawn of Christianity (Jacob. Vilhelm Larsen)

A sombre opening with hints of intonation insecurities before the music springs into action.
It is purposeful and energetic; just the odd tumbling mute.

Pilgrims Lament (Jacob Vilhelm Larsen)
Soloist: Phillip Tait

Phillip Tait performs with confidence, showcasing a sweet soprano cornet sound.

The Real Northern Powerhouse (Jonathan Bates)

An unapologetic opening, thanks in no small part to industrial sounds from percussion. There’s a machine-like quality to this music, repeating rhythms playing games with the pulse, aided by unrelenting snare drums taking their place at either side of the band.

Excerpts from Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

The grief and despair associated with the mining disaster from which this work takes its inspiration is captured in these tender closing moments of Thierry Deleruyelle’s score. There are occasional clips and intonation is not always entirely settled but it’s emotive.

Reflections of Tyne (Matthew Hall)

Flugel takes to the front of the stage, ably assisted by tenor horn and principal cornet. This is well-measured and delivered with a real sense of poise in the opening stages.
It soon kicks into a driving beat in drum kit before euphonium takes centre stage in a moment of tenderness.

The final strains sees some of the detail get a little lost in the mix but an enjoyable show nonetheless from this band, which hasn't had to travel far to get to the Sage.

It was a little scrappy at times but NASUWT Riverside rounds off a packed day of programming with a full-blooded performance, full of energy and vigour. 

 

10) Brighouse & Rastrick | Russell Gray
Spirit of the Gods

Ragnarök (Kjetil Djonne)

An eerie opening, from a string bow scraping the edge of cymbal to sparse entries emanating across the band. Flugelhorn is delicately understated in moments of calm before the urgency recommences. 

Piercing bass drum thuds signal a moment of calm before Brighouse unleashes lets loose into full-blooded warmth.

 

Only in Sleep (Ä’riks Ešenvalds arr. Jinjun Lee)
Soloist: Kyle Lawson (cornet)

Kyle Lawson stands in the balcony, bathed in light, producing a sound of great sensitivity. This style is replicated by the band, a warmth radiating from around the stand in a moment of simple elegance.


The Æsir (Vanir War) (Fredrick Schjelderup)

The drama picks up again as this programme continues. Russell Gray has devised a set which is letting the music tell the story, aided by multimedia content from the big screen. Musically, it’s captivating though much of it is 


Revelry (Tom Davoren)

The finale opens with an off-stage ensemble featuring trombones and Eb bass, wistful in its nature.

Cornets take up positions at either side of the stage as a grand melody takes hold, underpinned by relentless side drum. It’s unmistakably exciting and the sounds, individually and collectively, are of such a high calibre.

The music did the talking here - and it was captivating. 

 

9) Brass Band Schoonhoven | Robbert Vos

Overture to The Flying Dutchman (Wagner arr. Robbert Vos)

A round, polished sound to open from the celebrated Dutch band, returning to Brass in Concert for the first time since 2016, in a fleeting excerpt from Wagner’s famous overture.


Prelude for a Hero (Joop van Dijk)

A sand artist works in the corner of the stage, his handiwork projected on to the big screen, while the narrator addresses the audience. The sounds are rich and it’s nicely paced, with great poise.

 
Or Safety Found in Sleeping Sound (Paul McGhee 

Soloist: Rommert Groenhof (bass trombone)

The contemporary nature of this work is in stark contrast to the programme so far. Rommert Groenhof is in commanding form on bass trombone, flying around the instrument with apparent ease. The band is fully engaged in this repertoire too.

A couple of back row cornet players pick up dinky trombones as the harmonies shift almost as quickly as the sand art being created during the performance.


Leviathan Against Kraken (Franco Cesarini arr. Christian Overhead)

Florid lines cascade through brass and percussion, punctuated by thuds and whip cracks. It’s dramatic and so tight.

The programme takes a nostalgic turn, this music flowing gently against the rise and fall of the tide in this musical portrayal of the legendary tale.


The Curse of the Flying Dutchman (Hendrik de Boer)

Threads of Wagner’s famous overture return as this programme reaches its closing stages. 

So much drama running through Brass Band Schoonhoven’s performance. Powerful, but never overcooked, and with diverse programming. The live sand art was a neat addition, such a creative way of adding a further dimension to this programme.

 

8) Flowers Band | Paul Holland
Captain Nemo's Forgotten Journal


A sequence of new works is on the cards from Flowers, a pre-recorded narrative threading together this programme.
Dawn of a Voyage (Dan Price)

A sparkling opening and the quality of the sound is undisputed.


The Descent (Christopher Bond)
Soloist: Jamie Smith (cornet)

The music takes a darker turn, Jamie Smith delivering a heartrending, melancholic performance of this music by Christopher Bond.


Monster Thrash (Paul Saggers)

The tenderness of the previous piece soon dissipates, replaced by fire and fury. Soloists rise to the fore from all corners of the band; trombone, euphonium, cornet, baritone, Eb bass, soprano - and so it continues.
The sounds are enormous and this piece truly lives up to its ominous title; it’s no holds barred but very effective.


La Cathedrale Engloutie (Debussy arr. Dan Price)

Trombone and cornet take to the front of the stage, at opposite ends, performing in unison before the rest of the band takes over. The front couple of rows in the audience are doused in bubbles while tubular bells ring from each side of the stage.

 
Escape the Kracken (Dan Price)

For its finale, Flowers attempts to escape from some of the horrors lurking in the murky depths. It’s a thrilling ride and a great way to bring this exciting programme to a close. 

A powerful programme from Flowers and Paul Holland, showcasing a sound of enormous proportions, from its sparkling opening to its thrilling conclusion.

 

7) Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band | David Thornton

Different Trains

 
Carlton Main’s programme has been composed by Robin Dewhurst, telling the story of a little boy and his beloved teddy bear.

Last Train Home (Pat Metheny arr. Robin Dewhurst)

This trundles along from the opening, showcasing some fine euphonium playing, while the audience follows the story via the big screen. Joe Heartfield (trombone) stamps his quality on the action in the final moments.


Night Train (Jimmy Forrest arr. Robin Dewhurst)

A distinct swing groove takes hold, with soloists taking their turns to move to the front of the stage including some terrific bumper-up trumpet playing - and bass trombone enjoys a moment in the sun too.

 
Going Places (Robin Dewhurst)

There’s a relaxed feel to Going Places, tuned percussion creating a pleasant ambience which is then shattered by trombone and percussion ‘ringtones’ in The Quiet Zone which are quickly shooshed by fellow band members/passengers.

 

Mind the Gap (Robin Dewhurst)
The Railway Children (Johnny Douglas arr. Robin Dewhurst)
Soloist: Kirsty Abbotts (cornet)

Hearing Kirsty Abbotts perform is always an experience to treasure and this is no different; she shapes the melody with such grace and charm while David Thornton ensures she is given the space to shine.


Pacific 231 (Arthur Honneger arr. Robin Dewhurst)
A discordant opening ticks along with a sense of urgency, bold and uncompromising, until this programmes reaches its musical destination. 

 
Carlton Main nailed its colours to the mast in this bold programme, the story unfolding as it went along. The offering was colourful and showcased sterling soloists. It may not have the audience whooping - but what will the judges think?

 

6) City of Hull | Stig Maersk

Voyage of Discovery and Remembrance


Erin Shore (Trad arr. Leigh Baker) feat: Neil Day

The lights go out, with only a spotlight on cornet player, Neil Day, whose lyrical opening introduces a gentle lilt which is picked up by the rest of the band.


The Whale (Howard Lorriman)

Barely pausing for breath, City of Hull continues with a march (one of the first of the day?) full of bombast. Yes, it’s occasionally less than pristine but the band and Stig Maersk work hard to find the light and shade in Lorriman’s score.


Anchor for the Soul (Andi Cook)
featuring Neil Day (cornet) and Melanie Ornsby (euphonium)

Neil Day and Melanie Ornsby join each other at the front of the stage in this emotive work, in which Eternal Father, Strong to Save and Nearer My God to Thee become entwined.

The solo sounds are tender. Intonation is not always entirely settled elsewhere. It grows to a majestic climax before gentling ebbing and flowing its way to a restful close.


Sea Fever (Kenneth Downie)

Jaunty tunes rise to the fore in this nippy arrangement which bobs along nicely.


Excerpt from Voyage to World’s Unknown (Peter Graham)
Tight and well-controlled, this was an enjoyable conclusion to a well-paced programme.


City of Hull and Stig Maersk kick off the second half with an enjoyable performance. It may have lacked the zing and sparkle found elsewhere but this was a spirited seafaring adventure.

 

LUNCH BREAK 

 

5) Friary Brass Band | Chris King
Once Upon a Time


The World’s All About Love (Bach, Burt Bacharach, Lennon and McCartney arr. Chris King)

Friary introduces its own storyteller, who begins recounting this tale, underpinned by a gentle accompaniment - complete with keyboard.

This is a distinctly amorous opening to Friary’s programme.

 

Autumn from the Four Seasons (Vivaldi arr. Chris King)

Vivaldi’s music is given a big band makeover while drum kit is positioned front and centre. He unleashes when required then disappears back into the texture.

It’s fair to say that much of this narration is delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek; Kenneth Williams himself might have blushed.

 

Thoughts of Love (Arthur Prior, arr. Keith Wilkinson)
Soloist: Isobel Daws (trombone)
Double-entendres aside, Isobel Daws dazzles in Arthur Pryor’s Thoughts of Love. The nimble technique is joyously crisp and the sound of the very highest order. She has the Sage audience in the palm of her hand throughout; bravo.

 

Your Song (Elton John and Bernie Taupin arr. Chris King)

Eb bass player Jonathan Gawn takes to the front of the stage, with fleeting references to staple tuba solos before the Elton John theme makes an appearance, firstly in euphonium then cornets; cue pop concert-esque waving in the air of mobile phone torches. It resonates here in Gateshead, for sure.

 
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Merrill and Rubicam arr. Chris King)

High energy fun here which sparkles and brings an engaging performance to close.

A brilliant show from Friary. The storytelling was fun - and a bit cheeky - but it provided a neat hook on which to hang a very well executed programme. That, and a truly outstanding performance from trombone soloist Isobel Daws.

 

 

4) Reg Vardy Band | John Roberts
The Four Temptations of Human Nature

 
Temperamental (Jonathan Bates)

The hall is in darkness, with the band gradually making its way on stage to the fabulous groove emanating from Jonathan Bates’ score.

Lights come up to reveal the band is sporting colourful open-necked shirts, reflecting different personality types.

It’s a full-blooded opening and a confident introduction.

 

Scherzo No. 1 (Jonathan Bates)

This scherzo zips along, the intricate details coming across well. 


Danse Macabre (Jonathan Bates)
Soloist: Andrew Hedley (euphonium)

Something reflecting a more melancholic personality type and Andrew Hedley opens with a lyrical treatment. Before long, this music bursts into life and the solo playing which follows is fiendishly exciting.

 

Water Lilies (Jonathan Bates)

It’s an atmospheric opening, thanks to the intriguing musical colours created by percussion. Mutes in brass further enhance the variety of sounds on offer, though it isn’t immune from fleeting intonation frailties.

 
Infernal Dance and Final Hymn from The Firebird (Stravinsky arr. Ray Farr)

Reg Vardy takes us on a trip to the ballet for its conclusion. This is exciting, if a little scrappy, but it rounds off a well-devised programme.

An engaging theme from Reg Vardy, honing in on the four personality types. The programme was varied and, although it lost its sheen from time to time, there was some fine playing - especially from Andrew Hedley on euphonium. 

 

3) Hammonds Band | Morgan Griffiths
Atmospheres


Ariel (Andrew Baker)

Many of the band are lined up across the front of the stage, only for a moment, before splitting into lines on either side of the stage, with troms in the centre facing outwards, euphs/baris and basses stationed in front of them.

Morgan Griffiths joins them in an intricate piece which bursts into a grand theme. It is well controlled and well played, an engaging premiere of this new work.

 

The Rowan Tree (Trad. arr. Sandy Smith)
Soloist: Zoe Wright (tenor horn)

Zoe Wright takes to the front of the stage in a lyrical reading of this traditional melody. It is shaped beautifully, nicely understated but with a dark, rich tone.

 


Better (Liam Shortall arr. Daniel Hall)

Apple (Liam Shortall arr. Daniel Hall)

There’s a neat groove underpinning these works, with one segueing into the other. The music makes use of repeating rhythmic lines, further layers being added as it progresses.

Melodic lines rise to the fore but rhythm and pulse underpins this work.

 
Galop (Shostakovich arr. Snell)

A touch of Shostakovich provides a marked contrast to Hammonds’ programme. It’s light and flighty, skipping along jovially.

 
Finale from Music of the Spheres (Philip Sparke)

There is great warmth to Hammonds’ sound, thanks to a delicious middle of the band, rounding off this programme.

A contrasting programme from Hammonds, from neat and intricate to spiralling grooves and wistful melodies. This wasn’t the all-singing, all-dancing approach but a solid show from the band and Morgan Griffiths.

 

2) Cory Band | Philip Harper

 

It’s 125 years since Ruyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which provides the inspiration for Cory’s programme.
Jungle Book Intro (Philip Harper)

A video, complete with narration, sets the scene for the Sage audience. Stephen Kane (baritone) and Ailsa Russell (horn) stand at either end of the stage, impressing in fleeting contributions before returning to their seats.

 

The Night of the Tiger (Petterik / Sullivan arr. Philip Harper)

Without break, the band breaks into this take on Eye of the Tiger. It’s high octane and sees Cory let off the leash; powerful and packed with energy. The lighting is used effectively; it’s all part of this multi-layered show.


Elephant Patrol (Philip Harper)

Tom Hutchinson, Glyn Williams and Helen Williams station themselves beside timpani as this Jungle Book story continues to unfold. There is a lot of variety in the sound world, different colours rising to the fore.

Basses take themselves to the front of the stage for a stately quartet.


Trust in Me (Sherman / Sherman arr. Philip Harper)

Principal trombone Chris Thomas takes on the role of the snake, sliding his way effortlessly around the instrument’s upper reaches.
The band, basses aside, is standing, engaging in some subtle choreography. 

 

La Suerte de los Tontos (J.J. Richards arr. Philip Harper)

The narration of Frank Renton is intertwined with percussion and brass motifs ringing from various corners of the auditorium before the piece begins in earnest, underpinned by driving percussion.

Tom Hutchinson and Steve Stewart trade fabulous musical fireworks across the stage; there’s movement across the band which all feeds into this musical and visual spectacle.

 

Dies Irae (Verdi arr. Philip Harper)

That gigantic sound is unleashed in a performance of some sonority - it’s fleeting but brings another dimension to the band’s programme.

 

I’ve Gotta Be Me (Walter Marks arr. Philip Harper)

Tom Hutchinson introduces this melody from one side of the stage, before Helen and Glyn Williams take up the mantle from the other.
A sensitive opening soon picks up the pace, this driving forward to an exciting conclusion.

Cory does what it does so well. The theme provided the starting point for Philip Harper to craft a multi-dimensional performance which enabled the all-conquering Welsh band to showcase its considerable powers to great effect. It also found favour with what is a very healthy audience in the Sage.

It’s been quite the start at Brass in Concert 2019 - let’s see how others follow.

 

 1) Tredegar Town Band | Ian Porthouse

”Easy like (an early) Sunday morning....


Moon River (Henry Mancini arr. Daniel Hall)

The band is poised, with cornets and trombones lined across the front of the stage. Horns sit in front row cornet chairs while euphoniums, baritones and basses are stationed in the usual places.

The lights are down. After an introduction from Frank Renton, birthday boy Ian Porthouse takes to the stage.

This opens with a delightful flugelhorn solo, played from the centre of the stage, before the band takes over in this music, originally from the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

 
“...wider than a mile, I’m crossing you in style...”

Hora Martisorului (Grigoraz Dinicu arr. Ceri John)

The band takes its seats for this virtuosic number, the fast and furious lines delivering boundless energy to The Sage’s auditorium despite the early hour. Even kazoos make an appearance!

 

“An extra shot of espresso...”

The Lord Bless You and Keep You (John Rutter arr. Andrew Austin)
Soloist: Danny Winder (flugelhorn)

Danny Winder, briefly featured in the first piece, returns to the front of the stage in a tender account of John Rutter’s music; it’s tender and the flugelhorn sound so endearing.

 

“Time for contemplation...”

Don’t Shoot the Banjo Player (Allan Botchinsky)

A Dixie quartet, resembling something out of Peaky Blinders, stand front and centre, with cornets in front of trombones. 

A curtain behind the usual cornet position is lifted to unveil some banjo players, heads appearing above some puppet bodies in a light-hearted, very well-executed comedic number which finds favour with the Sage audience.

 

“…’cause we’ve done it already...”

Stories from Burt (Burt Bacharach arr. Daniel Hall)

“Some classic easy listening...”

An early lyrical contribution, notably from soprano, gives way to a free-flowing, energetic arrangement by Daniel Hall. The familiar tunes weave in and out, keeping the audience on side.

There’s just time for an up-tempo Good Morning, Dixieland-esque trumpet and trombone solos included, bringing this opening programme to a close.

This was an unashamedly easy-going, light-hearted way to open the show. It wasn’t trying to be anything overtly complicated; good fun, light touches of humour and underpinned by some very fine playing from soloists and the band.

 

9.09am

Warm introductions for adjudicators: Ian Bousfield, Nick Grace, Jeremy Wise, Chris Jeans, Mike Lovatt and Les Neish.

 

WELCOME

Good morning from The Sage!

The audience is filing into the auditorium, ready for a busy day of music making. There's a good deal of chatter and excitement, with people clealy keen to make it in to the hall early.

Compere Frank Renton is now on stage...