Finals 2022 - Set Test Pieces

Kapitol Promotions is delighted to announce the five set test-pieces for the upcoming Finals events of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain 2022.

 

CHAMPIONSHIP SECTION FINAL – HYPERLINK (PETER GRAHAM)

Published by Gramercy Music

 

Foreword by Peter Graham:

Hyperlink was commissioned by the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain in celebration of their 70th Anniversary in 2022. Since the anniversary coincided with other significant celebrations in 2022 (including the Royal Albert Hall/Ralph Vaughan Williams 150th and the Platinum Jubilee of Elizabeth II) it was requested that these also be recognised in some way.

Where better to begin this challenging brief but with a computer search for the NYBBGB founder Dr Denis Wright (incidentally born in Kensington, home of the RAH). The subsequent rabbit warren of hyperlinks led me to structure the work through a series of “associations”:

 Movement I – The Voice of Jupiter
Alongside the discovery that Denis Wright had been a church organist was the realisation that while the RAH has hosted thousands of musical events the fabric of the building actually incorporates a musical instrument, the famous Henry Wills organ (aka The Voice of Jupiter).

Organ and J S Bach are synonymous (think Toccata in D min) and so both become fundamental to the content of the movement. An opening 7 note quote from the Toccata leads to a mammoth sound cluster, as if every note on the huge RAH organ is sustained. The material which follows is based upon the notes BACH (in German notation). The notes are manipulated in various ways in a 12-tone matrix; reversed, inverted and so on. Other techniques employed in the movement are ones of which Bach was master, including ground bass and fugue.

 Movement II – Remember Me
The centenary of the great band composer Ray Steadman-Allen provides the catalyst for this section (with a nod towards RVW with whom RSA had an interesting encounter). Like the previous movement a musical cryptogram is utilised, this time using chords based upon “RSA”: D (re in sol-fa), Eb (Es in German) and A.

 Movement III – Vivat
The finale takes the form of a short fantasy upon Hubert Parry’s marvellous coronation anthem I Was Glad, truly a celebratory note with which to conclude Hyperlink.

 

SECTIONS 1-4 FINALS

For the Sections 1-4 Finals at Cheltenham Racecourse, four diverse works have been chosen by the Kapitol Promotions Music Panel:

 

SECTION 1 FINAL – TRITTICO (JAMES CURNOW)

Published by Winwood Music

Commissioned in 1988 by the Swiss Brass Band Association, James Curnow’s "Trittico" for Brass Band was first performed at the Swiss National Championships of the same year. This Championship-level test piece has been used around the world for various contests including the Grand Shield (1990), North American Championships (1996) and most recently at the SEWBBA Contest in 2018.

The title of the work ‘Trittico’ or indeed ‘Triptych’, are usually a collection of three works of arts based on a common theme. The commonality between the three variations in Trittico is the American hymn ‘Consolation’. Although played through, there are three distinct variations in this work, which all present the hymn in a very different light.

 

SECTION 2 FINAL – GHOSTS, GOBLINS, WITCHES & WIZARDS (DARROL BARRY)

Published by Obrasso Verlag

 Movement I - Ghosts

Ghosts opens with a Solo Horn introducing the first theme. The tempo is quite slow and the music mysterious. A second theme is heard on Solo Cornets marked 'doloroso' which is in turn taken up by the Euphoniums & Baritones. Horns, Basses & Timpani usher in a more agitated central section which in turn gives way to music from the opening, but only for a short while as the faster agitated music returns. The movement ends as it started but the first theme is heard quietly in 4 octaves, however the Cornets and Trombones shatter the mood with a loud shot chord.

 Movement II - Goblins

The ghost of Grieg pervades the movement with its quirky harmony and mood. Although mostly quiet the music does have its imposing moments especially in the central section.

 Movement III – Witches

A swirling satanic scherzo in which the Basses try to avoid playing a typical bass line by avoiding the first beat for most of the time. After a short, loud introduction the main theme is heard first on Horns, supported by chattering Cornets and then taken up by the full Band.  A central section features the Cornet back row with interjections from Trombones & Basses.

 Movement IV – Wizards

These are not the lovable, bumbling wizards of Disney cartoons but rather the power behind the throne, with their mysterious incantations and dramatic explosive spells. The Trombones feature quite heavily on the main driving theme and its counter melody. A short fugato section attempts to portray the wizard with his fantastic spells and potions.

 

SECTION 3 FINAL – SINFONIETTA (JOSEPH HOROVITZ)

Published by Studio Music

"Sinfonietta" was written in 1970, published the following year, and used as test piece for the Regional Championships of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain in 1972. It was his first work for Brass Band, and he later rescored it for orchestra: 'legitimate orchestra' as he called it.

The first movement, Allegro, is in sonata form, though the second subject is an emerging variant form of the first. The second movement, Lento moderato, is based on a hymn-tune, which Horovitz says he heard in a dream. The morning after, he looked in various hymn-books to see what it might be, couldn't find it, and came to the conclusion that he must have composed it himself! Its principal interest is harmonic, and it exploits the sustaining quality of the lower instruments of the band. The finale, A Con brio, is a rondo on a rather cheeky theme, which is always treated in its basic triads.

The work has become a popular classic with bands and audiences alike.

 

SECTION 4 FINAL – NEW BEGINNINGS (FREDRICK SCHJELDERUP)

Published by Prima Vista Musikk

"New Beginnings" was commissioned by the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and was first performed by The National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain in August 2021. It describes in sonic terms the effect that energy can create, both musically and emotionally. Here, in a burst of vibrant rhythmic patterning, and dedicated to the young players of this famous brass band, New Beginnings is born.

There are three sections. From the start, it is driven by the percussion section, who push the energy through a sequence of mysterious and joyous moments. After a sonorous climax, the music subsides to a slower, romantic middle section where the earlier rhythmic energy is transformed into melodic playing from the brass. As the Finale begins, earlier themes are combined, first with a fugato which passes the melodies around the band and then unites in a recapitulation that brings the whole composition to a rousing finish as the romantic hymn makes a final appearance.