Expert workshop - Section 2 - Images of the Millennium


Dr. Robert Childs looks at Howard Snell's very difficult set work for Section 2 bands and sets out the approach needed to find that winning formula.

Robert ChildsI: (Scherzo: The Crystal Palace)

This is not aggressive music. The overwhelming emotion the music emits is joy and fun.

Balance, ensemble and attention to detailed dynamic contrast hold the key to the movement's success.

Howard Snell loves creating layered textures of sound as accompaniments. Be very careful that these textures don't become louder than the main tunes. The beginning is a perfect example; it would be very easy to allow the hns, trbs and perc to overshadow the tune in the lower cnts and upper hns.

Grade your dynamics to letter A and remember that the ff is subito. Letter B drops to forte. Balance the tune at C and in the 5th bar make sure the cnt parts fit together acurately.

Between E and F there is plenty of detail to find in articulation, accents, staccatos, sfz, tenutos etc.
Letter F cnts bells out to the audience to give brilliance, but only play forte!

After G, work on the layered rhythms in the perc. Moltissimo giocoso fff is a bit of a contradiction of terms! This has to be playful and full of fun. At H make sure you give priority to the ascending figure in the hns, don't let the cnts dominate.

The 5th of I, cnts should dove-tail and sound as one player. In the 9th bar of I make sure the tune is big and broad in the euphs but don't slow down. Before J try to get good ensemble between sop and bass.
Keep it neat and tidy to the end and don't over-blow the last note!

II: Dream Nocturne

This movement is all about balance, intonation and expressive playing. I know the outer movements are technically demanding but you need to spend time on this slow movement. I think this will contribute to the winning performance more than the other movements.

Balance the chords and balance the accompaniments with the solos.

Grade the crescendo to J (with the cut!)

Work on the percussion to achieve an effective end dying away to nothing.

III: Odyssey

Dramatic timp and bass drum to start. From here to letter C needs to be exciting and this is achieved in the tempo and dramatic dynamics.

At C we have Mr Snell's famous multi layered textural sounds again. Make sure they don't dominate the cnt tune.

The difficulty in the first part of this movement is stamina. It doesn't pose any technical or musical demands until K.

Although I to K needs some special treatment to achieve a gradual calming down of the music. K M is a mirror effect of I K gradually getting higher, louder and quicker.

From M through to the prestissimo needs practice to secure the tempo changes.

At the prestissimo don't go too fast, you need to save something for the strepitoso at T.

Try to grade the Molto Allargando before W. The music should slow and broaden right to the end. 

Dr. Robert Childs


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