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2011 4BR Awards — Test Piece of the Year

Lots and lots of test pieces were performed in 2011 — some better than others it must be said. So which one was the best of the bunch though?

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4barsrest awardsThere were works old and new on show all year throughout the banding world, and we do point out that we only select those pieces that have been chosen as contest set works first – and not just ‘one off’ own choice selections, unless they have been subsequently used again in another contest.

Plenty to choose from then – from Butlins and the Areas to the Europeans, Masters, Birmingham, Cheltenham, London, all over Europe and the rest of the world.

These were the five that made the greatest impression on us though.


WaespiAudivi Media Nocte
Oliver Waespi
First Performance: European Brass Band Championship


What a cracker. The European Championships has produced a number of very fine compositions in recent years, but it is hard to think of one as good as this.  

The composer gave us something remarkably inventive, yet linked inextricably to brass band contesting tradition. The MDs and bands responded with equally inspiring performances.  

This was a brass band work that opened up new avenues of musical possibilities.


HamersPower of the Soul
Maurice Hamers
First Performance: Norwegian National Championship

The surprise of the year – and what a great one it turned out to be. 

A very personal, evocative work, with its episodes of tense, emotive writing, dark retrospection and intriguing fleeting references – like images of past memories played out in the mind. 

It was one of the most satisfying compositions of the season – especially when it was played with such understanding by the top bands in Bergen.

It surfaced again and again around Europe – and will surely be heard in the UK in 2012 too. Don’t miss it.


DobsonSymphony of Colours
Simon Dobson
First Performance: European Championship
 

A deeply intriguing, engrossing work from a composer who continues to explore new, exciting possibilities for brass band scoring thanks to his inquisitive, febrile mind. 

There was an ethereal beauty about this work – full of complex detail drawn from a palette of the most exotic colours and timbres. 

It drew you deeper into its clutches on each hearing – and always revealed something new about itself.


NilsenOld Licks Bluesed Up
Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen
First Performance: Norwegian National Championship
 
The dark, sensuous beauty of this composition was a revelation – from the free flowing energy of the opening and closing Toccata's to the mesmeric pulse of the extended central Ritornell, which beat like the post coital panting of a well satisfied woman. 

There was something so deeply engrossing about the work that at its close you felt as if the synapses in your brain had been chemically altered by a form of musical osmosis. 

That was witchcraft and genius rolled into one.


PLCBreath of Souls
Paul Lovatt-Cooper
First Performance: National Championships of Great Britain

Say what you like – but no other composition of recent years has created so much interest in a brass band contest as this.

The sneering class cocked their noses up at it, whilst Jo Public paid top dollar and sat through all 20 performances at the Royal Albert Hall – and few, if any, came away feeling as if they hadn’t enjoyed the experience in full.

Open, transparent and brilliantly, almost irrelevantly stylish, it was the definitive musical statement of our brass band contesting times.

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Norfolk Wherry Brass - Norfolk Wherry Brass Memorial Concert

Sunday 21 July • Lingwood Village Hall. Station Road. Norwich. Norfolk. NR13 4AZ


Lewes, Glynde and Beddingham Brass Band - Eastbourne Bandstand - 1812 concert

Wednesday 31 July • Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne BN21 3AD


Lewes, Glynde and Beddingham Brass Band - Commercial Square Bonfire Society, The Jumping Jac

Saturday 3 August • The Paddock. Little Paddock Lane. Lewes BN7 1UU


Gresley Colliery Band - Byrkley Park Garden Centre

Saturday 10 August • Byrkley Drive, Rangemore St, Burton upon Trent . DE13 9RN


Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Gawsworth Hall, Macclesfield

Sunday 11 August • Gawsworth Hall, Church Lane, Gawsworth SK11 9RN


Harlow Brass Band

July 18 • Musical Director required. Harlow Brass are looking for a new musical director. We are a very friendly band who perform at various local events and hold our own concerts throughout the year. We rehearse on a Thursday evening in Harlow.


Amesbury Town Band

July 18 • Players and beginners of any standard are always warmly welcomed, especially solo cornets, Eb horns, trombones and percussionists. We don't contest, so feel free to drop in if you just fancy a blow or want to try another instrument. See our Learners' page


Worsbrough Brass

July 18 • Cornet/Horn/Trom/Bass players required. Positions negotiable. Friendly band located just off the M1 (Jnct. 36). Currently undergoing a rebuilding process, we have 18 players around the stand and are just looking for the remaining few elusive players.


Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

D. Phil. (Oxon) [Ph.D Oxford University], GBSM, LTCL, ABSM, ALCM, Cert. Ed.