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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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Grimethorpe Colliery Band -

Sunday 19 May • Prince of Wales Theatre. Church St. Cannock WS11 1DE


Contest: scaba Entertainments

Sunday 19 May • The Hawth in Crawley, West Sussex RH10 6YZ


Newstead Brass -

Sunday 19 May • St Wilfrids Church, Church Street, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham, NG17 8LA


Black Dyke Band - Stoller Hall, Manchester

Sunday 19 May • Hunts Bank, Manchester M3 1DA


Grimethorpe Colliery Band -

Sunday 19 May • Prince of Wales Centre, Church Street, Cannock, Staffs WS11 1DE WS11 1DE


Chinnor Silver

May 19 • We are looking to add a few new faces and require Bb BASS and aTUTTI CORNET . Rehearsals are on a Wednesday and held in our own bandroom. Good mix of concerts and contests planned


Lostock Hall Brass Band

May 16 • LostockHall Band 3rd Section we don't need 76 but would welcome a Trombone to join our ranks (Solo or Bass) and a Bb bass We are a friendly sociable village band with a wide variety of engagements. Situated just off M6 junction 29 close to Preston


The Corsham Band

May 16 • Due to work commitments, a vacancy has arisen for a Tenor Trombone player. First or Second position available. We are a newly promoted Second Section band with a friendly and enthusiastic team.


Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

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