There is no short cut to a return to full performance fitness for any band that has endured the past 16 months or so of Covid-19 inactivity.
The foundations of good brass band playing have always been based on the appreciation and command of secure balance, warmth of tonality and ensemble unity.
Without them - and especially after such an extended period away from the confines of the rehearsal room, making progress towards a consistent sound palette ready for the sterner competitive challenges ahead will be next to impossible.
Skill to master
Thoughtful hymn tune performance - rather than the mere ‘warm up’ hymn tune playing - is also a skill to master; phrasing and dynamic nuances making the difference between the bland and the beautiful.
The benefits are timeless and well founded - although they only hold a lasting effect if the process is itself based on a well-constructed foundation.
Andrew Wainwright’s compositional background ensures that, and with this tasteful arrangement of ‘Be Thou Vision’ - also known as the hymn tune ‘Slade’, he provides an ideal opportunity to showcase tonality, balance, phrasing and dynamic restraint.
It retains the simplicity of the original yet adds tasteful layers of interest that builds to a warmly hued climax before dying away to a tender ending.
Commissioned by the Nebraska Brass Band and its Musical Director Glenn Greet, it is a thoughtfully constructed three-verse setting. It retains the simplicity of the original yet adds tasteful layers of interest that builds to a warmly hued climax before dying away to a tender ending.
There is a flowing progression to the scoring marked Andante con rubato (72) - giving the conductor leeway to make malleable headway without needlessly pulling back on the reins too often.
The dynamics are neatly calibrated, as is the balance between the sections (the percussion writing adds texture although the addition of a wind chime may raise an eyebrow in arch traditionalists though).
At under 5 minutes in duration, it is an excellent rehearsal workout as well as an ideal concert item, building to a fine Maestoso fortissimo climax that ebbs away to its delicate close - although care will have to be taken with tubas opting for the pedal option on the last chord not to ruin the peaceful ambience.
Clearly laid out, you can also preview the work with a performance from the Dallas Brass Band at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUyDYnOkXuE
UK purchases: https://www.brassband.co.uk/sheet-music/be-thou-my-vision-brass-band-traditional-arr-andrew-wainwright-brookwright
US purchases: https://www.brookwrightmusic.com/product-page/be-thou-my-vision-brass-band-traditional-arr-andrew-wainwright