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CD review: Regionals 2023

Featuring: Black Dyke, Fairey, International Staff Band of the Salvation Army, BNFL, GUS Band
Conductors: Prof Nicholas Childs, Frank Renton, Dr Stephen Cobb, Richard Evans, Brian Grant
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD415


Listening habits may have changed since the first Regional CD on the Doyen label was launched back in 1999, yet the release still creates both anticipation and debate.

The light letterbox thud has gradually been replaced by the click of a mouse as conductors and players increasingly search for the five test-pieces on-line, but immediate reactions still range from the bemused to the delighted, the excited to the mildly disappointed.

It will be no different this year.

Top end

Philip Wilby’s ‘Red Priest’  is at the top end of the Championship Section test piece Mohs scale.

A triptych portrait of the enigmatic composer Antonio Vivaldi, it’s a musical sightseeing trip of quotation and atmosphere created by an expert in the field.  His familiarity imbues it with the spirit of both tempest and beauty, and whilst the choreography will be a relatively minor challenge for bands, the music will be anything but. 

Phil Lawrence’s ‘A Day in the Life of a Knight’  takes a more cinematic approach to its subject matter; a series of colourful action episodes from heroic arrival, jousting and love making to dragon slaying and happy ever-after denouement, all wrapped up in under 12 minutes for First Section bands that can capture its essential tongue in cheek inspiration.

As always, the featured performances (from 1993 to 2022) will help as foundation templates rather than blueprints to success – although there could be an Oscar on offer for anyone who could better Frank Renton’s Errol Flynn inspired ‘Knight’.

Rodney Newton’s ‘Pilgrim’  also makes progress towards the Celestial City with spirit and adventure in what will be a demanding test for Second Section bands.  Those getting through to Cheltenham may not have found the salvation of the New Jerusalem, but their faith will have been tested to get there for certain.

Finely crafted

As will those in the Third Section with Stephen Bulla’s finely crafted ‘Chorale & Toccata’  – a work of subtle nobility and shifting patterns, carefully observed calibrations and musical emphasis. 

It will take some mastering, as will ‘Hungerford Town’  in the Fourth Section - an engaging work of considered ambition which asks quite a lot of ensembles, especially those that may be short of personnel (including percussion).  

As always, the featured performances (from 1993 to 2022) will help as foundation templates rather than blueprints to success – although there could be an Oscar on offer for anyone who could better Frank Renton’s Errol Flynn inspired ‘Knight’.

Iwan Fox


To purchase:
http://www.wobplay.com
http://www.worldofbrass.com

Play list:

1. Red Priest (Philip Wilby)
Black Dyke Band conducted by Prof Nicholas Childs
i. Arrival
ii. Beloved Sleep
iii. Fuga

4. A Day in the Life of a Knight (Phil Lawrence)
Fairey Band conducted by Frank Renton 

5. The Pilgrim’s Progress (Rodney Newton)
International Staff Band of the Salvation Army conducted by Dr Stephen Cobb

6. Chorale and Toccata (Stephen Bulla)
BNFL Band conducted by Richard Evans

7. Hungerford Town (Darrol Barry)
GUS Band conducted by Brian Grant
i. The Black Prince
ii. The Coach Road
iii. St Lawrence Church
iv. The Bear

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Duncan A. Beckley

BA, MA
Conductor, adjudicator, band trainer and teacher


               

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