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2011 British Open Championships — Red Priest confessions

From Nero to Busby Berkeley — Philip Wilby's 'Red Priest' had it all...

Philip Wilbty
The composer makes a few points...
More Ian Clowes images at: www.pbase.com/troonly/110903_british_open

Philip Wilby’s ‘Red Priest’ proved to be an excellent test piece at the British Open.

Rare gift

The Professor has the rare gift of being able to write accessible works that engage not just the performer but the listener too – and as the hall showed throughout the day, that meant that the bands played to more bums on seats than has been the case for a few years at least.

And despite the early reservations about its association with Black Dyke, it soon became apparent that the majority of competitors found it a work they both enjoyed and felt confident of playing well too.

As always with Wilby, he was very clear about his inspiration and what he felt should be both seen and heard.

Wilby and Atkinson
Tucked under the arm. Derek Atkinson, Philip Wilby and the Red Priest...

Exotic variety

The extensive use of mutes saw bands empty their coffers to purchase an exotic variety of coloured cups, harmons, plungers and straights – in all shapes and sizes, from wood and plastic to metal and cardboard - and that was just the percussionists....

Meanwhile, the tricky question of where to stand was sensibly left up to the bands by the contest organisers.

Fodens
Colour co-ordinated mutes for Foden's

Nero

And as expected, the MDs fiddled with things like Nero at a Rome fire damage sale.

There was more choreography going on at times than a Busy Berkeley show.

To be honest it didn’t make that much overall difference to the aural experience, but in a number of cases the balance between solo lines seemed lopsided.

Sticks
Pick a stick...

Impression

With the majority of bands more than capable of meeting the tricky technical demands of the score (although a number of trombone players found some of the semi quaver work at the edge of their limitations), it was left to the MDs to try and make an extra impression in the box with their musicality.

Some tried from the start with their approaches to the aeroplane ‘take off’ of semi quaver sixes, which although marked at crotchet = 100, saw crafty conductors take more than a few miles off the runway speed.

Cory and Black Dyke in particular rumbled down the tarmac like a 747 rather than a typhoon fighter jet.  

Leyland
Stand and deliver for Leyland

Homework

Those who certainly did their homework found reward – notably the likes of Phillip McCann, who revealed that he had given his players recorded extracts from some of the works Wilby so cleverly quoted from in the test piece.

Those who opted for sheer brute force and will power came a cropper, many missing out on the dry wit that permeated much of the ‘Winter Wonderland’ scenes as adjudicator Michael Ball called them.

Chinese four seasons


There were some odd moments, some nerve shredding ones and some inspired ones too – with David King’s use of what appeared to by some sort of Chinese cymbals in the ‘Four Seasons’ the most inventive by far.

Tredegar
All directions for Tredegar...

Camouflage

The usual camouflage work was of a pretty high order, with a number of sop players lending their principal cornets a helping, although some of the percussion sections and timp players in particular let the adrenaline get the better of them

As for the big ending?

Wilby writes corkers, but many on the day were so elongated that they lost any sense of momentum – some bands almost added an extra bar of tam-tam and side drum crescendo before the very last note.

It was almost, but not quite as self indulgent as some of the ‘milking’ of applause at its conclusion.

It won’t be long before the bandroom tea lady is wheeled on with her urn to accept the plaudits at this rate.

Professor Wilby certainly didn’t choreograph that into his score – not that it would stop some MDs you suspect….

Iwan Fox



Foden's Band - Sandbach Transport Festival

Sunday 22 April • Sandbach Town Centre CW11 1AE


Contest: National Youth Championships

Sunday 22 April • Warwick Arts Centre, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Rd, Coventry CV4 7AL


The Hepworth Band - Wakefield Grammar School Foundation Chorus

Sunday 22 April • Queen Elizabeth Grammar School (QEGS). Northgate. Wakefield WF1 3QX


Lofthouse Brass Band - Mayor's Annual Charity Concert

Monday 23 April • Ossett Town Hall, Market Place, Ossett WF5 8BE WF5 8BE


Regent Hall Concerts - Clarendon Brass Ensemble

Friday 27 April • Charlton House. Charlton Road. London. SE7 8RE SE7 8RE


Waltham St. Lawrence Silver Band

April 21 • A friendly non-contesting community band within easy reach of Maidenhead, Bracknell and Reading, we are developing rapidly under our new MD, Steve Block, and urgently need cornet players, front and back row, as well as baritone and BBb bass.


Chinnor Silver

April 21 • we require a Bb BASS player to replace one of our award winning section who is moving away.. Good book of concerts and contests planned. We would also like to hear from back row cornets as we would like to strengthen this area


Blidworth Welfare Band

April 20 • Assistant Principal Cornet and Percussionist. Having recently secured 5th place at the Midlands Area Championship Section and a new Principal cornet we are looking for applications for the above positions. The band operate a sensible diary of engagements.


Alan Duguid

BA (Hons), PGDipMus, PGCE
Conductor, Composer, Adjudicator (ABBA)