facebook twitter rss vimeo

*
banner

It's Checkmate for Blackpool

It's a trio of seriously hard pieces for the Grand Shield weekend in Blackpool 2002.

 

Trio of Testers for Blackpool Qualifiers

It’s going to be a very hard days work for all the bands who will be hoping to qualify for better things at the Grand Shield weekend come the 11th May 2002, as the organisers have chosen three damn hard pieces to sort out the wheat from the chaff for the Grand Shield, Senior Cup and Senior Trophy contests.

For the two bands that will be getting the nod to compete at the British Open will have to come top of a heap that will be tackling the seriously hard Eric Ball arrangement of Four Dances from the ballet “Checkmate” by Sir Arthur Bliss. The organisers have some sympathy with the competitor’s plight, as they will only require then to perform three of the four dances with the usual middle mazurka movement dropped.

The piece was originally used as the set test for the National Finals in 1978 when Yorkshire Imperial Metals under the baton of Dennis Carr took the title, and since that time it has very rarely surfaced as a test piece (mostly due we think because it’s so bloody hard). It makes as rare an appearance as Osama Bin Ladan, but many of the players and audience will be familiar with at least two of the movements. The Finale was used by many a band at entertainment contests as a big finisher, whilst the atmospheric middle movement, “Ceremony of the Red Bishops” has been heard before. The opening however is seriously hard for the cornet section in particular, and will weed out any bands that don’t have lips of iron and the stamina of a Russian weightlifter. It’s a cracking choice.

The Senior Cup combatants have a bit of an easier time, but there will surely be many a sleepless night from euphonium players as they lie awake in the pre contest early hours thinking about what horrors await them in the form of the famous euphonium solo from Frank Wright’s arrangement of the Berlioz Overture to “Carnival Romain”. Sop players and the cornet section will also have to be on top form if they are to survive and flourish. It’s another hard but very fair choice.

The piece has been used at nearly all the top contests and has always been a test that brings the best out of the top bands, so it’s a very good selection. It was last used at the Grand Shield in 1991 when Whitburn took the title back north of the border.

The newly reconstituted Senior Trophy sees the organisers deal a real stinker to the bands with the seriously hard choice of Robert Farnon’s “Un Vie De Matelot”—a piece that has caused horrors and mayhem for solo cornet and sop players ever since it was first used as the set test at the 1975 National Finals when Black Dyke took the title.

The piece should not be underestimated just because it’s the choice for the Trophy and not for the higher sections, but it remains a very difficult piece technically and more importantly musically—from the very start and the sop to the lung-bursting ending. It’s superb descriptive music that is very, very much harder than it looks.

A few years ago it was the set test for the top section for the Regional Championships and many of the countries top bands came a cropper, whilst it had almost Stephen King horrors when it was rather inadvisably used as a lower section test piece for the Mineworkers a couple of seasons ago. It was last used for the Grand Shield way back in 1988 when CWS (Glasgow) took home the title.

Three great choices for us then from the organisers who have deliberately chosen difficult pieces that reflect the standard the bands must realistically play to if they think they can compete at the very highest level. Things could get a bit messy on the contest stage, but then that’s how it should be if the strongest are to prosper and qualify for higher things.



Brooke

Brooke's Barmy Army on the march again

May 20 • Make sure you support an inspirational young woman and an equally inspirational cause as they perform on a 10k course through Manchester on a very hot day today!


Spem

Tredegar to give world premiere of Tallis masterpiece

May 19 • Tredegar Band will give the world premiere of a brass band arrangement of 'Spem in Alium' amid the splendour of Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff this evening.


Rath

Keep an eye out for the troms in Windsor today...

May 19 • If you are glued to the set then see if you can pick out the troms of The Band of the Irish Guards — playing on their shiny new Rath Instruments


Flowers

Kapitol sets out the cathedral Flowers

May 19 • Flowers Band will be presenting the first of a series of Cathedral Concerts in Gloucester this evening — with music for all the family (the Royals included).


Black Dyke Band - Burnley

Sunday 20 May • Burnley Mechanics Institute, Manchester Rd, Burnley BB11 1BH


Leyland Band - Lowther Pavillion

Sunday 20 May • Lowther Pavillion,. Lowther Terrace,. Lytham Saint Annes FY8 5QQ


Kettering Citadel S A Band -

Tuesday 22 May • 66, Rockingham Road,. Kettering,. NN16 8JU


Contest: Whit Friday March Contests

Friday 25 May • Saddleworth & Tameside OL3


Black Dyke Band - Huddersfield Town Hall - Massed Male Voice Choirs

Saturday 26 May • Huddersfield Town Hall, Corporation St, Huddersfield HD1 2TA


Witney Town Band

May 19 • Witney Town Band in West Oxfordshire require Tenor horn, Bass and percussion


Lindley Band

May 19 • TUTTI CORNET required to join friendly team who enjoy a sensible balance of contests and high quality engagements under the direction of our MD Rob Westacott. We rehearse Monday and Wednesday evenings in our own bandroom just 1 mile from M62 Jcn 24.


Lindley Band

May 19 • FIRST HORN required to join friendly team who enjoy a sensible balance of contests and high quality engagements under the direction of our MD Rob Westacott. We rehearse Monday and Wednesday evenings in our modern bandroom just 1 mile from M62 Jcn 24.


John Ward


Conductor, Adjudicator