It all kicks off again soon enough. Blackpool then Huddersfield followed by Perth, Torquay and Bedworth, Durham, Stevenage and Swansea. Over 500 contest performances all with one aim in mind: National qualification.
To reach London or Cheltenham the bands will have to tackle five rather generously chosen set-works by the Kapitol Music Panel. Just about every contender taking to the various stages around the country in the next couple of months has certainly been given a fighting chance of winning through.
Take Kevin Norbury’s top-flight ‘Odyssey’: Inspired by the spiritual dichotomies of light and darkness, it was first heard almost 20 years ago at the 1999 European Championships in Munich and has lain dormant just about ever since.
At around 12 minutes in duration and traditionally structured, it presents a rather munificent opportunity for bands with Albert Hall aspirations.
So too James Curnow’s ‘Brass Metamorphosis’, which gives First Section contenders ample chance to match technical security to interpretive endeavor, whilst ‘Ex Terra Lucem’ by Jonathan Bates displays it’s obvious Second Section challenges with neatly packaged transparency.
Austerlitz not Waterloo
MDs with a desire for conquest should enjoy Philip Harper’s colourful Napoleonic mountain romp in the Third Section - with the best hopefully claiming a Battle of Austerlitz rather than Waterloo outcome in the process, whilst a trip to faraway climes of a different kind lies behind Rodney Newton’s enjoyable ‘World Tour’ in the Fourth - written to mark the centenary of Besses o’ th’ Barn’s first such epic undertaking in 1906.
MDs with a desire for conquest should enjoy Philip Harper’s colourful Napoleonic mountain romp in the Third Section - with the best hopefully claiming a Battle of Austerlitz rather than Waterloo outcome in the process
As an essential reference marker for listeners (but surely not conductors), the Regional CD once again does its job, although a bit of progressive thinking is now long overdue to enable the previous year’s National champion in each section to be given the chance to record the works as part of winning the title?
Delving into the archives for some pretty dated recordings (the links only found in the small print of the booklet inside the CD cover), or having the likes of Foden’s, Cory and Black Dyke provide performances that hold little relevance to what will actually be heard on contest day seems to have one eye on the ledger lines of the profit and loss sheet rather than the featured scores themselves.
1. Odyssey (Kevin Norbury) - (11.24)
Brighouse & Rastrick
Conductor: Allan Withington
2. Brass Metamorphosis (James Curnow) - (12.38)
Conductor: Jan de Haan
3. Ex Terra Lucem (Jonathan Bates) - (11.00)
Conductor: Michael Fowles
4. Napoleon on the Alps (Philip Harper) - (10.59)
Conductor: Philip Harper
5. World Tour (Rodney Newton)
Black Dyke Band
Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
i) The Leaving of Liverpool - (2.47)
ii) Chicago Rag - (1.47)
iii) Pacific Paradise - (2.49)
iv) Australian Walkabout & Homeward Bound - (2.20)