2007 Hannaford Festival of Brass - Rising Stars Retrospective


Pat Herak looks back at the Rising Stars where Rob Weymouth wins the crowd and Hannaford Youth Solo Competition.

When Larry Shields began the Hannaford Youth Band (HYB) in 1999, I doubt that he would've even hoped it could grow into the 3 successful youth bands it is today. In addition to the Rising Stars solo competition Saturday morning featured all three of the youth bands.

Hannaford Youth Band
Hannaford Youth Band

After the Hannaford Youth Band performed Summon the Dragon (Graham) and October as arranged by HYB member Eric Probst, who later be featured in the solo competition, the Hannaford Junior Band, the youngest of the three groups took the stage.

Often times a trip to the dentist might be chosen over listening to middle school aged children play at instrumental concerts. However, their portion of the concert was thoroughly enjoyable and was a bit of programming genius.

First of all, members from the HJB introduced all the works and not only were they informative, but were they ever humourous! The children added jokes in their presentation that could only be cute and funny if pulled off by kids. Add to it the audience participation for YMCA and the HYB members screaming Tequila! from the audience and it was top notch entertainment.

The three finalists
The 3 finalists: Eric Probst, Rob Weymouth and Steve Arsenault

The three finalists for the Rising Stars Hannaford Youth Solo Competition would then be featured accompanied by the HYB. The audience would vote on the winner in "Hannaford Idol" style after all three performances were done. Two of the three finalists selected one of the standard "war horses" which can often be a disadvantage in a solo competition. The risk being adjudicators would know the piece so well, that any bit that varied from the sound in their head would be marked off. However, with the audience being the judge it wasn't as much of a risk.

Steve Arsenault, principal cornet in HYB, started the competition off with Goedicke's Concert Etude played from memory. Steve displayed excellent double tonguing and finger technique, which unfortunately was sometimes covered by the band. His tone may have been a bit bright for a cornet, but a solid performance to start the competition.

Eric Probst was then featured in Golland's Scherzo for Tuba. Eric showed a good clarity of sound and really displayed the flow of the musical lines. It was easy to tell that he enjoyed the pedal note. A fantastic performance, but would the hidden difficulties of the piece match up with the straight-forward technical difficulty of the other soloists?

Rob Weymouth was the third finalist and he had traded in his soprano for a trumpet. Rob performed Clarke's arrangement of Carnival of Venice, which is quite appropriate since Clarke learned how to play trumpet growing up in Toronto. Even if Rob were to get a few marks taken off for using a trumpet rather than a cornet, he was still the clear winner. The performance was virtually flawless, showing the dynamic subtleties needed to pull off the piece.

After the interval, the Hannaford Community Band took the stage whilst the votes were tallied. This group consists of mostly high school students that either did not want the rigors of the HYB or did not have a good enough audition to make the group. In spite of the aforementioned description, this group did not lack talent.

HCB began with Largo from New World Symphony (Dvorak, arr. Bulla). Flugel Duncan Campbell was then featured in What a Wonderful World. One of HJB members joined the Community Band on keyboards for I Will Survive before the band closed with La Cumparsita.

The Hannaford Junior Band took the stage again to perform two very difficult pieces before the results were announced. First was the deceptively challenging Adagio for Strings (Barber). Whilst the musical lines were shaped well, the band struggled a bit (as most would) with keeping pitch and timbre uniform in the soft sections.

Their finale was Vaughan Williams's Henry the Fifth. This fine culmination for the concert is truly a testament to the development of the Hannaford youth band programme.

The two adjudicators for the earlier rounds of the youth competition Curtis Metcalf, Hannaford Artistic Director, and James Gardiner of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra took the stage to announce the winner of the solo competition. The winner was Rob Weymouth and there was little (if any disagreement) from the audience. I guess there is something to be said for the audience deciding the winner. I wonder if it will catch on in brass banding?

Pat Herak


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