2007 Hannaford Festival of Brass - Hannaford Cup March Contest Retrospective


Pat Herak was there to see the Maple Leaf Band win inaugural Hannaford Cup at the Hannaford Cup March Contest and Community Showcase II.

A new feature at this year's Hannaford Festival of Brass was the introduction of the Hannaford Cup March Contest. Hannaford executive director, Ray Tizzard, described the contest as an opportunity to revisit the brass banding roots of Great Britain. However, he also mentioned a goal to avoid the ultra-competitiveness that can sometimes infect British Banding.

There is no registry, no limit to the number of players on stage, no points awarded at this contest. Simply speaking, it is much like in an entertainment contest whereby the best display of the march gets the prize. If a the bands spend a little more rehearsal time preparing the fine details of a march and then give their full attention to the MD during the performance (rather than just going through the motions), then I'd say the real goal of this new contest was met.

The Weston Silver Band was the first entrant and had performed the required march, Slaidburn, the night before. They had a fine performance that would be a good barometer with which to measure the other bands.

Whitby Band
Whitby Band

The first band on Saturday was the Whitby Band from east of Toronto (conductor Roland Hill. They opened the afternoon with Blast (Richards) and Ben-Hur (arr. Barry). From the start this band had a bit louder and brighter sound than we had heard thus far this weekend.

Trombone player added in a smooth and stylish solo in the bands next piece Penny Lane. The band then performed Olympic Fanfare & Theme as arranged by one of the bands Eb bass players. The arrangement was well done as it highlighted the strengths of the band.

Marching on to Slaidburn, the band, oddly enough, began with a drum cadence and roll off. The pulse throughout the march emphasized the beat so much so, that if you closed your eyes you might think they were marching down the street. They would not be in the running for the Hannaford Cup.

The band concluded their portion with Excerpts from Les Miserables (arr. Glynn), Sway (arr. Kraeydonck), and Kingdom Triumphant (Ball). Whilst the bands ensemble locked in for the most part, they struggled a bit with tone and pitch in the softer sections.

Orilla Silver Band

The Orillia Silver Band is a marvel in itself just for performing at the Festival. The band had folded in the late 70's and locked the instruments in storage. About two-years ago, 15 or so of the original members got the band back together and they have been steadily improving since.

Led by Jim Ferris, the band may have been a bit rough around the edges, but produced a nice sound as they opened with Rolling Along (Himes) and Slavonic Rhapsody (arr. Wright). Cal Lander showed well-controlled vibrato during the euphonium solo Shenandoah.

It was Orillia's turn for Slaidburn and they took the march at a very deliberate pace. There were some problems with individuals sticking out from the ensemble, but it was a valiant effort from a band on the comeback.

As the band concluded their programme with My Fair Lady (arr. Duthoit), If I Can Help Somebody, (arr. Wright) and Our Director (Bigelow) one would have to compliment musical director, Jim Ferris, on his choice of selections as he did not over-programme this concert; he stayed well within the band's ability and featured the strengths of the band.

Metropolitan Silver Band
Metropolitan Silver Band

The Metropolitan Silver Band (director Fran Harvey was the next group to perform and elected not to participate in the March Contest. They found nice pulse and drive with a clean performance of Silver Sounds (Hume). The band then fell into the usual pitfalls, pitch problems in the softer dynamics, with their performance of Adagio for Strings (Barber, arr. Van der Velde).

The Met Band then featured each section in Appermont's Round Table. The band had over-estimated the 45-minute time constraints a bit, and were forced to cut a few movements from Suite Gothique (arr. Ball) and Spirituals for Brass (arr. Gordon). Their origin as a Salvation Army band was evident in the musical selections and their broad sound.

Intrada Brass of Oakville
Intrada Brass of Oakville

Bram Gregson's band Intrada Brass of Oakville was the next to feature and they would not be taking place in the March Contest either. Intrada opened with the march Celebration (Condon) and brought the first truly big, round sound of the day. The back row cornets made their presence know adding a solid depth to the cornet section. The band then performed Ray Steadman-Allen's Lord of the Sea. They performed all three movements with style and precision.

Three of the band's soloist would then be featured. Robert Venables showed lovely tone quality and vibrato in Edward Gregson's Before the Cross. Solo euphonium, Ivor Snell showed fantastic dynamic contrast in Graham's Bravura. Rob Brown closed the solo portion with a fine performance of the tuba solo The Green Bee (Rimsky Korsakov, arr. Freeh).

Intrada were not done thrilling the audience. They showed fantastic attention to the smallest musical nuisances (articulation, crescendos, decrescendos, etc..) in Alan Fernie's arrangement of The Miller's Dance. Their finale was a tribute to the recently deceased Malcom Arnold, a very clean, but rather bright rendition of Fantasy for Brass Band. Robert Venables returned in front of the band for a smooth, jazzy rendition of Summertime.

Maple Leaf Brass Band
Maple Leaf Brass Band

The penultimate band of the afternoon (and final Canadian Band) was the Maple Leaf Brass Band from the Capital City of Ottawa directed by David Druce.

The band followed in their normal tradition of only playing music written or arranged by Canadian composers at the Festival (although the Rimmer march Slaidburn did sneak in there). The band began their programme with Fanfare for the Millennium, Un Vie de Matelot and Lyric Essay. There was an awkward silence with no announcements or applause until after the third piece.

The flugel and euphonium were then featured in a nice swing piece entitled Make No Waves (Hiscock). Up until this point the band were not overly impressive. They had a bit of a bright sound and had balance issues.

One of the band's back row cornets had written a pensive piece entitled Lullaby (Altatò Dal) in memory of his late grandmother. It may have been this piece that got the band to really settle in and focus as the piece and performance were both quite stirring.

It was Maple Leaf's turn for Slaidburn. The band may have been a bit bright, but played with good full value notes. The soprano was very stylish, just sitting atop the band without being overbearing. It was difficult to compare this performance with Weston's because of the 20+ hour time lag, but it was safe to say they were in the running.

The band closed with Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship by Canadian Howard Shore and arranged by Andrew Duncan.

Buffalo Silver Band
Buffalo Silver Band

The final band of the afternoon was the Buffalo Silver Band under the direction of Pim Liebmann. Blenheim Flourishes took a while to lock in but was a fine opener. The band then did justice to David Lancaster's lovely setting of the hymn Crimond.

Buffalo shuffled their program a bit and performed their scheduled finale the Allegro Vivace from Symphony #4 (Mendelssohn, arr. Ashmore) and then Adagio (Albinoni, arr. Jacob de Haan). Nothing appeared to garner attention (positively or negatively) from these two pieces.

The final rendition of Slaidburn was taken at quite a bright clip (perhaps 132-136 bpm?). It was very clean and the dynamic contrast the band showed was excellent. Had it not been for the unusually fast tempo this would have been a clear winner in our minds.

The band concluded with Send in the Clowns (Sondheim) and Galancia (Eric Ball). There was much said about the bands improvement from last year's festival which is just the reason to have and participate in events like this.

As it would turn out, the Maple Leaf Brass Band would win the march prize. Band president Harold Floysvik was thrilled with the prize, "As I went down from the balcony to accept the cup, the audience cheered until I got to the stage. It was quite a humbling and prideful experience to receive the cup on behalf of the band in front of the Hannaford Band and the other musicians present."

Maple Leaf Band will retain the Hannaford Cup until next year's festival April 11th –13th, 2008.

Pat Herak


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