2007 European Brass Band Championships - The composers


4BR has a look at the two men who have written the pieces for this year's championships - Martin Ellerby and Simon Dobson.

EllerbyMartin Ellerby: Composer of 'Elgar Variations'

Martin Ellerby is a composer of international standing, whose works have been performed, broadcast and recorded to critical acclaim across Europe, Asia and the USA.

His catalogue comprises compositions spanning a diverse range of media, including orchestral, choral, concert band, brass band, ballet, instrumental and chamber, together with a substantial number of commercial orchestrations and arrangements.

Ellerby's works are published extensively and recorded on over 75 commercial CDs to date. Key performances include the BBC Promenade Concerts, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Barbican Centre, Royal Albert Hall, South Bank Centre and many major international festivals, including Edinburgh, Harrogate, Zurich and Kuhmo Chamber Music ( Finland).Martin combines a busy schedule as a professional composer with work in education, where he is currently Visiting Professor (with responsibility for curriculum design) at the Royal Air Force: Headquarters Music Services. He is also Artistic Director for Studio Music Company, London and Senior Producer for Polyphonic Recordings.

In his previous post as Head of Composition and Contemporary Music at the London College of Music and Media, Martin was responsible for the co-ordination and development of a high profile department of over 50 composition students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He instigated and designed four specialist composition programmes at Masters level, while also preparing a range of detailed undergraduate syllabuses.

Martin contributed to the artistic focus of the school by being pro-active in overseeing the inclusion of a substantial number of student works in concert programmes, hosting a range of Composers' Festivals and organising frequent workshops and specialist composers' concerts.

DobsonSimon Dobson: Composer of 'The Drop'

Simon Dobson grew up in Cornwall in a ‘banding' family, his sister playing trombone and his father conducting several local bands. He started his musical career initially playing cornet with Lostwithiel brass '88, then at the age of eleven he moved to Bodmin Town Band. At sixteen, Simon won the Brass Section of the Cornwall Young Composer Competition and quickly followed this with his first commission, a march written for Bugle Silver Band as part of the BBC Music Live festival.

In his mid-teens Simon studied composition at Launceston College under Robert Strike before being awarded a scholarship to study composition under Timothy Salter at the Royal College of Music in London. He soon involved himself with the College's brass band as a player and composer and conducted several of his compositions in college concerts.

His first major London commission was offered whilst still in his first year – the London Philharmonic Orchestra asked him to write a concert fanfare, which was given its world premiere at a packed concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Soon after this Simon was commissioned to write for the resident college ensemble Brass 10, the work Three Scenes for Brass received a live performance on BBC Radio 3 to critical acclaim.

A commission from Peter Bassano, the director of the RCM's brass band, was for a piece to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Benjamin Britten. Simon's work entitled Four Sketches: a Homage to Britten was given its world premiere at the famous Charter House School in Surrey and then its second performance the day after at the Royal College of Music.

Following on from its success, Simon entered the work for the 2002 European Brass Band Composers Competition held in the Palais d'Beaux Arts, Brussels where adjudicators Philip Sparke, Tom Brevik and Jan van der Roost awarded him the title European Composer of the Year. The Leyland Band has recorded the work on the CD The Alchymist's Journal. 2002 culminated in Simon being voted Brass Band Newcomer of the Year by the brass band internet site 4barsrest.

Simon was commissioned to write the test piece for the regional competitions for the fourth section of the 2003 National Brass Band Championships. The work, entitled Lydian Pictures (published by Kirklees Music) was a popular choice for these lower section brass bands was used again for the third section at the West of England Bandsman's Festival in June 2004. Following on from this success, the world famous Brighouse & Rastrick Band asked Simon to write a challenging piece for them culminating in Taliesen and the Cauldron, which will be published by Faber Music in 2005.

On the 8th July Simon conducted Zone One Brass, a brass band made up of students from the Royal College of Music, at Buckingham Palace where they had been invited to play for the Queen and 8,000 guests of the Royal Society of Arts on the occasion of their 250th anniversary.

In 2005 his latest brass band work, Lyonesse, will be performed as the test piece for the Finals of the National Youth Brass Band Championships, which will be held in Manchester in April 2005.


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