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2023 RNCM Brass Band Festival
Looking to the future - Celebrating the past

A host of world class performers, soloists, premieres and repertoire underpin Paul Hindmarsh's final curation of an unmissable festival of the best of brass banding.


The RNCM has hosted the festival since 1998

For the first time in three years, the Royal Northern College of Music will present a full schedule of concerts and events for its 2023 Brass Band Festival. 

Thanks to the continued collaboration between the RNCM and Artistic Director Paul Hindmarsh, six of the brass band world’s leading ensembles and international soloists will be featured over the weekend of the 27th to 29th January in no fewer than sixteen first performances complemented by major works.

RNCM 50th

The festival will mark the RNCM’s 50th anniversary (which hosted the event since 1998) and the impact its renowned brass and composition programmes have exerted on the wider brass band world. The contribution of its then Principal, Edward Gregson as well as the hugely influential contribution of Howard Snell will be celebrated.

The festival will mark the RNCM’s 50th anniversary (which hosted the event since 1998) and the impact its renowned brass and composition programmes have exerted on the wider brass band world. 

RNCM alumni Daniel Thomas of Black Dyke, Tom Hutchinson of Cory and the A4 Quartet will present new and newly discovered solos. 

Daniel Thomas has commissioned a lyrical concerto from Judith Bingham that promises to open a very different sound world, while Michael Cavanagh will perform ‘Turbulence, Torque and Tide’.  Tom Hutchinson will give the first performance of an air varié solo that Wilfred Heaton composed when he was just 13, in 1932. The A4 Brass Quartet will present a selection of its bespoke repertoire. 


LSO Principal Trumpet James Fountain will be one of the world class soloists in performance

Featured soloists

Two of the finest brass performers with a connection to the banding world will also be featured soloists.

LSO principal trumpet James Fountain will join Tredegar for a performance of the Hummel ‘Trumpet Concerto’  in a brass version by John Golland which is preserved in the RNCM archives. 

LSO principal trumpet James Fountain will join Tredegar for a performance of the Hummel ‘Trumpet Concerto’  in a brass version by John Golland which is preserved in the RNCM archives. 

Isobel Daws

2022 British Open champion, Brighouse & Rastrick will be joined by Berlin Philharmonic Academy trombonist Isobel Dawes who will perform Bramwell Tovey’s ‘Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret’,  in a tribute to one of the most versatile musical communicators who did so much to broaden the appeal of brass bands across the world. 

This festival was to have included a 70th birthday tribute to him, but following his untimely passing, double National Champion Foden’s will present an extensive memorial tribute.


Artistic Director Paul Hindmarsh will curate the festival for the last time

Bram Tovey

Speaking about this, Artistic Director Paul Hindmarsh told 4BR: “Such was the regard in which Bram was held, that within days of the announcement of his death, I was contacted by a group of composer friends offering to write short tribute pieces. 

I also contacted two others whose careers Bram influenced so that each band will be able to offer a short tribute to his life and work.

Some of the pieces are already finished and promise to be poignant and affectionate.”  


The life and work of Bramwell Tovey will be celebrated

Commitment

Tovey’s commitment to the development of youth will be celebrated by the RNCM Brass Band, as Paul Hindmarsh explained.

“I have also had the good fortune to read through the short works to be premiered in the concert to be given by RNCM Brass Band and guest conductor Florent Didier. They are quite short but are brilliantly inventive and colourful.”

I have also had the good fortune to read through the short works to be premiered in the concert to be given by RNCM Brass Band and guest conductor Florent Didier. They are quite short but are brilliantly inventive and colourful

The centre piece of their concert will be Martin Ellerby’s ‘Euphonium Concerto’,  featuring Australian James Blackford, who is currently studying for his Masters degree at the RNCM. 

The festival also looks to the future with the return of the European Youth Band champion, Wardle Academy Brass Band, as well as the annual showcase for the Junior RNCM Band.


The 60th birthday of composer John Pickard will be marked

Vintage works

Counterbalancing the raft of world premieres, Paul Hindmarsh has selected several ‘vintage’ works that fell into obscurity because they were not originally composed for brass band contests.

These include Granville Bantock’s ‘King Lear’,  originally commissioned in 1932 by Callender’s Cable Works, but which languished and unheard for decades until it was revived by Dr. Roy Newsome over 20 years ago. A new performing edition with added percussion will be performed by Brighouse & Rastrick. 

It forms part of a 60th birthday tribute to the influential composer, whose most recent brass band work, the Turner inspired ‘Rain, Stream and Speed’ will be revived by European Champion, Cory.

Havergal Brian’s 1931 work, ‘The Battle Song’, which was sent to John Henry Iles presumably to it being scored as a test piece, but which remained unfinished for decades until John Pickard created the full score at the turn of the century, is being revived by Tredegar.

It forms part of a 60th birthday tribute to the influential composer, whose most recent brass band work, the Turner inspired ‘Rain, Stream and Speed’ will be revived by European Champion, Cory.

Wonderful time

The 2023 Festival will be the 30th and final event curated by Paul Hindmarsh, who told 4BR: “I’ve had have had a wonderful time collaborating with musician friends and colleagues who share a passion for brass band players and music. 

However, the time is right to hand the baton on, so to speak. This is the reason why there is a little more of my own work as editor and arranger in the programming than usual and I hope you will forgive the indulgence.

He added: “I am also grateful to the bands for agreeing to perform some personal requests:  Birtwistle’s ‘Grimethorpe Aria’  in its 50th anniversary year, Ireland’s ‘Comedy Overture’,  Britten’s ‘American Overture’  and Eric Ball’s ‘Resurgam’.

Tickets for the 2023 RNCM Brass Band Festival will be on sale from early November at: http://www.rncm.ac.uk


Friday 27th January:

Festival Prelude
Carole Nash Recital Room
6.30pm

RNCM student ensembles perform a selection of works to open this year’s Festival.

Free admission (ticket required)


Foden’s Band
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Soloist: Roksana Dabkowska
RNCM Concert Hall
7.30pm

Glory! Glory! (Wilfred Heaton)
Pictures in the Smoke for piano and brass band (Bramwell Tovey)
Sinfonietta (Howard Blake)**
James Cook – Circumnavigator (Gilbert Vinter)
La Catedrale Engloutie (Claude Debussy arr. Snell)
Coventry Variations (Bramwell Tovey) 

**Version premiere

Tickets: £18


Saturday 28th January:

Grimethorpe Colliery Band
Conductor: Ben Palmer
RNCM Concert Hall
11.00am

Comedy Overture (John Ireland)
Grimethorpe Aria (Harrison Birtwistle)
Beyond the Light (Liz Lane)*
Stendhal’s Syndrome (Theo Rossier)
Vociferation (Jack Stamp)*
Three Figures (Herbert Howells)

*World premiere

Tickets: £18


Wardle Academy Brass Band
Conductor: Lee Rigg conductor
RNCM Theatre
1.45pm

Programme to include:
Light (Frederick Schjelderup)
Cross of Honour (William Rimmer)
Anthem from Chess (Benny Anderson arr. Duncan)
Hey Jude (John Lennon and Paul McCartney)

Free admission (ticket required)


Tredegar Band
Conductor: Ian Porthouse
Soloist: James Fountain
RNCM Concert Hall
3.00pm

American Overture (Benjamin Britten arr. Hindmarsh)
Trumpet Concerto in E flat major (Johann Nepomuk Hummel trans. Golland)
Tone Poem - The Battle Song (Havergal Brian edit. John Pickard)
New work dedicated to the memory of Bramwell Tovey (Simon Dobson)*
So Spoke Albion (Gavin Higgins)

*World premiere

James Fountain’s appearance is supported by the John Golland Trust

Tickets £18


Junior RNCM Brass Band
RNCM Theatre
4.45pm

Free admission (ticket required)


Brass Bands England Presentation
Carole Nash Recital Room
6.15pm

Free admission (ticket required)


Black Dyke Band
Conductor: Prof Nicholas Childs
Soloists: Daniel Thomas; Michael Cavanagh
RNCM Concert Hall
7.30pm

Music from the Elizabethan Court (William Byrd and John Bull arr. Howarth)
Venice (Judith Bingham)*
The World Rejoicing: Symphonic Variations on a Lutheran Chorale (Edward Gregson)
Out of Reach (Fredrick Schjelderup)*
Turbulence, Torque and Tide (Peter Graham)
Hymn for Bram (Peter Graham)*
Beethoven - Prologue, Variations, Fugue & Finale (Philip Wilby)

*World premiere

Judith Bingham’s Euphonium Concerto is a commission by Daniel Thomas with support by Geneva Musical Instruments.   

Tickets: £18


Sunday 29th January:

RNCM Brass Band
Conductor: Florent Didier
Soloist: James Blackford
RNCM Concert Hall
11.00am

An Airborne Fanfare (Adam Webster)*
His Depth (Lucy Pankhurst)
Excursion (Chris Cook)*
Euphonium Concerto (Martin Ellerby)
Prelude on St. Clements (Jonathan Bates)*
Fantasia (Cantata giocoso) (Joel Kirk)
Bourée Fantasque (Emmanuel Chabrier arr. Snell)

*World premiere

Joel Kirk’s ‘Fantasia’ (Cantata giocoso) is the 2023 John Golland Award commission. 

Tickets: £12


A4 Brass Quartet
RNCM Theatre
1.45pm

New Work (Callum Au)*
Street Songs (Bramwell Tovey)
Tsuna’ngari (Kentaro Sato arr. Bates)
Craze (Tom Harrold)
Six Romanian Folk Dances (Bela Bartok arr. Robertson)
Mists of the Mountains (Jonathan Bates)

*World premiere

Tickets: £12


Cory Band
Conductor: Philip Harper
Soloist: Tom Hutchinson
Organist: Prof Philip Wilby
RNCM Concert Hall
3.00pm 

Rhapsodic Variations - My Strength, My Tower (Dean Goffin)
Scherzo (Gustav Holst arr. Hindmarsh)**
Air Varié - I Will Follow Thee My Saviour (Wilfred Heaton)*
Rain, Steam and Speed (Symphonic Study) (John Pickard)
Into the Darkness They Go, The Wise and the Lovely (Kelly-Marie Murphy)*
Saints Triumphant (Philip Wilby)         

*World premiere
**Version premiere

Tickets: £18


Presentation by Festival Artistic Director Paul Hindmarsh
Carole Nash Recital Room
5.00pm

Paul Hindmarsh presents his choice of favourite moments from 30 years of Manchester’s Brass Band Festival.

Free admission (ticket required)


Brighouse & Rastrick Band
Conductor: Russell Gray
Soloist: Isobel Daws
RNCM Concert Hall
6.30pm

The Triumph of Peace (Eric Ball)
Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret (Bramwell Tovey)
Celebrations – Gonfalon and Paean (Arthur Butterworth)*
King Lear (Granville Bantock)
Walk with Me (Ray Steadman Allen)
A Song for Bram (Edward Gregson)*
Resurgam (Eric Ball) 

*World premiere

Tickets: £18

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