RNCM Brass Bands Festival 2023

27 – 29 January 2023
Looking to the future – Celebrating the past
For the first time in three years, the Royal Northern College of Music is delighted to present a full schedule of concerts and conversation for the 2023 RNCM Brass Band Festival. Thanks to the continued collaboration between the RNCM and the country’s top brass bands and outstanding soloists, we can look forward to a weekend of outstanding musical adventure, with no fewer than sixteen first performances complemented by a selection of major works that were new some 90 
years ago. 
The RNCM’s 50th anniversary is being marked throughout this academic year and the brass band festival reflects the impact its world class brass and composition programmes have exerted on the wider brass band world. The event would not exist without the intervention of the principal in 1998, Edward Gregson, who brought it to the RNCM when the BBC Radio 3 decided to end its ‘hands-on’ connection with brass bands and thus its annual Festival of Brass. Howard Snell was another influential presence at the college during the 1990s, responsible for establishing the RNCM Brass Band and associated tuition. The work of both will be featured during the weekend, alongside that of current and former composition students.
Among a long list of alumni taking part, Daniel Thomas and Michael Cavanagh of Black Dyke Band and Tom Hutchinson of Cory Band will be presenting new and newly discovered solos. Daniel, with Geneva Musical Instruments, has commissioned a lyrical concerto from Judith Bingham that promises to open up a very different sound world from the current trend for finger-flying pyrotechnics. Tom will be presenting the first performance of an air varié solo that the prodigiously gifted Wilfred Heaton composed when he was just 13 in 1932. The ground-breaking A4 Brass Quartet will present a selection of its bespoke repertoire. 
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The RNCM welcomes two of the country’s finest young brass soloists, who both come from a brass band heritage and are now enjoying flourishing careers in the wider music profession. LSO principal trumpet James Fountain will be joining Tredegar Band for a performance on the Hummel Trumpet Concerto in a brass version by John Golland which is preserved in the RNCM archives. Joining 2022 Open Champions Brighouse & Rastrick Band in the final concert of the weekend will be trombonist Isobel Daws. Currently as member of the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic Academy, Isobel will be performing Bramwell Tovey’s dazzling jazzy piece Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret – a tribute to one of the most versatile and gifted musical communicators who did so much to broaden the appeal of brass bands across the world. 
This festival was to have marked the 70th birthday year of Bramwell Tovey, but what was to be a birthday tribute from double National Champions Foden’s Band will now be a more substantial memorial tribute, as Artistic Director Paul Hindmarsh explains:  “Such was the regard in which Bram was held by so many, that within days of the announcement of his death, I was contacted by a group of composer friends who had known and worked with him over many years, offering to write short tribute pieces. I 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 both poignant and affectionate.”  
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Hindmarsh continues: “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 French guest conductor Florent Didier. They promise to be brilliantly inventive and colourful – an appropriate showcase for the gifts and skills of student composers at the RNCM and beyond.” The centre piece of the concert will be Martin Ellerby’s Euphonium Concerto, one of his finest works, featuring Australian virtuoso James Blackford, a Besson Artist currently studying for his master’s at the RNCM. The festival also looks to the future with the welcome return of the current European Youth Band champions, Wardle Academy Brass Band and the annual showcase for the Junior RNCM Band.
Counterbalancing the raft of world premieres, Paul Hindmarsh has selected a number of works from the 1930s, not just the established ‘classic’ test pieces but major works that fell into obscurity or were never given a chance to become established because they were not composed for competitons. Then as now ambitious bands were commissioning their own bespoke repertoire, like Callender’s Cable Works, which in 1932 commissioned a major piece from Granville Bantock. The band played his dramatic overture King Lear in public and part of it was recorded orchestrally in 1945, but it languished unpublished and unheard for decades until it was revived by Dr. Roy Newsome over 20 years ago. A new performing edition, with percussion added according to the orchestral version will be performed by Brighouse & Rastrick Band. 
In 1931 prolific composer Havergal Brian, who was no stranger to brass band contests, sent a draft score of a brass band piece entitled The Battle Song ‘on spec’ to John Henry Iles presumably with a view to it being scored up as a test piece. It remained unfinished for decades until John Pickard created the full score at the turn of the century for Cory Band and its conductor at that time, Robert Childs.The realisation has since been revised and is being revived by Tredegar Band as a 60th birthday year hat-tip to Professor Pickard, whose most recent brass band work, the Turner inspired Rain, Stream and Speed is being performed once again by 2022 European Champions Cory Band.  
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Description automatically generatedAfter 30 years curating an annual series of brass band broadcasts and concerts in Manchester, the 2023 RNCM event will be the final to be curated by Paul Hindmarsh, who adds: “I have had a blast (in the best possible sense) collaborating with musician friends and colleagues who share a passion for brass band players and music, but 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. I am also grateful to the bands for agreeing to perform some personal requests – the everest of Birtwistle’s Grimethorpe Aria, in its 50th anniversary year, the perfection of Ireland’s Comedy Overture, the all-American brilliance of Britten’s American Overture, a long-awaited premiere of a major work that its composer Arthur Butterworth never heard in its complete form and the emotional depth of Eric Ball’s Resurgam.”
Tickets for the 2023 RNCM Brass Band Festival will be on sale from early November at rncm.ac.uk

6.30pm – 7pm / Carole Nash Recital Room
RNCM student ensembles perform a selection of works to open this year’s Festival.
Free admission, ticket required           
7.30pm – 9.30pm / RNCM Concert Hall   

Wilfred Heaton Glory! Glory!                                        
Bramwell Tovey Pictures in the Smoke for piano and brass band                                     
Howard Blake Sinfonietta (version première)
Gilbert Vinter James Cook, Circumnavigator
Claude Debussy arr Snell La Cathédrale Engloutie                                                                  
Bramwell Tovey Coventry Variations                                                           
Michael Fowles conductor
Roksana Dabkowska piano
Tickets £18

11am – 12.15pm / RNCM Concert Hall                                 
John Ireland Comedy Overture                                                      
Harrison Birtwistle Grimethorpe Aria                               
Liz Lane Beyond the Light (world première)                                
Theo Rossier Stendhal’s Syndrome                      
Jack Stamp Vociferation (world première)
Herbert Howells Three Figures
Ben Palmer conductor
Tickets £18
1.45pm – 2.30pm / RNCM Theatre 
Programme to include
Frederick Schjelderup
William Rimmer March – Cross of Honour
Benny Anderson arr Duncan Anthem from Chess                  
John Lennon and Paul McCartney Hey Jude
Lee Rigg conductor
Free admission, ticket required
3pm – 4.15pm / RNCM Concert Hall
Benjamin Britten arr Hindmarsh American Overture           
Johann Nepomuk Hummel transc Golland Trumpet Concerto in E flat major                     
Havergal Brian ed John Pickard Tone Poem – The Battle Song
Simon Dobson New Work dedicated to the memory of Bramwell Tovey (world première)
Gavin Higgins So Spoke Albion       
James Fountain trumpet/flugel horn
Ian Porthouse conductor                                 
James Fountain’s appearance is supported by the John Golland Trust
Tickets £18
4.45pm – 5.15pm / RNCM Theatre 
Free admission, ticket required
6.15pm – 7pm / Carole Nash Recital Room  
Free admission, ticket required
7.30pm – 9.30pm / RNCM Concert Hall
William Byrd and John Bull arr Howarth Music from the Elizabethan Court       
Judith Bingham Venice (world première)    
Edward Gregson The World Rejoicing, Symphonic Variations on a Lutheran Chorale
Fredrick Schjelderup Out of Reach (world première)       
Peter Graham Turbulence, Torque and Tide 
Peter Graham Hymn for Bram (world première)       
Philip Wilby Beethoven –  Prologue, Variations, Fugue and Finale 
Daniel Thomas euphonium
Michael Cavanagh baritone 
Nicholas Childs conductor 
Judith Bingham’s Venice (Euphonium Concerto) is a commissioned by Daniel Thomas, with the support of Geneva Musical Instruments   
Tickets £18
11am – 12.15pm / RNCM Concert Hall
Adam Webster An Airborne Fanfare (world première)       
Lucy Pankhurst His Depth                                   
Chris Cook Excursion (world première)                                                 
Martin Ellerby Euphonium Concerto                               
Jonathan Bates Prelude on St. Clements (world première)                                                                         
Joel Kirk Fantasia (Cantata giocoso)                 
Emmanuel Chabrier arr Snell Bourée Fantasque
James Blackford euphonium
Florent Didier conductor
Joel Kirk’s Fantasia (Cantata giocoso) is the 2023 John Golland Award commission. 
Tickets £12
1.45pm – 2.30pm / RNCM Theatre
Callum Au New Work (world première)
Bramwell Tovey Street Songs
Kentaro Sato arr Bates Tsuna’ngari 
Tom Harrold Craze 
Béla Bartók arr Robertson Six Romanian Folk Dances 
Jonathan Bates Mists of the Mountains
Tickets £12
3pm – 4.15pm / RNCM Concert Hall
CORY BAND            

Dean Goffin Rhapsodic Variations – My Strength, My Tower
Gustav Holst arr Hindmarsh Scherzo (version première)                                                                     
J Wilfred Heaton Air Varié – I Will Follow Thee My Saviour (world première)                           
John Pickard Rain, Steam and Speed, Symphonic Study
Kelly-Marie Murphy Into the Darkness They Go, The Wise and the Lovely (world première)
Philip Wilby Saints Triumphant         
Tom Hutchinson cornet 
Philip Wilby organ                 
Philip Harper conductor
Tickets £18
5pm – 6pm / Carole Nash Recital Room
Paul Hindmarsh presents his choice of favourite moments from 30 years of Manchester’s Brass Band Festival.
Free admission, ticket required
6.30pm – 8pm / RNCM Concert Hall
Eric Ball Tone Poem – The Triumph of Peace                                               
Bramwell Tovey Lincoln Tunnel Cabaret
Arthur Butterworth Celebrations – Gonfalon and Paean (world première)
Granville Bantock King Lear
Ray Steadman-Allen Walk with Me
Edward Gregson A Song for Bram (world première)
Eric Ball Tone Poem – Resurgam                                          
Isobel Daws trombone       
Russell Gray conductor
Isobel Daws’ appearance is supported by Getzen (Ireland) Ltd.
Tickets £18

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