From the Horses Mouth - School Band Repertoire Thoughts

Horses' Mouth

May is with us, and any browsers of this site will already have nearly finalised their programmes for 2011 - 2012 and will start thinking about the following season. Our summer conducting school, Canford at Sherborne, usually has a number of ideas for school band directors, and 2009 was particularly fruitful with several works well worth considering for school and community bands, as well as less experienced college groups.  Recordings of most of these works have been uploaded on the site. If you want a CD of these and other useful works at this level, please let me have your mailing address.

Binney, Malcolm Shaftoe's Hoedown Maecenas 2.5 2.30
Binney, Malcolm Emerald Breeze Maecenas 4 5.35
Carroll, Fergal Winter Dances Maecenas 4 9.00
Gorb, Adam Sunrise and Safari Maecenas 3 8.00
Gorb, Adam Tranquility Maecenas 3 6.00
Howard, Emily Deep Soul Diving Maecenas 4 5.00
McNeff, Stephen Wasteland Music 2 Maecenas 4 12.00
Sparke, Philip Four Norfolk Dances Anglo 4 12.00

Shaftoe's Hoedown
This is a typical example of the Genesis Series initiated by Malcolm Binney; Binney himself, Gorb, Carroll and Wood all wrote works at about Grade 2 - Grade 3 level with reduced scoring but much cross cueing, and school teachers on the course reported that their students greatly enjoyed these pieces. Why not go to the Maecneas website and browse through the lot to make your choices?

Emerald Breeze

This beautiful miniature was written by Malcolm Binney about ten years ago, and at last a recording has been made, soon to be uploaded on the Maecenas website. Real music suitable for bands of modest abilities, in which Binney has employed his gifts of lyrical melodic invention to produce a tone-poem of warmth and appeal. Everything lies beautifully under the fingers, while more experienced players are given the chance to stand out. Essential repertoire for good school bands upwards.

Winter Dances

Commissioned by Mark Heron for the opening of the Pyramid Centre at Warrington, this three movement work cleverly combines some minimalist techniques with motifs from well known Christmas music.

Sunrise and Safari

Commissioned by the Co-Curricular Activities Branch of the Ministry of Education, Singapore, for the 2007 Singapore Youth Festival, Sunrise and Safari is in two movement, the first a Ravellian dawn with some simple aleatoric bird song, the second with trumpeting elephants on half-valved trumpets, screeching monkeys on single reed mouthpieces, hissing snakes on tutti band. The ideal school or music centre motivational learning piece (includes an introduction to aleatoric music).


An antidote to loud music, Tranquility made an enormous impression at its premiere in WASBE.. Most of the work is pianissimo with a climax in pppp! The band has simple vocal lines, there are bells tolled to remember the victims of man's inhumanity to man, scraps of birdsong before the piece dissolves into muted brass chords. This will be published very soon and a recording uploaded on the Maecenas website.

Wasteland Music 2

This immensely practical score intended for intermediate players has a real identity of its own. Shorter and less strenuous than its 'big brother', it does share some of its material, structure and especially musical qualities while remaining highly individual. Repertoire of such quality at this technical level is particularly welcome.

Four Norfolk Dances

Commissioned to celebrate the 80th birthday of Malcolm Arnold, this is a sequence of four dances which catches the spirit of the Arnold Dances wonderfully, good singable tunes, well scored, great to play and to listen to.