Creating A Repertoire
The Commissioning Project Of The Royal Northern College Of Music 1981 - 2002
From Introduction to British Music for Wind Band, A Selective Literature Guide:
During the last three decades, Great Britain has seen a resurgence of interest in the wind band. The ensemble has not only gained respect for the quality of its music making, but it has also attracted the attention of Britain's best mainstream composers. No longer content to sustain itself on the orchestral transcriptions and marches that were the mainstays of its repertoire between 1930 and 1970, the British wind band now has organizations to guide its growth, very capable conductors to champion its cause and, most importantly, the finest composers eager to contribute music of artistic merit to its repertoire.
One organization driving this 'renaissance' of wind band repertoire is the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles (BASBWE). Founded in 1981, BASBWE has initiated the commissioning of a new repertoire from composers who are, generally, unfamiliar with the wind band medium and its existing repertoire. The BASBWE commissions, therefore, have produced compositions with new sonorities, flexible instrumentations, and a melodic and harmonic content no longer dependent upon the folk-derived material that has so dominated the genre in the past.
Besides BASBWE, the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra has been central to the development of the new repertoire. The Wind Orchestra and its conductor Timothy Reynish have commissioned more than twenty new works and returned several long-forgotten masterpieces to the repertoire. Their premiers of major wind compositions, including works by Michael Ball, Irwin Bazelon, Nigel Clarke, David Bedford, Richard Rodney Bennett, Martin Butler, Anthony Gilbert. Adam Gorb, Robin Holloway, Nicholas Maw, Colin Matthews, Edward Shipley, Philip Wilby and Guy Woolfenden. have placed the ensemble at the forefront of wind repertoire development and have helped to establish the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra as one of the finest ensembles of its kind in the world. Jonathan E Good, Dean of Music Department, University of Las Vegas
Attached is a listing of over seventy works which the School of Wind & Percussion of the RNCM either commissioned, co-commissioned or premiered between 1982 and 2002. (I have included Guy's Illyrian Dances, (Ariel) for while I did not commission it, nor conduct the premiere, he kindly dedicated it to me, and I love to introduce it to new audiences).
This voyage into new repertoire with composers was in part due to a feeling I had that the world of wind music needed more works of substance. In the attached list of commissioned works, there are over forty-five works listed at 10 minutes or more, and while brevity is reputed to be the source of wit, yet we do need major works in our programmes. It seemed to me when traversing the USA on my Churchill Fellowship in 1982, that the standard of technical work here was extremely high, that some exciting music was being created, but that much of the programming remained strongly influenced by the great John Philip Sousa and his colleagues of a hundred years ago, an overture, a transcription, a cornet solo, a novelty item, a march, perhaps something contemporary, a suite, another march... I felt that we needed to create more major works, perhaps following the scope and breadth of:
|Winds of Nagual||Colgrass|
|A Child's Garden of Dreams||Maslanka|
|...and the Mountains rising nowhere||Schwantner|
A particular interest has been the commissioning of concertos, involving professional players or faculty and providing a focal point in the concert. Conversely, most of the shorter works in the list, were written especially for us to platform at a BASBWE Conference for less experienced bands to tackle in the future.
Composer - Conductor - Ensemble - Audience
There are four parts to the equation in creating a repertoire - the composer, the ensemble and conductor, the audience, and the publisher; I am delighted that nearly all of our commissioned music is in the public domain, much of it on sale. While much of this repertoire presents a challenge, either musicall, interllectuially, technically, emotionally, or all four, yet I believe that many of these works speak to both players and audiences. In addition there one other very important factor so often ignored, the dissemination of information about the best music, and I am grateful to WASBE, BASBWE and CBDNA for letting me write about the commissions in their columns.
Finally there is another vital ingredient, one with its own inherent danger of creating a cloned style of performance; I refer to the compact disc. We at the Royal Northern College were fortunate in working with composers on definitive performances of their works for many of these recordings:
|CD Number||CD Title|
|DOY CD037||The Wind Music of Richard Rodney Bennett|
|DOY CD042||The Wind Music of Guy Woolfenden|
|DOY CD082||The Wind Music of David Bedford|
|DOY CD043||The Wind Music of Edward Gregson|
|DOY CD106||Dove Descending, A Passion for our Time by Philip Wilby|
|DOY CD 127||Elements/Gorb: Three American Icons/Bingham; Heathcote's Inferno/Marsh. Available from Doyen Recordings, Doyen Centre, Vulcan Street, Oldham, OL1 4EP|
|SERCD 2400||Metropolis/Gorb; Paris Sketches/Ellerby; Sailing with Archangels/Poole; Samurai/Clarke|
In addition we have made five commercial recordings with CHANDOS RECORDS which are available world-wide from any record stores:
|CD Number||CD Title|
|CHAN 9549||Grainger Works for Wind Orchestra Vol 1|
|CHAN 9630||Grainger Works for Wind Orchestra Vol 2|
|CHAN 9697||British Wind Band Classics|
|CHAN 9805||German Wind Band Classics|
|CHAN 9897||French Wind Band Classics|
E - M - I - T
In this age of acronyms, I have come up with EMIT which contains most of what I look for in a work which I want to programme. I am not so interested in the academic reasons which some colleagues give for including a work in the "core" repertoire.
First and foremost for me, a work must communicate EMOTION to both players and audience, not only excitement which bands do extremely well, but also humour, pathos, sadness, lyricism, drama. I am looking for sentiment without becoming sentimental, for light and shade, comedy and tragedy. At the end of a concert, I always hope that players and audience have journeyed emotionally as they might do at the theatre, cinema or art gallery.
For me a work must be MUSICAL, whatever that means. I guess that in a musical piece I can teach phrasing, balance, tone, ensemble, architecture, all of those things which you expect to find in a Brahms Symphony or Mozart Overture. I want to engage the players in musical challenges, not just note-crushing.
Thirdly I hope that the work will bring INTELLECTUAL challenges to the players, and possibly to the audience. These players, whether amateur, student or professional, are grappling or have grappled with science, computer studies or language skills way beyond anything I coped with, and I feel it is an insult to their intelligence and that of the audience to dumbdown my music choice.
Lastly I think it is important to challenge them TECHNICALLY. The best players will sweep the less experienced along in rehearsal and performance, but to go at the speed of the weakest is to invite apathy and atrophy.
But if the music does not speak to most of the players and audience emotionally, if it is simply an intellectual exercise, then throw it away. I hope that most of our ninety commissions speak in one way or another.
Commissioning Project - 90 Commissions & Premieres Of A Quarter Century
1981 - 2006
Tim Reynish July 2006
Between 1981 and 2002, over seventy new works were created, either commissioned for the wind orchestra of the Royal Northern College of Music, premiered by the orchestra, or commissioned as part of a consortium which included the College.
|Ball, Michael||Saxophone Concerto||Maecenas||1984||18.00|
|Ball, Michael||Three Processionals||Studio||1998||5.00|
|Bazelon, Irwin||Midnight Music||Novello||1991||20.00|
|Bennett, Richard Rodney||Morning Music||Novello||1987||17.00|
|Bennett, Richard Rodney||The Four Seasons||Novello||1991||19.00|
|Bennett, Richard Rodney||Trumpet Concerto||Novello||1993||20.00|
|Bingham, Judith||Three American Icons||Maecenas||1997||18.00|
|Bingham, Judith||Bright Spirit||Maecenas||2002||7.00|
|Bourgeois, Derek||Symphony of Winds||G&M Brand||1981||14.00|
|Bourgeois, Derek||Northern Lament||G&M Brand||1998||4.00|
|Bourgeois, Derek||Overture Green Dragon||Hafabra||arr 2001||6.00|
|Butler, Martin||Still Breathing||OUP||1992||12.00|
|Carpenter, Gary||Sunderland Lasses, Wearside Lads||Camden||1997||12.00|
|Casken, John||Distant Variations||Schott||1997||12.00|
|Colgrass, Michael||Dream Dancing||AMP||2001||18.00|
|Ellerby, Martin||New World Dances||Studio||1998||8.00|
|Ellerby, Martin||Venetian Spells||Studio||1997||12.00|
|Ellis, David||Dance Rhapsody||mss||1997||8.00|
|Ewers, Timothy||Concerto Grosso||Maecenas||1998||10.00|
|Fitkin, Graham||Game show for soprano saxophone||mss||1998|
|Gilbert, Anthony||Dream Carousels||Schott||1988||15.00|
|Gilbert, Anthony||Up-Rising||York Uni||2002||12.00|
|Glasser, Stanley||Lament for a Princess||Woza||1997||8.00|
|Gorb, Adam||Bridgewater Breeze||Maecenas||1998||10.00|
|Gorb, Adam||Elements (Percussion concerto)||Maecenas||1997||27.30|
|Gorb, Adam||Yiddish Dances||Maecenas||1998||12.00|
|Gorb, Adam||Candelight Procession||G&M Brand||2001||4.00|
|Gorb, Adam||Symphony no 1 in C||Maecenas||2001||17.00|
|Grange, Philip||Shen Shen Bu Shi for solo clarinet||Maecenas||2000|
|Harper, Edward||Double Variations||OUP||1989||14.00|
|Hayden, Sam||After the Event||mss||1996||26.00|
|Holloway, Robin||Entrance; Carousing & Embarcation||Boosey||1991||25.00|
|Johnson, Julian||Breathing Space||Maecenas||1995||8.00|
|Longstaff, Edward||Changing Scenes||Novello||1998||6.00|
|Marsh, Roger||Heathcote's Inferno||Maecenas||1996||17.00|
|Matthews, Colin||Toccata Meccanica||Faber||1984/92||10.00|
|Maw, Nicholas||American Games||Faber||1991||23.00|
|McNeff, Stephen||Wasteland Music||Maecenas||2000||15.00|
|McNeff, Stephen||Wasteland Music 2||Maecenas||2001||12.00|
|Muldowney, Dominic||Dance Movements||Ariel||1996||17.00|
|Musgrave, Thea||Journey through a Japanese Landscape||Novello||1994||23.00|
|Patterson, Paul||Little Red Riding Hood||Weinberger||2001||25.00|
|Poole, Geoffrey||Sailing with Archangels||Maecenas||1992||17.00|
|Poole, Geoffrey||Tides Turning||Maecenas||1992||5.00|
|Premru, Ray||Tuba Concerto (wind version)||mss|
|Roxburgh, Edwin||Time's Harvest||Maecenas||2000||10.42|
|Sallinen, Aulis||A Palace Rhapsody||Novello||1997||16.00|
|Taylor, Matthew||Blasket Dances||Maecenas||1992||12.00|
|Tower, Joan||Fascinatin' Ribbons||AMP||2001||8.00|
|Wilby, Philip||Laudibus in Sanctis||Chester||1993||8.00|
|Wilby, Philip||A Passion for our Time||Maecenas||1997||25.00|
|Wilby, Philip||And I look around the Cross||Chester||1985||10.00|
|Woolfenden, Guy||Illyrian Dances||Ariel||1986||10.00|
|Woolfenden, Guy||Mockbeggar Variations||Ariel||1991||10.00|
|Woolfenden, Guy||Birthday Treat||Ariel||1998||3.00|
Woolfenden In Waco
H Robert Reynolds said to me back in 1982 when I visited Ann Arbor on a Churchill Fellowship: All we can do is to make it better for the next generation. The job is only partially done, and I hope that the commissioning will continue, introducing new composers to the medium, and hence to new audiences. It has certainly been a great experience in recent years to have the opportunity to conduct works which I helped to create, Bennett in Boston, Casken in Croatia, Marshall in Manchester, Sallinen in South Kensington, Woolfenden and Wilby in Waco.
Interpreting Specific Works