North West Area Championships 2007 Preview

Sunday 11th March


2nd Section
Pavilion Theatre
Adjudicator: Colin Hardy
Draw: 2.30pm
Commences: following 3rd Section results - approx. 3.30pm


Carnival - Helen Perkin


Carnival is one of those hidden gems of a piece that has for far too long been forgotten and ignored. Only occasionally since it was used as the set work for the 1957 British Open has it resurfaced, although luminaries such as Edward Gregson have championed the composer's work over the years (The National Youth Brass Band of Wales performed the suite in 1982 on its first course under him).

Perkin herself was an interesting character. Born in 1909 she is perhaps best remembered as giving the premiere of the John Ireland piano concerto. It would be a touch rich to perhaps say she was a bit of a girl, but she did have her moments and was a bit of a feisty beauty at a time when women in polite musical circles in Great Britain were seen and not heard.

A tremendously gifted pianist and enlightened composer she travelled extensively and was influenced of a variety of composers many of whom took her in completely new musical directions from that of here long time muse John Ireland. As such their relationship broke down, first personally and them musically, although it is suggested that even when they were no longer as close as they once were, it was Ireland who recommended that she write for brass. The result was a small but important output that included not only ‘Carnival' but ‘Island Heritage' which was used at the British Open in 1962.

In its way ‘Carnival' reflects Perkin's earlier ability to write quite beautifully for chamber orchestra – it really is a chamber work for brass band. It is a very English work in style and perhaps owes more to Ireland and his techniques and influence than at first is apparent. When the work was actually written is unclear although academics believe it to have been originally sketched some years prior to its use at the contest.

The work is broken into three distinct movements:

'Cavalcade' is fresh and breezy although it does change in character quite quickly demanding sensitivity, balance and an appreciation of subtle tone colours. There are some unexpected harmonies and rhythmic effects too although the strong sense of melodic content remains secure throughout. It would be harsh to say that it is over conservative in style, perhaps more David Cameron than Anne Widdicombe but as a cavalcade (a procession on horse back) it is more a rural gymkhana than rodeo drive.

The slow and reflective ‘Pavane' is a gem though – a subtle and lyrical exposition of melancholic thought and execution. It's all about balance and style, subtle colours and understated emotion. The solo lines are demanding but not overly difficult for players with a sense of style about them whilst the percussion is used with a lovely sparing touch – just enough to add colour and pulse. The final couple of bars will certainly sort out the wheat from the chaff.

The finale ‘Burlesque' is a bit of a hearty romp – although it should not be dumbed down like some sort of Z list Celebrity Come Dancing by trying to inject misplaced excitement, overblowing or harsh tones into the playing. Everything is set out with a purpose in mind, even if it is a touch carefree of spirit and intention and it all comes to a very neat and tidy conclusion.

‘Carnival' is music very much of its time and place, but also from the pen of something of a free spirit. It's a fine choice and one to enjoy.


Competitors


Band
Conductor
Blackpool Brass A. Warriner
Boarshurst Silver D. Morris
Bollington Brass P. Christian
Delph P. Goodwin
Greenall’s J. Ludden
Manx Concert Brass I. Clague MBE
Old Hall Brass T. Halliwell
Rainford N. Samuel
Stalybridge Old R. Collinson
Trinity Girls S. Barton
United Co-operatives 2000 Brass J. Meredith
Wardle & District Anderson Brass S. Conway


Manx Concert Brass Players


PRINCIPAL CORNET Simon Briggs
SOLO CORNETS James Aire
Jenny Gilmour
Neil Brew
SOPRANO CORNET Russell Gilmour
REPIANO CORNET Helen Morrison
SECOND CORNETS David Gerrard
Holly Latham
THIRD CORNETS Graham Bates
Chloe Harrison
FLUGEL HORN Steve Garrett
SOLO HORN Kathryn Power
FIRST HORN FIona Brew
SECOND HORN Annabel Chambers
SOLO EUPHONIUM Philip Shimmin
FIRST BEUPHONIUM Mark Mahood
FIRST BARITONE Ian Mansell
SECOND BARITONE Lauren Latham
SOLO TROMBONE Stephen Maddocks
SECOND TROMBONE Andrew Dawson
BASS TROMBONES Mark Crellin
Eb BASS James Mayles
Scott Mackie
Bb BASS Simon Lowe
Stephen Dawson
PERCUSSION Richard Skinner
Greg Chambers
Nick Lodge


Some contest at ya!!!