RNCM Brass Band (Saturday 29 Jan 11.00am)
Judith Bingham Four Minute Mile
Bill Connor Piano Concerto
Errollyn Wallen Chrome
Malcolm Arnold (arr Farr) Four Scottish Dances
Justine Gormley piano
David Thornton, Miguel Sepulveda and Afonso Teles conductors
RNCM Brass Band:
Matthew Hall, Adam Hofland-Ward
Seb Williman, Tom Smith, Alicia Davis, Joseph Bradford, Andrew Farrow
Adam Delbridge-Smith, Will Bird
Tristan Boldy, Finn Cormack
Emma Conway, Amy Paterson, Georgia Woodhead
Joshua Fleming, Lok Leung
Daniel Hohm, Sasha Abgottspon
Steinn Halldorsson, Tom Peacock, Asa Riley
E Flat Bass
Heidi Solem, Yijian Liu
B Flat Bass
Thomas Barnet, Ben Whitehead
Man Fung, Ho Wong, Oscar Williams, Dan Malone
Justine Gormley (piano)
Justine Gormley, from Belfast, discovered her love of music when she was found as a toddler playing nursery rhymes by ear on the family piano. After completing a first class honours bachelor’s degree at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tuition of John Gough, she is continuing her studies as a postgraduate scholar with Kathryn Stott. Justine has also been fortunate to have received significant mentorship from Barry Douglas at the Camerata Ireland Academy.
As an undergraduate, Justine received one of the prestigious Irish Heritage awards following a successful performance at London’s Wigmore Hall. She has broadcast on multiple occasions with BBC Radio Ulster, and has been invited to perform with the Ulster Orchestra in February 2022. Justine is kindly supported by the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust, the Ian Scott Award, and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
David Thornton (conductor)
Dr David Thornton is regarded as one of the foremost euphonium players and teachers of his generation and has a global reputation. His work as a soloist, conductor and educator is renowned throughout the brass playing world to have a distinct hallmark of extreme virtuosity, professionalism and an ability to connect with audiences like few others in his field.
His work within the brass band world has seen him at the top flight for almost twenty years. He has held solo euphonium positions with the Fairey Band (1997-2000), the Black Dyke Band (2000-2010) and the Brighouse & Rastrick Band (2011-2015) having won five National titles, three British Opens and one European Championship during this time. David is currently the musical director of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
David tutors at the RNCM, the University of Huddersfield and Chetham’s School of Music.
Miguel Sepúlveda (conductor)
Miguel Sepúlveda is a Portuguese conductor. He started his musical studies at the age of 13, completing his conservatory studies on piano in fewer years than regularly assigned. Throughout those years, he had the pleasure of working for ‘CCB Classical Summer’ and even playing in concert with the Shostakovich Ensemble alongside brilliant musicians such as Adrien Brendel, Pascal Moraguès, Benjamin Schmid, Jan Bjøranger, Lars Anders Tomter, among others. After that he initiated his studies in Orchestral Conducting with Jean-Marc Burfin at ANSO, where he regularly conducted the Academy Orchestra on several concerts. He has participated in Masterclasses with conductors Pedro Neves, Enrico Onofri, and Mariusz Smolij. In recent years, Miguel has had his first professional experiences with Orquestra Clássica do Sul (guest conducting) and Lisbon Metropolitan Orchestra (assistant conducting). Recently he won the 2nd Prize at The International Conducting Academy.
Afonso Teles (conductor)
Afonso Teles is a young Portuguese conductor/composer. He is currently completing his Master’s studies at the RNCM with Mark Heron and Clark Rundell, where he was recently assigned to be an assistant conductor for the full production of the opera ‘The Medium’ by Gian Carlo Menotti. Other recent highlights include masterclasses with Sir Mark Elder, Omer Meir Wellber, Antony Hermus, among others, as well as assisting Ben Gernon at Cheetham’s School of Music. He has also been active since 2019 as a session conductor, working in Lisbon, London and Prague. Previously Afonso completed a Bachelor’s degree in Conducting at ANSO in Lisbon, Portugal, studying with Jean-Marc Burfin. During the three years of the degree, he had the opportunity to conduct the academy orchestra in several concerts.
RNCM Brass Band
Established during the 1990s by brass innovator Howard Snell, the RNCM Brass Band has always been a flagship ensemble of the institution. Geographically the RNCM is ideally placed for brass band students and it can boast a teaching staff that includes Roger Webster, Richard Marshall, Owen Farr, Katy Jones and Steven Mead. In 2014 the college appointed Prof. James Gourlay and Prof. David King as International Chairs in Brass Band Studies and they both work with the band students on a bi-annual basis. Other recent guest conductors include Nicholas Childs, Russell Gray, Garry Cutt and Elgar Howarth.
The teaching staff encourages students to become members of bands outside of the college and the RNCM benefits greatly from partnerships with some of the UK’s leading brass bands. The current RNCM Brass Band has members of Black Dyke, Grimethorpe, Brighouse & Rastrick and the Fairey Bands within its ranks, as well as a good international representation from countries including, Switzerland, Latvia, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.
Judith Bingham - Four Minute Mile
On your marks… The RNCM Brass Band opens the 2022 RNCM Brass Band Festival at top speed with Judith Bingham’s Four Minute Mile. This was commissioned for the 1992 BBC Festival of Brass from one of the country’s most admired composers, who celebrates her 70th birthday later in the year. Subtitled ‘A Short Sprint for Brass Band’, the players are instructed to ‘sprint away with great vigour’ from the starting gun. As the muscular rhythmic drive relaxes – somewhere around the end of the second lap perhaps – a melodic passage emerges in the lead, while as one commentator has described, ‘a packed field of percussion maintains the pressure on these leaders’. Then comes the bell sounds and the dash for the line.
Bill Connor - Piano Concerto
Bill Connor is one of those busy professional composers whose contribution to the concert hall has often gone unheralded. His work as composer/conductor/animateur has taken him round the world working with orchestras and bands on creative and community projects. If you haven’t experienced his work in concert, you will almost certainly have heard it on tv or film at some point over the past 40 years. He writes about the genesis of his Piano Concerto thus:
“In the 1980s I was living in Barnoldswick and met Kathryn Stott. I had been asked to write the music for a series of dramatised Tony Ben Diaries. I used piano and brass quintet. Kathryn accepted the gig and the results were fab. The combination of brass and piano in brilliant hands was irresistible and an idea for something more substantial sprang to mind. I had never written for brass band but two of the players suggested I should have a go. I said yes to writing something for an ensemble I knew next to nothing about but phoned Ray Steadman-Allen, who had given me a basic tutorial in BB scoring some years earlier, and spent several hours on the phone for which he received not a penny! The concerto was written through the summer of 1990. The birth of my son Tim was July 1990 so it was dedicated to Timothy James Connor, Kathryn Stott, Sellers Band and conductor Phillip MacCann. Paul Hindmarsh produced a recording in Sept 1990 for BBC Radio 3. The piece was toured round Yorkshire for three performances with pianos various and variable but regardless Kathryn, Phil and the band brought the piece alive for which I’m heartily grateful! The scores and parts were packed up and returned, boxed and stored. Last January I came across them in a tumble of bags and boxes so I sent the score and recording to Paul who took it up once again for this morning’s concert.”
It is in three substantial and colourful movements. This morning’s soloist for this revival 30 years on is Justine Gormley, who is a pupil of Kathryn Stott’s here at the RNCM.
Errollyn Wallen - Chrome
Errollyn Wallen, CBE, was described by The Observer as ‘the renaissance woman of contemporary British music’. Born in Belize, she came to this country as a child with her family. She was brought up in London to a soundtrack of Ella Fitzgerald and calypso and has become a versatile and prolific composer, pianist and songwriter – one of our most in-demand musical voices of today. Wallen is currently Resident Composer at her alma mater, King’s College, Cambridge and artist-in-residence at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Chrome was composed in 1997 to a commission from the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain and first conducted by Elgar Howarth. The following year her music was heard at the BBC Proms for the first time. She’s even been performed in space, aboard Nasa’s STS115 mission. As you will hear in this work, she writes in a kaleidoscopic range of styles and colours, often with a jazzy resonance. Her music constantly crosses and re-crosses musical boundaries.
Wallen is currently working on two operas in her lighthouse studio in Scotland, so sadly cannot be with us this morning.
Malcolm Arnold (arr Ray Farr) - Four Scottish Dances
In October last year the centenary of the birth of Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921 – 2006) was marked with concerts, workshops and documentaries, revealing a richness and range of creativity born out of sometimes extremely turbulent personal circumstances. Sir Malcolm loved the bracing sound of the brass band and wrote for the medium with great skill and, as a former professional trumpeter, an ‘insider’s’ knowledge. He once wrote that performing music is ‘a gesture of friendship, the strongest there is’. Arnold won many friends in the band world with his Little Suites and the march The Padstow Lifeboat. Ray Farr’s brilliant transcriptions of his ‘national’ dance suites have greatly enriched the concert repertoire.
Four Scottish Dances was composed in 1957 for the BBC’s Festival of Light Music and first performed in the Royal Festival Hall, London, by the BBC Concert Orchestra with the composer conducting. Arnold doesn’t quote any traditional dances. The first is in the style of a strathspey, the second is a helter-skelter reel. The slow lilt of a highland melody in the third might evoke a calm day in the Hebrides, with clear sky and calm sea lapping against the shore. The finale, with its boisterous pulse might conjure up a highland fling at the end of a cèilidh.