WASBE 2007 Conference

Manchester, Skien, Kortrijk, Boston, Kerkrade, Manchester, Valencia, Hammamatsu, Schladming, San Luis Obispo, Lucerne, Jonkoping, Singapore...


This was a conference not to be missed! Various colleagues who dropped in for a couple of days confessed that they heard nothing to interest them. But as Kenneth Hesketh wrote I only witnessed a small part of it but there was a serious mindedness about it that reminded me that the medium and those involved seem to be leading the genre to places where it can be taken very seriously and along side all the other forms of performing arts, which has got to be a good thing. As a very distinguished American colleague put it I hadn't attended a WASBE conference in twenty years and now, based on the Killarney experience, I'm back in the fold! What great hosts and what an interesting collection of experiences. The perfect complement to everything else that I regularly do.

I personally don't need WASBE, but I am addicted, and every so often a performance, a premiere, a clinic, a class, changes my life and renews my passion for music, not just for wind music, but for music as an art, as a calling and vocation. The performance of Shostakovich on Thursday evening alone justified the existence of WASBE, and all those thousands of dollars spent on subscriptions, travel, hotels and tickets in the past twenty six years. In fact, of some eighty works in fourteen concerts, several were relatively unknown to me and were works which I would certainly programme next season if I had a group to conduct. Out of these, my top ten "must play" works are the very beautiful Concerto for Cor Anglais, the fine Temples by Waespi, Guy Woolfenden 's charming Divertimento, the extraordinary Shostakovich and my own commissions or publications, Image in Stone, Omaggio, Morning Music, Resonance, Versuche and Vranjanka. I think that the following are well worth exploring also.

Big Jig Thierry Besancon BIM
Blaze Steve Rouse Manhattan Beach
Cheetah Karel Husa BMI
Concertino for Euphonium Marco Pütz Bronsheim
Concerto Dark Rain Andy Scott Astute Music
Concerto for Cor Anglais Peteris Vasks Ms
Divertimento for Band Guy Woolfenden Ariel
Fascinating Ribbons Joan Tower AMP
Fourth of July Morton Gould Chappell
Frenergy John Estacio Composer
Image in Stone Stephen McNeff Maecenas
La'i Bright Sheng G Schirmer
Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel Ian Wilson Riccordi
Percussion Concerto Joseph Schwantner Schott-Helicon
Prelude and Toccata John Kinsella OCMP
Resonance Christopher Marshall Maecenas
Shortcut Home Dana Wilson Ms
Temples Oliver Waespi Beriato
The Priest and his Servant Balda Dmitri Shostakovich Ms
The Spiralling Night Joseph Phibbs Ms
Three Spanish Songs Matthew Tommassini Ms
Versuche uber einen Marsch Marcel Wengler Maecenas
Vranjanka Kenneth Hesketh Faber


An orgy of vulgar noise... Louis Spohr describing Beethoven's 5th Symphony

Five of these works I have to admit to not enjoying because of the noise levels. Frenergy was the opening minimalist piece of the International Youth Wind Ensemble, an arrangement by Fraser Linklater, superbly conducted by Glenn Price as was the Schwantner PercussionConcerto. For me the noise factor and the repetition palls, but take no notice of me, I have been known to walk out of a Steve Reich concert in boredom. I am full of admiration for Andy Scott's tour de force, Dark Rain, incredibly played by Chethams with Andy and Rob Buckland as soloists, but here, as in the Schwantner, I wanted to hear the rich palette of the wind orchestra, I wanted more contrast, more colour, not just noise. Blaze on the other hand is too short, and La'i might also benefit from a contrasting section. The composers can ignore me and Louis Spohr and take comfort from the undoubted success of Beethoven Five.

There were older pieces which it was great to revisit, Bennett's Morning Music and Ball'sOmaggio, both of which I commissioned for WASBE at Boston in 1987. There were pieces that I need to hear again, the Kinsella, Phibbs and Ian Wilson, and there were pieces I just do not understand, including La'I and Night Moves, I think because of balance problems. I commissioned Phillip Grange's extraordinary Concerto Sheng Sheng Bu Shi for Solo Clarinet Radical and I conducted the first two performances, but I still am baffled by it. I am full of admiration for the virtuosity desplayed by Sarah Williamson and the National Youth Wind Ensemble of Great Britain under their brilliant conductor, Phillip Scott, but while I think it is great that a WASBE Conference should come in contact with the avant garde, the proper place for the work would be in an ISCM Conference or the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, with smarter people than me to appreciate it.

Irish Youth Wind Ensemble

Conductors James Callaghan & Timothy Reynish
Soprano Norah King
Trumpet Mark O'Keefe

  • Finnegan's Wake A.J Potter
  • Trumpet Concerto Kamillo Lendvay
  • Vranjanka Kenneth Hesketh
  • Interval
  • Prelude and Toccata John Kinsella
  • Image in Stone Stephen McNeff
  • Samurai Nigel Clarke

I think it was Odd Terje Lysebo or Craig Kirchoff who suggested a daily late evening discussion at the bar in which conductors defended their programme planning. I cannot really comment on the opening concert, since I was involved in the planning of the programme, in conducting two of the works and the commissioning of three, and so I am wildly biased, but we worked hard to give audience and students a balance of experiences.

We started with a traditional military band "fun" piece, proceeded to a slightly gritty Hungarian concerto, premiered at WASBE in Manchester in 1991,virtuosically played by the Principal Trumpet of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and ended the first half with an eight minute ethnic dance with plenty of solos for everyone, constant mixed metres and lots of excitement. The second half began with the world premiere of a work by Irish composer John Kinsella which gave the students the flavour of the slightly austere world of Stravinsky, continued with a song cycle which for me balances beautifully that divide between traditional and contemporary writing, and we ended with a work originally premiered at WASBE in Japan in 1995, now regularly played as a sort of wind-world Sacre de Printemps. We tried for plenty of variety, chances for the individual players to shine and a different emotional impact and challenges with each work.

University Of Cincinnatti CCM Chamber Players

Conductors Rodney Winther & Terence Milligan

  • Octet Partita op 78Franz Krommer
  • DixtuorGeorge Enescu
  • Interval
  • Suite in D Arthur Bird
  • The NutcrackerPeter Tchaikovsky

Rodney Winther is a superb musician and technician, and he has fashioned the chamber ensemble of Cincinnatti into a responsive and sensitive groups of the highest caliber. His technical equipment reminds me of conductors of the caliber of Maazel or Giulini, there is apparently nothing that he cannot demonstrate with a flick of the wrist or twitch of the torso, and yet I find myself often unmoved by the results. Like so many great conductors with super techniques, his players follow slavishly, and I long to hear some originality in phrasing, rubatowhich does the opposite of what we expect, an oboist or clarinettist who might say in a repeated passage "Hey, Rodney, I think it would be fun to try it this way".

I guess I am incredibly jealous of his technical accomplishment and of the players in his group, but as with many of the great ensembles and conductors in the United States , I long for democracy, for freedom, perhaps for some bad manners. I remember Simon Rattle bringing the Mozart Gran Partita to a BASBWE Conference with his City of Birmingham Wind . It was glorious music making, absolutely over the top, permissiveness ruled OK and I remember too the late Dame Thea King being furious with the quite unstylish and unclassical broadcast. I gather in the tour of South America that followed, the Mozart became more and more self indulgent, sensuous and amusing as he let the players express themselves, and then at the Proms when they returned, good taste prevailed again, but tempered with freedom of expression. It is a nice balance, freedom and control, and the Cincinnatti group and the conductors have the expertise to explore much further stylistically. This is mere caviling and quibbling; the group was generous with time and expertise giving us four sessions in all, but as with their repertoire programme, their session with Bastiaan Blomhert, and a concert of lunchtime chamber music, throughout they presented music-making of the highest calibre, which for me just missed perfection. Don't miss the next WASBE Conference in 2009 when they will be our hosts.

Gothenberg Symphonic Band

Conductor Jerker Johansson
Saxophone Daniel Rodhe

Formerly the Gothenberg Homeguard Band, this group played with commendable precision, but also with an elegance of phrasing and balance, so that even lighter music was attractively presented. They opened with the Overture Maid of Orleans by Soderman, arranged by the conductor Jerker Hohannson, and immediately we were struck by their enormous range of dynamics and timbre, and the Mendelssohnian lightness and charm. A movement by Svendsen showed their control of sustained line and low dynamics, as did the mainly light second half. However, they shone in the main work of the concert, Versuche über einen Marsch by Marcel Wengler.

Years ago I wrote to Hans Werner Henze to invite him to write a wind piece, and he recommended that I contact Wengler, a former student. He sent me a score of Versuche which I have programmed ever since, either just the march or the whole piece, now happily published by Maecenas. The work was written in 1981, and it received its first performance at the Festival of Contemporary Music (Steirischer Herbst) in Austria that year. Wengler wrote:

How can you bridge the gap between so-called contemporary music and more popular music known and used much more widely, and how can you make the music for our time more accessible to the layman? Answering these questions was worth a try.
The march used is an old German traditional march, in which misplaced metrical accents and altered phrasing cause chaos. On this Wengler developes a series of experiments, with hints of Berg, Stravinsky, Ravel, quotations from La Valse and Espana…does the Theme from HarryLime appear also? The Gothenberg band gave a deliciously pointed performance in which Johansson extracted every ironic point with wit and charm. He is a fine conductor, demonstrative but not in any way heavy handed, and any band looking for a guest should consider Jerker.

University Of Louisville Wind Ensemble

Conductors Frederick Speck and Dennis Johnson
Cello Paul York Marimba Greg Byrne

  • La'I Bright Sheng
  • Three Spanish Songs Matthew Tommasini
  • Entrata Kryzstof Pendereki
  • Day SignalToru Takeemitsu
  • Night Moves with solo cello and marimba Frederick Speck
  • Partita Robert Linn
  • Interval
  • BlazeSteve Rouse
  • CheetahKarel Husa
  • Fourth of JulyMorton Gould
  • They are HereCharles Ives
  • The Alcotts Charles Ives
  • Fascinating RibbonsJoan Tower

Monday evening brought an incredible programme from Louisville , with no less than twelve works. It was a game of two halves, the first contemporary often unmitigatingly so, the second a not too obvious tribute to Americana . Cheetah I had heard in initial stages of preparation, and it has to be played as brilliantly as this. Frederick Speck is a meticulous conductor, and the ensemble was on outstanding form, throwing Husa's virtuosity off effortlessly. His own concertante piece for cello and marimba soloists, Night Moves, I need to hear on disc, since from where I was sitting the balance did not work, the marimba was too reticent. I had problems too with the balance in the Tommasini songs, since the soloist was quite far back in the group, good for ensemble but difficult for balance. (I hope I did not goof on this account in the McNeff.), Fred, with Dennis Johnson contributing a pleasant Ives item, contrived a concert which centred on the Grawemeyer composers Husa, Penderecki, Takemitsu and Joan Tower, and this was an intriguing, brilliantly played and conducted programme. However, I needed something substantial, I get tired very easily of constantly shifting idioms and structures, and had I been on the Artistic Planning I might have wrestled with Louisville and tried to persuade them to programme a major work somewhere, perhaps not from recent centuries.

Artistic Planning Nightmares

In fact I awoke soon after Conference in Western Ireland from a nightmare about Artistic Planning, with a brilliant idea (I thought) that WASBE should consider combining two or three ensembles in two or three concerts. For instance, it might have been a wonderful antidote to hear a Krommer Partita as the major work in the first half of Louisville, while a couple of Louisville pieces would have added spice to the super-cool chamber music concert by University of Cincinnatti (and perhaps replaced the Tchaikovsky). Programmes might then be devised artistically, not dependant on the players available and the whim of the conductor. We could then think about music instead of wind music. I can remember discussions in advance of the Lucerne Conference, in which I proposed featuring Yuri Bashmet and Sabine Meyer playing different concerti with different ensembles, giving master classes on Brahms sonatas and finally joining in the Kegelstat Trio. The aim was to discuss music, not wind ensemble or wind band, but it did not work out.

Tuesday afternoon was given over to Percussion Ensembles and I pathetically escaped to the country. My noise threshold is quite low in my old age, but I gather that it was an exciting and entertaining concert

Nagoya University Of Arts , Japan

Conductors Massaichi Takeuchi and Jan van der Roost

  • Tivoli Festival OvertureSoren Hyldgaardf
  • Three Spanish SongsHayato Hirose
  • SinfoniettaJan van der Roost
  • Interval
  • Fooga Tetsunosuke Kushida
  • Pictures at an Exhibition Modest Moussorgsky arr. Takahashi

I was disappointed with this programme, and I felt that if this was representative of the best literature emerging from the East in the past five years, then the Japan Band Association need to take stock and commission better composers and WASBE needs to extend its influence. I found too that the band uncharacteristically for a Japanese group a little sloppy. Intonation and ensemble suffered, though curiously in their repertoire session the following morning, when the repertoire was less exacting technically but more interesting musically, their playing improved. These technical shortcomings may also have been due to the two conductors who were diametrically opposed in methods, Jan van der Roost athletically exploring every possible gesture and inch of the podium, Takeuchi formal and controlled, and this together with a repertoire which stretched the players technically but rarely musically or emotionally led to an evening of disappointment. The Moussorsky had some fascinating sounds and some virtuosic playing, but suffered some truly awful cuts, imposed by timing restrictions. This was an inartistic decision, and quite spoiled the piece. I was disappointed too that the group seemed hardly to experience the conference, whereas many other ensembles attended several concerts.

Chetham's School Of Music

Symphonic Wind Orchestra And Chamber Choir

Conductors David Chatterton and Martin Bussey
Robert Buckland and Andy Scott, saxophones
David Thornton, euphonium

  • Apparebit repentina dies Paul Hindemithf
  • Concerto "Dark Rain"Andy Scott
  • Interval
  • Concertino for euphoniumMarco Pütz
  • RainlandJoseph Phibbs

Chethams is the leading UK specialist music school, and the standards of performance are invariably excellent. We were assured then of playing and singing of the highest quality, with two conductors who did not obtrude and who controlled a difficult programme firmly. Somehow, however, for me the programme did not quite work. Hindemith at his academic dryest was contrasted with a noisy raunchy virtuosic concert for two saxophones, an assault on the ear which I suspect as audience you either love or hate. I admire the piece, but do not enjoy it; for any good University group with two fine saxophones to show off it is a must.
I am a devotee of Marco Pütz who has contributed enormously to the repertoire, especially of concerti. This is a great showcase, well worth investigating. The main work was Rainland , a cantata for three female soloists, chorus and band. For once the acoustic was too clear, I enjoyed it more in the recording from the Albert Hall or in performance at the Cheltenham Town Hall , both giving a bloom to the sound. Written for schools choirs, this is a traditional work with ingenious though conservative writing for band and chorus, again is well worth exploring by any amateur choir.

National Youth Wind Ensemble Of Great Britain

Conductor Phillip Scott
Clarinet solo Sarah Williamson

  • Diaghilev DancesKenneth Hesketh
  • Concerto Sheng Sheng Bu ShiPhilip Grange
  • Interval
  • The Spiralling NightJoseph Phibbs
  • Omaggio - World premiere Michael Ball

Phillip Scott is a quite extraordinary conductor, tackling really challenging programmes with a wind orchestra average age of about 16 with a professionalism unique in UK and I would guess anywhere. His programme was of four works offering major technical and musical challenges, and seemed to be dispatched effortlessly. The Hesketh has gorgeous writing for everyone, as in all of his music, second and third players have great parts, and there is an impressionistic swirl of sound, again in this clinical acoustic laid a little clean and bare, but nonetheless convincing. Philip's Concerto I am completely baffled by, I do not recall any musical events, I do not enjoy the sound world, I just sit back and marvel at the expertise of Sarah, Phillip and the Ensemble, and wonder how on earth I ever conducted it. It does need to be performed, it is a serious addition to the repertoire, and I need to revisit it seriously over a few weeks or months, or when I retire.

Joseh Phibbs is certainly likely to develop as a major figure in British contemporary music. A former student of Harrison Birtwistle and Steven Stucky, his is an original voice, and both works performed at the Conference are major additions to the repertoire. He likes the medium, wants to write more, and should receive a further commission as soon as possible.
Phillip argued his case for the works in the very informative programme, and pointed out that Michael Ball's Omaggio had been scheduled for performance at WASBE in Boston . There is a slight discrepancy in his notes, in that the performance was not cancelled by the group scheduled to perform it. Omaggio was put up for a repertoire performance by a major Washington military band, who found the first and last movements too difficult, proposed to play only the second, and so the decision to withdraw it was mine as the commissioning editor. The first movement is totally virtuosic, with teasing metric changes, the second is a heartfelt funeral movement which reminds me of the spirit of the slow movement of Elgar's second Symphony, while the third is a recreation of the Palio in Siena , huge fun, again virtuosic. We can only hope that good University bands, or professional bands, will take up the challenge after twenty years.

Killarney Cathedal

Chethams School Of Music Dectet & Chamber Choir

Conductor Martin Bussey

  • MassIgor Stravinsky
  • PageantMichael Ball

It was a great shame that so few braved the horse carts and the traffic grid-locks to attend this extra afternoon concert, with the ideal programme juxtaposition of the cool neo-classicism of Stravinsky and the red-hot virtuosity of Michael Ball. It was the premiere of Pageant which made me immediately commission Omaggio for the Boston Conference, and I was lucky enough later to be called in at the last minute to conduct it at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the National Youth Choir. It is a wonderfully passionate extrovert work, which probably needs ideally a professional choir to punch the vocal lines through. It taxed the choir, but they will have learned an enormous amount from it, the Chethams players threw it off with aplomb. Again, any department with a fine mixed choir should consider this for performance, they will have a lot of fun in its challenges.

Nanset Wind Ensemble

  • The Priest and His servant Balda Dmitri Shostakovich
  • Edited by Odd Terje Lysebo

Opera - animation - figure theatre - choir - orchestra - soloists
Conductor Odd Terje Lysebo

Thursday was in fact one of those days where instead of being at WASBE we might have been at Salzburg , or Edinburgh , or any of the great music festivals. The NYWEofGB is probably one of the best wind groups in the world, and while Chethams Chamber Choir did not quite have the measure of the Ball, musically it was great to sit in the cool cavernous acoustic of Killarney Cathedral and listen to great music. The evening concert alone made the trip to Killarney worthwhile, a charming realization of the film music by Shostakovich to a story by Pushkin, using every possible theatrical device. This was creativity of the highest order, edited, devised and brilliantly conducted by Odd Terje Lysebo who is one of the most inspirational and inventive figures in world wind music.

The result was an evening of the highest professional entertainment which could grace any festival world wide. I suspect that we were so taken up with the animated film, the fine singers and the huge grotesque puppets that many of us never noticed the sheer professionalism of the wind group. We had another chance to appreciate this in a late-night entertainment of songs and instrumental music by Weill, Eisler and Stravinsky. I have no comment except that I hope the group has the chance to tour. I would probably invite them to the next WASBE Conference immediately to give the US premiere.

Birmingham Symphonic Winds

Conductors Keith Allen and Guy Woolfenden
Percussion soloist Simone Rebello
University of Louisville 12 - Birmingham Symphonic Winds 12

It was a draw, in a high scoring game; Louisville paid homage to the Grawemeyer and faculty composers, Birmingham to some of the composers with whom they have been especially connected. They also had an excuse, because through some misunderstanding they thought that they were presenting a short programme of only nine works. To make up time they added three more pieces two by Guy Woolfenden who celebrated his 70th birthday rehearsing on the previous day.

Guy's new piece Divertimento I liked very much, three movements, the first terse and argumentative, the second lyrical, tuneful and... well... beautiful, then third an energetic dance. However, it was his performance of Gallimaufry which was for me the outstanding event of this concert and one of the best things of the conference, finely balanced and phrased, lovingly played by the band. Perhaps, the most exciting thing about this concert was the control by both Guy and Keith Allen of sonorities and balance. Hearing the orchestra and Keith's conducting develop over the past ten years has been fascinating, and they are now a well drilled musical ensemble capable of great musical playing. They are capable too of dreadful lapses in taste, such as their final addition of Applause the only work I believe to survive from Singapore and quite one of the worst pieces heard in what was a disappointingly mediocre conference musically. How could the artistic planning committee allow this to happen I do not know. Keith defended it by saying that he likes to stir up controversy - fine, but pleased don't do it by playing a really bad piece at a World Conference which I have spent good money to get to.

They opened with one of my favorite minimalist pieces Dana Wilson's Shortcut Home, and they included works by Jonathan Dove, Kit Turnbull, Fergall Carroll, Kenneth Hesketh, Eric Whitacre, Martin Ellerby and Andrew Boyesen; again as with Louisville I wanted something of substance to relax into, but this like the Louisville programme was always interesting and invariably well played and conducted. The soloist in Martin Ellerby's percussion concerto was the fascinating Simone Rebello, and we are truly lucky in UK to have Simone and Dame Evelyn, as well as Colin Currie and several other great percussion virtuosi.

Royal Symphonic Band Vooruit, Harelbeke

Geert Verschaeve, Conductor
Dimitri Mestag, Cor Anglais
Marc Vertessen, Clarinet

  • Prelude from TombeleneGodfired Devreese
  • Concerto for English Horn and OrchestraPeteris Vasks
  • Interval
  • Divertimento for Clarinet and BandRoland Coryn
  • Cantica de Sancto Benedicto Jacob de Haan

World Premiere

Concert 11 came from Belgium and was given by a band given the accolade of World Champion in the 15th World Music Contest Kerkrade in 2005. At the risk of being a little cynical, and recalling the American World Series in baseball, which only has USA teams, to win first prize in Kerkrade is certainly a tremendous achievement, and the band is excellent.

The opening work was scored for band by the composer's son, and reminded me that for the 2003 Conference we recommended to the groups participating a score from the younger Devreese, as well as from Roland Coryn. Both works were sound contributions to the genre, and I suspect that those of us outside Belgium should be investigating Coryn and his music. For me this Divertimento was too short, I wish it had been a Concerto and the ideas expanded. The great find of this concert was the Concerto for English Horn. I very rarely programme arrangements since there is so much original music which I will never have time to to conduct, but this concerto is absolutely gorgeous.

For the final work, the Band was joined by a joint choir from Chethams and Ireland , the Cantica de Sancto Benedicto by Dutch composer Jacob de Haan He is one of the most popular and most played wind music composers of our time. His compositions, mostly written on commission, are known worldwide - especially the works that are based on film-music-like combinations of styles. Oregon, his most performed composition, brought about his international breakthrough. His oeuvre for wind band further consists of compelling concert works with different grades of difficulty, short concertante works, didactic material for beginners, entertainment music, and marches. He also writes various arrangements of existing classical works and chorals.

International Youth Wind Orchestra

Dame Evelyn Glennie, percussion
Glenn Price, conductor
Gerhard Markson, conductor

  • FrenergyJohn Estacio
  • Percussion ConcertoJoseph Schwantner
  • interval
  • Resonance Christopher Marshall
  • Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel world premiereIan Wilson
  • Morning MusicRichard Rodney Bennett

Under the inspired leadership and organization of Glenn Price, the IYWO has begun to assume its proper place in the calendar of international youth events in music. Over fifty students from thirteen countries worked with Glenn who is one of the leading wind conductors of the world, and also with the vastly experienced Gerhard Markson, Principal conductor of the RTE National Symphony with a career embracing 90 orchestras and many opera companies. They also had the invaluable experience of working alongside Dame Evelyn Glennie, who is undoubtedly one of the most charismatic musicians on the world stage.

I have commented elsewhere on the Estacio and Schwantner; the second half was conducted by Markson who, with no technical fuss creates great rhythmic precision, a fine balance and clarity of line, an object lesson to us all in control of his forces. Resonance by Christopher Marshall I consider to be a major work of the last couple of years, beautifully and tautly constructed, while Morning Music was here celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its premiere in WASBE at Boston , still for me an imaginative tone poem which is also a fine set of variations. Ian Wilson, like Marshall and Bennett, relished the sonorities available from a wind ensemble, and his work needs more hearings to be appreciated fully. At first hearing, it is taut, athletic music of serious intent.

Swiss Army Symphonic Band

Philipp Wagner, conductor
Jan Cober, Guest Conductor

  • Marsch Inf RgtPaul Huber
  • March WindsDerek Bourgeois
  • Big JigThierry Besancon
  • DionyisaquesFlorent Schmitt
  • Interval
  • TemplesOliver Waespi
  • Remembering Serge Lancenarr Jan Cober, Armando Blanquer and Henk van Lijnschooten

This was another great programme with something for everyone. It Philipp Wagner began with an amusing regimental march, stylishly played, which was followed by Derek Bourgeois' outrageous March Winds, dating from the first international conference of 1981. I always enjoy the outrageous musical puns and the spoof mock-heroic nobilmente of the trio, but this was my first ever wind band commission so I am biased - and it is for wind band, not ensemble.

Big Jig, an Irish Radio Fantasy is really good fun, the band fades into three different radio programmes, French, German and Irish, each with their own radio commentator, so that themes appear and collide with other material in an Ivesian way. This was a great way to take us into one of the masterpieces of the genre, Dionysiaques, here given a superb performance under Jan Cober.

The major work of the concert if not of the conference, opened the second half; Temples is Oliver Waespi's most recent work and shows a wonderful grasp of sonorities and control of structure. Over twenty minutes long, this is a symphonic work which I think will prove to be a tremendous addition to the repertoire for the large symphonic band. It has parts for cellos and basses, but Oliver, with a view to practicalities of performance, assured us that it was possible to do without.

Jan Cober's heartfelt tribute to three stalwarts of WASBE in the eighties, Lancen, Blanquer and Lijnschooten, would have been better placed earlier in the concert. Jan is a great conductor, and performances as good as these may well have convinced many that the three movements used were great music. However, as a wind band outsider, I feel that the medium has moved on in the last quarter of a century, and the right piece to end with for me would have been the Waespi or the Schmitt. As it was we were wrenched from contemplation of great architecture in musical sonorities and plunged back into the world of educational and entertainment, albeit brilliantly realized by Cober and Wagner's brilliant band.

Writing About Music Is Like Dancing About Architecture Frank Zappa

Conference is the place to meet conductors and composers, to hear a vast range of music usually in excellent performances, and to argue about where the wind world is going.

At any Conference, we should return home inspired and invigorated, and the WASBE Conference in Killarney certainly achieved that as much as any I have ever attended. Some great performances, some great music, some great colleagues, the most beautiful countryside and the parties went on into the wee hours.