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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:

Work/th> Composer
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.

Composer Work Publisher Year Duration
Ball, Michael Omaggio Novello 1987 17.00
Ball, Michael Saxophone Concerto Maecenas 1984 18.00
Ball, Michael Three Processionals Studio 1998 5.00
Bazelon, Irwin Midnight Music Novello 1991 20.00
Bedford, David Praeludium Novello 1990 6.00
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
Binney, Malcolm Timpanaglia Maecenas 1998 12.00
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
Butterworth, Arthur Tundra Vanderbeek 1984 19.00
Carpenter, Gary Sunderland Lasses, Wearside Lads Camden 1997 12.00
Carroll, Fergal Amphion Maecenas 2000
Casken, John Distant Variations Schott 1997 12.00
Clarke, Nigel Samurai Maecenas 1995 14.00
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
Ellis, David Fantasia mss 1996 15.00
Ewers, Timothy Concerto Grosso Maecenas 1998 10.00
Firsova, Elena Captivity mss 1999 8.00
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 Awayday Maecenas 1996 6.00
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
Hesketh, Kenneth Danceries Faber 2000 12.00
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
Marshall, Christopher Aue Maecenas 2001 7.00
Matthews, Colin Toccata Meccanica Faber 1984/92 10.00
Maw, Nicholas American Games Faber 1991 23.00
Mayo, Kevin Spectral mss 1997
McNeff, Stephen Ghosts Maecenas 2001 20.00
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
Tippett, Michael Triumph Schott 1992 15.00
Tower, Joan Fascinatin' Ribbons AMP 2001 8.00
Wilby, Philip Firestar Chester 1983 12.00
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 Gallimaufry Ariel 1983 12.00
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.