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Other News about Fine Arts Brass

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A New CD with Nigel Boddice and the WLSBB
Continuing what will be the busiest Christmas for many a year at Fine Arts Brass, we shall also be collaborating with Nigel Boddice and the West Lothian Schools Brass Band for a CD of music for brass quintet and brass band. Aside from some classic Fine Arts Brass arrangements reworked for band and quintet, we shall also be recording the premiere performances of Stephen Robert’s Malvern Chase Suite and Peter Graham’s Northern Landscapes.

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FAB @ Guildford Cathedral
We are to team up with Katherine Dienes-Williams and the Guildford Cathedral Choir on Saturday 12th December for a Christmas concert spectacular. We have drafted in more players once again as the big work in the programme is a performance of the Jonathan Willcocks Magnificat which is scored for a large (9 players) brass ensemble and 3 percussionists. Other highlights of the programme include the perennial Christmas favourites: I Saw Three Ships, The Star and Sans Day Carols (Rutter) and some new arrangements of Walking in a Winter Wonderland, Sleigh Ride and Silent Night. This is the first concert we will have performed with Katherine since she took up the position as the first female Organist and Master of the Choristers in an English Anglican Cathedral in January 2008.

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FAB @ Winchester Cathedral
with music spanning the 16th & 21st Centuries.
Beginning what will be one of the busiest December’s for many a year at FAB, we travel to Winchester on December 5th with an expanded group to team up once again with the Andrew Lumsden and the Waynflete Singers. The programme will include the Joseph Jongen Mass and another performance of the work we premiered on our last visit to Winchester in 2005: Naji Hakim’s Jesu Redemptor Omnium.

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The Adventures of Toad Lives Again!
To coincide with the hundredth year anniversary of the publication of Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, we are going to revive Ilona Seckacz's 1992 FAB commission, ''The Adventures of Toad''. Ilona has very kindly agreed to revisit the piece she originally composed for FAB sixteen years ago and give it a 2008 makeover for a new generation of school children. In particular, this new version will have a much more 'hands on' approach for the children and will now see a role for a separate narrator aside from FAB. This new version will receive it's premiere at The North Wales Music Festival on September 22nd and will feature the Festival Director, Ann Atkinson, as the narrator. Ilona has now updated the programme note as follows: ''The Adventures of Toad is a descriptive piece of music for brass quintet and narrator, which includes lots of participation from a young audience. Taking ''The Wind in the Willows'' as its starting point, the piece follows the character of Toad who gets into many scrapes with his big ideas about caravans and motor cars. The story is narrated like ''Peter and the Wolf'' and the instruments and melodies represent characters and ideas from the book. The opportunities for audience participation include making sound effects, singing songs and playing basic percussion and recorders. There is also an opportunity for the children to take sides during the famous battle with the weasels.''

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FAB @ Dartington Summer School
Katy writes about our first visit.....
From 19th-25th August this year, Dartington in Devon was hosting an Advanced Brass Course, and Fine Arts Brass had been invited to coach. Arriving at 2am after a drive down from a concert in Malvern perhaps wasn't an ideal start, but the week really got underway for us on the Sunday evening, with a concert in the Great Hall. This concert included 2 of our commissions from Philip Wilby, alongside some collaborations with Ensemble Bash (also in residence for the week) and some treats from the A-Z of Jazz disk. All this was designed to inspire our course attendees.

On the first morning we found we had a very small and select group to work with. This was apparently due to the fact that because we didn't have a class on the Sunday morning, all of our players had gone to join 'Rock Shop'! We raided the Fine Arts 'dot box' to accommodate the wide range of abilities we had to work with, and keep everyone interested. Some gentle persuasion from the course participants did mean that we had increasing numbers attending every day, which was great. In the afternoons, we had the chance to work with our own instruments - an opportunity to get more technical, give players individual attention, and of course deal with ensemble playing challenges.

More brass players arrived in Dartington during the week to make up the orchestral forces for Walton's Belshazzers Feast. To our delight, they came along and joined in the classes, bumping up the numbers, and allowing us to tackle much more interesting repertoire, whilst still involving the less advanced players. This culminated in a very productive and enjoyable morning playing through repertoire such as Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man, and Grieg: Funeral Music.

I think that the course participants all took something different away from the week, and it was also a good learning opportunity for Fine Arts Brass. We made the most of our time there, meeting David Bedford and inviting him to hear us perform his piece at RWCMD in November, and starting talks about possible future collaborations with other groups and composers. On reflection, Dartington was a good opportunity for us to meet other groups like ours, to reflect on how we conduct our education work, and to form new professional relationships for the future.

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