Monday, February 26, 2007

The Maple Leaf Brass Band in Toronto this Weekend!

Yes, it's our annual trip to Toronto to play in the Festival of Brass! You can see us play at 4:30pm at the Jane Mallet Theatre on Front Street on Saturday, March 3rd. If you're in Toronto. [Google Calendar Link] If you're not in Toronto on Saturday, but you're in Ottawa on Thursday, you could come to our open rehearsal in the basement of Blessed Sacrament (Corner of 4th Ave and Percy) in the Glebe. We start at 7:30. If you're worried that an all instrumental program will bore you, bring a book. It might be boring if Dave makes us do sections of pieces over and over again. On the other hand, you may get to see a real live English brass band conductor telling off musicians just like you would see in a movie. There is even a chance that you'll see him tell off the second horn player. And since if you are reading this blog and intending to either come to the open rehearsal or the performance in Toronto you will surely appreciate this: Guide of What to Watch for from the Second Horn and the Entire Tenor Horn Department During the 2007 Festival of Brass Programme: Fanfare for the New Millenium by Steven Gellman, Arranged by G Major-Marothy

  • Will the second horn get his eighth notes matched up in unison with the eighth notes from the first horn in Bar 12? Anything could happen!

Lyric Essay by Donald Coakley, Arranged by David Marlatt

  • At bar six, the first horn joins the solo horn in a nice melodic line. This is pretty, you may think, but surely it could use something more. Ah ha, you'll say at bar 26 when the second horn finally comes in with the others on a nice forte part. There it is!

Make No Waves by E F Lloyd Hiscock

  • Lloyd Hiscock does many things well. One that he demonstrates here is writing fun original jazz pieces. Because this is a fluegel horn and euphonium duet, you may find your attention wandering away from the horn department. This is all right if it happens, Kenny and Dean are awesome musicians even if they don't play tenor horn.
  • However, another of the things that Lloyd does well is make good use of the tenor horns in a supporting role. Here you'll find us underneath the soloists like a well-sprung dance floor, giving them support with just the bounce they need to make huge, startling leaps.

Un Vie de Matelot (A Sailor's Life): Theme and Variations for Brass Band by Robert Farnon

  • This is a huge, beautiful arrangement. You may find yourself distracted from the horn department again by some lovely playing of the melody by the euphoniums. It's possible you'll even be impressed by the cornets, particularly by Al Ridgway who will be playing solos on Eb soprano and later Bb cornet. [Another thing to notice about Al is how much he resembles the trumpet playing uncle in For Better or For Worse.]
  • However, you'll still want to notice how well the horns play their sustained notes at Bar 104 in the Larghetto section, and how precisely they match up with the staccato eighth-notes that are interspersed there.
  • When we're very close to the end, things will be getting increasingly louder until the band hits a fortissimo at bar 311, the Grandioso section. Could this be more magnificent, you may wonder, wait, you'll say, the second horn isn't playing. He's looking around like he's dumb-founded, but then in comes the second horn with the other 30 players and yes, it's even more magnificent!

Bölcsödal (Lullaby) by G Major-Marothy

  • Before Gabriel moved himself to the back row of cornets, he used to often sit next to me. Perhaps this is why this 59-bar piece has the second horn playing only 20 notes, none less than three beats long. He has learned that this is what the second horn does best.

Slaidburn by William Rimmer

  • William Rimmer has written some great marches. Slaidburn could have been one of them, but Rimmer seems to have forgotten that the horn section can play melodic lines and has given the second horn in particular a part that could as easily been given to the percussion section. But does the second horn player make like a prima donna and refuse to play this boring schlock? No, he puckers up and gives it his best.

Selections from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by Howard Shore, arranged by Andrew Duncan

  • You probably didn't know that a Canadian wrote the music for the Lord of the Rings.
  • Before this piece starts, you can let yourself get anxious, will the second horn come in on his very exposed A-natural mfp with the other horns? Or will he do something horrible? Anything is possible. Feel the tension with him.
  • Then you can relax. Everything will be okay and you'll be reminded that there was some gorgeous music in that movie. Around bar 30, the solo horn will be doing some especially nice stuff, the second horn has a rest there and will probably point this out to you. Oh, and then the tubas come in like a giant string bass. Mmmm.


Anonymous said...

Just catching up on all your blogs and must tell you that whenever I attend a MLBB concert or recording session all of my attention is on the second horn player. Is it possible I might be missing out by not giving other players the same attention.


David Scrimshaw said...

Dear Anon,

You are not missing out.

By focusing on the second horn, your attention is visually and auditorily anchored to the centre of the band and the centre of the sound.

With the musical universe revolving around the second horn, your focus allows you to appreciate everything else all the more.