It's not often I drag myself away from my computer, but I managed to do so this weekend to attend a concert at Blackburn Cathedral. It was an evening devoted to John Ireland's music, in the 50th year since the composer's death. It's a shame his music isn't more widely known, and most of the programme was new to me. We had Epic March for organ, his Prelude in E flat Major for piano, Missa Brevis, and Elegiac Romance, which I am sure I have heard somewhere but didn't know it was his.
But the stars of the show were Vexilla Regis and A Downland Suite. Vexilla Regis is a piece for SATB choir, organ and brass ensemble consisting of 2 trumpets and 3 trombones. A beautiful piece of music, most unusual and very well performed though both I and my Other Half (himself a bass trombonist) agreed the bass trombone player needed to develop a touch more volume control, or, as OH put it in the northern vernacular, "be told to wind his neck in"!
The brass players were from Blackburn & Darwen Brass Band and they gave an excellent rendition of A Downland Suite. I've heard a number of brass bands over the years and they are definitely one of the best quality. A round, well-blended and harmonious sound, a masterclass in what a brass band should sound like. The concert was finished in great style with a rousing rendition of "My Song is Love Unknown" by all singers/instrumentalists, which I have found myself humming regularly ever since!
I've now added Vexilla Regis to the website and will seek out the others if I can.
Anyway, on with new releases this week....
Trinity's Rock & Pop Grade 4 books are now available.
The Associated Board has published a new sight reading series Joining the Dots for Guitar, which contains five books for grades 1-5.
The Associated Board has also, finally (one year after the earlier books appeared) published the new edition of Aural Training in Practice Grades 6-8, with CDs.
Winwood Music has recently published a host of Walton pieces for brass, too many to list here but if you put "Walton" into the search engine and select the ones from the list with the white covers, you can browse the titles available. Another English composer whose work doesn't get enough air time.
For choir (SSA) we have Bob Chilcott's Jazz Songs of Innocence.
For organ, Hymn Miniatures 2, short pieces for church services.
For music teachers, a new book by Paul Harris, The Virtuoso Teacher.
For the older beginner piano player, a new collection by Pam Wedgwood, It's Never Too Late to Play Rock 'n' Roll.
Faber has just published a new compilation book for singers, The Best of Singing, with books available for both high and low voice for grades 1-3 and 4-5.
For strings, we have Bags of Classics for violin and cello.
And finally, Edition Peters has published a series to help students with aural exams, called "Aural Test Survival". Eight books, one for each grade.
That's it until after Easter, enjoy the holidays!