Foden's at the National Finals

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 12 October 2016

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On the 7th October Foden's travelled to London to perform a concert at the Regent Hall, London prior to an appearance at the National Finals Contest to be held at the Royal Albert Hall the following day. Foden's had previously qualified for the contest due to winning the North West Area in February.

Foden's performed a varied programme of music to a large and enthusiastic audience in the Regent Hall which also included a piano solo played by Foden's Professional Conductor Bramwell Tovey which was a highlight of the event. At the conclusion of the concert Foden's performed a number of encores before then holding a rehearsal on the following day's contest piece.

Each Band on contest day performed the 'set' test piece 'Journey of the Lone Wolf' by Simon Dobson who provides the below information on the work

Journey of the Lone Wolf tells the story of the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. It was commissioned by Dr. Nicholas Childs for Black Dyke Band, who gave the first performance on Sunday 26 January 2014 at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester as part of the Royal Northern College of Music Festival of Brass.

The composer's programme notes for each movement:

1. Capturing the Peasants’ Song
After the upheaval of moving to Budapest the young Béla Bartók meets Zoltán Kodály and the pair embark on summertime adventures throughout the Hungarian countryside to collect and catalogue the astonishing variety (both harmonically and rhythmically) of gypsy and folk music heard in the Balkans. The arrival of WW1 plunges Bartók's beloved Hungary into chaos.

2. Night Music
Bartók was at times a cold man, aloof and lonely. The odd moments of tenderness he showed are portrayed here in a series of evocative solos. His brief but intense affairs speak of a love he could only long for. Jazz is my night music and here there are hints of what Bartók may have heard in the USA later in his life.

3. Flight and Fight
Having been forced by the world's evils to leave his homeland of Hungary for America, Bartók, the anti-fascist, felt isolated and angry. In this movement we hear his longing for a simpler time of gypsy folk dances as well as his maturity and depth as a composer finally exploring deeper colours and darker themes

fodens nationals 16Foden's received a relatively early draw of 7 out of 20 competitors but gave a performance that the band and conductor were very pleased with as well as finding favour with the audience, composer and various banding commentators. Foden's were subsequently placed 5th and send their congratulations to the Cory Band and Helen Williams on receiving the 'Best Instrumentalist Award'

Speaking after the contest Simon Dobson commented 'I am truly humbled and honoured to have been present at the Royal Albert Hall to hear my music being used at the greatest brass band contest on earth. Every single band gave it their all and there were too many wonderful moments to be able to write about. However I have to single out the herculean efforts of the mighty Cory band (now unarguably the greatest brass band ever) and their masterful MD Philip Harper for what was honestly as close to the most perfect performance of Lone Wolf I'm likely to hear. Simply stunning musicianship, I don't have the words to describe how it made me feel to hear the weird inner workings of my mind brought to life with such colour and intensity. Helen Williams was simply sublime and every player went above and beyond to take the title with complete authority! Both Fodens and Black Dyke gave performances that on any other day would have levelled the field. Huge thanks to Bram and Nick for their diligence and hard work. It means a great deal.'


Adjudicators: Phillip McCann, Luc Vertommen, Allan Withington

1. Cory (Philip Harper)*
2. Fairey (Garry Cutt)**
3. Brighouse & Rastrick (Prof. David King)*
4. Black Dyke (Prof. Nicholas Childs)*
5. Foden's (Bramwell Tovey)
6. Flowers (Paul Holland)
7. Virtuosi GUS (Adam Cooke)
8. Woodfalls (Dr Robert Childs)
9. Aldbourne (David Johnson)
10. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)
11. Carlton Main Frickley Colliery (Erik Janssen)
12. Friary Guildford (Chris King)
13. Reg Vardy (Russell Gray)
14. Whitburn (Michael Fowles)
15. Thoresby Colliery (Ian McElligott)
16. Co-operative Funeralcare (Thomas Wyss)
17. Tongwynlais Temperance (David Roberts)
18. Wantage Silver (Craig Patterson)
19. East Yorkshire Motor Services (Stig Maersk)
20. Wingates (Paul Andrews)

Best Instrumentalist: Helen Williams (flugel) — Cory
Youngest Player: Rose Hancock (baritone) — Wantage Silver

* Top 4 pre-qualified for 2017 National Final
** Denotes qualification for 2018 European Brass Band Championships as highest placed English representative

For any conductor and every audience, Foden’s Band is a musical Magic Carpet. It continually takes the listener to places that few other ensembles rarely even approach Howard Snell