MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Alan Spence and the band has commissioned a new work, its title a secret, to be performed this year. File photo

EASTERN Bay of Plenty Brass Band are competing in the 2019 New Zealand Brass Band championships, being held in Hamilton this week.

Ranked third in New Zealand after finishing in third place in every event in the A grade brass band national championships last year, the band were hoping their hard work could perhaps move them higher up the ladder, said band musical director Alan Spence.

The contest begins today (Wednes-day, July 10) with solo and small ensemble competitions and the full band events start on Friday.

Spence has spent the past 10 weeks with intensive rehearsals preparing for the championships and has good representation in most of solo and ensemble events.

Chris Lawrence, the bands principal cornet, will once again compete in the prestigious Invitation Slow Melody competition, an event he won in 2017 and was runner-up last year.

He will be joined in this event by Lachlan Spence, who was also invited to perform after winning the Junior Champion of Champions last year.

Another ensemble event, which band members have been working hard to prepare for, is the junior quartet championships, which the band have won for the past four years.

Another feature of this year’s event is that several of the band’s rising stars, who are still young enough to compete in the junior events, have decided to move up to the open events.

PRACTICE: The EBOP Brass Band have prepared for the championships this week with 10 weeks
of intensive rehearsals. File photo

The full band events start on Friday with the street march and then in the afternoon the band will perform in the Sacred-Reflective item followed by the test piece.

For the second year in a row, the band have commissioned a new work to perform at the championships. This year an English composer who lives in Canada, Peter Meechan, has written a work for the band to perform in the Sacred-Reflective competition.

Closed adjudication at the competition prevents any details, including its title, from being made public until after the competition, however Spence said that it was a stunning work, which the band had loved rehearsing.

The test piece, which all the 11 bands in the A grade must perform, is a work entitled Variations on a Ninth, by Gilbert Vinter. This piece is more than 50 years old and has a more traditional feel to it, which Spence said was causing a few problems in rehearsing.

“With brass bands having changed so much in the past 50 years since it was written, it is hard to decide if we should be trying to give an authentic performance of it as it would have been played in the 1960s, or playing it in a contemporary brass band style.

“We have chosen to go with a hybrid version,” he said.

The following day, the band will compete in the own choice championships where they will perform a modern “blockbuster”, which is demanding both technically and musically.

“It is a work which shows off many of our band’s soloists and is telling a very tragic story of a mining disaster in northern France in 1906. It is certainly testing the band’s courage in many ways.”

The event will be streamed live so anybody who would like to watch it should go onto the band’s website to find out details of timings of the band performances.

In other band news, Leo Read, the band’s 17-year-old principal trombone, recently won the Rising Star Concerto competition held in Tauranga.

Courtney Wilson, Aria Dalgleish, both from Trident High School, and Leo, who is home schooled, have been selected as members of the 2019 National Secondary Schools Band.