Slow melody? No problem!

There’s a tradition in the brass banding world of slow melody contests. A slow melody is supposed to show off a player’s lyrical and tonal qualities. The contests often extend to aire varie, duet and quartet classes to allow players the opportunity to perform in small groups away from the full band setting. The tradition isn’t dead: a quick google will show dozens of such contests around the country at various times of the year. It also provides players with an ideal opportunity to perform in front of an audience if it’s something they wouldn’t normally do in a full band context.

Chesterfield-based Ireland Colliery band hold one such contest as part of a bigger festival weekend in June. Father and son team David and Daniel Morris (David’s our musical director, Daniel’s our principal euphonium) entered a couple of categories this year.

In the 15-18 slow melody age group, Daniel played a beautiful melody arranged by Texan Todd Marchand at ConSpiritoMusic. Prospect is an old American hymn tune which appeared in William Walker’s “Southern Harmony” hymnal in 1835 although the words are much older. With dad accompanying on the piano, Dan’s beautiful playing, “stunning phrase endings” and “style, class and authority” (the words of adjudicator John Davies) gave him first place and a cheque for £25!

David left the piano for his more familiar cornet for the open duet class and together they played the Allegro from Telemann’s Canonic Sonata in G major (here’s a clip of it being played as a cello duet). As its name suggests, being a canon, there’s only one part – the second player plays the same as the first player only a bar later. Adjudicator John Davies commented that the performance had “bags of energy” with a style that was “just right”…. another first place and £25!

The family arguments will no doubt ensue as to who gets the lions share of the winnings!