Jack's brand-new edition of Cy Coleman's Sweet Charity, arranged for brass band and vocalists
jack Reflects on 2022, a busy, ambitious, and transformational year
Jack reflects on what an extraordinary year he has had conducting and being a part of some of the finest performances to date.
This year has been a year of vast personal and professional development.
I started 2022 with a real focus to improve my conducting, to develop myself both professionally and personally, and the journey I've been on has been amazing.
Continued work with Derwent Brass, who have had an ambitious set of concerts celebrating their 30th anniversary year has been compounded with new appointments, courses, prizes, and much more.
Starting as you mean to continue:
In January I began planning one of my most ambitious projects to date. In 2021, Charlotte and I produced a brand-new multi-media work for live ensemble, motion graphics, and narration telling the story of Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.
I reached out to the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band and engaged them on the recording, which would take place in July.
I was also very pleased that Frank Renton accepted my invitation to record the narration for the project. As the voice of Brass Banding, Frank adds a real touch of class and credibility to the project.
I was delighted this year to be accepted as a full member of the National Association of Brass Band Adjudicators. This follows the creation of an adjudication portfolio over the past 4 years!
In this spirit, I was extremely pleased to be asked by the UniBrass team to adjudicate at their annual contest in February.
The adjudication panel featured an excellent and diverse complement of musicians and I sincerely enjoyed collaborating with both my fellow adjudicators, student adjudicators, and the festival organisers.
Unibrass is such an innovative and important organisation; inspiring and nurturing a new generation of brass band musicians, and allowing them the creative space to be able to grow and develop their new and innovative entertainments ideas.
It's a pleasure to be able to play a small part in this organisations significant growth and success story.
I went on to adjudicate at the Morley March and Hymn Tune contest (a competition I'm proud to have won with Yorkshire Imps in 2018), and look forward greatly to the engagements I already have booked for next year...
A Trilogy of Excellent Concerts:
With Derwent Brass celebrating their 30th anniversary, alongside their existing commitments, we undertook an extremely ambitious, but utterly rewarding, trilogy of concerts.
The trilogy kicked off in Derby Theatre in May. Derwent have a rich history of performing music from Stage and Screen in Derby Theatre and always sell out the 500+ seat space.
This year was particularly special for me as we collaborated with Helen Perry and James Barrington Stephen's in a brand new edition of Cy Coleman's Sweet Charity, abridged, adapted, and edited for Band and vocalists by myself.
The "Bitesize Broadway" set brought the musical to life in just 30 minutes, and proved to be a huge hit with the audience, very much supported by the fantastic performance and reading Helen, James, and the band gave.
After a second concert featuring significant music from each of the band's 3 decades, we started working on the preparation for Derwent's finale concert "Under the Stars" in Derby Cathedral.
The finale was a very special event as we undertook a work not often attempted by brass bands.
Derwent collaborated with Matthew Eden on Organ, as well as 2 harpists, and virtual choir in a spectacular performance of Stephen Robert's edition of Holst's Planet suite. It was a phenomenal show and what a way to round of 30 years of excellent music making.
Conducting Competition Success:
In June, I took part in the Brass Band Conductor’s Association Conducting competition where I was fortunate to conducting Peter Graham's Essence of time.
In a shortlist of 12 semi-finalists, I was put through to the finals, and eventually secured a 2nd place, along with the 'Best UK Entrant' award, in fierce competition.
My congratulations went to Boris Oppliger of Switzerland on his win, but who knew there would be more to tell about Boris...!
Sherborne Conducting Course:
August saw my first conducting course, studying under the wonderful tutelage of Mark Heron, Bjorn Sagstaad, and Alberto Roque.
In the idyllic setting of Sherborne School (a setting reminiscent of Carne, in Le Carre's 'A Murder of Quality'), I was put through my paces conducting wind bands on some marvelous repertoire.
The tuition was phenomenal if the days were tiring(!), but the people and friends I made on the course will remain with me forever.
Boris Oppliger (who bested me in the BBCA competition above), was also in attendance and we put our best feet forward in the trumpet section together, along with composer extraordinaire Paul Saggers, and Adam Delbridge-Smith of the RNCM, who would go on to perform in the planets with me later in the year.
Along with a lot of forces musicians, and other like-minded 'musos', the week was just amazing.
Fresh back from a trip to the Netherlands, I was straight into a very busy and exciting week of music making.
I had a very enjoyable evening working with the fine folks at The Reg Vardy Band in concert at the stunning Harrogate Theatre. They're such a warm and welcoming band who are extremely responsive and a pleasure to work with. My first time back in Stanley with the group since March 2020, and I've since been and conducted another wonderful concert with them. I look forward to visiting the North East again in 2023.
Along with Reg Vardy, I've been delighted to work with some phenomenal brass bands this year, including the Ferryhill Town Band, the Blidworth Welfare Band, and more latterly the world famous GUS band.
As well as guest appearances in 2022, I was delighted to add Music Direction at the Hatfield and Askern Colliery Band to my portfolio of residencies. They're a wonderful bunch of committed and hard working musicians, and having taken the position in September, we're already seeing fantastic results, and looking forward to seeing what 2023 brings the band!
Alongside a new conducting position, I also accepted the position of Public Relations Officer with the Brass Band Conductor's Associations, with whom I have now travelled to conferences, festivals, and contests to spread the good word!
Back to the Orchestral Podium:
I've made no secret of my desire to return to the orchestral podium since my return to the North from Cardiff, and I was delighted to be able to do so this year.
I was very fortunate to be able to work with the Rotherham Symphony Orchestra this autumn in preparation on the Sibelius Violin Concerto, and Vaughan Williams London Symphony.
Their concert in Rotherham Minster was brilliant, and it was brilliant to be a small part of their preparations, standing in while their regular MD was unfortunately ill.
Experience and Wisdom:
For all of the wonderful experiences this year, some of the best have been sitting down with industry professionals and talking through aspects of music making.
I've met Bob Childs, Nigel Seaman, Frank Renton, Philip Wilby, Ray Farr, and Mark Heron to talk about conducting and music making, and their advice and guidance has been invaluable.
All that's left now is the digital premiere of The Snow Queen, set for December 23rd, and to wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy new year.
Thank you all for making 2022 so special.
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