Vikings and blacksmiths may be an unusual pairing, but they were the stars of Campbelltown and Mitcham’s joint pre-state competition programme.
Hymn, test piece and concert march are the traditional components of a band contest, requiring the mastery of different musical styles as well as technical skills. Naturally, a satisfactory performance on the day requires many weekly ensemble sessions and lots of individual home practice, but a run-through with a live audience shortly before the day is vital.
Test pieces are not always listener friendly – in fact some test the audience as much as the players – but we hope our Viking Age and Mitcham’s take on Handel’s Harmonious Blacksmith Variations by Gordon Langford didn’t fall too deeply into that category.
Surely anyone can play a hymn tune. Well, no. It can be even harder than the most virtuosic test piece, so much control is needed. Dynamics, intonation, smooth, even phrasing all test the band’s musicality.
Everyone relaxes slightly in the concert march, apart from the players with all the fast twiddly bits. It’s usually the last competition piece and a chance for the band to heave a collective sigh of relief.
This year’s contest also includes an entertainment section – as a thank you gift to the audience. Steve Packer portrayed a nimble mosquito (?), wasp (?), UFO (?) in Blight of the Fumble Wasp. Hard to believe anyone’s fingers can move that fast.
Finally, both bands (all 80 players) joined in three more familiar pieces: a John Williams medley Summon the Music, an Andrew Lloyd Webber selection A Symphonic Portrait and the rousing Midway March.
One more practice and it’s the big moment. Fingers crossed for a good result for both bands in their respective grades – but not while playing, obviously.
CODA – One week later.
We did it! Massive congratulations to both bands. The 2022 champion C Grade band is Campbelltown and Mitcham came a close second in their first B Grade competition.
Many thanks to our MD Peter Smith and to our ever-faithful fill-in trombone players Stephen Millar and Andrew Parkinson. And a warm welcome to Rebecca, our new tenor horn player.