99% of the time I feel like an outsider looking in, however I was sitting in London at the British Composer Awards ceremony a few years ago and was listening to Rory Boyle give his acceptance speech (to an influential audience in the classical music world and fellow composers) and witnessed the room laughing as he recounted how much abuse he had been given by certain areas of the brass band community upon delivery of his work Muckle Flugga. Naturally I was a little disappointed as my work A Child Like You that had been nominated for an award (i.e. made the final three) hadn’t been named, but suddenly I felt angry, angry that everyone was laughing at the brass band world, it felt as if I was the only insider in the room. Surely this was a golden opportunity to tell your colleagues about the fantastic work that is undertaken in the brass band world? However, I guess that Rory must have felt compelled to mention what he did and he I’m sure has his reasons.
My concern was that these comments would only continue the misguided thinking that brass bands are from times gone by, performing in the park, playing musical lollipops, performing for each other to men in a tent at competitions, which of course is only a part of what this wonderful idiom has to offer.
By the way, there’s no sour grapes here, I was fortunate enough to win a British Composer Award in 2006, and was again nominated for my brass band work Spirit of Mingus. For me there’s a bigger picture here……..
Has anyone in the brass band world commissioned Django Bates? He is a musical genius (composer, pianist and tenor hornist!). I played a beautiful piece by Maria Schneider, The Pretty Road, to a couple of very well respected brass band musicians in the UK, saying that she’d given me permission to arrange it for brass band, what did they think? The answer, we think that it’s pushing it too far for brass bands. What?! Check it out for yourself, this music is beautiful.
I was in a privileged position to have written the only own choice piece to receive a world premiere at the European Brass Band Championships in Utrecht this May, with lots of people commenting to me that it’s good to see a different composer name in the programme. Does the brass band world rely too much on names that are established in the band idiom? Does it do enough to nurture and develop young composers as they find their way in the brass band world?
There’s more background information about Defiance in the previous blog if you’re interested.
There’s always pressure writing a new work, you give everything of course, and naturally you want people to like it. I have been incredibly fortunate (really very lucky) to have been approached by Foden’s Band to become its inaugural Composer in Residence in 2008. Fortunate because they have been musically open-minded, supportive, programmed my music, and throughout all this I’ve had a strong rapport with conductor Mike Fowles, and learnt a lot from musicians such as Bram Tovey & Howard Snell, inside the Foden’s band room and outside. This positive environment has allowed me to write and, importantly, not be afraid of making mistakes. Ego has to take a back seat, for the best results I like to collaborate closely with musicians, I’ve learnt this from being a professional saxophonist for 30+ years, with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet alone we have commissioned 100+ works since 1985, and in hindsight my composition lessons (I’ve never had a formal lesson) were when sitting in a rehearsal room with the ASQ and composers such as Michael Torke, Richard Rodney Bennett and Louis Andriessen, listening, absorbing and digesting their musical ideas.
I was gigging at Middelburg Festival in Holland three days ago, a new work by a Dutch composer scored for four saxophones, seven percussion and piano. It’s always interesting to see how others do things. Likewise, the years that I spent playing saxophone in orchestras such as the Halle, CBSO, RLPO, BBC Philharmonic and more, usually means counting a lot of rests in classics such as Bolero, Romeo & Juliet, Rhapsody in Blue, American in Paris etc., which in turn gives a wonderful opportunity to listen to musical ideas, scoring and voicing, all from one of the best seats in the house!
In January Foden’s will give the world premiere of a specially-commissioned work from me, Edwin. It is a tribute to Edwin Firth who was principal cornet with Foden’s and killed in action in 1918 towards the end of World War 1. This piece required a lot of thought before writing a note, this is a heavy subject and real, Mark Wilkinson will be playing Edwin’s cornet in the world premiere (yes the cornet that he used in Foden’s 100+ years ago!). I found that I experimented with ideas, took musical risks, tried to extend myself as a composer, some of it will work, some of it won’t, maybe there will be a couple of tweaks with voicings but the form and concept is set in stone. It’s the on-going working relationship and trust with Foden’s and Mike that has enabled me to even take these musical risks, and I’m very grateful for that. Edwin isn’t a stroll in the park for the audience or players, and nor should it be, thankfully we live in a time where we haven’t experienced first hand the atrocities of a world war.
This contrasts with Brass Revolution! a commission from the Love Music Trust that was premiered at Birmingham Town Hall in July, as part of Music for Youth, by the combined forces of Foden’s, Lions, Poynton & Macclesfield Youth Bands, with Haslington School wider opportunities students. In one sense a carefree, pop/rock 1960’s vibe, Brass Revolution! also reflects the growth and visibility of the student population in America in its opposition to the approach and danger of the current leadership.
Back to my opening point (and maybe it’s 7 or 8 months of brass band writing that has led to this blog), how many people in our country realise the importance of music to all? Certainly not many politicians, but then anything that is subjective causes the numbers people problems, even though the entertainment business is one of the UKs biggest exports - the irony.
With Brass Revolution! it was wonderful for me to see first hand the enjoyment and buzz that young people get out of working together, being part of a community, forming friendships, learning how to communicate, appreciating discipline and respecting their teachers. It only confirms what I’ve witnessed in ten years with Foden’s; the players in leading bands have a responsibility and lead by example. There’s a selflessness that puts others before themselves, and it’s good to see.
So whilst the youth bands continue to develop, to me (and it’s only my point of view) the area that is lagging behind is at the other end of the spectrum. Thanks to Paul Hindmarsh, the incredible RNCM Festival of Brass continues to fly the flag when it comes to opportunities to have a piece premiered, and for composers to be encouraged to take risks and express themselves at that point in their own personal musical journey.
Allan Withington and Stavanger commissioned a programme from me for Siddis five or six years ago, a wonderful opportunity for bands to programme imaginatively in Norway. Bob Childs and Grimethorpe Band commissioned a work from me for premiere at Brass in Concert in the UK, and it was good working with Garry Cutt & Fairies at the Europeans. I like hanging out with the musicians at these events as I know how hard they have rehearsed, and as both performer and composer you deal with a lot of pressure in concert.
So why aren’t more brass bands commissioning, giving world premieres and thinking longer term, about the next generation(s)? Whilst it’s great having more commercially-based projects (good fun for the players and audience, potentially reaching a larger audience that in turn might have creative spin offs), where is the repertoire that is allowed to take musical risks and not be pressured by formulaic expectations? Howard Skempton wrote the Apollo Sax Quartet a wonderful piece with string orchestra, beautiful and plaintive writing with subtle shape and nuance, largely long notes and phrases, and, it’s difficult to play! This approach is music where music is the priority, and which technique and demands on the players follows accordingly, as opposed to a sterile hoop jumping technical exercise.
From my performing and composing experiences outside the UK, funding does seem more readily available in some other countries, plus a more open-minded approach from audiences, yet funding opportunities are available in the UK, both through tried and tested routes and new ideas.
Surely every good standard brass band can include at least one 15-20 minute piece within every programme? Think about it, this is a minimum requirement with orchestras, chamber orchestras and new music ensembles, and not uncommon with wind orchestras and big bands. It doesn’t have to be consecutive short items when programming for a quick fix.
When A Child Like You was performed by Foden’s, Anna-Clare Monk (singer), Lauren Scott (harpist) and four Foden’s Youth Band players narrating/playing at the Southbank Centre as part of New Music Biennial in 2014, all 20 pieces commissioned by this scheme featured a performance followed by a short talk about the piece, and then a second performance. I’m certainly not suggesting doing this in regular concerts, but rather making a point that new music may be appreciated with or without background information, however if an audience knows the journey, the concept, the thinking behind a piece then surely they will be more likely to be a part of the journey, and enjoy it?
So, the outsider looking in gradually, and maybe unknowingly, becomes attached and a little protective about the subject, in this case brass bands. With good reason, there are some fantastic people, musicians and characters in the brass band world.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way where all the great work that does happen with commissioning, creative projects and education was collectively recognised, where an event such as the RNCM Festival of Brass wasn’t a lonely but brilliant annual event? A co-commissioning consortium of bands that allow works from composers such as Django Bates and Maria Schneider to be a reality with multiple premieres on the same night in different countries (I did this with the Tenor Sax Consortium & composer Graham Fitkin), and an image and approach that reflects the lives that we live in the 21st century whilst respecting tradition.
To allow new voices and ideas into the brass band world I believe requires several things; bravery on the part of the commissioning body, belief and musical understanding, also being aware that there might well currently be figures that make a nice living from brass bands and that they might find this a threat… if this is the case then they and their insecurities need to be bypassed as there’s a much bigger picture here than the individual.
When the next composer sets foot on stage and picks up a British Composer Award after writing a work for brass band there needs to be a positive message to tell!
These semi-rambling thoughts are totally my own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of any one mentioned above.
29th August 2018
Have a listen below to flautist Rachel Smith with the Coldstream Guards Band in their live performance of Andy's 'Fujiko' (for flute & wind band) as part of their 2017 Japan Tour...
Andy Scott's 'Freedom of Movement' for Trumpet & Wind Band concerto features on Rex Richardson's new album, 'Freedom of Movement: 21st Century Trumpet Concertos'.
Rex's album brings together concertos by composers Anthony Plog, Andy Scott, James Stephenson and Allen Vizzutti in fantastic performances with four different ensembles!
Iwan Fox, reviewing for 4barsrest, introduces the spirit of the new album, describing Rex as 'one of the most dangerously thrilling soloists to enjoy in full performance flow', possessing a 'fearless adventurousness'. An ethos, Iwan states, that is shared by the four composers as 'the concertos of Vizzutti, Scott, Plog and Stephenson are unrestrained in their daring, audacious outlook.'
For more on Rex's new album & to get your copy, click here
'the richly textured soundscapes and harmonic structures of Andy Scott’s ‘Freedom of Movement’ […] a wonderful, ductile piece of musicianship that makes for a work of colourful substance'- Iwan Fox, 4barsrest
For more info & to purchase the music for 'Freedom of Movement' for Trumpet & Wind Band Concerto visit Astute Music - here
The Sonorous Saxophone Ensemble will premiere new saxophone octet arrangements of Andy's pieces 'Tjuonavagge' & 'Golden Horn' on their Switzerland Tour.
Performing on the 24th July 2018 at the Ceresio estate '18, Morcote, Parco Scherrer.
A specially commissioned arrangement of 'Paquito' for flute & guitar is being premiered on the 28th July 2018.
Composed and arranged by Andy, 'Paquito' for flute & guitar will be performed by flautist Nicola Loten and guitarist Arturo Castro Nogueras as part of their 'Latin Flavours: Between Two Worlds' concert at Reading Fringe Festival.
For more info on the concert, click here
On 28th July 2018, Matt Styles will be giving the Australian premiere of Andy Scott's 'Westland' for solo tenor saxophone, as part of his solo recital at the Melbourne International Saxophone Festival.
For more info on Matt's recital, click here
The music for 'Westland' is available for purchase with Astute Music here
Check out these upcoming performances of Andy Scott’s compositions at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia, July 2018...
12th July: My Mountain Top for solo Bb saxophone performed by Joey Speranzo
10:30 - Student Centre Theatre & TD Semicircular Hall Savska cesta 25
12th July: World premiere of Tjuonavagge for soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone and piano version, performed by Gillian Blair, Nathan Mertens & Rie Yokota
11:00 - Academy of Music, Vaclav Huml Hall Trg Republike Hrvatske 12
13th July: Nemesis for soprano saxophone and vibraphone performed by Duo Antipodes
14:30 - Student Centre Theatre & TD Semicircular Hall Savska cesta 25
14th July: Three Letter Word for alto saxophone and piano performed by Emma McPhilemy & Hannah Creviston
14:15 - Academy of Music, Vaclav Huml Hall Trg Republike Hrvatske 12
14th July: Westland for solo tenor saxophone performed by soloist Kyle Hutchins as part of the Tenor Saxophone Collective’s programme
14:30 - Student Centre Theatre & TD Semicircular Hall Savska cesta 25
For more info about the World Sax Congress & this year's programme, visit: https://bit.ly/2KXEkEn
Andy's massed brass band piece, 'Brass Revolution!' will have its world premiere at the Music for Youth National Festival on the 4th July 2018 at Birmingham Town Hall.
The premiere will be performed collaboratively with young musicians in association with the Love Music Trust and their partner ensembles. 'Brass Revolution!' was commissioned by the Love Music Trust.
For more info, click here
A new work for Tenor Saxophone by Andy Scott is now published and available from Astute Music.
It was composed in late 2016 and Andy Scott gave the world premiere of Westland in Holland at the Westland Saxophone Festival in January 2017
On the 6th June 2018, the Aurora Percussion Duo will give the world premiere of Andy's new piece 'Xi'Yu' as part of their concert at the Swaledale Festival.
The piece was titled 'Xi'Yu' by the percussion duo, Delia Stevens and Le Yu, and was commissioned by Swaledale Festival.
For more info on this event, click here
Photo by Guy Carpenter at Gullwing Photography
On Saturday 5th May 2018 I was fortunate enough to be in Utrecht and attend the world premiere of Defiance, a new work that I had been approached to write for the Fairey Brass Band, supported by Brass Band England & funded by PRSF.
Fairey Band were representing England at the prestigious European Brass Band Championships, with each band playing the set test piece A Time for Outrage, a wonderful work from Marco Putz, originally for Fanfare Orchestra, arranged for the occasion by my friend Paul McGhee (a brilliant composer himself) and the following day performing an own choice work. In this competition (as with others in the
Performed at the WASBE Conference (World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles) in Utrecht, July 2017.
Andy’s piece was performed by the Gelders Fanfare Orchestra with vocalist Fenna Orgrajensek and directed by Erik Van de Kolk. Described as ‘touching’ and ‘emotional’, A Child like You is based upon the real-life story of a 17-year old Ugandan Asian boy who fled to Britain in the early 1970's to escape the brutal rule of Idi Amin.
“in the midst of the turmoil of the music a duet of singer and harp […] I cried […] we could read the whole story through the music.”
'Fujiko' by Andy Scott, scored for solo flute and wind orchestra, has recently been featured in various concerts around Japan, performed by flutist Rachel Smith with the Coldstream Guards as part of their 2017 Japan Tour
On the 2nd September, saxophonists Rob Buckland & Matt Styles, with the WAAPA Symphonic Wind Ensemble gave a performance of Andy Scott’s ‘Dark Rain’ at the All Saints’ College Centre for Performing Arts in Perth, Australia.
‘Dark Rain’ is one continuous movement and after a dramatic opening exclamation from the two soloists, journeys through a collision of contemporary classical, bebop, big band and swing before concluding with a release of tension in a final chorale.
‘”Dark Rain’ will leave the audience with no doubt of the versatility and musical power of the saxophone.” – Matt Styles in interview with Scenestr.
Andy Scott with ‘Dark Rain’ ~ Winner of a British Composer Award in 2006
The sheet music for ‘Dark Rain’ (Two Saxophones & Wind Orchestra) is available here
Introducing Kickstart flute, a fantastic new online flute teaching resource by flautist Clare Southworth, in association with Trevor James Flutes.
Upon starting formal flute lessons, Clare speaks of finding the beginner tutor books rather narrow in their choices of music so "my idea of writing a beginner method then was to include all genres, to encourage a love of all music”. The tutorials are based around 24 duets encompassing all genres of music, composed by Andy Scott, ‘one of the most versatile and exciting composers writing today.’
“ Kickstart flute is a completely new approach to learning, it’s challenging and it’s good to have a challenge, with the reward being able to play fabulous original music by Andy Scott”
To read more on this fantastic flute teaching resource, visit: https://www.kickstartflute.com/
Music commissioned & funded by TJ Flutes
On Wednesday 30th August 2017, international woodwind specialist Diana Tolmie and award-winning jazz pianist Sophie Min premiered Sonata by Andy Scott at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University Ian Hanger Recital Hall in Australia.
Andy Scott’s Sonata for saxophone & piano is available for purchase here
Have a listen to this clip of Sonata as performed by Anthony Brown (alto sax) & Leo Nicholson (piano) from the World premiere in 2015...
Andy Scott’s new piece for clarinet ensemble, Momento was commissioned by the South Tyrol Clarinet Ensemble & the British Clarinet Ensemble. Momento is a six minute work that pays homage to Monk, Ella and Dizzy, three jazz legends who share 1917 as their year of birth.
The world premiere takes place on Monday 4th September 2017, 20:30 in Drescher Kellen, Kaltern, Italy and will be performed by the combined forces of the South Tyrol & British Clarinet Ensembles.
The UK premiere by the British Clarinet Ensemble will take place on Saturday 21st October 2017 in Oakham School Chapel. More details to follow…
One of Andy's works for Flute and Piano "... Αnd Everything is Still" was premiered on Saturday 10th June 2017, in Athen, Greece at the "Εrateio Odeio" Concert Hall.
The concert, entitled " Sometime the Sea"- when music meets poetry also featured Paschalis Plisis (Narrator), Flute: Hellas Chalkia and Piano: Thanos Margetis
Andy Scott + Group S CD - Ruby & All Things Purple
It's finally released (hooray) and is now available on iTunes here
...I'd be grateful if you bought a hard copy CD from either the record company direct (BASHO) or my online webshop.
It's a good looking CD to have in your collection, (if you like that sort of thing), it has lots of liner notes, plus I get more royalties than if you bought the album through iTunes.
I've deliberately asked for the CD to not be available via streaming, so you won't find it on Spotify or similar services. I'd get around 0.000001p per stream from Spotify, so I don't want this CD on a service which doesn't give composers a decent royalty.
So please, support my music by buying the CD direct from either BASHO or my online webshop
Ruby And All Things Purple
The Maidstone Symphonic Windband are launching a new CD of Windband Music by Andy Scott on 25th February 2017.
At the end of January, Andy took part in the Westland Saxofoon Festival. He had composed a new piece of music specifically for the event, which he has since named "Westland" and it was successfully premiered over that weekend.
The weekend of 11th/12th February saw Andy attending the inaugural JazzSmart Workshop for the North west, which was a huge success. The 2-day workshop, held in partnership with the Manchester College Jazz Department featured a varied repertoire of British compositions.
There will also be a further 3-day Saxophone ensemble workshop on 4th-6th August in Barton on Sea (near Bournemouth) when Andy will be working with anyone wanting to take their saxophone and ensemble playing to the next level.
For further details see the JazzSmart website: www.jazzsmart.com/andy-scott-2017/
There is currently a special offer of £15 off the rrp for Libero (making it now excellent value at £60) until the end of 2017.
Use promotion code XMAS60 at the checkout.
Saxophonist/composer Andy Scott undertook a series of specially-designed Saxophone Days from March to July 2016, in England, Wales & France!
Hosted by Music Hubs (Love Music Trust, Hertfordshire, Hull Music Services, East Riding & Accent), York & Shrewsbury Schools, Creative Vacances, Hot House Music, MusicFest Aberystwyth & JazzSmart, Andy devised a programme that had appeal for saxophonists of all ages and levels of experience, writing & arranging music specifically for the occasion.
As an internationally-respected musician with over 30 years professional experience, Tutor of Saxophone at the Royal Northern College of Music, a founder member of the Apollo Saxophone
There are still some places left for the MusicFest Saxophone Course (23-31 July)
For more information go to http://musicfestaberystwyth.org/events/saxophone/
news items and blog posts by Andy Scott