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Kapitol Promotions Announce National Finals Test Pieces

Explore the 2024 National Finals Test Pieces

Kaptiol Promotions have announced the test pieces for the 2024 national finals. The panel responsible for choosing this year's pieces was chaired by Philip Morris and included:

  • Dr Robert Childs

  • Sandy Smith

  • Duncan Beckley

  • John Maines

  • C. Brian Buckley

2024 National Finals Test Pieces

This year's choices include works from Peter Graham, Daniel Hall, Etienne Crausaz, Peter Yorke and Jan Van Der Roost.

Championship Section:

'Harrison's Dream' by Peter Graham

First Section:

'Excalibur' by Jan Van Der Roost

Second Section:

'Albinus Variations' by Etienne Crausaz

Third Section:

'The Shipbuilders' by Peter Yorke

Fourth Section:

'Smoke Sketches' by Daniel Hall

Harrison's Dream - Peter Graham

Peter Graham's composition celebrates the quest of English Clockmaker, John Harrison, in the early 1700s to solve the problem of calculating longitude at sea; a challenge highlighted by the tragic loss of over 1,600 lives in 1707 due to navigation errors.

Harrison dedicated four decades to developing the marine chronometer, and this piece beautifully illustrates this story by intricately blending mechanical clockmaking sounds with haunting melodies that evoke the emotional weight of his mission.

Commissioned by the United States Air Force Band and recipient of the 2002 ABA/Ostwald Award, the piece not only honors Harrison's technical achievement but also commemorates the lives saved by his dedication and innovation.

Through precise rhythms and poignant musical episodes, it reflects on the human determination to overcome challenges for the greater good, marking a pivotal moment in navigational history.

This isn't the first time 'Harrison's Dream' has been chosen for the National Finals, having been the test piece for the contest in 2000.

Excalibur - Jan Van der Roost

Originally written in 1987, Jan Van der Roost's, 'Excalibur' , is a work composed in three linked movements that are inspired by the legendary sword wielded by King Arthur.

Although the work doesn't tell a story directly, it incorporates the attributes the sword provides to Arthur and the love he possesses for Guinevere.

Again, this isn't the piece's first outing on the contest stage, having been the chosen work for Norwegian National, European Championship Challenge Section, French National and Swiss National Championships, as well as a popular own-choice test piece.

Albinus Variations - Etienne Crausaz

'Albinus Variations' was written in 2020 and was inspired by the work of 17th Century German Protestant theologist and author of several hymns Johan Georg Albinus.

His works were notably harmonized by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach's integration of Albinus's hymns into his cantatas, especially "Alle Menschen müssen sterben" in BWV 162, showcases the depth of these collaborations.

There are two chorales bearing this name - one in major, the other in minor, ("Bach Choral Gesänge" nº 17 & 18) - which served as a reference for composing these variations.

Beginning with a solemn cadenza and evolving through lively toccatas, duets, a playful bolero, and finally culminating in a joyous major key climax, it intricately weaves Albinus' themes with unexpected musical turns, ending in a triumphant fanfare.

The Shipbuilders - Peter Yorke

An illustrative work made up of 4 miniatures, Peter Yorke's 'The Shipbuilders' is the choice for this year's third section national finals.

As the title suggests, the piece musically describes the building of a large vessel through four movements, entitled:

  • Web of Steel

  • The Launching

  • All Hands at Work

  • Maiden Voyage

All four miniatures are linked with a common theme that can be heard throughout the piece.

The last major outing of this work was as the fourth section test piece at the 2008 national finals.

Smoke Sketches - Daniel Hall

Commissioned for the 2017 Youth Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, Daniel Hall's 'Smoke Sketches' is an eight-minute work inspired by the ancient practice of gazing at smoke as an act of divination.

The piece is made up of 3 short movements entitled:

  • Into the Blaze

  • A Lonesome Ember

  • Sparke of Light

Each movement demonstrates different characteristics of this traditional, fiery art form.

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