Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rushden & Windmill Band


The Rushden & Windmill Band (1875-2014?)

According to the Internet Bandsman Everything Within website (http://www.ibew.org.uk/cach-rusw.htm) the Rushden & Windmill Band is no longer active.  

Community bands whether they are independently operated, supported by a company, club, or government agency are always at the mercy of the economy, musician availability, and of course creative management.  What led to the disappearance of this organization is unknown, but their music making lives on with a few videos on you tube.

This particular video is a performance of Sir Malcolm Arnold's The Padstow Lifeboat March Opus 94 (1967) at the 2012 Malcolm Arnold Festival.  This march is actually written for a Lifeboat Station (Coast Guard Station in US terms) on the Cornwall coast, where Arnold lived during this time.  http://fswinds.org/pgm_note/notes_a.html#Arnold  

There is one unique sound throughout the march.  One should hear a diminished fifth played incredibly loud.  This is the pitch of the fog horn at the lifeboat.  There are three versions of this march all scored by the composer:  Brass Band, Concert Band, and Orchestra.  

My first hearing of the march was by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band when I was an undergraduate student in Illinois back in the late 1980's.  It was quirky and forgettable, as I was not into marches or community music then as I am now.  My second hearing of the march was by the Dallas Wind Symphony in the late 1990's while I was teaching.  I always liked Malcolm Arnold's music, but it was not until my early 30's that I recognized why his music had a lot of popularity with audiences (The melodies.)  I revisited all of the Grimethorpe discography and due to my advancing years I really enjoyed the artistry in the e-flat and b-flat cornets (clarinets and flutes) in the wind band.  

This performance is far from clean.  It is over conducted.  Balance is an issue, but some of that is video quality.  I imagine this concluded the performance as you can hear the cornets struggling to play the high notes as the endurance and technical facility of the march require a lot of work.  I still like the performance though.  The music performance is honest, raw, and it is by members of the community who like music, and they do this for the joy of making music.  The imperfections make it feel human.  I'm sure the players enjoyed a pint afterwards and gave each other a hard time for a fracked note or for their intonation too.  Therein lies some of the spirit of community music making.  It brings people together to socialize, to entertain, and to create something greater than oneself.  This is a challenging march for brass bands, and I like the fact they are pushing themselves to be better through this work.

I encourage you my fellow readers to listen to the other versions of the march.  Enjoy!


3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the post mark - love the foghorn effect!

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  2. Fun piece to listen to! I thought that community bands still exist, and that there are not as many as there used to be. They aren't completely gone, right? I know they're some are only seasonal now, like Harrisburg for example. There's another one in Eastern PA in Nazareth that I know of.

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  3. There are many community groups Kenken! Check out this website: http://www.acbands.org

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