band on request of Robert Leveugle, chairman of the composer's own
band: Brass Band Midden Brabant (Belgium). The direct cause was a visit
to the beautiful cathedral of the English city Canterbury, in which so
many fine compositions sounded throughout the centuries. Later on, Jan
Van der Roost rescored this piece for symphonic wind band, exploring
the full richness of colours of this formation. Besides solo phrases
for several instruments, there are some massive tutti passages making
the wind orchestra sound like a majestic organ. By the way: an "ad
libitum" organ part adds an extra richness, colour and power to this
piece, making it sound even more broad and grand.
almost 3,500 years, and despite research and calculations made by many
scientists, man is still not certain as to the real significance of the
site. Throughout the ages people have made guesses and suppositions
about the Gods worshipped and rituals enacted there, but until today
no-one has proved conclusively any of these hypotheses. One of the
currently held positions is that Stonehenge represents a giant
calendar. Because of the specific placing of the boulders, it is
possible to observe the sunrise, the end of the midsummer and
midwinter’s day, through the sunbeams. It is also possible to read the
lunear positions through the diagonals ... in short: the changing of
the seasons becomes apparent through this mysterious monument in stone.
The piece attempts to put atmospheric pictures into music. Although no
concrete story or clear-cut scenario is used, a number of clearly
recognizable images are represented. Thus, the first section evokes the
somewhat misty and hazy atmosphere engulfing the monument. When the
orchstra (at letter F) reaches its first voluminous sound eruption, it
is as if the massive boulders become audible, even touchable by means
of the pregnant minor third chords used. The main theme - constructed
from the five tones CAFBG makes its presence felt throughout the piece.
Almost as a “Leitmotiv” it symbolizes the arrangement of the central
boulders in a shape of a horse-shoe, which is the nucleus of his huge
collection of stones. A special effect can be found at letter S when 5
soloists play a five part hymne, whilst the remaining of the musicians
create a special atmosphere by means of a sung “choir of monk and
druids”. It is as if the voices of a distant and unknown past have not
yet been completely silenced: Stonehenge still keeps its own secrets ...
Concert", organized by the Japanese "Breeze Brass Band" based in Osaka.
It is dedicated to the musical supervisor of this (professional) brass
band, Yukihiro Higuchi. Some special techniques (for example
improvisation) make the "Limelight Fanfare" interesting for performers
and audience alike. The main theme passes the revue twice, first in a
fast tempo and in the finale slowly and broadly, bringing this short
piece to a majestic close.
piece for the national brass band championships of England, Belgium,
The Netherlands, and Switzerland in 2001, and of Norway in 2002. The
compositon is dedicated to Markus Bach.
Albion, next to Excalibur and Stonehenge, is the third major piece for
brass band for which Jan Van der Roost was inspired by the British
Middle Ages. Although the work is not based on an actual story,
unmistakably there are epic elements to be found in this symphonic
poem. The beginning seems to paint a picture of the conquest of Albion
(the earliest known name of the British Island), in which the listener
is taken back to the time of King Arthur and his legendary Knights of
the Round Table. Three scattered groups of cornets and three different
drums reflect the turbulent war times of the early Middle Ages in just
as many tonalities and tempi. In contrast to this, dark, majestic
chords are introduced in the low register, which creates quite a
confused sound. After the drums have united themselves in one rhythm,
the whole band sounds together as one for the first time with the
A D Bb A G F
A nervous allegro energico suddenly brings more pace and energy.
Virtuoso and warlike themes follow one another, resulting in a
tumultuous part. This succession is also concluded with the “Albion
theme,” this time supported by a more complex harmonic structure. In
the following, calmly moving middle part, various soloists have the
opportunity to demonstrate their lyric qualities. After all, it has not
always been “trouble and affliction” during the existence of Albion. Is
it not so that King Arthur is known for bringing peace and stability to
this country? With an almost self-evident naturalness, this slow
succession proceeds to the majestic choral chords that could be heard
in the beginning. Again, the brass band sounds like an organ and, of
course, the “Albion theme” concludes this oasis of “peace reigning once
more.” During the impressive finale, various musical components return,
but most of the time in other forms and combinations. The “Albion
theme” appears regularly as well. In a true apotheosis, the work ends
in a major key. Albion (probably named after the white chalk cliffs
that the European conquerors saw during the crossing from the
continent) shines here in all its glory!
organised by the Flemish Brass Band Association in 1987. It was
selected to be the test piece in the 1st division during the 1991
National Championships in Bergen (Norway) and in the B division during
the 2002 European Brass Band Championships in Brussels (Belgium).
As the title already explains, the direct inspiration for this work was
the legendary sword of King Arthur. One can roughly distinguish 3
sections, each one with its own musical themes and subjects. This
wealth of musical ideas is directly connected with the fact that
several extra-musical qualities of King Arthur himself and his sword
are depicted, just like velocity, nimbleness and power, to name only
those. The expressive slow section breathes the generosity of King
Arthur as well as his love to Guinevre.
However, Excalibur is no "program-music" in the strict sense of the
word as no concrete story is told: the composer only tried to express
the somewhat magic atmosphere around this medieval subject. Technically
and rhythmically it's a pretty challenging work which also calls for a
good stamina. The percussion section got the composer's full attention,
adding a lot of colors and effects to the entire work. There are no
virtuoso "cadenzas" but several solo instruments get the opportunity to
show their lyrical qualities during the middle section (euphonium,
baritone, soprano cornet, tenorhorn, solo cornet).
Excalibur has proved to be an attractive work and is played and
recorded all over the brass band world nowadays, obviously pleasing
both performers as well as audiences worldwide. Later on, Jan Van der
Roost wrote 2 more major brass Band works inspired by the British
Middle Ages: STONEHENGE (test piece at the World Music Contest in
Kerkrade - Holland - 1993) and ALBION (test piece in Great Britain,
Switzerland, Holland and Belgium for the 2001 Nationals and in Norway
Championships. The wind band version was made a year later by the
composer himself. Historically speaking, the toccata is considered to
be one of the first independent instrumental forms for keyboard
instruments. Originally the toccata was typically more or less
improvised, later this musical form was given a more regulated
structure. Both elements are used in the ‘Toccata Festiva’: on the one
hand the different themes are developed freely, on the other, the piece
has an orderly structure. It is in a three part form (quick-slow-quick)
and includes both strong rhythmical figures and broad melodic lines.
Part of the composition is written in a more or less archaic tone
idiom, referring to the period from which the toccata form originates
(as in case in ‘Puszta’, ‘Rikudim’ and ‘A Highland Rhapsody’).
Consequently, ‘Slavia’ does not contain any arrangement of existing
tunes, but is an original composition ‘in the style of…’. The
introduction has an ABA structure and exposes a broad melodic line.
Following a short cadenza, there is a second movement in a fast and
fiery tempo. The tempi increase, gradually culminating in an exciting
final climax, making this ‘Slavonic Rhapsody’ a spell-binding
experience to the very last note.