The development and expansion of the repertoire base and practice of professional and amateur wind orchestras in the UK, Far East and North America through composition, performance, commercial recording and education

Submitting Institution

Royal Northern College of Music

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Psychology and Cognitive Sciences: Psychology
Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media, Performing Arts and Creative Writing

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Summary of the impact

Works written by RNCM composers, performances and commercial recordings of new music by the world-renowned RNCM Wind Orchestra and its staff conductors, advocacy and leadership in UK and world-wide organisations, and copious educational spin-offs from research, have, over the past 20 years, made significant impacts on the development of both the quality and innovative practices in the huge international wind orchestra movement. New compositions in particular, have contributed to a notable re-invigoration of creative practice, inspiring successive generations of musicians to engage with demanding contemporary music in what has traditionally been an artistically conservative medium. RNCM composers have also introduced the wind orchestra into new genre areas including the jazz concerto and oratorio.

Underpinning research

The principal research findings that underpin this impact are in the form of:

1. Compositions for wind orchestra

A variety of works exemplify innovative writing in terms of style, genre, and technical demands, both at the elite-level for professional-level military, college and national youth ensembles, and at intermediate student-level for school and community symphonic wind orchestras.

Widespread international dissemination through performances and recordings has contributed to the recognition by the international wind orchestra community of these works as particularly significant in terms of quality, and the ways in which they challenge ensembles to break out of the standard diet of marches, film-music medleys and competition pieces that were pervasive until the 80s and mid-90s. Largely thanks to advocacy for challenging compositions in recent years, and a burgeoning of new music writing, the repertoire base has been transformed.

The RNCM's pivotal role in stimulating high-quality composition for wind orchestra has been continuous since the start of the impact period (1993), although this continues a record of innovative work in the medium begun in the 1970s, both by RNCM composers such as Anthony Gilbert (retired 1999) and Edward Gregson (retired July 2008), and those commissioned by the RNCM (who include a roll-call of later 20th-century British composers in the field, including Michael Tippett, Thea Musgrave, Richard Rodney-Bennett, David Bedford, Judith Bingham, Derek Bourgeois, etc.). This was primarily due to one key figure in the foundation of the international wind orchestra movement, Tim Reynish, Head of the RNCM School of Wind and Percussion from 1977 until his retirement in 2002, now Emeritus Tutor in Chamber Music. His continuing activities, beside extensive international conducting, teaching and advocacy, include Editor of Maecenas Music for bands and wind ensembles.

Among the most successful composers in the medium overall is Adam Gorb (Head of the RNCM School of Composition): `One of Britain's top composers' (The Jewish Chronicle 7 October 2010). Gorb's music is highly adventurous in terms of orchestration (for example in their extensive use of percussion and idiomatic writing for individual instruments), semi-programmatic in adventurous ways, and often allusive of dance, folk music and non-Western sounds. He has also been a pioneer in bringing the wind-orchestra into other genres, notably oratorio. Other staff composers, including Gary Carpenter, David Horne, Emily Howard and Andy Scott have made important and sometimes mould-breaking contributions to the repertoire. Scott's jazz concerto for two saxophones, Dark Rain is a case in point.

2. Performance and commercial recordings of significant wind orchestra repertoire

Regular programming of these works internationally by a huge number and range of ensembles has enriched the artistic values and engagement both of musicians and audiences. Since 1993, approximately 30 CDs of works by RNCM composers and others have been recorded for Chandos and the specialist new music label, NMC, as well as Polyphonic, Campion, Doyen, etc. Between 2008 and July 2013, 9 commercial CDs were released by the RNCM Wind Orchestra under its conductors, Tim Reynish, Clark Rundell (Head of Conducting and New Music) and Mark Heron (Tutor in Conducting).

3. Educational benefits arising from performing new music

Researchers' artistic expertise has informed interactions with thousands of wind orchestra musicians around the world. RNCM composers and conductors are regularly invited faculty at major international wind orchestra festivals and summer schools and the RNCM's own major national annual weekend courses, where they work with young players and ensembles, introducing them to new repertoire (including research cited in this study) and advise and encourage young composers to work in the medium.

References to the research

1. Adam Gorb, Awayday (Maecenas Music, 1996) Composition, can be supplied on request. Commissioned by the RNCM. UK Première: 17 November 1996. Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, RNCM Wind Ensemble, Timothy Reynish. CD Recordings: University of North Texas Wind Ensemble, Eugene Corporon. Klavier KCD 11091(1998); US Marine Band, Timothy Foley. MARK 3171-MLD (1999); Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, Douglas Bostock. KOCD 3905 (2000); RNCM Wind Ensemble, Clark Rundell Chandos CHAN 10409 (2007); University of Georgia Wind Ensemble, John P. Lynch. Naxos 8.572231 (2009).

2. Adam Gorb, Towards Nirvana (Maecenas Music, 2002) Composition, can be supplied on request. Commissioned by Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra (only non-military professional wind orchestra in the world). Japan première: 18 October 2002, Tokyo Metropolitan Arts Space, Douglas Bostock, conductor; US premiere, same artists, Chicago, December 2002. CD Recording: RNCM Wind Ensemble, Mark Heron. NMC D154 (2004). Winner, British Composers Award (Wind and Brass Ensemble) 2004

3. Andy Scott, Dark Rain: Concerto for Two Saxophones and Wind Band (Astute Music, 2006), can be supplied on request. Commissioned by BASBWE Education Trust, College Commission Consortium. CD Recording. Rob Buckland, John Harle (saxophones), RNCM Wind Orchestra, Clark Rundell. Sospiro Records SOSRB100112 (2012) (See REF 2). Winner, British Composer Award (Wind and Brass Ensemble), 2006

4. Adam Gorb, Adrenaline City (Studio Music, 2006). Composition, can be supplied on request. Commissioned by a consortium of US Wind Ensembles. Première: 3 March 2006. Clarinet Summit, New York. US Military Academy Band, Timothy Holtan. CD Recordings: RNCM Wind Ensemble, Clark Rundell. Polyphonic QPRM ISID (2006); North Texas Wind Symphony, Eugene Corporon. GIA Windworks CD-820 (2010); Harvest: The West Point Band, Timothy Holtan. WESTPOINT (2010). Winner, British Composer Award (Wind and Brass Ensemble), 2008

5. Adam Gorb, Farewell (Maecenas Music, 2008). Composition. See REF 2. Commissioned by The National Youth Wind Ensemble of Wales. Première: 5 April 2008 Cardiff University, RNCM Wind Orchestra, Tim Reynish. US première: 30 November 2010, Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble. Taiwan première: July 5 2011, Jiayi City, Singapore Philharmonic Winds. CD Recording: RNCM Wind Orchestra, conductor Timothy Reynish. NMCD154 (2010). Winner, British Composer Award (Wind and Brass Ensemble), 2009

6. Adam Gorb, Eternal Voices (Maecenas Music, 2010). Composition, can be supplied on request. Commissioned by the Royal Marines Band Service. Première: 20 November 2010 Exeter Cathedral, Sir Trevor MacDonald, Exeter Festival Chorus, Her Majesty's Band of the Royal Marines, Lt. Col. Nick Grace. CD Recording: CHVCD32

Details of the impact

A brief overview of the field provides a context for the impact of research at the RNCM.

Symphonic wind orchestras and bands are ubiquitous in many countries of the world, including most European countries, North and South America, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia. For example, most high schools, colleges and local communities in the US have at least one wind orchestra, and for many school students and communities, bands are the primary form of music-educational experience. Youth and school ensembles at local and national level are a feature of the musical life in all the countries listed above. There are secular professional, and many elite-level military wind ensembles in many countries, as well as a thriving music publishing and commercial recording sector servicing these markets. WASBE is a key force in developing standards and promoting innovative new musical works; it has a membership of over 1000 individuals and organizations in more than 50 countries from throughout the world. It is `completely dedicated to enhancing the quality of the wind band throughout the world and exposing its members to new worlds of repertoire and musical culture'. Likewise, the British Association of Wind and Brass Ensembles (BASBWE) includes in its objectives the following: `The wind band/ensemble has been the fastest growing medium in `classical' music-making in the latter part of the twentieth century [...] A crucial role has been in developing awareness of repertoire and ensuring that there is a constant supply of new music, without which the whole movement could stagnate'. And in the words of William V. Johnson, president of WASBE, `The RNCM has done much more than helping to change behaviours and impacting the international field of wind orchestras. It is the birthplace of the modern international wind band movement' - the organisation was, indeed, founded at the RNCM in 1981, largely thanks to the influence of one individual, Tim Reynish, who remains one of the international movement's leading directors, educators and commissioner of new work'. In 2000 the RNCM was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for `the outstanding and pioneering work of its Wind Orchestra'.

1. Composition (examples)

It is against this background that many new works for wind orchestra (including those listed above) have been created, mostly developed through rehearsal, performance and recording by the RNCM's own world-class ensemble under its various staff conductors, and then disseminated into the wider movement through publication, advocacy, educational events and continual take-up by ever more ensembles around the world, contributing to the stimulation of innovations in their repertoire. For example, between 1993 and 2013, Adam Gorb published 25 works, ranging from pieces specifically designed for youth and other beginner ensembles (6 of his works are in the top 35 downloads from the specialist publisher of sheet music for amateur wind ensembles, G & M Brand), to sophisticated and demanding commissions for professional ensembles. Examples of the later are Towards Nirvana (for the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra), and Adrenaline City, commissioned and performed by a consortium of major US College ensembles, later programmed by the elite US Marine Corps Band in 2011. Farewell is a symphonic-length work commissioned by the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Wales that has since been widely taken up internationally by upper-level ensembles. It was featured at the WASBE conference in Taiwan in 2011, performed by Philharmonic Winds, Singapore - one of south-east Asia's leading wind orchestras. Professor Eugene Corporon, one of the US's leading wind orchestra conductors and teachers, says `I consider him to be one of the most important Wind Band composers of our time. Many of his contributions have broadened our repertoire and become well respected as legacy works that have advanced the medium'.

2. Performance (examples)

Reliable evidence of performances worldwide that can be evidenced is impossible to achieve; recordings and YouTube viewings can help give snapshots of impact. Among Gorb's most widely-performed works are the intermediate-level Yiddish Dances and senior-level Awayday. The former has been issued on CD 5 times, 2 since 2008; currently on YouTube are recordings of 21 performances by different high school and college bands in the US, UK, Italy, Spain Mexico, Korea, Austria and Germany with a total of 139,353 viewings between 2008 and July 213; equivalent figures for Awayday are: 5 CDs (1 since 2008) by some of the leading professional ensembles in the world, one of which features as the soundtrack to a YouTube videogame (20,578 viewings). 22 performances in the US, UK, New Zealand, Thailand and Germany with a total of 29,419 viewings

A different kind of impact was achieved by Gorb's Eternal Voices, `dedicated to all Royal Marines and their families who have given the ultimate sacrifice and have been affected by modern conflicts since the year 2000'. The work combines symphonic wind orchestra with a full chorus, soloists and a narrator. It was first performed in Exeter Cathedral in November 2010 and mixes texts by the poet, Ben Kaye, with excerpts from BBC news bulletins: `a haunting, sobering, and beautiful piece' said one reviewer; another blogger wrote `Exeter audiences are not given to many standing ovations, so they were obviously delighted with the evening'. It was attended by 1,020 people and later repeated at Coventry Cathedral in October 2011 (attendance c.500) and Chichester Cathedral in October 2012 (attendance c.487). After the latter, a comment was posted on the Royal Marines' website: `I ... was completely blown away with the whole evening ... everyone in my group agreed it was one of the most poignant and moving events they had been to in recent years'.

The main beneficiaries of educational work are players and young conductors introduced to new works and coached at numerous courses of by conductors Clark Rundell and Mark Heron and RNCM instrumental specialists.

RNCM Wind Orchestra, with its two conductors, Rundell and Heron, together with composers Gorb and Carpenter, and Senior Oboe Tutor, Melinda Maxwell (oboe), were in residence at the 2009 WASBE conference in Cincinnati, OH, attended by 12,000-15,000 students and adult band members. Over the course of six days, they performed works by five RNCM composers (Carpenter, Gorb, Gregson, Horne and Emily Howard). In addition, there was an open rehearsal; a repertoire session and another on `Effective Rehearsal Strategies' led by Rundell; an oboe master-class by Maxwell; `composer drop-in sessions'; and a pre-concert talk. Public concerts included the US première of Carpenter's Doubles concerto for oboe and clarinet (REF2), the world premières of Gorb's Tranquility (Festival commission), David Horne's Waves and Returns, Emily Howard's, Deep Soul Diving, and Edward Gregson's classic, Metamorphoses (with electronics). Live CD of the 8 July concert: Mark Custom, Inc. 8469MCD.

The RNCM has hosted intensive Wind Weekends biennially since 1981. The 2009 Weekend was specifically devoted to Wind Orchestras (in collaboration with BASBWE) attended by 370 band members and a further 164 individual players (excluding RNCM students), who participated in a total of 19 workshops given by College staff and international `star' teachers. Another 918 non-student audience members joined them at five public concerts. All the music played and workshopped over the weekend was demanding contemporary works, including the world première of Gorb's Freedom, as well as Towards Nirvana and Farewell. The Oct. 2010 the RNCM/BASBWE Wind and Brass weekend included c. 20 workshops and master-classes for ensembles, and for all individual wind orchestra instruments at both senior and junior levels, as well as 13 concerts: attended by 2,400 in total (excluding RNCM students); in Nov. 2012 the Wind Weekend was devoted to double-reed instruments, and included master-classes and performances by 13 international oboe and bassoon celebrities, all sponsored by major European instrument manufacturers: attended by 1,052 people (excluding RNCM students).

Mark Heron exemplifies the RNCM's approach to invigorating repertoire and standards in wind orchestra practice through his work as a course director and conductor, introducing new works including by RNCM composers: at Canford Summer School, with a 50-strong ensemble and 20-30 student conductors, every year since 2008; as guest conductor of the National Youth Wind Orchestra of Israel (April and June 2011); as lecturer and conductor at national wind festivals in Ireland (April, 2009), Spain (Nov. 2009), Portugal (March 2011), London, Royal Academy of Music (Feb. 2008); he led advanced conducting schools in Melbourne for 30 students (Jan. 2013) and another in Slovenia for 10 students (July 2013).

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. Secretary of Exeter Festival Chorus (audience figures for Eternal Voices)
  2. Director of Maecenas Music (leading wind ensemble music publisher)
  3. President of WASBE (significance of RNCM for worldwide wind orchestra development)
  4. Professor Emeritus of Music and retired Director of Wind Studies at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati (major US wind-orchestra conductor; organiser, 2009 WASBE conference)
  5. Conductor, Wind Ensembles, University of Minnesota, Morris (biographer of Tim Reynish)
  6. Director of Wind Studies, University of North Texas, College of Music (major US conductor and teacher; advocate/performer of Gorb's music in US)
  7. (website of the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, Cincinnati conference, 2009)
  8. Winds Music Magazine, 24/2 (Autumn, 2009) (Reports of 2009 WASBE and RNCM wind orchestra festivals)
  9., (youtube uploads of performances of Adam Gorb, Yiddish Dances and Awayday)
  10. /( (review and blogger comments about Eternal Voices, 2010)