This major work, appropriate to be a First Section test piece, is a tribute to one of New Zealand's iconic bandsmen, Riki McDonnell. For decades, Riki has been the epitome of shining through any and all circumstances. The euphonium duets are a nod to his recording partnership with Mike Kilroy, the flugel solos are a recognition that, before he was New Zealand's finest euphonium player, he was the country's best flugelhorn player. The gradual progression of the thematic material from minor to major reminds us that Riki can always make some positive out out of any situation.
The composer has said " I'd like to think this would be the sort of music Derek Burgeious would have written if he worked in a factory". This work was a finalist in the 2015 European Brass Band Championships composer competition. Because of the time constraint imposed by the competition, it's a little shorter than modern test pieces, but will still be an ideal centrepiece for any concert, in addition to being a great choice for contests that require a 20-30 minute program including a major work.
Simone Mantia (1873 - 1951) was born in Italy and moved with his family to USA in 1881. He developed an early interest in playing the euphonium and from 1898 to 1904 was the euphonium soloist of the Sousa Band. This solo was written by him to demonstrate both the operatic qualities of his instrument as well as its outstanding technical possibilities. The solo is based on themes by the Italian composer Ermano Picchi (1811 - 1856), Mantia weaving his virtuosic variations around the thematic material provided by Picchi.
The Carnival Of Venice is arguably everyone's favourite solo, especially the version by Arban (1820 - 1869), author of the famous brass-playing method book still in regular use today. Young soloists aspire to master the necessary techniques, accomplished soloists know that it is a "sure fire" winner with audiences and listeners love to be dazzled by a virtuoso display of variations on a theme they easily recognise.
El Capitan was originally an operetta which was first produced in Boston in 1896. It was initially very popular and there are occasional revivals even to this day. The march of the same title uses themes from the opera and was also published in 1896. One notable feature - resulting from the use of themes from the operetta - is the abrupt transition from 6/8 to 2/4 half way through the march.
Arthur Pryor is remembered primarily for his 12 years as the amazing trombone soloist with The Sousa Band. However, he was also a prolific composer and conductor, forming his own band following his years with Sousa. He wrote many trombone solos designed to dazzle audiences with his virtuosity.