NCBF Wind Band Repertoire Review 2024-25

A new season - new Repertoire Lists.

There are 47 new pieces added to the Wind Band list and 38 added to the Big Band list. This also means that a similar number of pieces have been deleted.

Please use the appropriate Repertoire List for the current season (2024-25) and, especially with Big Bands, please make sure that you are using the named arrangement, not just looking at the title!

The reason the Big Band list is larger is that, to help in effective programme construction, a balance is kept across the different genres - Swing, Funk, Ballad, Latin, etc.

With Wind Bands, please ensure that you choose your British item from the current Repertoire List. There is plenty of choice at all grade levels!

This does not mean that you cannot choose a British piece that is not on the list. You can! Sometimes that means choosing a shorter piece from the list in order to also present a longer piece not on the current list.

For Wind Bands, at Grade 1, we have added three exciting charts guaranteed to appeal to younger players. Blackbeard (Randall D Standridge) - a Pirate adventure in 3/4; Clutch (Brian Balmages) - a fiery and harmonically colourful work that sounds harder than it is!; and Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer) (Patrick Roszell) - dramatically portraying the Norse god, Thor, and his hammer.

At Grade 1.5, Among The Stars You’ll Shine (Chris M Bernotas) is a lush work, perfect for developing an expressive style of performance with your students. Another introspective work that has a moderate flowing waltz that begins reflectively but then builds in complexity, escalating to a more joyful climatic sound before retreating for a reflective conclusion, is Music For The Night Sky (Jorge L Vargas). In more energetic mood is Escape! (Adrian B Sims) - an extremely accessible multimeter work with the energy of a blockbuster movie score - and Zero To Sixty (Tyler S Grant) - a musical depiction of an adrenaline-filled thrill ride, experienced by the composer, that consistently increases in intensity and speed.

Another dynamic piece at Grade 2 that young students will love is Afterburn: Relaunch (Randall D Standridge). Rippling Watercolours (Brian Balmages) sets out to explore the extensive colours, harmonies, and emotional ranges available to younger ensembles. It would be equally at home in the repertoire of mature ensembles. If you love the sound of ‘James Bond’ or ‘Mission Impossible’  style scores, then Operation: Super Sleuth (Christina Huss) or Tripwire (JaRod Hall) could be right up your street! Bold; Imaginative …3…2…1…BOOM!

At Grade 2.5 The Approaching Storm (Rob Wiffin) is a fun, syncopated, minimalist piece for young bands, while Wheels (Chris Holmes) is a four movement work based on …… wheels! A Big Dipper, London Eye, a Wagon Train and the No. 57 Bus all feature.

Another exciting, spy based composition at Grade 3 level is Burn After Reading (Andrew David Perkins), The musical styles of Saint-Saens and Shostakovich have been channeled to create a rollicking gallop that can be used as an opener, finale or encore in Galop Festivo (Randall D Standridge), while A Time To Dance (Julie Giroux) has an uplifting pulse with some mixed metre that forms the structure for this infectious, dance-like piece.

Hummingbird - The Angel’s Messenger (Peter Meechan) is on the more reflective side of the composer’s musical palette as is Elizabeth Remembered (Debbie Wiseman arr Andrew Wainwright), released as a charity single in aid of The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II after her death in September 2022. The attractive Western Suite (Tom Davoren), with each of the three movements based on a landmark native to Western Colorado, is the latest contribution from Tom’s residency across the pond.

Aurora Dances (Philip Sparke) and Aylesbury Dances (Rob Wiffin) are two sure-fire, three movement winners, at Grade 4 level, with much attractive scoring and plenty to enjoy for players and audience alike from these two experienced and popular composers. Four Irish Dances (Malcolm Arnold arr Ron Rogers) continues the dance theme. Although perhaps darker in colour and mood than his earlier regional dance suites it concludes with a wild, contrapuntal jig in triple time

Hope Springs Eternal (Rob Wiffin) was written during the seemingly interminable lockdowns of 2020. The intention was to compose some positive music as an encouragement during difficult times. It certainly succeeds with that! Rob’s final piece at this level - Joy Unbound - was finished on the day the English Lionesses won Euro 2022 at Wembley! The euphoric nature of the piece fits the exuberance of the occasion. The feel-good factor is apparent throughout the music and makes an effervescent concert opener.

Ravenhill Suite (Dorothy Gates) is based on three well-known Irish folk songs, I’ll Tell Me MaMy Lagan Love and The Flower of Sweet Strabane. These three songs loosely represent various times in the New York based composer’s life while growing up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and are treated in an attractive, easy listening style.

Finally, two adaptations from choral works by their composers. I Know Moonrise (Spiritual for Wind Band) (Jess Langston Turner) began as a piece for alto soloist and choir. It starts slowly and falteringly, with a solo horn replacing the alto voice, in a poignantly blues-influenced melody. The music darkens as it passes out of moonlight and into the graveyard and down into the grave. But on the other side of the grave awaits joy, reconciliation, light and rest. A truly moving work, as is Rest (Frank Ticheli). Transcribed from his own sumptuous choral work, the piece does not need the text to communicate a strong emotional journey. Starting from simple and searching notes in the beginning, the work ends with a triumphant and powerful statement of hope.

Two pieces with their roots in American music are featured at Grade 4.5. A Southern Jubilee (Bruce Broughton) is a celebratory festival piece with a strong Southern American accent from the pen of this exciting composer for film and TV. Hot As Blue Blazes (Robert W Smith) is the contribution from this well loved composer. As the title suggests, the American jazz style and its historic roots in American music is the inspiration for this showcase of exciting Americana.

At Grade 5, in Bacchanalia (Philip Sparke), the spirit of the Greek god of wine does indeed permeate the piece, with bustling themes, dance motifs and occasional harmonic ambiguity. A piece of music full of joie de vivre. Meanwhile Julie Giroux’s Dragon Sky and Of Blood And Stone (The Pyramids Of Giza) show their composer at her most colourful and cinematic best. Take your pick from these two highly creative pieces and send your audience into another world.

 Over The Moon (Frank Ticheli) is the latest piece from the imagination of this fine composer. As in the epic tales of Jules Verne's "From the Earth to the Moon" and Georges Melies iconic 1902 film, "A Trip to the Moon", Ticheli seeks to take the listener on a brief musical voyage Over The Moon. Always interesting, often dance-like and full of exuberance, but never dull, this is one ride to savour. Talking of dancing, Get On Up (Daniel Montoya Jr.) is a brilliant, modern, funky piece written as a tribute to the composer’s dad, created with the music and theatrical performance style of James Brown in mind. That says it all! Play it and try not to move!!!

Flying Jewels (David M. James), at Grade 5.5, won the 2022 William D. Revelli Composition Contest, with this musical depiction of how Europeans described hummingbirds when first encountering them in North America. Dazzling in conception and sparkling with colour, this is a challenging piece well worth the effort and will be attractive to performer and listener alike.

Finally, as a tribute to NCBF Past Chairman Geoffrey Brand, who passed away last year, we are reinstating on to the list a number of well-loved pieces from the G & M Brand Catalogue (available through Studio Music). Geoffrey did so much in encouraging British composers to write for wind band that it is only right that we recognise this magnificent achievement.

Grade 2.5

Roman Times (Bruce Fraser)


Grade 3

A Fairground Suite (Stuart Johnson)

New York Parade (Michael Brand)

Grade 3.5

A Circus Suite (Stuart Johnson)

An Irish Posy (Robert Farnon)


Grade 4

A Cambridge Triptych (Ray Steadman Allen)

Bridges Over The Cam (Derek Bourgeois)

Carnaby Street (Paul Hart)

Eine Kleine Walzermusik (Adam Gorb)

The Forest Of Arden (George Lloyd)


Grade 4.5

Alexandra Palace (Overture) (Gordon Jacob)

Grade 5

A Staffordshire Festival Overture (Stuart Johnson)

Tombstone Arizona (Gareth Wood)


There are many other works that spring to mind from this catalogue and are well worth programming. Hopefully these will be a nudge for MDs to search further into the output of these British composers, and others.