...Second Section bands might remember Kenneth Hesketh’s Danceries being used as the National Finals test piece in 2002, although The Alchymist’s Journal is a more ambitious work, commissioned by Paul Hindmarsh for Black Dyke to play at the 2002 Festival of Brass.

Hesketh is another composer that enjoys a major reputation in contemporary classical music (his orchestral work Graven Image was premiered at this year’s Proms).

His language however demonstrates great versatility, with his band works generally showing a more tonally orientated side to his nature than the more cutting edge sounds of his “classical” works.

14 October 2008
New Music for Brass Band
Christopher Thomas

...Kenneth Hesketh has now written a significant body of work for brass and wind band and is a composer whose versatility of expression can sometimes belie the fact that his “natural” language is very much at the cutting edge of contemporary music. His works for band however often demonstrate a more conventionally melodic side to his nature, The Alchymist’s Journal comprising a set of brilliantly scored continuous variations, each developed from the same six note motif and drawing inspiration from the book by American author Evan S. Connell. The Alchymist’s Journal is one of two works on the disc (along with Judith Bingham’s Prague) that have been recorded before, although in the case of the Hesketh this richly detailed new recording easily eclipses the former by the Leyland Band and released by Faber Music in 2003. Hesketh’s is a dynamic and exciting musical voice that deserves greater attention within the brass band world; to hear him write for band in his first language would be an intriguing prospect indeed.

October 2008
Christopher Thomas
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