I have been lucky enough to receive 7 premiere performances recently, on 4 different continents!
In May, the Fountain City Brass Band, conducted by Joe Parisi, gave the world premiere of a new work for brass band, called 2nd Epitaph – Across the Water. This second epitaph (the first was written to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster) was written for performance at The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France. The title has a double meaning – firstly the body of water the troops crossed on D-day, and secondly it represents what separates me and the band’s home country – the Atlantic Ocean.
The wind band scoring of this piece was premiered earlier this month (July 2011) in Beijing by the Dunshan Symphonic Wind Orchestra (conducted by Adrian Schneider) – who, in the same concert, also gave the premiere of The Legend of King Arthur in its wind band scoring.
Woolston Brass Band approached me earlier in the year and asked if I would be interested in writing a new work for the band, that would serve as a memory for those lost in the February 2011 earthquake (181 people). Being asked to write this work in their memory was an honour, but I didn’t want it to simply be performed as a memorial. I wanted to compose a work that conveyed the sadness and grief for those lost – a work of remembrance – but also a piece of music that represented peace, hope and strength.
The title and dedication come direct from the commissioners of the work, Woolston Brass Band. The pohutukawa trees stay standing and secure, defiant of the earthquake, in Christchurch’s Garden City, and the pohutukawa tree also has a special significance beyond its physical appearance.
According to Maori mythology, the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga on their journey to the afterlife to leap off the headland and climb the roots of the 800 year old Pohutukawa Tree and descend to the underworld to return to their traditional homeland of Hawaiiki-a-nui, using the Ta Ara Wairua, the spirits pathway.
The Pohutukawa Stands is dedicated to the lives lost in the Christchurch earthquake.
Woolston Brass Band performed the work at the New Zealand National Brass Band Championships as part of their program of four works throughout the contest weekend, and am delighted that they won the contest – congratulations!!
In Memory (FM) is a new work for brass quintet commissioned by Jens Lindemann for the All Stars Brass quintet (a quintet featuring some of the finest brass players on the planet, including Jens Lindemann, Pat Sheridan, Martin Hackleman, Ryan Anthony and Keith Dyrda) who will give the first performance at the Banff Summer Arts Festivals. It is a short work written on the 20th anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death, and uses small snippets of Queen songs as the musical material for the piece.
The final two premieres happened a bit closer to home – here in the UK. The Leyland Band gave the UK premiere of The Legend of King Arthur at the English National Brass Band contest in Preston, and David Thornton gave the first performance of JET A, a new work for euphonium and CD accompaniment, at Regents Hall, London, at the start of July. JET A was commissioned by Robert Benton who will feature the work on his next CD release.