About this Recording
8.573184 - Wind Band Music - CLARKE, N. / TURNBULL, K. / SANTANDREU, J. (Earthrise) (MTSU Wind Ensemble, Thomas)
English 

Earthrise: Music for Wind Band

 

Nigel Clarke (b 1960)

Nigel Clarke began his musical career as a military bandsman but a developing interest in composition, stimulated by the New Polish School of composers, took him to the Royal Academy of Music to study with Paul Patterson. Here, several significant awards, including the Josiah Parker Prize and the Queen’s Commendation for Excellence, the Royal Academy of Music’s highest distinction, recognized his striking originality and capacity for hard work. In 2008 the award of Doctor of Musical Arts was conferred upon him by Salford University. Clarke’s previous positions include the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Royal Academy of Music, the London College of Music and Media, the Royal Northern College of Music and Associate Composer to the Black Dyke Band. He is currently Associate Composer to Brass Band Buizingen and Composer in Residence to the Marinierskapel der Koninklijke Marine (Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy) as well as a Visiting Adjunct Professor of Music at MTSU. He also works as a film composer and has been nominated several times at the World Soundtrack Awards.

[1] Earthrise (2010)

Earthrise was originally written for and given its première by Brass Band Buizingen under the direction of Luc Vertommen. I transcribed this piece for the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble and its conductor Reed Thomas.

Earthrise is the name of one of the most iconic photographs in history. The original NASA image named AS8-14-2383 was one of a series of photographs taken by William Anders and the Apollo 8 crew on 24 December 1968 during the first manned mission to the Moon. Astronaut Michael Collins, who was later to take part in the Apollo 11 mission that first landed on the Moon and who was working on the ground as capsule communicator for the Apollo 8 team, called their mission “more awe-inspiring than landing on the Moon”. The crew were not briefed by NASA to take photographs of the Earth on their mission but of the Moon; anything else was a so-called “target of opportunity”, so it is extraordinary that the most famous image to be captured on their mission was photograph AS8-14-2383!

Earthrise is written in one continuous movement but divided into three sections fast-slow-fast. In each section I try to emulate the different aspects of the entire flight; from the thunderous roar of the engines igniting and the subsequent speed and power of the take off, to the weightless orbit around the dark side of the moon and the 25,000 mph journey back through space ending with the triumphant splashdown in the Pacific.

Earthrise received its US première with the MTSU Wind Ensemble, conducted by Dr Reed Thomas, on 15 April 2012 in the T Earl Hinton Music Hall. The various moods of Earthrise are reflected and captured by Martin Westlake in a poem of the same name specially commissioned to accompany this score.

Earthrise
by Martin Westlake

On 21 December 1968,
In a daring escape,
Three men with a pocket calculator
Rode a roaring tower of 5.6 million parts
Into Floridian skies
And soared into expectant orbit.

While they gazed back at a world fast changed
From landscape to planet,
Gravity drove them,
A pebble flung from Earth’s sling,
Across the vast astrolabe

Towards their lunar destination.
Rushing slowly through utter loneliness,
They floated in their silvery dust speck,
Gliding and sliding along an invisible plane
Towards the moon’s bright disk,
And there they hid in the black nothingness
Of the dark side.

Celestial tourists drifting back into light,
Their camera-ed necks craning
through fogged up windows,
They caught a target of opportunity,
A twin-filmed grain of rock
floating with all its peoples,
A colourful, half-lit pendulum,
Swinging out from the moon’s
pockmarked cheek.

Borman, Anders and Lovell
– the three exceptions,
Gazed at the rest of humanity
in its distant invisibility,
Then fell a quarter of a million miles,
Bouncing on the atmosphere
before streaking earthward,
An orange slash in a black piece of velvet,
Parachuting down to the Pacific’s waves.

Man had been to the moon,
but he had seen the earth,
Seen what gods saw, seen what gods made;
He had seen the earth rise,
Seen frontiers and races disappear.
And, just for a while, it seemed
That man would think as gods thought.

[5]–[10] Heritage Suite (2010)

Heritage Suite (What Hope Saw) is dedicated to and written for conductor John Hutchins and the members of Eynsford Concert Band (Kent, England). It was suggested by the band that I should write a work inspired by the bronze sculpture by Sarah Cunnington entitled Hope. The sculpture, found on the Green in West Malling, Kent, is in the shape of a woman running with a dove perched on her hand. The woman’s cloak billows out behind her and contains eight panels describing the town’s local history over the centuries. Historians often focus on the big events that shape our world, but the themes within the eight panels are rather about the fabric of day-to-day life that makes up West Malling’s heritage.

Heritage Suite is a six-movement work representing these eight different subjects. To give my suite a sense of unity, musical ideas from previous movements reappear in unexpected places implying that history often repeats itself. Martin Westlake has written a specially commissioned poem entitled What Hope Saw to accompany Heritage Suite and explain West Malling’s history in more detail.

What Hope Saw
by Martin Westlake

1.
From the control tower she gazed out on Kings Hill
And saw the Walrus dancing
with Amy Johnson in the mist,
Whilst the crews of phantom squadrons
scrambled across the grass
Where All Muggleton and Dingley Dell
played for posterity
On the back of a ten pound note
as it changed hands
In West Malling’s flourishing market.

2.
Looking down from Gundulf’s keep
she wept as the market goers
Sneezed and bled, dwindling down to fifteen
Desperate souls who’d ever mourn and say
How prayer had saved them
as the shadow moved on,
Leaving just four sisters to sing for deliverance.

3.
She watched the hay bales graze
in Old Kent’s stubbled jowl;
In winter, she saw the apple trees
claw upwards from his chest to scratch
His sheep-maggoty cheeks.
In spring, the farmers ploughed his chin
And talced his blue-ish skin
with scattered seed so that each summer
His beard would grow
and the altars fill with abundance.

4.
She smiled through the golden screens
of hop tresses as the pickers
Supped and drank, sprawled on
the Swan’s lawns or astride its benches,
Happily distant from East End murk and stench.
Through the night the brewer’s drays
dragged their fragrant loads to Faversham,
Where the flower cones tumbled
into gurgling coppers.

5.
She lounged behind the boundary rope,
sipping fresh scented summer ale,
And watched the shadows slowly stretch out
to tickle her toes
As willow and leather and whites
and wickets commingled
With sparrowed hedges, holleyhocked gardens
and milk-bottled porches,
Whilst the shadows of spitfires
and mosquitoes flitted overhead.

6.
She stood at the entrance to Ford House
and watched Wyatt drift fruitlessly
Back from Ludgate. She closed her eyes
as the rebellion was crushed and Wyatt
Beheaded, but when she opened them again
his lands had been returned,
The market was flourishing
and the Abbey was rich in song and prayer,
A concert band played in the Tithe Barn,
And in history’s mirror she saw herself running,
dove in hand, towards…hope.

[12] Their Finest Hour (2010)

Their Finest Hour was commissioned by the Central Band of the Royal Air Force to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The US première was performed by the MTSU Wind Ensemble on 18 November 2010, in the T Earl Hinton Music Hall. Both the première and this recording were conducted by Lindsay Seagroves. The title of the work is taken from a speech delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill on 18 June 1940, within which he famously spoke the words “This was their finest hour”. Allied pilots in the Battle of Britain known as the ‘The Few’ numbered 2,353 British and 574 from overseas. The battle was fought over Britain between 10 July and 31 October. The battle saw 544 lives lost and a further 791 lost before the end of the war.

Their Finest Hour starts with a section subtitled ‘Scramble’—an alarm is sounded on the airfield for the fighter pilots to scramble to their planes—the alarm bell that is used in this recording was actually used in the Battle of Britain back in 1940. The snare drum represents the sound of engines coughing and spluttering into action followed by the unmistakable roar of Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane engines. The next short section, entitled This Was Their Finest Hour, is nostalgic and lyrical in nature. The mood of this patriotic music is broken by a short battle sequence Bandits, one o’clock! Soon the aerial skirmish subsides and is followed by Victory & Flypast, which builds on the nostalgic melody heard earlier, and brings the piece to a triumphant close. Martin Westlake’s specially commissioned poem of the same title evokes the period.

Their Finest Hour
by Martin Westlake

Our finest, there;
Scrambling
Across history books,
Penning foreign names,
Great loops and swoops
In the blue void,
Floating and fighting,
Fleeing and flailing,
Dotted fuselages
Flaming earthwards
To young deaths
Vengeful brothers,
Stalking and chasing,
Spitting justice,
Howling menace,
Never flinching,
Steadily gaining,
Until fiercely triumphant
In this,
Their finest hour

Nigel Clarke

Kit Turnbull (b 1969)

Kit Turnbull began his musical career as a keyboard player in a rock band before joining Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service in 1991 as a bassoonist. From 1997 he studied composition with Martin Ellerby at the London College of Music, where he subsequently became a course leader and composition tutor. He is currently Composition and Arranging tutor to the Royal Air Force Music Services. A recipient of the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1998, he has since completed numerous commissions that have been performed all over the world. Since 2001 he has worked as a freelance recording producer for Polyphonic Reproductions, collaborating with the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, RAF Central Band, Grimethorpe Colliery Band and Fodens Band.

[2]–[4] Griot (2009)

In the past, the rôle of the professional musician in West African Tribes was reserved for the Griot (pronounced GREE-o). They still exist today as an equivalent to European troubadours, chronicling the history of their tribes through poetry and song. They are taught by their tribal elders and are required to memorize the songs, poetry, and history of their ancestors.

Music is a central part of West African tribal life in song, dancing and drumming, and accompanies the many festivals, ceremonies, and tribal activities that are celebrated. A Griot is always present at tribal occasions and is central in not only telling stories through poetry, music and mime, but also drawing in the audience until they become a key part of the performance. Even in the modern age, the Griot maintains a highly important position in the spiritual and cultural life of their tribe.

1. The Orator
The Griot (in this case the trombonist) uses his skills as a poet to recount stories from tribal history, drawing in the audience through words, mime and movement to create a living tale.

2. The Songsmith
While the choir chant quietly in the background, the Griot tells his tale through song

3. Dancers and Drummers
As the Griot performs, the audience becomes part of the occasion, participating in the spectacle through song and dance.

Griot was first performed by David Loucky (trombone) and the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble, conducted by Reed Thomas, on Friday 3 February 2012, in the T Earl Hinton Music Hall, MTSU.

Kit Turnbull

Jesús Santandreu (b 1970)

Jesús Santandreu began his studies at the Conservatorio Mestre Vert, in Carcaixent, Valencia. He studied with Manuel Miján at the Conservatorio Profesional Amaniel and the Conservatorio Superior. He graduated magnum cum laude from Berklee College of Music (Boston, Massachusetts) in 2000 and completed his Master’s degree in conducting from MTSU in 2013. Santandreu has been commissioned to write for multiple ensembles including, but not limited to, the Adolphe Sax Saxophone Quartet, the Spanish Brass Luur Metalls, Sedajazz, Orquesta Azahar de Castellón, IV Congreso Iberoamericano de Compositores, and Bläserphilharmonie Heilbronn. His music has been performed throughout Europe and the United States. Santandreu is among Spain’s most important jazz musicians. He began performing when he was only fourteen, as a member of the Jove Jazz Band, where he is currently the Artistic Director.

[11] Sortes Diabolorum (2010)

The definition of Sortes Diabolorum is taken from the Russian writer Helena Pretovna Blavatsky’s (1831–1891) book The Theosophical Glossary. I personally find her writing a source of inspiration for many of my compositions. The Latin word sortes means luck and refers to a way of predicting the future that was commonly used for thousands of years. This practice consisted of asking a question, choosing any book, opening it randomly at any page, and taking a quotation from the open pages and using that as the answer. This method was widely used for centuries by Arabs, Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans and many more.

During the Middle Ages Saint Augustine used it quite frequently. It was during this time that the term sortes became Sortes Sanctorum, as the clergy would use this method, always using the Bible as the reference book. This future-telling practice continued to be used by others outside the clergy and a term, coined by the church, Sortes Diabolorum became the description of this practice when used by a lay person or pagan.

The historical framework that gave rise to the emergence of the Inquisition, when sorcerers and witches were persecuted and burned at the stake, is the context of this piece. Despite the atmosphere of unease that surrounds Sortes Diabolorum, there are also quite a few moments of peaceful calm that remind us of the mysticism of the piece. Throughout the work, the textures are treated in such a way that each section gradually attains a higher level of brightness culminating in the tremendous finale, which expresses the triumph of common sense over the shortsightedness of those dark, repressive times.

Sortes Diabolorum received its US première with the Middle Tennessee State University Wind Ensemble, under Reed Thomas on 13 October 2011, in the T Earl Hinton Music Hall.

Jesús Santandreu

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