`GAGARIN’ performed by Banda Sinfónica de Aveiro

Posted in News on November 12th, 2019 by Nigel – Be the first to comment

Listen to Clarke’s space odyssey `Gagarin’ performed here, in this recent YouTube posting by the Banda Sinfónica de Aveiro under the expert baton of Carlos Marques. This wonderful orchestra are based in Aveiro, Portugal.

Carlos with Nigel

`GAGARIN’ was written for Dr Matthew George and the University of St. Thomas Symphonic Wind Ensemble in Minnesota, USA.

`Gagarin’ published by Studio Music Co.

`GAGARIN’ is written in three movements.   

1. Road to the Stars 

2. Orbit 

3. Homecoming

Yuri Alexeyevich Gagarin was the Soviet farmboy who became the first man in space. He was born on 9 March 1934, and this work celebrates his 70th anniversary. It was not until 1961 that the wider world heard of his name. His short life spanned the 20th century’s most traumatic times from the turmoil of the Second World War in Russia, through to the cold war at the height of which Gagarin served as an officer in the Soviet Airforce. It was against the backdrop of the cold war that the two main post war superpowers competed to launch the first man into space. 

Twenty of the Soviet Union’s exceptional test pilots were selected from a list of over 2000 and put through arduous training.  Only one was to be chosen to be the first cosmonaut in space. Gagarin was the man the authorities selected for this historical flight, the decision being taken only a few weeks before the actual launch. His rocket, now world famous, was `Vostok 1’. 

The launch took place in a specially made launch station in the south of the republic of Kazakhstan at Baikonur. There were many disasters and deaths that paved the way to this event.  Only weeks before the launch, 190 men died when a rocket exploded at the Baikonur site. It was doubtful whether Gagarin knew about this as the whole project was shrouded in secrecy. 

By today’s standards the whole launch process was primitive, but on 1st April 1961 Yuri Gagarin orbited Earth for 108 minutes before returning to Earth and landing near the village of Smelkovka in the Saratov region. His return to Earth was reported to be witnessed by one or two local country people. As knowledge of the mission was confined to a privileged few, for them it must have been an unnerving sight. 

Gagarin’s experience obviously had a profound effect on him: after his orbit he said `Circling the earth in the orbital spaceship I marvelled at the beauty of our planet. People of the world, let us safeguard and enhance this beauty – not destroy it!’

In Gagarin’s own official account of events `Road to the Stars’ he describes that at the moment of launch he heard an ever-growing din and felt the rocket tremble all over before it slowly lifted off. He also spoke of a huge range of musical tones, pitches and timbres that no composer or set of musical instruments or voices could ever duplicate.

Gagarin became a national hero after his courageous mission, but although he gained world-wide recognition, he was never allowed to fly in space again. He died tragically on 28th March 1968 whilst flying his MiG-15UTI jet. 

In `Gagarin’ I have tried to capture the spirit of the times. ‘Road to the Stars’ concentrates on the excitement of those involved, the strength of Gagarin’s character and the launch itself. ‘Orbit’ looks at the exhilaration that Gagarin might have experienced and the impression that seeing Earth from space would have had on him. ‘Homecoming’ is a celebration in the form of a Russian folk dance. At various moments in the work I use fragments of the Soviet national anthem `Sing to the Motherland, home of the free’ (now revised and adopted as the Russian national anthem). 


Posted in News on October 27th, 2019 by Nigel – Comments Off on LA FLEUR EN PAPIER DORÉ

La Fleur en Papier Doré (in Dutch: Het Goudblommeke in Papier) is to be premiered on 20th December 2019 at the Mid-West Clinic, Chicago at the McCormick Convention Centre by the US orchestra Grand Symphonic Winds under the baton of Professor Matthew J. George. The work is commissioned by HAFABRA Music and dedicated to Louis MARTINUS.

La Fleur en Papier Doré in central Brussels

La Fleur en Papier Doré (The Golden Paper Flower) is named after a historic bar dating back to the 18th Century in the heart of Brussels, Belgium.  

In the 20th century it became a meeting place for members of the Belgian surrealist movement, including the artist René Magritte. The writer Georges Prosper Remi, better known by his pseudonym Hergé of Tin Tin fame, also  frequented this bar, as did the Belgian singing legend Jacques Brel. 

René Magritte is seen second from the right in this photo.

La Fleur en Papier Doré is located next to the antique quarter of Brussels, the Sablon, and has a similar old-world atmosphere. The walls of the bar are covered in artifacts, philosophical citations and yellowing sepia photographs, and the wooden bench tables are etched in graffiti from the past, giving it a unique and quirky feel. 

I am a frequent visitor to La Fleur en Papier Doré. Apart from the attraction of the famous Belgian beers and traditional cuisine on offer(!), I am excited to think of all those great minds, intellects and talents that have come together there. From my very first visit I felt I wanted to write about this unique haunt. I have described my musical offering as a `Surrealist Fantasy’. The work is written in two distinct sections named after Magritte paintings: I. La Lampe Philosophique (The Philosopher’s Lamp) II. L’Echelle de Feu (The Ladder of Fire). Both are intended to conjure up the no doubt thought-provoking conversations and debates that must have taken place amongst all those eminent artists, writers and poets as they propped up the bar.

`Outrageous Fortune’

Posted in News on March 13th, 2019 by Nigel – Comments Off on `Outrageous Fortune’

Report copied from 4barsrest: https://www.4brmusic.com/news/detail.asp?id=37493&fbclid=IwAR2uvrlG1GCAe5infdfe_psHQVb4BXpCm45_SCMztv8zo8rFYWqb2sUxcsY

Brett Baker’s latest solo CD release includes four major concertos for trombone and wind ensembles by Jan Van der Roost, Soren Hyldgaard, James Stephenson and Nigel Clarke. After returning from the USA after performing as the guest soloist at James Madison University’s ‘Tromblow’in’ festival, Black Dyke trombone star Brett Baker has released a new CD on the emerging Toccata Next label.


Affiliated with Toccata Classics and distributed by Naxos, the CD is aimed the growing market for serious contemporary music from internationally renowned performers. Entitled ‘Outrageous Fortune’- named after one of the four major concerto works for trombone and wind bands featured on it by composer Nigel Clarke, the release also showcases the first recorded performance of Jan Van der Roost’s ‘Contrasts’, as well as Soren Hyldgaard’s ‘Rapsodia Borealis’, James Stephenson’s ‘Concerto Braziliano’. Speaking to 4BR Brett gave an insight into the exciting repertoire featured on the CD which is released this weekend.

Outrageous Fortune

“Nigel’s ‘Symphony Number 2 for Trombone, Voice Actor and Wind Ensemble’ really is ‘Outrageous Fortune’ for me,” he said. “The piece was premiered in 2017 with the Middle Tennessee Wind Ensemble and I subsequently recorded it at the end of 2017 with the RNCM Wind Ensemble in Manchester. Both performances were conducted by MTSU’s Professor of Music & Conducting, Dr Reed Thomas, who was very much part of the whole CD project.” He added: “Nigel put me in touch with Reed when he finished composing his amazing ‘Symphony No. 2’ for me in 2016, and I visited MTSU in 2016 to record Hyldgaard’s ‘Rapsodia Borealis’ to see if we could get the project to work.” Affiliated with Toccata Classics and distributed by Naxos, the CD is aimed the growing market for serious contemporary music from internationally renowned performers4BR

Hit it off

Brett continued: “Reed and I hit it off and have remained firm friends ever since, and over the past two years I visited a further three times to record Nigel’s piece and then Jim Stephenson’s ‘Concerto Braziliano’. Jim’s work is very popular and is played by trombonists all over in the USA. However, it has never received a studio recording, so I was excited to be the first to premiere the studio version of this substantial work by a leading composer. All that and it’s been great to perform Jan Van der Roost’s ‘Contrasts’ which was recorded back in October 2018 and is a piece that has already received rave reviews from those that have listened to the brass band version.”

Glebe Symphonic Winds Orchestra perform ‘Their Finest Hour’

Posted in News on January 14th, 2019 by Nigel – Comments Off on Glebe Symphonic Winds Orchestra perform ‘Their Finest Hour’

The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford will once again celebrate the contributions made by Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, by hosting an orchestra concert and a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster flypast on Saturday 30 June for Armed Forces Day.

The highly decorated Glebe Symphonic Winds Orchestra will be performing for veterans, serving personnel and visitors alike, in a special one hour concert celebrating the RAF’s Centenary.  This intimate musical performance will include classical pieces with everything from ‘Their Finest Hour’ by Nigel Clarke, ‘The Dam Busters’ by Eric Coates, to ‘The Royal Air Force March Past’ by Walford Davies and many more.

The Laurier Brass Ensemble perform `Earthrise’

Posted in News on December 13th, 2018 by Nigel – Comments Off on The Laurier Brass Ensemble perform `Earthrise’

On 29 March the Laurier Brass Ensemble at the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, Ontario in Canada performed Nigel’s space epic `Earthrise’.
in thier Theatre Auditorium.