The Music of Nigel Clarke

Brass Band Buizingen under the baton of Luc Vertommen. Works to be performed on the two discs are: Swift Severn’s Flood, The City in the Se(Euphonium: Glenn Van Looy)Earthrise (European Brass Band Champoinships Own Choice Test Piece 2010), When Worlds Collide (European Brass Band Champoinships Own Choice Test Piece 2013), Mysteries of the Horizon (Cornet: Harmen Vanhoorne) and Tilbury Point. Also there is specially commissioned poetry by Martin Westlakeread by Frank Renton. More information on availability will follow shortly.

Dedicated to the Memory of James Watson

INTRODUCTION TO DISC

My approach to composing has been strongly influenced by a long-term collaboration with the violinist Peter Sheppard Skærved. We met as fellow students at the Royal Academy of Music and had many conversations about what music might be, echoing Beethoven’s ‘note to self’ in his Tagebuch: “Every day share a meal with musicians, where one might discuss instruments and techniques and such….” (1812). We have taken our discussion of ‘techniques and such’ to many countries, and over time the theme of colour has emerged as dominant. This long-term exploration of colour has also been vital to my writing for virtuoso brass players. Indeed, I would say that I write for brass as if they were string instruments!

My first piece for brass band was written during a period as Composer in Residence to the Black Dyke Band (1994-1997) with the then Director of Music, James Watson. He asked me to compose music that would challenge his band in every conceivable way.

After my residency with Black Dyke Band, I had something of a sabbatical from brass band writing until I met the Belgian conductor and brass pedagogue, Luc Vertommen. He asked me to compose for Brass Band Buizingen (BBU) and ultimately I became their Associate Composer. All of the works on this disc, with the exception of my Euphonium concerto, The City in the Sea, have been written for BBU between 2009 and 2013. Each work has been developed by trying out sketches and experimenting with the players. I have profited greatly from Luc and BBU’s creative energy. The two concertos on this disc include my latest work written for the Belgian virtuoso Harmen Vanhoorne, with whom I worked extensively in the composition process, and the second dates back to my Black Dyke days, on this recording played by Glenn Van Looy. Two recordings on this CD are live performances, Swift Severn’s Flood performed at the 2009 World Music Contest in Kerkrade in the Netherlands and Earthrise performed at the 2010 European Brass Band Championships in Linz, Austria.

For each work I commissioned an original piece of poetry by the Brussels based poet Martin Westlake, with the exception of Swift Severn’s Flood, which has as its starting point William Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1.

This disc brings together many different artistic disciplines – the high calibre musicianship of Luc Vertommen and BBU, the imaginative poetry of Martin Westlake dramatised by the voice of Frank Renton, and lastly the musical composition itself.

I would like to give a special mention to Luc Vertommen for his support, encouragement and enthusiasm in the making of this disc.

This double CD collection is dedicated to the memory of the late James Watson who was a great inspiration to me when first writing for brass band.

Nigel Clarke

Hear an extract from `When Worlds Collide’

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