Surrey Brass commissioned and performed "Concorde" by Rob Davies on Friday 4th May 2007 at The Wellington Hangar, Brooklands Aviation and Motorsport Museum, Brooklands Road, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 0QN.
The fantastic 22-minute long piece commemorated every aspect of the recently-retired airliner, further illustrated by a live image show by Ashley Collins. Performers and audience were surrounded by aircraft in the hanger during the performance. During the interval, guests had the opportunity to tour Concorde "Delta Golf", the first production Concorde built in Britain, thanks to the generosity of the Director of Brooklands Aviation and Motorsport Museum.
Brilliantly combining flavours of John Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine", Big Band Jazz, Steve Reich's music, and much more, Rob Davies creates a sound picture a day in the life of the great aeroplane.
Surrey Brass recorded the piece the same weekend at Studio 1 at the University of Surrey in collaboration with students from the Tonmeister course, and released the music and image show on DVD. This innovative DVD contains a slideshow of hundreds of Concorde images compiled by Ashley Collins, a volunteer at Brooklands Museum which has Concorde "Delta Golf" as its prize exhibit. These are synchronised to the music to present powerful and evocative story of the iconic aeroplane. The DVD is available here.
Concorde is in a number of episodes:
- “Departure Lounge” – A buzz of anticipation. Many languages are heard. Urgency and excitement increases but serenity is maintained.
- “Arrival” – A distant rumble. Concorde is spotted in the skies over the destination. People stop to turn and stare at the beautiful sight coming ever closer. Triumphantly, the ambassador of the sky lands at its destination.
- “Droop Snoot”- A jazzy sophisticated cosmopolitan feel, showing Concorde from a different angle.
- “Mach 2” – Following a monstrous sonic boom, Concorde accelerates to Mach 2. Screaming through the air at high altitude, inside, all is calm and genteel.
- “Afterburner” – Concorde takes off and switches on the afterburner with a roar. Passengers feel a kick in the back, and the aircraft speeds up and climb steeply and quickly disappears out of sight. Peace returns.
Composer Rob Davies
Composer Rob Davies wrote the piece afloat, while playing in a cruise liner band travelling around some exotic locations! Rob says "I try to create music that is a pleasure for both the audience and the performer" and on a previous collaboration with Surrey Brass he wrote music to accompany silent films made in Walton on Thames in 1905 by pioneering cinematographer Cecil Hepworth.
Rob continues “Being a brass player myself I know the kind of music that works well and is a thrill to play; loud, fast and very high!!! The idea behind the music first came from Surrey Brass founder John Goodwin in the form of a six section story describing a journey of the fantastic aircraft. These were entitled; Hangar at 3am., Departure Lounge, Afterburner, Mach 2, Droop Snoot, and the Arrival.
I wrote the music to try and represent these ideas and the sounds that John had envisaged and coupled these with a style of music that will hopefully achieve great energy and momentum. Surrey Brass is a great collection of talented individuals and together they will take every single note and give the music life. I hope the audience can identify the six different sections within the music, and enjoy the overall effect as much as I did writing it!”
Conductor Tom Hammond
The premiere of "Concorde" was conducted by Tom Hammond, who is the first Sir Charles Mackerras Junior Fellow in conducting at Trinity College of Music, London, and has conducted many World and British premieres including Vagn Holmboe's 'Prelude to a Living Stone' and Matthew Taylor's 'Symphony No.3'.
Tom says “I am always excited about the prospect of working on World Premieres, this piece has the added attraction of playing at Brooklands in the shadow of Concorde. Although Rob's piece has its technical challenges for the group I think it will be exhilarating for the audience”.
Tom Hammond was chosen in 2005 by Finnish Maestro Esa-Pekka Salonen as one of only twenty conductors world-wide to participate in the Sibelius International Conductor’s Competition in Helsinki, offering the opportunity to work with the Finnish Radio Symphony and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras and conducting some of the most challenging works in the repertoire.
Engagements at Trinity College of Music include associate conductor for the summer production of Poulenc’s Dialogue des Carmelites and a semi-staged production of Mozart’s Zaide at St. John’s, Smith Square in November. Engagements in 2007 include Elgar’s epic Symphony No. 2 with the City of Southampton Symphony Orchestra, and with Tom’s professional ensemble sound collective, a recording of Luke Anthony’s Saxophone Concerto and performances of Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat.