"Concorde" by Rob Davies
Surrey Brass commissioned and subsequently premiered "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 premiere was conducted by Tom Hammond.
The fantastic 22-minute long piece commemorated every aspect of the recently-retired airliner, 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.
Now playing a synthesised version of "Droop Snoot" the third movement of "Concorde" - we will bring a clip of the "Concorde" DVD soon.
Surrey Brass founder John Goodwin, said “I have been privileged to have lived under the Concorde flight path for many years, and like many other people, every time I was prevented from holding a conversation it was a great excuse to pause and look skywards and admire one of the most beautiful aircraft ever to grace the skies. I did it every time. One day, before the aircraft was retired from service, I had the idea of creating a piece of music to reflect aspects of Concorde. I hastily scribbled down some words to describe what I had in mind and then forgot about them. It’s so exciting to be able to have these ideas turned into such a brilliant piece, and it’s another special thing for Elmbridge to have. It’s often said that Music is the Soundtrack of our Lives and maybe this exciting piece will become a new soundtrack for Concorde!”
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.
Surrounded by iconic aircraft from many eras in the famous Wellington Hangar at Brooklands, Surrey Brass rehearses for the premiere. At the concert, the music was brilliantly illustrated by a live image show by Ashley Collins, a volunteer at Brooklands. 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. The Programme for the Premiere is available below.
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.
Recording and DVD
The day after the premiere, the soundtrack was recorded in Studio 1, University of Surrey as part of the ongoing partnership between Surrey Brass and the students on the world famous Tonmeister course at the university. Under conductor Tom Hammond and with excellent management by our Producer Lee Reynolds and Recording Engineer Phil Hardisty, the entire piece was in the can by the evening and the process of editing and mixing could begin.
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. Images are synchronised to the music to present powerful and evocative story of the iconic aeroplane curated by Ashley Collins who, as a volunteer at Brooklands Museum, was able to obtain some rare and never before seen images. The soundtrack ends with an audio recording of the very final communications between Heathrow Air Traffic Control and the aircraft when it landed for the final time before going out of service forever.
Surrey Brass gratefully acknowledges the support of the RC Sherriff Trust on the Concorde project. In particular, the generous and enthusiastic support of Maggs Latter helped the project to run smoothly throughout as well as being enormous fun.
More Concorde items are available from our Shop