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Bristol composers at the Proms

Press release issued: 10 August 2012

Works by two University of Bristol composers will be performed at the BBC Proms this Sunday [12 August] by the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain.

Prom 40 will feature Wildfire by John Pickard, Professor of Composition and Applied Musicology in the Department of Music and Blitz by Dr Derek Bourgeois, Lecturer in Music at Bristol from 1970 to 1984, as part of a programme that also includes, among others, works for brass and woodwind by Vaughan Williams, Holst and Walton.

Wildfire is part of a bigger work for brass band entitled Gaia Symphony - a four part piece whose components can be (and usually are) performed separately.  First performed in 2005 at the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Gaia Symphony was described by critic Paul Conway as ‘a remarkable achievement, challenging received opinion about the brass band concert repertoire’.

The symphony’s title refers to the Greek goddess of the Earth and its four parts are based on the four elements: Water, Fire, Air and Earth. Wildfire, the first of these movements to be written, was inspired by a newspaper report of two forest fires that started separately then converged on each other.  Although, the piece is not a literal depiction of fire, the music has been described as having a ‘fierce, burning quality’ that builds to an incendiary climax.

Further information about ‘Wildfire’ and a sound clip can be found here.

Derek Bourgeois is the composer of sixty-seven symphonies, fifteen concertos, several other extended orchestral works, seven major works for chorus and orchestra, two operas and a musical.  He is well known for his compositions for brass band and wind band, many of which - including Blitz - serve as test pieces in the highest level of band competition.

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