English Heritage, George Lloyd
This week's listening recommendation is a shout out to our assistant principal cornet, Martin, who has just started a new career as an embarrassing uncle to young Mr Heritage, born on Wednesday. This gives me the perfect excuse to write about one of my favourite pieces of music, combining as it does brass bands and historical real estate. English Heritage is in a minority among longer works for brass in that it was written by a 'proper' composer, George Lloyd, who in addition to his band oeuvre produced twelve symphonies, three operas, and a number of other orchestral works.
These generally tend to go on a bit, but in the case of English Heritage, the cash stimulus provided by a special commission (by, you guessed it, English Heritage) seems responsible for the triumphant summing up of 2,000 years of history in a mere 17 minutes of brass band dynamite. The work commences with a series of semiquaver double-helixes and generally gets more complicated from then on, as we move through a succession of folksong-like variations expressed alternately with whimsical abandon and goatish plangency.
Metallic percussion blasts and geological trombone choirs invoke the craggy scale of many an abandoned historical property, while the solo cornet super E-flat final dash through the gift shop for the coach lingers long in the listener's memory. Congratulations to the heritage family and to Martin.