‘With any piece of commissioned music, there was a time before it existed. Gradually, due to the input of a number of significant people, the work is built up and comes into being. Suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, there it is, and it leaves us all. It is itself, and unlike any other.’ Philip Wilby.
World renowned composer Philip Wilby has teamed up with trombonist Brett Baker from the famous Black Dyke Band and celebrated Ripon Cathedral pianist and organist Tim Harper for a special piece which headlines a series of recitals.
Light Fantastic is a concerto written for trombone and piano in memory of Canon Dr Colin Harrison, CBE, an eminent scientist, industrialist and Capitular Canon of Ripon Cathedral, who died in 2019. Composed at the request of his widow Janina and with input from his children who both play the trombone, the piece celebrates his life, energy, and influence.
Philip Wilby explained: “In planning the complexities of this score, Janina and I enjoyed memories of Colin’s time at the cathedral. There were some reflective moments, of course but also some light hearted and happy times. In consequence of this mixture of memories, I have chosen to write a piece that reuses the pattern of the popular dance suites of the late Baroque era; typically this involves the stately opening and complex inner movement of a French overture, followed by a string of dances. These include Kemp’s Jig, a tribute to Shakespeare’s famous clown who danced from London to Norwich, a solo adage, a duo jive, and a comedia dell’arte trio for solemn Pantalone, lovely Columbina and clown Pulcinella.”
Dr Brett Baker is a trombonist with the Black Dyke Band, one of the oldest and best known brass bands in the world. He said: “I was delighted to work on and then perform Philip’s fantastic concerto. This is the first solo performance for me of 2021 due to the lockdown, so it was a thrill to play with Tim (Harper) in the cathedral.”
The inclusion of a jive in the composition came from an abiding memory of Colin’s widow Janina. She said: “We learnt the jive, but unfortunately Colin frequently got it wrong (he was left handed and often confused left foot with right foot) and so he was forced to put in a little hop so as to correct himself and try to keep in time. Until he died he was still, when dancing, trying to do the jive and included a hop and at the same time one arm would whirl round and round like a clock face. So one of my last happy memories of him was at the end of September, not long before his diagnosis and it was of him dancing his strange but loveable dance – not one that would score any points in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’!”
The concerto features in a series of recitals from Ripon Cathedral, with some taking place at the cathedral during the Summer Organ Festival and some solely on-line. The recitals will feature performances from Concert Organist Jonathan Scott (appearing at Ripon Cathedral on July 8), Interim Director of Music Peter Wright, Assistant Director of Music Tim Harper and organist Tom Coxhead – all showcasing the cathedral’s magnificent pipe organ.
Light Fantastic premiered on Sunday June 13 and remains available on Ripon Cathedral – YouTube For tickets, details and programme notes for the Summer Organ Festival visit our what’s on page – tickets are also available on the door, price £10.
The Black Dyke band will be recording an online concert for BrassPassTV on July 3 in the Victoria Theatre in Halifax and will feature Light Fantastic in its symphonic form. The band will also be playing on the forecourt of Ripon Cathedral at 11.30am on Sunday July 4.