Elegy – for cornet solo and brass band
This is a piece I wrote originally, in 2014, for solo trumpet and piano, to be played by my son Henry, then 12, on Remembrance Day. It had a huge emotional impact and I promised myself I would arrange it for larger groups. It was subsequently performed by Roger Argente’s Superbrass, with the wonderful James Fountain as soloist. In this recording my son Henry — 15 at the time of recording — plays the solo cornet part.
Here is the brass band arrangement. It starts with an impressionistic opening section featuring a duet between the cornet soloist and an Eb bass, before we move to an exposition of the main theme, which is based on the opening motif of The Last Post, with its instantly recognisable rising fifth.
The central section is more florid, more animated emotionally, with occasional fanfare-like flourishes; I imagined an old soldier visiting the cemetery where so many of his friends are buried, and I imagined the memories and the flashbacks that might take him unawares as old emotions are stirred.
The pieces finishes with a re-statement of the ‘Last Post’ theme and, as the soloist holds the last note the accompaniment drops out momentarily and we see the old soldier — alone with his memories — before the band rejoins him in the final chord.
This piece also exists for Trumpet and Wind Band and I am working on an orchestral version, too.
This is my tribute — as an anti-war pacifist — to our incredibly brave armed forces who, despite the stupidity of the politicians who continually put them in harm’s way, maintain a stoic professionalism that is much to be admired.