Cat No. JM38362
Composer: Kevin Norbury
TEST PIECES (Major Works)
Set as the Championship Section Test piece for the 2018 Regional Brass Band Championships of Great Britain.
This piece was inspired by the ancient Celtic hymn Be Thou My Vision and Dante’s Inferno. Some may think this a strange combination - perhaps it is, but these two sources will help in understanding the thinking behind the work. I have tried to portray the imaginary journey of a human soul from the ‘darkness’ of the earthbound situation to the ‘light’ of spiritual union with God. The inspiration of the hymn places this imaginaryjourney in a speciﬁcally Christian context since the focus of the vision is the Trinity.
The mood of the music at its commencement is brooding and troubled, with angular melodic lines, dissonant harmonies and pounding rhythms. While looking at this piece again, I have noticed how the interval of a 4th. emerges as a fundamental element in its melodic and harmonic construction. The piece undergoes a number of stylistic changes in the course of its progress - from the seriousness of the opening to exuberance and triumph at the end. I know that when I was writing the piece, I was working with a very speciﬁc imaginary program in mind - to explain that would require a lengthy and tedious analysis. l will feel happier if players and listeners are able to comprehend something meaningful for themselves and reach their own conclusions about the content of the piece.
The melody usually associated with the hymn is also of Celtic origin and is called Slane in most hymnals. A slightly altered version of this melody appears toward the middle of the piece as a martial "leitmotif" propelling the pilgrim onward toward the light. That however, is the only appearance of the melody. After that, the music becomes my own interpretation of the hymn, because the remainder of the piece is based on my own choral setting of the words — the melody of which is heard in its entirety as the cornet solo at the commencement of the slow section (Bar 232). You will hear the melody once more towards the end of the piece in a tranquil but joyous setting, marked ‘Flying’ in the score (Bar 296). The music ends triumphantly as the soul is united with the Creator.
Kevin Norbury’s powerful major work was selected as the Championship Section test piece of the 1999 European Brass Band Championships held in Munich. The piece was inspired by the ancient Celtic hymn “Be Thou My Vision” and Dante’s Inferno. The mood of the music at its commencement is brooding and troubled, with angular melodic lines, dissonant harmonies and pounding rhythms. The work undergoes a number of stylistic changes in the course of its progress — from the seriousness of the opening to exuberance and triumph at the end.
Kevin Norbury is currently employed by The Salvation Army USA Eastern Territory as Music Editor, a position previously occupied by, among others, Erik Leidzen, Peter Graham, Brian Bowen and James Curnow. He moved to the United States at the beginning of 1998 having previously been Senior Editor in the SA’s Music Editorial Department based in London for nearly ﬁve years. An active Salvationist, he attends the Montclair Citadel Corps just outside New York City in New Jersey. He is a faculty member of the famed Star Lake Musicarnp and is frequently invited as an instructor to other music camps ~ he enjoys working with young musicians.
Kevin has had a large number of brass and vocal compositions published by The Salvation Army and is now beginning to have music published in the wider musical world. Having started composing relatively late, he still feels he has a lot to learn from the more experienced and established composers and is always open to new inﬂuences. His real musical loves are choral music (both as a participant and conductor) and being an accompanist. He has no favorite composer but admires and reveres J.S. Bach and Mozart above all others. His hobbies are reading, walking, birdwatching and listening to all kinds of music.
As a composer of works for brass band he is also well known outside the UK. His work Odyssey was chosen as a mandatory work for the European Brass Band Championships in Munich in 1999. In 2005, he received the assignment of the North American Brass Band Association to write the honorary section of the North American Brass Band Championships . He is the Composer of the Army of the Salvation International Staff Band and works as a publisher of the Army of the Army in London , New York City and Toronto .
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