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Program note: Stephen Cronin's "Aftermath!"

  • program note by the composer

Like other community music groups such as choirs and youth orchestras, the brass band movement has always played a significant part in training young musicians in Australia.  Indeed, my own early musical training at the piano was augmented by participation in a local brass band playing flugel horn and later in the military cadet band at high school where I was occasionally called upon to arrange music for the band. These rich and varied formative musical experiences gave me an understanding of ensemble playing, instrumental timbres, effective voicings and texture, a sense of what works in ensemble writing...essential knowledge for the development of the composer's craft. As a professional composer, the opportunity to use these skills writing for brass band came in 1987 as a commission to write a piece for the Tasmanian Bands League.

Aftermath! is a challenging work featuring uncompromising dissonance and rhythmic complexity to test the skills of the individual players as well as the cohesiveness of the ensemble. Throughout the score allusions are made to the music of Gustav Holst, most obvious in a recurrent chord from Mars, the Bringer of War (first movement of The Planets).

Although the work is not programmatic, the title can be understood as a contemplation of the aftermath of war but further alluding to the interest of Gustav Holst in brass instruments and his influence on the brass band movement. The central trombone solo ("con melancolia") is a brief lament referring to Holst's proficiency on that instrument." S.C.

Stephen Cronin is Head of Composition at Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. His oeuvre is diverse and his music is commissioned and performed both in Australia and overseas.


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