Tom Davoren - Stillness (Brass Band)
Inspired by the stages of Amelia Earhart's journey, the opening of Tom Davoren's piece attempts to balance two conflicting moods; the obvious and impressive
momentum of air travel and the placid sense of timelessness that must have been
experienced whilst flying above the cloud line. There is an ever-present sense
of underlying tension, which leads to aggressive music depicting the
challenging weather conditions that forced their unexpected landing just off
the coast of South West Wales. Through the mist, a port town becomes
progressively more visible, leading to the image of a small flotilla of working
boats sailing to meet Earhart’s aircraft and gently guide it ashore; the music
here, like the town’s reception is warm and reassuring. As the harbour gates are
cranked open a bustling, exciting atmosphere is revealed as the whole town of
Burry Port have turned out to greet the intrepid, transatlantic visitors.
Throughout the work a melody from the traditional Welsh hymn tune Burry Port by John Roberts becomes progressively clearer; changing from its native minor, to an optimistic major key. Whilst this itself is a reference to the shape of Earhart’s journey, this musical material has been included due to its close connection to Burry Port Town Band. Tab John, a long serving tuba player with the band, discovered what was thought to be lost sheet music for the hymn in a forgotten, threadbare copy of the ‘Welsh Methodist Hymnal’ in a local bric-a-brac shop as I was composing Stillness. The fact that this hymn would have been sung in the community during the time of Earhart’s landing, and that its Welsh text references ‘finding safety in the desert’, made its discovery seem very much like fate.