Ballade For An Entablature

This short piece is very dear to my heart and lasts only about 3 minutes. It was written down in 1988 when I was 19, but had been with me in my head since I was about 8. Back then I had no idea how to write down full orchestral music, but after all my teenage years spent feeding off the Great Masters and studying their brilliant orchestrations in scores, I finally made an attempt at notating this florid little piece when I was at college (London College of Music) in 1988. Not wishing to waste it, I have now revised it and finally prepared its score and parts for performance.

Instrumentation

Piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 Bflat clarinets, B flat Bass Clarinet(to low C), 2 bassoons, 2 French horns in F, 2 Bflat Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass trombone, Glock, 2 harps, celesta, large string section to accommodate divisi into 3 for all except the basses.

Duration – 3 minutes approx.

All the parts are fairly straightforward, except the harps and celesta, which I believe to be of some challenge.

I am now aware that the title “Ballade” is misleading as it is too short to be a true ballade, however, the name just came with the music and I have found it impossible to change it to anything else. It is just what it is, I’m afraid!

The piece has its own unique storyline, and if any alternative title could be found then it would be The Carousel. It came, as much of my music tends to do, in a very vivid dream when I was a child, as the background music to a make-believe film scene where a young child finds a decayed, rotting carousel buried deep amid the forest near to her new home. So why  Entablature ? Simple. In the dream, as the girl stares up at her grand new home for the first time, the stately entablature crowning the front door tells her in her mind to go into the woods and find The Carousel. Not understanding, but excited and intrigued, she obeys, unbeknown to her parents, who are busy dealing with the removal men.

The wildlife, brambles and undergrowth have grown up all over the huge old carousel, the paint on its once beautiful horses is peeled away, it is rusted and falling apart. But, with the magic of a child’s imagination, believing in it once again, it begins to gain spiritual energy and flicker its lights. This is the point at which, if used as film music to this scene, my piece would begin. The old decayed carousel slowly starts up, creaking, grinding and slow, the ivy and brambles tearing away as it gains momentum. Gradually it begins to look as it did in its prime – beautiful, glittering and swirling around gracefully, the girl somehow riding on one of the now spectacular horses. She has a most glorious, wonderful, wind swept, magical ride, filled with the most incredible loving happiness she’s ever felt, and this piece’s soaring, majestic music reflects just this.

If it was to find a place in a concert programme, I believe it would be a lovely encore – a really loving way to send your audience home from a great night out. A thank you to the audience. A Good Night To All kind of piece. Full of love and delight.

Because 2 harps is a big ask for most orchestras, I am going to transform one of the harp parts to a piano part, just to make the piece that bit more accessible. But I dare do no more than that. It is, for me, one of those rare musical gems and I don’t wish to start altering it too much. All I have for now is my computer playback recording, but at least it will give you a rough idea of what it will sound like. Although, of course, a real orchestra is what’s truly needed. So, it’s now up for grabs. Any orchestras out there like to give it a whirl? You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

Comments are closed.