Silver Rosefor brass band and narrator was commissioned in 2014 by Bristol Cultural Development Partnership to commemorate the centenary of the beginning of World War 1, and is a musical response to five poems by Bristol born poet Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918), who died in action. The work exists in four versions: brass band and narrator (2014); brass band, narrator and the young disabled-led South-West Open Youth Orchestra (2016, OpenUp Music, featured on BBC The One Show); brass band and soprano voice (2017); brass band, narrator and baritone horn (2018).
Silver Rosehas been performed by Lydbrook (premiere), Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Royal Northern College of Music, and Newmains and District Brass Bands. Narrators have included Robert Hardy CBE, Henry Goodman, Barry Farrimond (BBC The Archers) and Micha Lazarus (the poet’s descendant); performance venues Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol Cathedral, Regent Hall London, Royal Northern College of Music, Coltness Memorial Church, Scotland and Trinity College Cambridge.
The choice of poems echo perspectives including atrocities of war and hope for peace. Narration is heard prior to the first, second, third and fifth movements ('On Receiving News of the War', 'Beauty', 'A Careless Heart’ and ‘Song'), which also set the words to music. The fourth, 'Returning, We Hear the Larks', a later addition in the compositional process, is a focal point, with the poem split into three sections and read over the music. Narration and brass band is a relatively unusual combination; the high profile narrators, venues and events have enabled new audiences to become aware of the genre and its capabilities.
The outcome of Silver Rosehas generated further national and international projects, including a new work for fanfare band (2019, the Netherlands), and several further compositions for brass including performances in Malta and the USA, and a recording.