Dragon Dances was commissioned by Owen Farr, who is also the work’s dedicatee, gave the first performance with the Cornwall Youth Band conducted by Richard Evans on 5 April 2010 and has recorded it on his solo CD “A New Dawn” accompanied by the Cory Band conducted by Philip Harper.
Being a Welsh composer, writing music for a Welsh soloist, I was naturally keen to reflect this in the music, and I drew inspiration from two particularly Welsh concepts – “hiraeth” and “hwyl”. “Hiraeth” is a word that has no direct translation into English, but an approximation would be ‘yearning for home’. Like the other celtic nations, Wales has a widespread diaspora of people who left to seek new lives out in the empire and “hiraeth” is a way of summing up the homesickness felt by these exiles, some of whom return each year for a special ceremony at the Royal National Eisteddfod. “Hwyl” is an even more complicated word, variously meaning ecstatic joy, fervour, equable temperament and even the characteristic sing-song oration style of the great Welsh Methodist preachers.
I have attempted to make the music reflect both of these, with the melancholy first part of the work inspired by the hymns and solo songs for which Wales is famous, and the second part having a much more dance-like, joyful quality.
Watch/Listen to the score below:
2 solo cornets, 2nd and 3rd cornets require cup mutes. 2 solo cornets require harmon mutes with tubes removed (marked ‘TR’ in the score).1st horn and 1st baritone require straight mutes, preferably fibre.
1st trombone requires a straight mute, 2nd and bass require cup mutes.
Percussion instruments required are vibraphone, glockenspiel, timpani, snare drum, suspended cymbal and tam tam