Nigel’s new clarinet quintet `Equiano’ is to be released on Naxos later this year on a disc entitled British Clarinet Quintets. The work is dedicated to Linda Merrick (Clarinet) and the Navarra Quartet. The premiere was given earlier this year by Linda Merrick and the Kreutzer Quartet. Other composers features are Martin Ellerby, Kit Turnbull and Edwin Roxburgh.
Equiano’s inspirational story starts at the age of eleven when he was kidnapped in Nigeria and sold to English slave traders. He was transported to Virginia where he was bought by a British naval officer and spent time on the war ship HMS Preston. Equiano was eventually taken to London where his master renamed him Gustavus Vassa. In 1766 he was able to buy his freedom. Equiano became an important member of the abolitionist movement alongside activists Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce. He documented his experiences of incarceration in a best selling work that was sold in London called `The Interesting Narrative´. This work helped build public awareness of the inhumanity of chattel enslavement. Equiano married an English woman, had children and died a wealthy man in 1792. The Bill for the Total Abolition of Colonial Slavery was passed in parliament in 1833 after his death.
Nigel’s clarinet quintet in one movement is written as a tribute to Olaudah Equiano’s struggle against the inhumanity of slavery.