2009 saw Nigel write his first work for brass band since 1999 for Luc Vertommen and Brass Band Buizingen based near Brussels, Belgium. The commission is called `Swift Severn’s Flood´ and was premiered at the 16th World Music Contest in Kerkrade, Netherlands on 12th July 2009.
`Swift Severn’s Flood´ is a musical portrait of William Shakespeare’s fictional depiction of Edmund de Mortimer’s bloody battle with Owen Glendower (Owain Glyn Dwr) on the banks of the River Severn in Henry IV, Part I. Owen Glendower c.1359 – 1415 had legitimate claim to the title Prince of Wales and took up arms against Henry IV to this end. Initially in 1405 he was successful in his quest, and the great castles of Harlech and Aberystwyth were captured, until Prince Henry (eventually to become Henry V) reversed Glendower’s success. We do not know what happened to Glendower: English writers of the time say he died of starvation in the Welsh mountains, while Welsh legend has it that he died of old age escaping English retribution.
Nigel developed `Swift Severn’s Flood´ in a number of workshops and rehearsals with Luc Vertommen and Brass Band Buizingen. This was an example of how the collaborative process between performer(s) and composer affects not only the finished piece of music, but also the performance.
The title of the work is a quotation from Henry IV, Part I, delivered by Hotspur (Henry Percy). `Swift Severn’s Flood´ is in one movement and is both heroic and brooding in nature. The work requires great virtuosity with fast furious running passages juxtaposed with extreme dynamic contrasts. This is the second of Nigel’s brass band works which explore a Welsh theme, `Gwennan Gorn´ being the first which was written for James Watson and the National Youth Brass Band of Wales and recorded by Robert Childs and the Cory Band.[audio:http://www.nigel-clarke.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/Swift-Severns-Website1.mp3]