That this House congratulates the composer Colin Decio and the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra on the world premiere of The Cheltenham Symphony; notes that the symphony tells of the architecture and history of Cheltenham and of the surrounding rolling hills; further notes that the strings open out at times as if soaring over the edge of a ledge like a bird of prey looking down on a Cotswold landscape; commends the composer on including a harmonic reference to the Cheltenham composer Gustav Holst, and for remembering a tragic bombing raid on Cheltenham in World War II, as well as providing lighter musical representations of a braying donkey, a runaway train and his family's Ukrainian background; appreciates that the aim of the symphony is one of hope and triumph over adversity; wishes Colin Decio success with this work and anticipates with relish the world premiere of his Gloucester Symphony, which has yet to be performed; and urges the Government to ensure that musical talent is adequately supported in Britain as it is in other advanced countries.
"David Curtis' thoughtful conducting succeeded in bringing out the intensity and visionary nature of Decio's music"
Roger Jones Glos. Echo - after world-premiere.
This three movement, forty-two minute work was written for, and about, the beautiful Cotswold town of Cheltenham.
I have chosen the photo above to represent the symphony. A Gloucestershire Echo photographer took it after a bombing raid during World War II; my father came to England from the Ukraine as a direct result of the war.
I began the symphony at UEA in Norwich where I was studying PGCE secondary music - 'they' were trying to teach me educational psychology whilst I was writing a symphony. I finished the work in Cheltenham and dedicated the last movement 'in memoriam Gustav Holst'.
The Symphony begins with a dramatic gesture with the strings leaping in ninths. This tells of the architecture of Cheltenham town and of the surrounding rolling hills. At times the strings open out as if soaring over the edge of a ledge like a bird of prey looking down on a Cotswold landscape.
The second movement for strings alone is more desperate - it reaches out for something more. The cellos divide into three parts in places to give a deep rich texture and the writing is richly layered and imitative.
The finale contains harmonic reference to Gustav Holst. It also has a sturdy, braying donkey (called Chris Henry John Smith-Headstrong-Partingshot), a runaway (Toddington) steam train and a timpani cadenza. Though the emotional high-point comes in the form of a Ukrainian folk tune that I learnt whilst in the Ukraine several years ago - my relatives sang it to me!
The final chord in the work is one of 'hope' and the work speaks of - 'triumph over adversity' which is why I am proud to dedicate the Symphony, as a whole, to Lord Nigel Jones.
I am pleased with this forward-looking Symphony which I am happy to call - 'The Cheltenham Symphony'.
42 minutes in three movements
2fl, 2 ob, 2cl in Bb, 2bsn, 4hns, 2tpts, 2ten trb, b.trb, tba, 2 percussion (including piano), timps, strings
Feb 22nd, 2004 in Pittville Pump Room, Cheltenham with the Cheltenham Symphony Orchestra - conductor David Curtis.
NB: If you would like to perform this work please send me an email.