SUWO Premières

Fanfare & Grand March

Composer: Richard Stanbrook

18/03/18, 7:30 pm, SUWO Semester 2 Concert 2018

SUWO has enjoyed an association with Richard over the last few years enjoying playing and recording some of his Wind Band compositions.
We are honoured to give the first performance of his latest work born out of exasperation of the Brexit turmoil and political chaos (as he sees it...). The use of 'Grand' in the title is intended to be ironic, the composers says!

A flight into Murmuration. For solo Tin Whistle and Wind Orchestra

Composer: Olivia Doust

01/04/17, 7:30 pm, SUWO Semester 2 Firth Hall Concert 2017

A murmuration is a large mass of birds, moving as one shape and yet as individuals all at the same time, twisting, turning and changing direction at a moment's notice. “A Flight into Murmuration” explores the relationship between wind and birds in a murmuration and how the wind torments and manipulates the flight and shape of the birds’ journey. As seen in folk tunes traditionally played on the tin whistle, the piece uses two pentatonic scales to represent the birds and the wind are reflected in the different sections of the orchestra.

Taking inspiration from the artistic works of Robert Morris.

Olivia's piece will feature the amazing tin whistling skills of fellow 3rd year music student Ford Collier in what could be a first for the wind band repertoire.

The Little Irish Man for Symphonic Wind Band

Composer: George Bunn

01/04/17, 7:30 pm, SUWO Semester 2 Firth Hall Concert 2017

George's first work for Band and part of his undergraduate composition portfolio


Composer: Emma Dowson

26/04/15, 7:30 pm, SUWO Firth Hall Spring Concert

Emma's first piece for Wind Orchestra is an affectionate reminder of her happy family summer holidays in rural France. It was also her final composition submission for her BMus degree and much enjoyed by the players.

ALICE'S ADVENTURES through Sound and Space

Composer: Tierney Kirby

25/11/12, 7:30 pm, A Musical Evening of Fantasy & Fiction

Tierney's BMus final composition submission

Over the summer of 2012 I read the two books of Alice in Wonderland and how the themes, less obvious meanings and characters shape the story. I felt that there is little music that we play as an orchestra that is inspired by children’s literature and so this was a good avenue for the composition. As there have been many films made up from the two books (normally both rolled up into one film) but no significant “stand-alone” music inspired by the literature that I could find, I decided to retell the story without the need of video, with the orchestra's own sound and spatial vicinity, with a “surround sound” feel. To do this I felt I needed to create different groups of instruments to represent the characters, such as the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the White Knight and so on. The Alice group stands in the middle of the audience so the audience are in the story and moving with Alice, feeling what she feels. The other groups represent other characters at different times, moving in and out of the story, with their own motifs. The main orchestra is the background to the evolving story, with the two movements of the composition telling the story of the two books. The linear form of the books helped me to create a structure that never has any repeating sections, and so the music is constantly changing and developing.


Composer: Bill Connor

25/11/12, 7:30 pm, A Musical Evening of Fantasy & Fiction

World Première SUWO 25 November Firth Hall University of Sheffield
Solo Violin: Samuel Giles
Conductor Tony Houghton

I and SUWO were delighted to receive this special gift (and wonderfully riotous piece) from our long-time friend and collaborator Bill Connor, as ever writing wonderful parts for everyone but also personalising it by including special music for Sam (Violin) and Julie (Tenor Horn), who were with us that year.

Bill wrote this typically cryptic note about the piece for its first performance.

Written for and dedicated to Tony Houghton and the Sheffield University Wind Band 2012

….an accumulation of fictitious tunes written to accompany fictitious characters in fictitious films….fictitiously applied to Wind Band….….and lone fiddler….bless ‘m…many thanks to Tony and the band!......
I – Walley ( film: Wide Blue Yonder 2008 )
II - Skip ( film: Wide Blue Yonder 2008 )
III – Skaladur ( Granada Documentary on Golden Eagles 1983 )
IV - Murder In Eden ( BBC Film 1992 )
Bill Connor ( Preston 1949 ) earns his living as a composer and is based near Manchester

Burn - Clarinet Concerto

Composer: Peter Meechan

29/03/12, 7:30 pm, A Grand Celebration of the World of Wind Music

Linda Merrick of the RNCM was the soloist in our prémiere of this work.


Composer: Martin Ellerby

29/03/12, 7:30 pm, A Grand Celebration of the World of Wind Music

Commissioned by an International Consortium (including Tony Houghton), SUWO were honoured to give this beautiful and sensitive work its European Prémière.

The Battle of Solferino was fought in northern Italy on 24th June 1859 between the alliance of France and Sardinia, and Austria. After some 15 hours of fighting the Austrians retreated leaving 40,000 killed or injured. Such medical forces that existed were unable to cope. Many died from simple wounds. At the same time a Swiss businessman and social activist Henry Dunant was passing through the region and witnessed the suffering of the soldiers left on the battlefield. He set about a process that led to the Geneva Conventions and the foundation of the International Red Cross movement. All this is detailed in Dunant’s little book A Memory of Solferino still available today and there also exists a more recent film (available on DVD) called Henry Dunant: Red on the Cross which tells the story of Dunant and his mission. Further information can readily be found on the internet with regard to the Battle of Solferino, Dunant and the Red Cross. Composer’s programme note


Composer: George Morton

29/03/12, 7:30 pm, A Grand Celebration of the World of Wind Music

George's first composition for Band was composed for his BMus composition submission and SUWO. It is a tuneful and stylistic tribute to the pioneering composers of the modern symphonic band movement.

Short Stories (2008)

Composer: George Nicholson

21/03/09, 7:30 pm, Semester 2 2009

A major new addition to the Symphonic Band repertoire from George Nicholson (Head of Composition in the Department of Music at Sheffield University), Short Stories is a 20 minute work in five movements kindly dedicated SUWO and their conductor and is published by York University Press

Short Stories was written for Tony Houghton and the Sheffield University Wind Orchestra during the second half of 2008. There are five movements, lasting about twenty minutes in all. The title refers to a method of sketching material which I have on occasion used and which was useful in this piece in helping me to establish some of the formal outlines. Essentially it is related to the practice of ‘storyboarding’ in film: the use of drawings to capture the essentials of a scene in terms of pacing, appearance and character. Of course the scene only comes fully to life in the filming, with action, dialogue and music all contributing to its effect. For the composer it is all too easy to be lured prematurely into notating surface detail and in the early stages of composition I sometimes find it more useful to try to get a broader sense of the movement of the music. In Short Stories I had to consider the possibility of writing up to thirty-two independent instrumental parts, and therefore the notational equivalent of storyboarding proved very useful.

In literary terms the short story implies a more contained and perhaps more disciplined form than the novel, and certainly some kinds of statement are more appropriate to one or other. By analogy I think of the five movements in this piece as being relatively contained and self-sufficient. But the short story form need not be quite as curtained off from its surroundings as all that: we have all read collections in which characters migrate from one story to another, or a central figure in one story has a mere walk-on part in another. In a similar way the five movements of Short Stories contain moments of recall and anticipation. Although the short story and the novel appear to be very different, sometimes collections of stories aspire to the larger form!

This is the first time I have written for wind orchestra and I hope that my enthusiasm for the wide palette of colours it offers will be self-evident, as well as the great potential for rhythmic drive and attack. During the course of writing the piece my thoughts turned continually to two old friends who died last year, Wilfrid Mellers and Humphrey Lyttelton. In their different ways they made a huge impact on my musical development and sensibility. They were a constant, living presence for so long and now they are gone. I hope that some of their wit and intelligence has made its way into my piece.

Shumaker Levy 9

Composer: Gareth Widdowson

02/12/07, 7:30 pm, Semester 1 2007

Part of Gareth's undergraduate composition portfolio premiéred by SUWO and was played again in a revised version conducted by the composer on November 20 2010 in Firth Hall.

GW's Note:
Composed in the winter of 2006/07, SL-9 is a piece about the comet Shoemaker Levy 9 that crashed into Jupiter in 1994. I have always had an interest in astronomy and the inspiration for this piece came after a sleepless night led me to randomly google-search for interesting things to read. Upon reading about the collision, I decided to depict this act in music. The first half of the piece is mainly focused on the comet itself and its journey through space featuring a lonely trumpet theme and a chamber like fugue. The second half is focused on the collision with Jupiter, building up tension in the music until the original comet theme (which was on the trumpet) is now played by all the upper wind with staggered entries, almost completely dominated by the low brass for all of this section - depicting how the comet was fragmented by the immense gravity of Jupiter. Each wind line comes to an end together with explosions from the percussion, signifying the moment when that fragment of the comet hit Jupiter. The piece ends with a lament for Shoemaker Levy 9, and for Jupiter, as scars from the collision can still be seen today.


Composer: Christopher Noble

22/04/07, 7:30 pm, Grand Celebration of Winds April 2007

Chris Noble's first work for Wind Band composed in his final undergraduate year in the Music Department at Sheffield.


Composer: Charles Camilleri

22/04/07, 7:30 pm, Grand Celebration of Winds April 2007

Major work for symphonic wind band commissioned by Tony Houghton from celebrated Maltese composer Charles Camilleri (1931-2009) and dedicated to SUWO and Tony.
SUWO also gave the first Maltese performance of the work in the Aula Magna, Old University Building, Valletta in a special Gala Concert in the presence of the Composer and the President of Malta on Wednesday 19th March 2008

Charles says: Il-Nostro Tempo, basically meaning The Time we live in is commissioned by the Sheffield University Wind Orchestra and its Musical Director Anthony Houghton. It was during the première of my Concerto for two Pianos and Percussion, which took place two years ago at Chethams Summer Piano Festival and at EPTA’s World Piano Congress at the RNCM in Manchester that Anthony and I discussed the possibility of writing a work for symphonic wind band. It triggered off my imagination, since my knowledge of this repertoire was limited to Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, some works of Varese and some lighter works.
Il-Nostro Tempo is in three movements depicting some of man’s great achievements in our time, his destructive elements and his slow process of awareness of the power of love and spirituality.
1st Movement: Space Probes
This movement is concerned with man’s discovery of the (vastness) of space – with all its mystery – bringing to us an understanding of a new renaissance in our thinking and outlook.
2nd Movement: Death March
Man’s useless way of dealing with each other by the destruction of war. The sound of the side drums and machine-gun fire are remarkably similar. The chaos of war is represented by sections where each instrument has his own rather chaotic line in a “written” improvisatory manner.
3rd Movement: Awareness
A slow movement built on a mode and on what I call “free harmony”, the awareness of simplicity and self-surrender. It is as if one has surrendered one’s self completely – where nothing can ever disturb one’s equanimity or obstruct one’s spiritual course.

Lord of Misrule - Scherzo for large Wind Orchestra

Composer: Jonathan Booty

21/11/01, 7:30 pm, Charity Concert November 2001

The Lord of Misrule of the title comes from a medieval Christmas tradition of handing over the Leadership for the day to the village idiot or the lowliest servant of a household – usually creating chaos to reign. With its surprises and disruption Jonathan’s piece challenges all the players in a densely packed but transparent score and gives great opportunities for the enlarged percussion section and the instruments of the extremes, such as piccolo, contra-bassoon, double bass and tuba. Jonathan has been Co-Principal Flute in the Hallé for many years and has recently resigned his post there to freelance and concentrate on composition.

© Widdowson & Hemingway 2016