The ‘Kingdom of Dragons’ is Gwent in South Wales, known in ancient times as the Kingdom of Gwent, and more recently home to the Newport Gwent Dragons Rugby Union team.
This piece was commissioned by the Gwent Music Service with additionalfunding from Ty Cerdd - Music Centre Wales to celebrate the 50th anniversary in 2010 of the formation of the Gwent Youth Brass Band.
Although the music is continuous, it is divided into four distinct sections, each one representing one of theunitary authorities which make up the County of Gwent.
I. Monmouthshire, which has a large number of ancient castles
II. Blaenau Gwent, an historic area of iron and coal mining
III. Torfaen, where Pontypool Park is a notablelandmark
IV. Newport, the largest city in the region.
The music begins with a two-bar fanfare, which sets out all the thematic material of the piece. The mood of pageantry that follows describes some of the ancient castles inMonmouthshire, with rolling tenor drums and fanfaring cornets.
After a majestic climax the music subsides and quite literally descends into the coal mines of Blaenau Gwent. The percussion provides effects that suggest industrial machineryclanking into life, and the music accelerates to become a perilous white-knuckle ride on the underground railroad. There is a brief respite as a miner’s work-song is introduced and, after a protracted build-up, this is restated at fortissimo beforethe music comes crashing to an inglorious close, much like the UK’s mining industry itself.
The middle sonorities of the band portray the tranquillity of Pontypool Park, a place of great natural beauty. Brief cadenzas for cornet and euphoniumlead to a full band reprise of the pastoral mood. At the end of this section we find ourselves at the top of the park’s ‘Folly Tower’ from which the distant castle turrets of Monmouthshire are visible.
Pontypool RFC was one of eleven clubs inthe first Welsh league in 1881 and a brief but bruising musical portrayal of the formidable Pontypool front-row, the ‘Viet Gwent’ leads into the work’s final section. This portrays Newport, a symbol for progress and optimism for the future, idealsshared by the Gwent Youth Band itself. The music is a vigorous fugue which advances through various keys and episodes before the final triumphant augmented entry which brings the work to a magnificent conclusion.
Percussion requirements: (3 players) Timpani, 2 Tenor Drums, 2 Tom toms, Snare Drum (sticks and brushes required), Bass Drum, Clash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Hi-hat, Sizzle Cymbal, Tambourine, Metal block with metalbeater (eg hammer), Rattle (eg football rattle), Glockenspiel, Xylophone