Composed in 2009 for Nicholas Childs and the Black Dyke Band
This piece tells the Willow Pattern legend through music. Several leitmotifs are used both for the different characters and also for some of the important emotions in the tale. Additionally, Knoon-se’s part is mainly played by the flugel horn, Changby the euphonium, the Mandarin by the Eb Bass and the Duke Ta-jin by the trombone.
The Willow Pattern Legend
Once, in ancient China, there lived a wealthy and powerful Mandarin who had a beautiful daughter, Knoon-se. She had fallen in love with Chang, a humble accountant, which angered her father who imprisoned her in the Pavilion by the river with only theexotic birds for company. She learnt that the Mandarin planned to marry her to the pompous Duke Ta-jin and that the wedding would take place on the day the blossom fell from the willow tree, so she sent Chang a message: “Gather thy blossom, ere it bestolen”.
The Duke arrived by sea amid great fanfare when the tree was heavy with bud, and nights of magnificent banquets followed. After one such occasion when the Mandarin slept, Chang crept over the crooked fence and tiptoed into the Pavilion to rescueKnoon-se, but as they escaped the alarm was raised. They fled over the bridge with the Mandarin close on their heels brandishing his whip.They managed to escape by boat to a secluded island where they lived happily for a time. Meanwhile, the Mandarin learned of their refuge and, intent on revenge, he ordered his soldiers to kill them. As Knoon-se and Chang slept at night, the men setfire to the pagoda in which they lived and the lovers perished in the flames.
However, the Gods, moved by the lovers’ plight, transformed their souls into two turtle-doves which rose from the charred remains, soaring above the Earth, symbolising eternal happiness.
Willow Pattern is dedicated to the memory of Jean Harper who passed away as I was completing the piece and who was a great collector of porcelain and china-ware.
NOTES ON PERFORMANCE
Metal mutes soprano cornet, repiano cornet, 2nd cornets, 3rd cornets (6 in total)
Cup mutes all cornets and trombones (10 + 3)
Harmon mutes soprano cornet, solo cornets, repiano cornet (6)
There are two parts for percussion on the score. The minimum requirements are as follows:
2 players - Timpani, 2 Large tom toms, 2 Wood Blocks, Triangle, Sleigh Bells, Whip, Clash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Hi-hat, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Tam tam (or susp. cym.)
For performances with extra resources, and to achieve closer authenticity, the full requirements are as follows:
3 players - Timpani, 3 Taiko Drums played with thick wooden sticks (or Large tom toms), 2 Wood Blocks, Triangle, Chinese Bells (or Sleigh Bells), Whip, Clash Cymbals, Chinese Cymbals (small clash cymbals approx 12”), Suspended Cymbal, Glockenspiel,Xylophone, Tam tam