Tombland Fanfare: the uprising of poverty

An original composition for full orchestra inspired by “Tombland” by Ray Sampson


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At the centre of the Norfolk city of Norwich lies Tombland. The name evokes thoughts of haunting, death and Black Plague burial pits. Actually Tombland simply means empty space and it was here that Norwich market was sited. Violence seems to have been a recurring theme in the history of Tombland. In 1549 Robert Kett led a rebellion against the enclosure of common land. After a fierce attack on Bishop Bridge, Kett and his band of followers gained access to the city and took the Mayor, Thomas Codd, prisoner. Having spent a number of years as a clergyman in the Diocese of Norwich, I can tell you that this area is very different nowadays. However, its Normal cathedral and older buildings still offer a sense of struggles past, present and future.

Inspired by Ray Sampson’s book, Tombland, this original work for full orchestra uses harmonic and rhythmic dissonance to portray the violent and oppressive struggle between “those with” and ‘those without.” The blacksmith’s anvil heralds village life with church bells sounding and flute introducing children playing in the village square. Very quickly the scene changes as Basses offer a deep threatening tone and slowly the rhythmic confusion builds to an eventual climax. Horns then introduce a quasi carillon Dies Irae theme and flutes and piccolo enter with a haunting bird call until low strings and Cor Anglais begin the build up to chaos once again. The work’s false, dying ending suddenly gives way to a sacred style chorale leading to the very abrupt Malcolm Arnold style ending.

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Flexible Instrumentation


Modern Classical


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