Fanfare: Once Around, Anticlockwise

Organ Solo

Fanfare: Once Around, Anticlockwise was written with the organ and the building space of the Metropolitan Cathedral at the forefront of the composer’s mind. It draws on influences as diverse as the rhythmic energy of Kenneth Leighton, the minimalist music of Michael Nyman, the tangos of Astor Piazzolla and the lyricism of The Divine Comedy.

The piece is in two sections, and can be thought of as a journey around a circle – out to the furthest point and then back again – giving a degree of symmetry to the overall structure. It was originally going to be built around a scale derived from the harmonic series, but the composer noticed that when the first ten notes of the harmonic series are written as a chord, alternate notes paired together gave a series of gradually diminishing intervals from a Perfect 5th down to a Major 3rd. By adding an extra note – the Minor 3rd of the chord – the sequence could be continued until the interval between the notes disappeared.

This collection of notes gives the scale shown in (a) below. This scale is used exclusively in the first section of the piece. The remaining notes of the chromatic scale are used for the second section – scale (b) shown below.

The piece opens with a strident motif on the trumpets which immediately reveals a struggle – played out throughout the piece – between a dance-like 6/8 rhythmic figure and a more martial 8/8 figure. After a repeat of the initial fanfare, a short pedal solo leads to a quieter, more melodic second theme. This is briefly interrupted by the initial motif before returning as a canon between the two outer voices. The section is brought to a close by a passage based on the opening motif which leads through a gradual crescendo and opening out of the texture to a final flourish. This is left hanging in the air.

The second half of the piece is an echo of the first, calling – after a restatement of the initial fanfare motif on the tubas – for a lighter registration. The same structure is used, though this time an extended final flourish leads straight into the coda and a reprise of the opening fanfare, now on full organ plus tubas. By the conclusion of the coda, the 6/8 rhythm and original scale have finally triumphed, and the piece finishes with one last flourish and a final chord of 13 notes – 4 of them on the pedals.

The piece has been recorded by Richard Lea on his CD, ‘Liverpool Spectacular’, released by Priory Records in 2010

This received excellent reviews from the music press: ‘Mike Stubbs’s fanfare…strikes a note of originality’ (Choir & Organ Magazine, March/April 2011); ‘The album’s most illuminating track…electrifying’ (Organists’ Review, May 2011).

Richard Lea’s 2010 recording of the fanfare

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