This has been our most successful commissioned work to date. What makes it so special? Why is it being played all over the world?
Hanover Festival was gifted to the Hanover Wind Symphony by Peter Boor as a thank you to the ensemble for 15 years of music making. It was written by British composer Philip Sparke.
We recently spoke with Peter Boor, Music Director Emeritus, to get the background on how this marvelous piece came to be.
First of all, you have to know that Peter Boor is a trumpet player and a big fan of British brass band music.
As a student at the Royal College of Music, Philip Sparke played in the College wind orchestra and also formed a brass band among the students, writing several works for both ensembles – the birth of a career.
Peter Boor first heard Philip Sparke’s compositions in publishers’ recordings and at the Mid-West Band Clinic held each year in Chicago. While attending a brass band championship in England, Peter met up with Philip in his London office. Peter pitched his idea of a commission for the wind symphony.
Over the course of about two years, and many phone calls and emails later, Hanover Festival came to life. Philip Sparke sent us the score and parts, the wind symphony rehearsed and recorded it, and sent the recording to Sparke, who gave us comments on it. We ran through this process several times. Sparke never rehearsed it with us. The parts were challenging, yet fun to play. Everyone had a good part.
Hanover Festival’s world premiere performance was presented at the beginning of our 15th season on Wednesday, October 27, 1999 at Memorial Junior School in Whippany. It received rave reviews by the ensemble and audience alike. Soon we heard of other bands performing it all over the country and all around the world – including Europe and Asia!
Perhaps the review from sheet music distributor giant J.W. Pepper also contributed to its success:
If your band is at the higher end of the medium level, you will want to take a look at this brilliant overture! Phillip Sparke has earned the respect of many directors for his substantive, masterfully composed works. Often his compositions fall at a higher grade level, but bands at the medium level with the maturity to tackle some meaty parts will thrill at the chance to play this work. A rich, solemn brass fanfare opening gives way to an expressive chorale section which explodes into an energetic vivo. This is a strong choice for contest or festival that will show off the talents of your musicians!
It was included on the required list of music to be performed at the Mid-West Clinic two years later. Peter Boor happened to be in attendance that year. Students from a Lexington, Kentucky band saw his name tag and remembered seeing it on their music for Hanover Festival. They came up to him with comments of “He’s the guy who commissioned Hanover Festival!” and “We really loved the piece!” and “So happy to play it!”
We were really lucky for a first commission work! It was Peter Boor’s thank you to us, but we will always thank him for this wonderful piece!