Smoke that Thunders, The (2012)
Commissioned by Virtuosi GUS Band for its 2012 Brass in Concert performance at The Sage, Gateshead. The work was a finalist in the Salford International Composers' Competition 2014.
David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary and explorer. From 1841 until his death in 1873, Livingstone explored the interior of central and southern Africa. His initial aim was to spread Christianity and bring commerce and ‘civilisation' to these regions, but his later missions were more concerned with exploration.
This piece of music tells the story of the part of his journey that led to him discovering Victoria Falls.
The work starts out in optimistic fashion, with the Scottish folk-song A Man's a Man for a', by Robert Burns, which Livingstone reportedly used to hum on his travels. The troubles and difficulties of his journey were great and the next section describes his battles with the local African tribes, who were suspicious of his motives.
After surviving these assaults, numerous bouts of African fever and several skirmishes with wild animals, a more reflective section ensues, which describes the doubts Livingstone had about continuing his mission. This is epitomised by the hymn Lord, Send Me Anywhere, which Livingstone himself wrote.
After much deliberation and prayer, Livingstone decided to carry on and the final section describes his journey along the Zambezi River, the triumphant sounds eliciting his elation at discovering the magnificent Victoria Falls, or as it is known by the locals, "Mosi-oa-Tunya", The Smoke That Thunders.
CD recordings: Definity (Flowers Band with Philip Cobb & David Childs)
Publisher: Prima Vista Musikk