Albion Heritage

Albion Heritage was commissioned by the Association for Music in International Schools for the AMIS International Honor Band and Choir Festival, which took place in London in March 2008. AMIS is dedicated to the promotion of excellence in all levels of music education and sponsors a variety of music festivals annually which are especially designed to benefit students in international schools in Europe and the Middle East.

The commission stipulated a piece with a ‘British’ feel (marking the 2008 Festival’s London location) so composer Philip Sparke decided to write a folk song fantasy based on tunes from various parts of the British Isles. It opens with Brighton Camp, an English version of The Girl I Left Behind Me, which is treated to a variety of twists and turns. The slower central section is based on the Scottish tune O Waly, Waly (also known as The Water is Wide) which dates from the beginning of 18th century. This is then followed by a robust setting of the famous Welsh tune, Men of Harlech, which was first published in 1784 and is said to describe the repeated sieges of Harlech Castle in the 15th century.