Highdays and Holidays - The Mortimer Revel

Highdays and Holidays was commissioned by the South Berks Concert Band (Paul Speed, Director of Music) to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2016. They gave the premiere at their 40th Anniversary Concert on 3rd July that year at the Mortimer Fairground.

The South Berks Concert Band rehearses in the village of Mortimer, in the English county of Berkshire. Mortimer has a long and fascinating history dating back to, and beyond, the Bronze Age and is famous for The Mortimer Revel, an annual event which was held at the Horse and Groom pub on the Thursday of Whitsun Week. This was apparently a fairly rumbustious and sometimes violent affair which goes back several hundred years. For example, part of the rules for the 1789 event read:-

.a good hat for the man that breake most heads, the blood to run one inch or be deemed no head, all disputes to be decided by the umpires. Also a good hat to be wrestled for, the best man to have the hat, no disputes about falls, but three go downs. Likewise a good silver laced hat to be bowled for, two pence three bowls, to begin bowling at one and end at eight."

Highdays and Holidays seeks to capture some of this festive event in the form of an energetic overture, which explores a variety of moods and the sometimes chaotic atmosphere of the Revel.