Kentish Dances

Kentish Dances was commissioned by the Bromley Youth Music Trust for the Bromley Youth Concert Band - Michael Purton, conductor. They gave the first performance at St John’s, Smith Square, London on March 16th 2008.

Bromley is in Kent, the most south-easterly of all the English counties, which has a rich folk history and, like many parts of the country, its own home-grown dance tunes. What has become known in England as ‘country dancing’ became popular during the Elizabethan period amongst the middle and upper classes who preferred the style to the more formal galliards and pavans of the royal court. Such was the popularity of country dancing that many successful publications of the period (such as Thomas Playford’s The English Dancing Master of 1651) collected the traditional dance tunes for posterity.

Mike Purton, Principal of the Bromley Youth Music Trust, had the idea to ask Philip Sparke to write a suite based on dance tunes originating in Kent. The result was Kentish Dances, which is in is in three movements. The first is a sort of moto perpetuo based on two lively 6/8 tunes: Dover Castle and The Fair Maid of Wickham. The middle movement uses the rather sombre Blackheath, contrasting it with the charmimg (and apposite) Bromley Bells. The finale uses the sprightly We Are All Right at Canterbury and Ramsgate Pier, using the lilting Northdown Waltz as a lyrical contrast.