The Pioneers

Great Britain has had a National Youth Brass Band since 1952, which caters for players between the ages of 12 and 18 and has produced many outstanding instrumentalists in its distiguished history.

An exciting development took place in July 2004 when the first summer course of a new National Children’s Brass Band of Great Britain, for players between the ages of 8 and 13, was held in Bromsgrove, Worcester. Renowned cornet soloist and conductor Lynda Nicholson was appointed music director and she commissioned Philip Sparke to write a piece for this inaugural course. The Pioneers was the result.

The title refers to the fact that the NCBBGB was starting out on a new adventure but is also a salute to the bicentenary of an expedition by two of the composer’s heroes – Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. They were commissioned by US President Thomas Jefferson to find the headwaters of the Mississippi and a route to the Pacific following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which doubled the size of USA. They set out, as the ‘Corps of Discovery’, from Louisville, Kentucky, in May 1804; not only did they succeed in reaching the Pacific through hostile territory, but also found their way back - in 3 years! The piece is not descriptive of the journey but gives the composer the opportunity to celebrate the 200th anniversary of this amazing feat.