Prelude on an Irish Folk Tune

Prelude on an Irish Folk Tune was commissioned by Colin Davenport, bass trombonist with the Newstead Welfare brass band from the UK, to be played at his wedding on 8th July 2006. It is dedicated to his new wife, Barbara Jane.

The Irish folk tune, which appears towards the end of the piece, is Slane, a hymn tune version of the much older folk melody The Banks of the Bann.

The tune, which was first published in 1909 in Patrick Joyce's Old Irish Folk Music and Songs, is named after a hill about ten miles from Tara in County Meath. It is on Slane hill, according to an account in The Confessions of St. Patrick that the Irish saint lit the Pascal candle on Easter Eve in 433 AD. St. Patrick's act was done in defiance of the pagan king Loigaire’s edict that no fire could be ignited before he had lit the royal fire on Tara hill. The royal fire was kindled to celebrate the pagan spring festival and symbolized the return of light and the change of season following the darkness of winter.

In Prelude on an Irish Folk Tune, fragments of the folk tune hint at what is to come later in the piece, but another folk-like tune is predominant. This later acts as a descant to Slane when it finally appears.