Prelude to a Pageant

Prelude to a Pageant was commissioned by Woodley Concert Band to celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2014. Based near Reading in the south of England, Woodley Concert Band was formed in 1974 and has more than 45 members who enjoy playing a wide variety of music. They gave the premiere of Prelude to a Pageant in their 40th Anniversary Concert on 18th October 2014 in Bearwood College Theatre, Winnersh.

Celebratory in nature, Prelude to a Pageant includes a famous musical link associated with the bandís immediate neighbourhood. The Reading Rota was discovered in nearby Reading Abbey and is a manuscript dating from around 1240. It is perhaps better known as Sumer is icumen in, a 4-part canon over a 2-part ground bass. It is renowned for being the earliest known musical composition in 6-part polyphony and possibly the first ever example of independent counterpoint. The composer is not credited on the manuscript, but is it often attributed to one W. de Wycombe.

This lively tune appears early in the work, after an arresting, rhythmic opening and expressive slower section, and forms the final climax.