Prelude, Toccata and Fugue - Graduation Day

Prelude, Toccata and Fugue was commissioned by the Salford College of Technology with funding made available by North West Arts.

Dr Roy Newsome, one of the pioneers of the then innovative and now renowned brass band courses at the college (now the University of Salford),ญญญ wanted a piece to be played at its 1986 graduation ceremony by the college's fledging brass band. Philip Sparke decided to write a piece that depicted both the academic and practical sides of the college's musical life by saluting both the traditional and contemporary sides of brass band repertoire as it was at the time.

The three, connected movements each have their own character, starting with an energetic and driving Prelude that features highly syncopated melodies and frequent changes of key and phrase length. The central Toccata is a series of traditional cadenzas for cornet and euphonium that ends in a virtuoso duet for the two soloists and leads directly into the Fugue. Sparke spent much of his time at the Royal College of Music studying and recreating Bach fugues, while wanting to write something less academic; the Fugue recalls this aspect of his own college career with passages of baroque-style fugue which keep breaking out into episodes of 'Swingle' bebop. The conflicting styles both vie for pre-eminence but are eventually happily reconciled and combined to bring this piece to a close.