Sailing with the Tall Ships

Written for the Inverclyde Schools Wind Orchestra, Sailing with the Tall Ships was commissioned by their musical director, David Hutcheson, with funds provided by their Parents Committee and the Inverclyde Music Service.

The Inverclyde Schools Wind Orchestra is based in Greenock, on the banks of the River Clyde in Scotland, and they premiered the work in Greenock Town Hall on 31st March 2011. Within four days of the premiere they had taken part in two band festivals playing the piece and received Gold and Platinum awards for their performances.

The title of the work refers to the Tall Ships Race; covering hundreds of nautical miles, this has taken place annually since 1956 in a variety of European locations and included Greenock in its 2011 course. The competing vessels are all large sailing ships used for training and the term comes from John Masefield’s famous poem, Sea Fever, which starts:-

I must go down to the sea again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.

The work consists of a slow introduction, describing the majestic ships, and a faster vivo section which starts in the style of a sea shanty. A central passage sees the ships under full sail and material from the opening section returns to bring the work to a close.