From Paradise Lost (2010)

Duration: approx. 13:00 mins. 

From Paradise Lost is a large-scale Tone Poem for brass band and percussion.  It was requested by Bandmaster Daniel Rosenquist for the RJBZN Youth Band of The Salvation Army, Netherlands.

About the process
This piece was written over a four month period from Dec 2009-Mar 2010.  I had never spent so long on a piece before!  Just so you understand, pretty much all of my output to date has been arrangements - my own setting of somebody else's source material. An overture based on an established tune or two might be 50/50 my own/source material; a march would be about the same.  I can usually turn those kind of pieces out between 10-40 hours.  But this piece was far more substantial - the balance probably at around 90% my own material.  For the first time ever I had to really flex my compositional muscle, probably spending near 200 hours on it. 

Computer generated track

WAV From Paradise Lost.mp3

 Sample score pages
(right-click to download or 
open in a new window)  

From Paradise Lost (selected pages).pdf From Paradise Lost (selected pages).pdf
Size : 181.248 Kb
Type : pdf

Because it was such a labour of love and the first substantial piece I had written, I wanted some critique before releasing the final version. Bandmaster Stephen Cobb very kindly recorded the piece with the ISB for my own study purposes, and Kenneth Downie gave helpful constructive analysis on the music. I also invited a few close friends to hear the piece and they all gave their valuable opinion. The result of all that feedback is that I plan to rework the piece and adjust the balance of quick & slow material (there's a little too much slow music).  No plan to do this soon, though I'm afraid.

About the music
In recent years I have become increasingly fascinated with the account of The Fall as recorded in Genesis. I am intrigued by the idea that there was once Paradise here on earth; God's perfect, uncorrupted world and that somehow, somewhere - in an event we call 'The Fall' - it all went wrong. Bearing in mind the Christian belief that humankind is created in the image of its Maker, I also ponder what human existence might have looked like before The Fall and what God-like traits, gifts and abilities have remained in humanity since that event. So this music is really my take on the story of the creation, Fall and redemption, plus a glimpse at the hereafter - the new Paradise.

You see, in writing From Paradise Lost, I didn't want to remain in the Garden of Eden; painting a picture of the worst calamity in the history of the world and just leaving it there. Instead, in keeping with the story of the Bible, I wanted the music to illustrate the journey from The Fall of man to his subsequent restoration – from Paradise first to Paradise last. Thus the inclusion of the word ‘From’ in the title affirms the Christian doctrine that creation is presently moving from Paradise lost (Gen. 3) towards the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21).

Despite similarities in title, my work is not directly inspired by John Milton’s epic poem ‘Paradise Lost’. However, I suspect that Milton, like me, was stirred by the Genesis account and its implications for the both the present and future existence of humanity. 

Ultimately though, I hope listeners will find this music a celebration of two beliefs that I and many millions of others hold dear:

(i) that because of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on a cross two thousand years ago, fallen humanity has the opportunity to be restored to its full potential and reunited with God the Father.

(ii) that for those who choose to accept this offer of reconciliation, there will one day be “no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Rev. 21:4). 

There are a number of musical themes in the piece (I may upload some explanatory notes in due course) but the hymn that is referenced at the beginning and again, towards the end is Praise to the holiest:

Praise to the holiest in the height,
And in the depth be praise,
In all his words most wonderful,
Most sure in all his ways.

O loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

John Henry Newman (1801-90)
SA Songbook 18 (Tune: Richmond TB 125)


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