The Follower (2012)

Duration: approx. 7:00

This solo was requested by Brett Baker for a new album of SA trombone solos recorded with Enfield Citadel Band in the spring of 2013. 

The work was inspired by the story of John Newton and explores stages of his life from (i) a young person looking to follow in the footsteps of his father's career, (ii) following the ways of the world as a young man, and then (iii) following the ways of Christ as an Anglican minister.

Newton's time as a priest saw him appointed to the Buckinghamshire village of Olney where he wrote poems and songs with William Cowper. Perhaps the most famous of his writings is the song 'Amazing Grace' - a poem originally entitled 'Faith's review and expectation'. The song is of course a personal testimony to how, in his own words, Newton once considered himself a 'wretch' but was then, by God's grace, gloriously saved:

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me,
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind but now I see.

John Newton (1725-1807)
SA Songbook 308 (Tune by Rhonda Venables)

Sample score pages 

The Follower (FULL SCORE - p1).pdf The Follower (FULL SCORE - p1).pdf
Size : 86.598 Kb
Type : pdf

Computer generated track 

The Follower - intro.mp3

It was tempting to use as source material the common tune 'New Britain' (simply called 'Amazing Grace' in the SA tune book), but instead I opted for a newer melody by a Canadian friend, Rhonda Venables. 

Rhonda's tune (reprinted below, forgive the unpolished harmony - but you'll get the idea) is beautifully simple and really lent itself to thematic and harmonic development. Being in the common meter ( it could actually be used for any number of hymns and songs. In fact, she told me that when writing the tune, she first had in mind the song 'O Little town of Bethlehem'.  Rhonda's son Marcus, himself an emerging SA composer was the first to use the tune in a brass work, employing it in his inventive concert prelude Amazing Grace. You can hear his piece, along with some of his others here 

Click the player below to hear the score to the left.


Amazing Grace SATB.mp3

In terms of structure, the solo is in four parts:

1. The first section features an original melody which is noble in style and attempts to portray John Newton as a young man, proudly following in his father's footsteps. 
2. The second section is a lively scherzo - depicting the wayward adolescent part of Newton's life.
3. The third part highlights Newton's conversion, the central tune is heard in its entirety for the first time. This section builds to a cadenza. 
4. The cadenza leads to the final celebratory section where the aforementioned themes are drawn upon and the central tune sings high and loud. A recapitulation of the initial 'noble' theme develops into an exciting finale, drawing the piece to a brisk and energetic conclusion.  

blog comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2011 - 2013 Martin Cordner