Great North Overture

Year Composed: 2009
Instrumentation: brass band
Duration 6 minutes

Audio Excerpts (MP3)

Program Notes

The Great North Overture was commissioned by Fran Harvey for the Metropolitan Silver Band’s 75th Anniversary. I am honoured and delighted to be a part of the celebration for this amazing milestone, and especially to collaborate with my former highschool teacher, who was a tremendous inspiration to me well before I had decided upon my path as a composer.

Given my background in composing some rather lengthy orchestral works, the idea of doing a short, overture-style piece appealed to me enormously. Because this was my first attempt at composing for brass band (a challenging prospect for any orchestral composer) I did not want to stray too far from the idioms that characterized the repertoire. The structure of the piece unfolds in a fairly traditional manner, with a slow introduction and a majestic coda bookending a sprightly fanfare. At the core of the piece is a lyrical melody, drawn in part from the wellspring of starry-eyed melodies that I have fallen in love with over the years.

What I wanted to convey most in this piece — particularly in the opening and closing sections — was a sense of joy and exuberance that was not exactly youthful, but suggestive of a deeper wisdom gained through age, and of peace earned through hardship. Somehow, when I tried to think of a title for this piece, this sensibility triggered an image in my mind of the vast, northern Canadian wilderness, cold and austere yet undeniably beautiful and majestic in its own way—hence, the Great North Overture.


  • April 10, 2010 - Metropolitan Silver Band, conducted by Fran Harvey. Jane Mallet Theatre; St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto.
  • November 12, 2011, 8pm - Hannaford Silver Street Band, conducted by Gillian MacKay. Metropolitan United Church, Toronto.
  • April 12, 2012 - Hannaford Street Silver Band, conducted by Patrick Sheridan. George Weston Recital Hall, Toronto Centre for the Arts, North York.
  • April 3, 2013 - Hannaford Street Silver Band, conducted by Alain Trudel. Unionville Alliance Church, Markham.
  • July 19, 2013 - Hannaford Street Silver Band. Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts, Parry Sound.
  • August 8, 2013 - Hannaforfd Street Silver Band. Dominion Chalmers United Church, Ottawa.

Commisions and Awards

  • commissioned by Fran Harvey for the Metropolitan Silver Band 75th Anniversary (2009)


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