The 801: beaumont hamel
A piece for concert band

Composition Date: 2004
Revision Date: 2014
Genre: Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Concert Band / Large Wind Ensembles

Instrumentation:

Instrumentation Set Number 1:
  • 1 x Piccolo
  • 2 x Flute
  • 2 x Oboe
  • 5 x Clarinet
  • 1 x Bass clarinet
  • 2 x Bassoon
  • 4 x Saxophone
  • 4 x Horn
  • 3 x Trumpet
  • 3 x Trombone
  • 1 x Baritone/Euphonium
  • 1 x Tuba
  • 1 x Timpani
  • 5 x Percussion
  • 1 x Double bass
Instrumentation Set Number 2:
  • 1 x Band
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Programme Note:
July 1, 1916 is a day that will ever be remembered in Newfoundland's history. It was the worst single event, with the loss of human life and injury in the military history of an island battalion. 801 men climbed out of trenches that fateful morning. The next morning only 69 answered the roll call. The final death toll was 233 men, 91 were missing and 386 were wounded. It took four days to bury the dead because of heavy rains.
Prior to the assault, the Royal Engineers had made a deep tunnel under no man's land where they had placed 40,000 pounds of explosives. The device should have been exploded 4 hours prior to the attack, but fearing the Germans may seize the crater as a defensive position of strength, the order was changed to explode the device right at hour zero. Thus the enemy was warned.
At 7:20 a.m. the explosion went off. When the men went over the top the Germans were ready with their machine guns and killed or wounded the Allied soldiers at will.
The piece is a description of that day. The beginning has wind seeping over the battlefield prior to the attack. The first instance of music is to represent the ominous event to come. A brief reveille is sounded. Strains of the German national anthem, God Save the King and the Ode to Newfoundland are woven throughout.
The next section is a musical prayer. Every man must have been praying that morning. Then the preparations for battle are commenced. A 6/8 march is used to represent the getting ready, also the music is fashioned after a French folk song because of the locale. The music is sardonic in nature, owing to the coming event and its futility.
Cluster chords at great volume represent the explosions of 7:20 a.m. The next section represents the battle. With much percussion and rhythmic vitality. Four waves of music represent four waves of men going over the top and rushing across no man's land. The music is dissonant and violent.
After the battle, as a tribute to the fallen, R.W. Tulip's Hymn, "Now the Day is Over" is set three times. First in a minor key to keep the solemnity of the moment of loss. The next two times are set beneath "the Last Post". This is a military tradition which dates back prior to World War One. This musical partnering of An Evening Hymn and Last Post is part of the majority of Military Tattoos and ceremonies.
The same ominous music from the beginning recurs. The prayer returns. This time not to ask God for protection but rather to remember the fallen and wounded and their families. The wind blows again across the battle ground, ending in a quiet remembrance ending a minor third lower than the original start because one third of the men were gone.

Premiere Information:
November 14, 2004. Basilica of St. John the Divine, St John's, Newfoundland. St. Bonaventure's College Wind Ensemble, Vincenza Etchegary (conductor).

CATALOGUE INFO:

  • Call Number:
  • MI 1800 S671bea
  • Genre:
  • Orchestra / Large Ensembles, Concert Band / Large Wind Ensembles
  • Date of Acquisition:
  • June 24, 2009
  • Type:
  • Print-music, Published by CMC
  • Physical Description:
  • 1 score (53 p.) ;
    53 Pages
    Height: 30 cm
    Width: 23 cm
    Parts page count: 95
    30 parts ([95] p.) ;
    Height: 30 cm
    Width: 23 cm
  • Additional Information:
  • Full concert band.
    Written with the assistance of the Canadian Broadcasting Company (Francesca Swann, producer, Musicraft) for St. Bonaventure's College Wind Ensemble upon the occasion of winning the CBC Band Competition 2004.
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The 801: beaumont hamel A piece for concert band
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