Neverland was commissioned by Kapitol Promotions Ltd for the 2020 Regional Championships of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain, as the set work for Section 4. The work was recorded in July 2019 by The Cory Band.
“All children, except one, grow up” wrote J.M. Barrie about Peter Pan in 1911; the first line and an expression of beautiful melancholy and fantasy, coming to represent one of the best-loved children’s stories of the twentieth century. ‘Peter & Wendy’, as the book was first released, has subsequently been transformed into adaptations for film and stage, with subsequent books based on this iconic tale. In writing this new work for brass band, the composer has taken three of the main themes from J. M. Barrie’s book, and used these themes to create new musical material, forming a work in three contrasting sections.
I. Journey to Neverland
The opening of the work, mysterious in its style, reflects the opening chapters of the story – a leafy London street, still in the dead of night – with the music transforming quickly as it builds in texture and momentum - a Journey to Neverland through the night sky; Second Star to the Right and straight on ‘til morning. “Then Peter knew that there was not a moment to lose. ‘Come,’ he cried imperiously, and soared out at once into the night, followed by John and Michael and Wendy. Mr & Mrs Darling and Nana rushed into the nursery too late. The birds were flown.”
II. The Windows that Closed
The central section of the work takes its inspiration from the sense of longing throughout the book, mainly by Peter Pan, the Darling Children & The Lost Boys. Distant memories of life before Neverland, memories of the Lost Boys’ mothers, and regret at what the children have missed. Peter says “Long ago, I thought like you that my mother would always keep the window open for me; so I stayed away for moons and moons and moons, and then flew back; but the window was barred, for mother had forgotten all about me, and there was another little boy sleeping in my bed.”
III. Aboard the Pirate Ship
The final section of the work takes its inspiration from the Pirate Ship, and Peter Pan’s ultimate battle with its infamous Captain Hook. “In person, he was cadaverous and blackavized, and his hair was dressed in long curls, which at a distance looked like black candles, and gave a singularly threatening expression to his handsome countenance. His eyes were the blue of the forget-me-not, and of a profound melancholy, save when he was plunging his hook into you, at which time two red spots appeared in them and lit them up horribly.”