Programme Notes – WAR OF THE WORLDS (2010)

The inspiration for WAR OF THE WORLDS came from the celebrated novel about a possible Martian invasion by the former Bromley resident, author H.G. Wells. It is a large-scale 20-minute work in five clearly defined sections. A slow, brooding opening with an atmosphere of suppressed menace culminates with a thematically significant solo bass trombone acting as a messenger from a far off place. There follows an out-of-control passage signifying blind panic leading to a fearsome climax, which melts into the third section dominated by descending nebulous chords and a glassily nostalgic celeste solo recalling safer times. This is cruelly cut short by four off-stage saxophones representing the invading Martians playing the same repeating pattern while walking to their seats in the orchestra. A violent allegro follows dominated by this motif, eventually reaching a percussion dominated plateau, where the whole ensemble becomes ‘infected’ by this theme before eventually collapsing.

The final part of the piece features a long and impassioned ‘human’ oboe solo using material already heard on the bass trombone, increasingly finding warmer support from the ensemble. At the very end of the work the off-stage bass trombone returns and the mood darkens. The Martians may have been destroyed, but what of the future?