Instrumentation: concert band (fl.I-II, cl.I-III, as.I-II, bs, fhn, trp.I-III, trb.I-II, euph, tba & perc.I-II)
Written in Brighton, April-July 2016.
Barricades was commissioned by the East London Community Band (to whom the work is dedicated) through the Sound and Music/Making Music/PRS Foundation scheme ‘Adopt A Composer’, and was first performed at Remembering Cable Street, St John’s Church, Bethnal Green, London on 8th October 2016, conducted by Matthew Hardy.
Barricades takes its name from the old Jewish folk song Barikadn, which was written by the Vilna poet-partisan Shmerke Kaczerginsky. Whilst the lyrics (“Fathers, mothers and little children are building barricades”) describe another time and place in Jewish history, they resonate very closely with the events that took place during the Battle Of Cable Street. Viewed by many as a largely anti-semitic demonstration, the Jewish residents of East London, alongside anti-fascist groups, built roadblocks in order to prevent the march of the British Union of Fascists, led by Oswald Moseley on 4th October 1936.
Whilst this composition is certainly not meant as a depiction of the conflicting forces of good and evil (as is typical of many works inspired by battle), it is, however, drawn from this idea of confrontation. The music is built from two contrasting textures which meet face to face in stark fronts of sound, cutting each other off abruptly. As these collisions continue, and the barricades between them gradually weaken, the structural autonomy of the two textures is compromised, and they begin to overlap and merge in a simple dialogue of dynamics and colour.