Sounds of Suffolk Programme Notes

David Sims - composer

Bury St. Edmunds
This movement takes its inspiration from the Cathedral, where there has been a place of worship on the site for nearly 1000 years. To commemorate this I included two plainchant pieces as sources. The first of these is one composed from the wording of ‘Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk’; taking all the non-musical letters out from that phrase (anything beyond ‘G’ in the alphabet) leaves us with the 6-note opening motif as played by the bassoon. The second plainchant piece is Attende Domine, an 11th-century hymn composed at roughly the same time as history records the first church on the site of the current cathedral.

Framlingham
This was written originally for brass quartet back in 2011, following a holiday in the town (making it older than Ed Sheeran’s Castle on the Hill!). I was aiming to evoke memories of warm summer days in the town, with the beautiful surrounding countryside and famous castle. Re-orchestrated for performance by the BFO, the lush harmonies and soaring string lines convey a typically English scene.

Newmarket
One of Suffolk’s main tourist destinations is Newmarket racecourse, of course home to the Classic 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas races. This movement takes us on a journey through a race- I have combined the snare rhythm a la William Tell with a grand motif to demonstrate the prestige associated with the classic races, followed by a brass fanfare indicating the start of the race. Here the pace quietens down, as the horses start far away from the main grandstand. From here on, the snare returns and as the race builds to the climax, so does the music.

Lavenham
The beautiful town of Lavenham is of course famous for its Tudor architecture and 15th-century church. I have again tried to convey the history of a place through the music, starting off with a grand Tudor pastiche, before moving on into a fugal section, with the motif displaced by three bars each time. Although from a later period musically than the town itself, I have always been fascinated by baroque music and the workings of the fugue, and to link it to the history of Lavenham just seemed a natural fit.

Suffolk Coast
I have always been fascinated by the Suffolk Coast, with my 2012  suite ‘The Last of England’ ending with a section entitled Easton Bavents, named after the hamlet just north of Southwold, that has been abandoned as erosion by the sea takes hold. Here I have tried to demonstrate more of the beauty of the area, as this movement takes us from Southwold down to Orford Ness. The strings move in and out at the start, like waves breaking on the beach at dawn. We move along the coast to Dunwich, where I have represented the storms of the 14th century that wiped out the town. From here I have tried to demonstrate the beauty of the Thorpeness coast road through the warmth of the 3/4 section, before we finally arrive in Aldeburgh where the initial motif is grandly presented. At the very end of the movement we pass the Martello tower and enter the unspoilt Orford Ness, where the waves are breaking once again, reminding us of the ever constant lure of the sea.