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I was asked to write this piece for the Caritas Strings Summer School in 2014. The theme of the course was the Commonwealth Games, and I was asked to write something which sounded majestic and triumphant but also something that could be played by everyone who took part in the course. This was particularly tricky as some of the participants were nursery age children who had never played an instrument before and some were in their early teens and were around grade V ABRSM. I thought of something to link the Commonwealth Games with music and thought of the ’baton’ passed by relay runners and used by a conductor. Initially this idea was limited to the title and perhaps to a recurring theme being ’passed’ around the different instruments but, eventually, I thought it would be a bit of fun if members of the orchestra were literally passed the baton in the middle of a performance and that they conducted the others for a little while.
There are three groups - a beginner group with open strings only, a ’ripieno’ group with slightly more challenging music for the bulk of the performers, and a ’concertino’ part for more advanced players. There are optional percussion parts that enhance the sense of excitement (and help keep everyone in time…) and a piano accompaniment.
Pass the Baton went very well and proved to be quite popular and as a result I created a version for a full orchestra which will be available here shortly.
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