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Some while, Nigel Wood, who used to run Saxtet Publications, who publish my music for saxophone, asked me whether I’d like to write him a new piece to show off his latest ’toy’ - the Soprillo saxophone. He wanted something showy, but fun, and which would hopefully exploit the instrument’s capabilities. Perhaps because I had the idea of doing something with Waltzing Matilda, I set about writing an antipodean fantasy, which would be known as Waltzing Soprillda.
Nigel only recently played the piece to great acclaim with the National Saxophone Choir at the 2006 World Saxophone Congress in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and will be publishing a version for clarinet. He has since performed it in China on a tour with the NSC.
I have produced a version for solo clarinet and wind band which will hopefully find its way onto the concert programme, as some of the other arrangements have done in the past, especially as a good concert encore.
The basic plan is something which has been done before, of course - taking a well-known popular, or folk tune, and presenting it as different composers might have done. The sections are pretty self-explanatory, and the tune is never very far away. The alla antipodean section is simply the tune upside down - or down under, you might say. Just at the end, there’s a brief reference to Australia’s ’national anthem,’ as I’m sure, given time, and with subsequent generations, Australia will become a Republic in its own right.
This version for Brass Band is a natural progression from the Wind Band arrangement, with some minor tweaks along the way, just to ’freshen’ it up. The clarinet’s role is now taken over by the soprano cornet in Eb, and it should certainly make a nice ’show piece’ for the little instrument! Mark Allen, Bandmaster of Bilton Silver (Rugby) Band said: ’What a Soprano part…it’s a hell of a part! !I’d love to hear one of the stars of the brass band world romp through this one!’ - yes, so would I, Mark!
Specifically, I have added a whole new middle section, where I’ve included another well-known Australian melody, Botany Bay. At the end, though, Advance Australia Fair gets the last word, along with the ubiquitous Matilda melody!