From the Fairground of Dreams

Martin Butler (1960)

From the Fairground of Dreams 2008

3333 - 4331 - perc(3) - hp - pn/cel - strings
Duration 
19
Genre 

From the Fairground of Dreams was commissioned by the Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra with funding from the Arts Trust of Brighton and Hove. This commission was a part of the orchestras Composer-in-Focus scheme during its 2006-7 and 2007-8 seasons.
Id had it in mind to write a piece about Brighton in some way from the outset, although the result is quite far removed from my initial ideas. The title certainly suggests associations with one particular aspect of the citys character, and there are passages in Fairground that may indeed conjure up images of mechanical rides, gentle or gut wrenching. More important to me, though, was the impression of circularity the city often seems to evoke: not just the circular nature of the fairground rides on the pier themselves, but that of its dance music, its way of life (the seasonal nature of its existence) and its looped geography, encircled by the Downs to the north, the sea to the south as well as its indestructible aspirations to decadence and hedonism.
So, Fairground is built out of strings of circular episodes: musical ideas that constantly loop, return, get stuck in a rut, generate sometimes-manic energy by their persistence. The piece falls into two parts, the first functioning as a kind of prelude to the second and lasting only a third of its length. In fact, I intend the first part to be heard, in retrospect, as a sort of miniature version of the second: to a significant extent, both parts follow a similar sequence of events, and all the material of the second part is introduced in the first (with the exception of the final whirligig fairground ride).
I also wanted this piece to acknowledge my debt to the orchestra for making me its first composer-in-focus and for programming a number of works of mine over these two seasons; so, by way of a kind of summary of the experience, I have made more or less direct reference to three of the four other works of mine they have performed.
© Martin Butler

Comments 

Commissioned with funding by The Arts Trust of Brighton & Hove

Performances 
18.01.08 Dome Concert Hall, Brighton, United Kingdom: Brighton Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
3
Flute
3
Oboe
3
Clarinet
3
Bassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
3
Percussion
1
Harp
1
Piano
doubling celesta
(Esc)