A Monmouth Overture

In 2007 Philip Sparke was appointed composer-in-residence to Monmouth School, situated on the Welsh/English border. The school, which has a venerable history dating back to 1614, has a thriving music department which boasts two concert bands, in co-operation with the nearby Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, and a brass band.

This exciting and innovative appointment involved three visits by the composer during the year as well as the commissioning of a new piece for each of the bands, all of which were premiered in a concert at the end of the year.

A Monmouth Overture was composed for the Haberdashers’ Symphonic Winds, the senior concert band.

The piece starts in lively mood and features as its central theme The Agincourt Song. This 15th century melody was written to celebrate Henry V’s 1415 victory at Agincourt where English archers famously defeated a much larger, but outdated, French army. Henry was born in Monmouth in 1387 and the town still commemorates this victory in the eponymous Agincourt Street and Agincourt Square, both close to Monmouth School.