The band’s annual concert on November 26th 2011 in High Cross Church, Camberley saw the world premiere of a new piece of music entitled Cranborne Chase. This piece has been commissioned by the band and written by celebrated composer Philip Harper in memory of solo horn player Libby Godden who passed away earlier in the year.
Libby had joined the band way back in 1966 after hearing Jennifer Cherry (a founder member still playing with the band) playing a tenor horn solo in a concert at Sandhurst Methodist Church. That was the start of a long association with the band, during which she progressed to the solo horn position, recruited four family members to play with the band, and had spells on the committee as publicity officer and chairman. Most recently she led the Training Ensemble in her role as Assistant Bandmaster. She especially enjoyed taking part in the SCABA Quartet Contests, and was proud to come away with the winners prize on one occasion. Libby continued to be active with the band despite a diagnosis of cancer, which finally claimed her life in February 2011.
Libby worked as a Methodist Minister in the South East Berkshire Circuit. In her leisure time apart from band she enjoyed the countryside and researching her family tree. These interests provided the inspiration for the title of the music commission – Cranborne Chase, a part of Dorset that she loved and often visited while either uncovering the history of her Ryman ancestors, or when visiting the chalk downland of nearby Martin Down.
During the early stages of composition, Philip Harper liaised with Libby’s son, Nicholas, and when nearing completion Philip contacted the band:
Overall I’m very pleased with it. It’s celebratory in feel as requested, lasts almost bang on four minutes, and I’ve used Libby’s name as the main musical material – G, O (becomes A), D, D, E, N (becomes G). Having spoken to Nick Godden, I’ve also based some of the harmonic sequence on the second movement of Gregson’s Partita which was one of Libby’s favourites, and incorporated a passage for traditional quartet, another of Libby’s passions.
The piece received instant approval from the band and a few weeks of practising later the band were delighted to welcome Philip Harper to lead the Friday night’s rehearsal, a memorable night for all present. The piece was performed in public for the first time at the band’s annual concert, and we are grateful to Charlie Fayers for making this recording of the first public performance of Cranborne Chase: