Lucy Pankhurst graduated with an honours degree in performance from the RNCM in 2004 and remained at the college to complete an MMus in composition with Head of Composition, Adam Gorb. She returned to the college in 2012 as a PhD researcher, focussing on contemporary brass composition techniques, including the application of electronics.
As a composer, Lucy has received many prizes for her work, most notably in 2011 when she became the first female composer to be presented with a British Composer Award in the Brass/Wind Band category. In Pitch Black was also the first brass band work to win a BCA. Lucy was shortlisted again for a British Composer Award in 2013 for the collaborative work, Diversions After Benjamin Britten (celebrating the life of Benjamin Britten, framed by his Fanfares For St. Edmundsbury) and also in 2014 for the brass band electro acoustic work Th’owfen Raconteurs.
Other compositional accolades include the 2011 John Golland Award, Best New Composition at the 2007 U.S. Open Championships in Chicago and in 2006 she was also one of the four winners in the inaugural RNCM Festival of Brass Young Composer Competition. Lucy has been a guest and featured composer on BBC Radio 2’s Listen To The Band on several occasions.
Other brass projects include an extended work for the Wingates Brass Band, folk singer and electronics; entitled Th’owfen Raconteurs, funded by the PRS for Music Foundation; a large-scale commission for the 2015 Brass: Durham Festival for three brass bands, supported by Arts Council England and, more recently, Lucy worked with bait_time to (one of the 21 ‘Creative People and Places’) in South East Northumberland to produce an event that would provide a lasting musical legacy for bands in the area. The culmination of this was Reflection Connection, that saw 200 brass players massed from Ashington, Bedlington, Ellington, Jayess Newbiggin Bands and young players from Music Partnership North Northumberland take to the stage to perform a 30 minute multi-media piece at Woodhorn Museum’s annual Miners’ Picnic event on the 11th June 2016. The piece also received a re-staged encore performance at the Sage, Gateshead the following day, as a curtain raiser for the world-acclaimed group, Mnozil Brass.
Outside of the world of brass, Lucy has worked closely with several ensembles, including the Lambeth Wind Orchestra, the Lunar saxophone quartet, the Borealis Quartet, Docklands Symphonia, the Tempest flute trio and has produced commissions for the BASBWE London Festival and Harrogate Single Reed Festival. In March 2015, Lucy was one of the selected composers to be featured on BBC Radio 3’s International Womens’ Day events, with her piano solo Footprints (recorded by Grace Francis). She has also been fortunate enough to work with the Manchester Camerata and London Sinfonietta during her PhD research.
In 2014, Lucy was invited to create music and help design the opening event for the Ageas Salisbury International Arts Festival. The result was Voices From No Man’s Land – a collection of songs commemorating the Christmas Truce of WWI. The songs were presented as a 2-hour installation in Salisbury Cathedral, featuring 110 voices, a pre-recorded soundtrack and brass quartet. Lucy used fragments of the soundtrack with a selection of the songs to create Voices (in memoriam) – a new commission for the Band of the King’s Division to premiere at the 2015 RNCM Festival of Brass. Also in 2014, Lucy was selected as a featured artist with the Arts Council-funded Immix Ensemble, based in Liverpool. This saw her be appointed as joint composer-in-residence with John McGrath (Liverpool University) for a project that culminated in a performance and recording in November 2014. Lucy and John collaborated on several works and performed together in the concert with Lucy’s Cantabiles, for tenor horn (with effects pedals) and guitar.
As a music educator and animateur, Lucy has composed numerous pieces for youth ensembles, including 3minuteWARNING for the Foden’s Youth Brass Band and Silent Guardians (based on the myths of the Liver Birds) for the Sefton Youth String Orchestra. Last year, she completed a special commission for the Macclesfield Youth Brass Bands to mark their tenth anniversary. Brass Roots; Musical Wings brought together all four MYBB ensembles in an 18-minute work, premiered at the RNCM as part of their anniversary concert in July 2015. Lucy was pleased to work with MYBB again this year on a new commission for the 2016 Barnaby Festival. Contact Light is an exploratory piece for youth band, electronics (Novation Launchpad and iPad sequencer apps) and electric guitars. The award-winning actor Brian Blessed (OBE) kindly recorded narrations for the performance as the piece guides the audience on an extra-terrestrial journey to new worlds.
Over the last 6 years, Lucy has also developed and delivered a whole-class programme of music for KS2 beginner brass and is currently compiling a collection of educational pieces for youth ensembles and soloists. She is also a composition tutor at Huddersfield University. The latest ABRSM Brass syllabus features some of Lucy’s works, as published in the new Shining Brass books.
Brass Roots; Musical Wings was commissioned by the MYBB to celebrate their 10th anniversary (2005-2015).
The piece was composed with the assistance of the members of MYBB during 2015; the players created rhythms and melodies and suggested musical styles and structure for the work during a series of workshops – all of which I included in the final piece. With it being such a special and personal celebratory piece, involving the young musicians in the process was the perfect way to start everything off. It ensured that the music was inherently theirs through and through…and was also very enjoyable for me to see how creative they all were.
Each ensemble within MYBB has its own solo feature, before combining with full forces for the grand finale. The subtitles reflect the journey of MYBB over their first ten years:
Training Band - ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
Junior Band - PRIDE AND JOY (March)
Drum Corps - BRIDGE BEATS
Youth Band - ALL IN GOOD TIME
MASSED BANDS - IN IT TOGETHER
The overall title - Brass Roots; Musical Wings - illustrates the mission of MYBB – giving their players firm roots within the brass band tradition, allowing them a whole host of musical opportunities, before taking flight to the next stage of their lives at university, or beyond. Being part of such a wonderful organisation teaches many skills – not just musical ones! In addition to being enjoyable, learning to be a musician requires dedication, discipline, develops social and listening skills and also shows that you can work well as an important part of a team. This piece is a tribute to the hard work of everyone involved with MYBB that make it what it is; a positive, well-(valve)oiled brass and drum machine!
To watch the UK premiere performance CLICK HERE