By Tim Reynish
Kit Turnbull (b.1969) began his musical career as a keyboard player in a rock band before joining Her Majesty's Royal Marines Band Service in 1991 as a bassoonist. From 1997 he studied composition with Martin Ellerby at the London College of Music where he subsequently became a course leader and composition tutor. He is currently Composition and Arranging tutor to the Royal Air Force Music Services.
He has contributed a number of very successful works for wind band, many of them recorded on the Polyphonic label by the RNCM Wind Orchestra and published by Studio Music.
Several of Turnbull's works were originally written for brass band, but he has a knack of rescoring for wind band without falling into the traditional traps of block "band" scoring. His website gives a listing of his works with programme notes and a recording of excerpts. I am especially drawn to his two works for junior bands, Eagle and Serpent and The Rychemount Chronicles, which seem to me to work extremely well.
He writes of Eagle and Serpent:
This piece was written for the Studio Music "Prelude Plus" Series. The series seeks to address the problems caused by imbalances in instrumental forces in junior bands and as such, the lower end of the ensemble plays a unison bass line (in octaves where necessary).
Within the bass line the instrumentation is varied, but always cued in all other parts. Likewise, the oboes and F horn parts are also optional, and cued elsewhere.
As is shown in his "Prelude Plus" works, his approach to composition is essentially practical. In 2011 he was commissioned by BASBWE to write a piece for large scale massed bands at a Festival in Shrewsbury. Although scored for large forces, Far From Home is cued in such a way that some of the "rarer" instruments are fully covered elsewhere
Picc., Fls. 1.2, Obs. 1.2, Cor Ang., Bb Cls. 1.2.3, Bb B. Cl., Bssns 1.2,
Bb Sop. Sax., Eb A. Sax. 1.2, Bb Ten. Sax., Eb Bar. Sax.,
Bb Tpts. 188.8.131.52, F Horns 184.108.40.206, Trbs 1.2.3, Euphs. 1.2, Tubas 1.2,
D. Bass, Timp., Perc 220.127.116.11
From rip-roaring tales of piracy and shipwrecks to songs sung by sailors thousands of miles from home and their loved ones this piece weaves together Sea Songs and Shanties from Britain Ireland the USA and Canada in a 6 minute work for large-scale Concert Band. The fuller scoring of the more dramatic Songs and Shanties is contrasted with quieter moments in an evocative journey through the Songs of The Sea. Although scored for large-scale forces the instrumental cues ensure that the piece is performable by a reduced ensemble.
Although the piece is scored for large-scale forces, the following parts are fully cued elsewhere and can therefore be considered optional
The supplied Bassoon part contains both Bassoon 1 & 2, allowing one player to cover both parts.
Soprano Saxophone - if unavailable, the part should be given to a single Clarinettist.
F Horns - Exposed passages cued elsewhere. While 4 horns are desirable, parts are supplied with Horns 1.2 on a single part and Horns 3.4 on a single part, thereby allowing two or three players to cover all necessary material.
Euphonium 1.2 - Supplied as a single part, allowing one player to cover all necessary passages.
Tubas 1.2 - Can be covered by one player if necessary.
Double Bass - Largely doubled with Tubas. Exposed / essential passages are cued in the Tuba part.
Far From Home can be purchased here: