Ken Downie's music recognised at last

Mr Smiler

I was really pleased to see that Kenneth Downie has been offered a high profile commission to write for next year's European finals.

I rate Ken's music very highly and he has quite a distinctive voice. Whatever the piece turns out to be, I'm sure it will be very "musical" with "good tunes in it" as Richard Evans so succinctly put it. I'm sure the bands will really enjoy what he has to offer.

Ken has been at the forefront of SA band music for some time now and has written some gems which are widely recognised in the larger brass band world. "In Perfect Peace" must be spread across many a band's library.

The future of Salvation Army music (in the days post general release) must be very encouraging with the likes of Ken, Peter Graham, Ray Steadman-Allen et al at the helm and is an inspiration to many young composers. But its even better that these composers are writing for contseting bands and not becoming compartmentalised as purley SA composers.

What does any one else think about Ken's music?


Staff member
I recall hearing "Through the Blood of the Lamb" for the first time at the Albert Hall (I think it was Chicago Mont Clare band) [Edit: I've been corrected - it was Cambridge Citadel, also from USA!] and being very struck by it. I've played it in rehearsal since - there is a rather exposed BBb bass passage - but never played it out, and I think it is one that is often overlooked.

Whilst I enjoy his major works - "Majesty", "Princethorpe Variations" and "Music For Thanksgiving" spring to mind, I think those that leave a more lasting impression are the smaller pieces, each touched with his craftsmanship and harmonic gifts. There is a fairly new setting of "Standing Somewhere in the Shadows" where he produces a real feeling of menace in the lower sections of the band before the confident statement is reaffirmed.

I am also a great fan of his choral writing, which I understand from interviews he has given is still his first love.

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