Perseverance was commissioned by Middleton Band to mark their 140th anniversary in 2016, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and featured on Middleton Band’s CD of the same name.
The title is taken from the original name of the 1876 band, the Middleton Perseverance Drum and Fife Band. According to the band’s historical records, the Drum and Fife band was formed by six Middleton youngsters eager to learn music but short of funds. Following a whip round, they visited a music shop in Oldham where they purchased a ‘one key flute’ for six shillings and sixpence, and (‘later on’) a drum.
This determination to make music despite the odds has been a characteristic of the band ever since; at the end of the second world war the band was again down to six players, who rebuilt the ‘Middleton Borough Band’ back to twenty-six players. After a period of some considerable success throughout the sixties and seventies culminating in winning the National Third Section title in 1983 the band hit hard times again in the late eighties and was down to only four members in 1987 before again being brought back to life. In recent decades the band has built a strong relationship with the East Lancashire Railway, another organisation which has battled sometimes mighty obstacles in its struggle to survive, and has maintained a thriving and successful youth band.
The band’s will to survive through adversity is reflected in the music, which builds from a sextet of four brass and two percussion players three times, only to fall back to the sextet twice. In the central slow movement the bass drum plays a ‘heartbeat’ rhythm as the remaining players remember those lost in the war. The relentless pace of the final section culminates in the band triumphing over the adversity which has curtailed the previous two sections. As a former member of Middleton Band (and one of the team that regained the National Third Section title in 2007) it is my pleasure to dedicate this work to the ‘Pop and Ale Boys’, Middleton Band.