Composition - The Final Voyage

The Final Voyage was commissioned by Carole Crompton on behalf of Bolsover District Council.       Section: 3+

This concert finale is a dramatic piece of program music to mark the 100th anniversary of the final fateful journey of HMS Hampshire on 5 June 1916.

All but 12 of its 737 crew-members lost their lives on that fateful journey. Among the casualties were Derbyshire hero, 1st Class Stoker Thomas Henry Redfern and Britain's Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener. Among the small number of 12 survivors was Royal Naval Seaman Richard Simpson.

Simpson and Redfern, were part of the Hampshire’s crew who set sail that day on a special mission during World War One. The mission was to take Britain's Commander-in-Chief Lord Kitchener to Russia for a special meeting with the Tzar and his Generals. On 5 June 1916 HMS Hampshire left the English port to never return.

Composed in several connecting movements, this piece of programmatic music paints a musical picture of its final journey beginning in port:
Opening with a lower brass fanfare, the magnificent HMS Hampshire is unveiled, moored in port as the crew and guests board. Followed by a short slow reflective section to represent the final farewells to those left onshore, the fanfares then take us into the open waters as the ship sets sail in heroic fashion. The next movement sees the Hampshire crashing majestically through the waves as it begins its journey.

However, the weather starts to deteriorate and conditions became increasingly difficult. The music here builds as you hear running triplet motifs representing the waves crashing against the hull. The conditions worsen, panic starts to ensue and as the crew battle with the horrendous elements just off Marwick Head, Orkney the ship hits a mine. With a big explosion from the percussion the hull of the ship is ripped apart.

The ship now engulfed by flames and water sinks into the stormy waters represented by three heavy lower brass chords. Blind panic from the crew represented by discordant rhythmic flourishes from the cornets and horns ensues. This frantic music, as they try desperately to escape the sinking vessel accompanies 12 fanfare voices from various instruments – representing the 12 lone survivors as they escape and swim to dry land.

This penultimate section fades and lowers as the ship and crew sink to the bottom. A lone cornet line is played - reflecting on the loss of life. This is then followed by the final section: a buildup of minor chords in dramatic fashion representing the devastating loss of life to conclude this tragic story.

This piece celebrates the lives of those who were lost and reflects on the tragedy suffered by the serving crew men and their families.

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