I Am You, Brave and Strong

For Young Performers and Orchestra
(2016) 16 minutes
Solo Instrument(s): Young Performers (all instruments)
Orchestration: 1+pic(fl).2.2.2/4200/timp.3perc/str

Commissioned by the London Chamber Orchestra's Music Junction project and premiered at Cadogan Hall on 6th May, 2016 at Cadogan Hall, London by 150 Music Junction participants alongside the LCO, conducted by Christopher Warren-Green.

Programme note

I Am You, Brave and Strong, was commissioned by the London Chamber Orchestra for their Music Junction outreach project, with support from the Britten-Pears Foundation and MariaMarina Foundation.The first performance was given on 6th May, 2016 at Cadogan Hall, London by 150 Music Junction participants alongside the LCO, conducted by Christopher Warren-Green. The work is inspired by the theme of Heroes and Antiheroes and is based upon a theme by Peter Maxwell Davies, donated to the project in 2015.

© Cheryl Frances-Hoad, 2016


"Featuring 130 young people aged between nine and seventeen (drawn from fourteen state and independent schools and organisations across Havering, Waltham Forest, Kent and Berkshire), the performance was uplifting, and remarkable for its inclusiveness and boldness. Alongside the players of the LCO were amassed both skilled young musicians and those who had only recently begun playing an instrument.  The Cadogan Hall platform and galleries overflowed with music-makers: there were flute choirs aloft; electric guitars nestled alongside timpani; bright, multi-coloured ranks of string players, some seated, some standing.

Frances-Hoad’s composition is divided into three parts.  In the first, a folk-nuanced theme that was given last year to the LCO’s Education and Outreach Artistic Director, Rosemary Warren-Green, by the late Sir Peter Maxwell Davies is passed around the players, acquiring different hues and textures, and accumulating increasing force.  The second movement integrated music composed by each of the participants.  Frances-Hoad’s skilfully crafted score took the listener on a journey through each orchestral section, as initially tentative gestures – which exploited the instruments’ unique capabilities and characteristic sound-worlds – bloomed with forceful momentum and fiery animation.  Vigorous string crossings, an exciting expanse of woodwind tessitura, and the glowing warmth of brass and horns built to a rousing climax whose repeating military triplet-fanfare tattoo was topped with dazzling cymbals.  But Frances-Hoad also ensured that the more experienced among the young players had solo opportunities to showcase their skill.

The final movement was a setting of a collectively written text, I Am You, Brave and Strong, to a dynamic score, whose Scotch-snap rhythm and strong stepwise bass line created persuasive propulsion.  Commencing with a call to attention from the timpani and a quirky violin solo, the movement struggled through a literal and figurative ‘storm’ – ‘A clap of thunder, lighting up the sky,/ A blast of light the sourness fades’ – then garnered the positive energy of marching timpani beats and pizzicato string retorts to a triumphant conclusion: ‘With courage we’re back, so hear our song!/  Brave and strong!’" 

Claire Seymour, Seen and Heard International

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Recording available (contact Chester for more information) 

Peruse the score online with Issuu