The composer’s new work is the product of meticulous planning, right down to the last dynamic detail.

Work Fanfare Overture 
Composer Samuel Dickenson
Scored for Symphony orchestra 
Commissioned by Queensland Youth Symphony 
Premiere Queensland Performing Arts Centre, August 19, 7pm 
Performers Queensland Youth Symphony


The Queensland Youth Symphony has a reputation as a world-class youth orchestra, largely thanks to the half-century of work and dedication by its founder and permanent musical director John Curro AM MBE. The reason for this reputation will become apparent to anyone fortunate enough to experience the youthful exuberance and technical ability demonstrated by these young musicians in concert. For those who have heard this orchestra, you would understand my excitement in being asked to write Fanfare Overture, to be premiered in Queensland and later played in China and Germany as part of the QYS international tour.

A key consideration for each of my pieces is the conscious application of craft principles; the academic analysis of masterworks of the past and the isolation of common rules. This new work, Fanfare Overture, is the product of meticulous planning, down to the last dynamic detail. The piece is comprised of two melodic motifs and two harmonic motifs that are developed throughout the orchestra into a grand climax. This process of using limited material creates unity throughout the piece, complementing the melodic generosity of the work and making it accessible upon first impression. It is my job to complete this task without sounding artificial: the music must flow naturally and with apparent ease. I wish to leave the audience with an overwhelming impression of optimism and excitement, opening the concert with a grand statement.

One advantage to writing for the QYS is their appetite for challenge and almost unbelievable technical ability – to be expected of an orchestra regularly performing masterpieces by composers such as Ravel, Bartók, Prokofiev and Shostakovich. As you might predict from a work with “fanfare” in the title, there is plenty of brass throughout, often heard soaring majestically above the orchestra or in triumphant interjections as a colourful drama unfolds underneath in the strings and wind instruments.

More “overture” than “fanfare” is the soloistic interlude, showcasing the stunning abilities of the principal wind players in addition to the concertmaster and harpist in a lush, Tchaikovsky-esque section. There are various challenges for each solo performer, requiring sensitive interpretation and a brilliant sense of ensemble. Fanfare Overture is being championed by the young musicians, many of who study at the Queensland Conservatorium or University of Queensland. It is a genuine pleasure to watch them playing with such enthusiasm and energy from my spot as the principal double bass.

This is a rare and exciting chance to experience a work before the rest of the world, performed by a world-class youth orchestra under the baton of a true titan and ambassador for young musicians – John Curro.


Queensland Youth Symphony premiere’s Dickenson’s Fanfare Overture on August 19

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