An original composition from Lucy Pankhurst and Winner of the 2011 John Golland Award, receiving its premiere at the RNCM Festival of Brass that same year.
It is a complex, energetic and invigorating major work for brass band, and one which rightly demands attention through its intricate scoring, impact-making effects and bubbling brilliance!
Comments from the composer on the work’s title and its multi-purpose influence and inspiration upon her composition:
“The phrase “Alchemists’ Fire” has several possible connotations:
Firstly, Alchemists’ Fire is a magical weapon featured in the Dungeons & Dragon role playing game. It is a potion, so can be used to splash, throw or pour onto a target, dealing fire damage if it hits successfully.
The second possible meaning comes from an historical source, where it was also known as Greek Fire, from which the D&D element takes its influence. This was an incendiary weapon used by the Byzantine Empire, typically used in naval battles to great effect, as it could continue to burn on water. It provided a technological advantage and was responsible for many key Byzantine victories. The manufacture of this ‘fire’ was kept a deadly secret; so much so that the formula was eventually lost and contemporary scientists and historians can only speculate at what the chemical make-up might have been.
The final implication is a much more visual and sensory concept; that of the fire actually used by the Alchemist in his work – raging, dangerous and white-hot. Some sections of the work reflect the idea of ‘magic’ and ongoing experiments, some successful, some failing dangerously, in a cacophony of pops, fizzes and explosions amidst furious heat and brief moments of calm as the fire slowly cools, sizzling with residual components and elemental energy.”