An extremely emotional and poignant work for brass band composed by Lucy Pankhurst, in memory and tribute to those affected by the Pretoria Pit disaster in Lancashire on 21st December 1910. The piece is chilling in its depiction of the tragic story, sensitively conveying the atmosphere and emotions as perceived before, during and after the event. Through its use of playing techniques, effects, sound combinations and even silences, In Pitch Black offers a powerfully reflective piece.
Pritoria Pit Disaster
Lancashire’s worst pit disaster and Britain’s third largest loss of life from a single mining accident happened at the No. 3 Bank Pit belonging to the Hulton Colliery Company, just 4 days before Christmas 1910. The pit known as the ‘Pretoria Pit’ was situated on Hulton Parkland on the border of Atherton and Westhoughton. An explosion occurred at 7.50 am on Wednesday, 21 December 1910, resulting in the death of 344 men and boys, including many members of The Wingates Band.
The Writing Experience
During Lucy’s research for this work, she acknowledges that she found the harsh reality from the shocking images and historical accounts of the event most disturbing, and is not embarrassed to disclose that it was wholly a very emotional experience in creating the composition. Consequently, she chose to create something to illustrate the true emotion of the situation. She wanted to pay tribute to the lives lost and the devastation which remained in their absence, by creating a piece of music which begins in darkness; desolate and claustrophobic, whilst still leaving the audience feeling uplifted and thoughtful in the final bars.
The significance and musical appreciation for the creation of In Pitch Black was formally recognised by BASCA in 2011, when Lucy Pankhurst won the internationally acclaimed British Composer Award (the first time a brass band work had received the award, and the first time a female composer had won the category).
Full programme notes are included in the product images.
Look and Listen (performance courtesy of Manchester University Brass Band):