Derwent Brass to mark sinking centenary with new piece

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Belper-based brass band Derwent Brass are set to perform a major new work entitled The Final Voyage at a special remembrance concert in Belper on Saturday, November 12.

Commissioned by Bolsover District Council and composed for brass band by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, the piece marks the 100th anniversary of the final, fateful journey of the armoured crusader, HMS Hampshire.

Kevin Stewart, a trombone player with Derwent Brass, has involved himself in extensive research to support the project, including a letter from his great uncle (Richard Simpson) sent to his mother, detailing his version of the events that engulfed the vessel’s disastrous outcome.

On May 30, 1916, HMS Hampshire received orders and fought in the Battle of Jutland, returning safely to Scapa Flow on 3rd June. Despite furious gales and terrible sailing conditions, the ship then set out at 4.45pm on June 5 en route to

Archangel in North Russia carrying the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, who was to attend diplomatic negotiations with representatives of the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II.

An hour later, the ship’s captain decided to turn back due to appalling weather conditions. At 7.40pm, and just a mile and a half from safe anchorage between the Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head off the Orkney Isles, HMS Hampshire struck a mine laid by German U-Boat U75. She sank amid terrible sea conditions within 15 minutes.

All but 12 of her 667 crewmen and passengers lost their lives, among them Derbyshire hero, 1st Class Stoker Thomas Henry Redfern, as well as Lord Kitchener and his staff, a loss that sent political as well as military reverberations

around the world from small towns to the highest offices of state.

Kevin Stewart said: “As I play one of the 12 voices in the piece, it’s humbling to think this represents Richard. I know in particular my Grandad and Mum, who are sadly no longer with us, would have been delighted with the piece and proud of its dedication to all those brave men.”

Composed in several connecting movements, The Final Voyage paints a musical storyline that is accompanied by an equally evocative projection and will be performed alongside other major works including Karl Jenkin’s The Armed Man: A Mass For Peace on November 12 in a special ‘Somme 100’ remembrance concert entitled A Night To Remember at St. Peter’s Church, Church Lane, Belper, DE56 1FD.

Derwent Brass musical director Keith Leonard commented: “It is an honour for the band to play its part in commemorating the lives of so many, especially with the added family connection to one of our own players, at an event in our home town of Belper.

“It is a very moving and evocative story which, alongside the additional significance of the Somme centenary, will make for a very special and poignant event.”

Tickets are available online from www.derwentbrass.com, Moss Office Services (Belper).