This evening, in the cultural centre of Rhode-St-Genèse, I was happy to participate in the culminating event of a longstanding cooperative venture bringing together the music of composer Nigel Clarke, the conducting of Luc Vertommen, the playing of Brassband Buizingen, the ‘radio voice’ of Frank Renton, and the verses of yours truly. The occasion was a ‘champions meet’ – a try-out concert between Brassband Buizingen (the 2012 Belgian brassband champions) and Brassband Schoonhoven (from the Netherlands) – in the run-up to the 1 May 2013 European Brassbands Championship in Oslo. But it was also the occasion for the launch of a double CD, When Worlds Collide, bringing together all of the component elements listed above. Brassband Buizingen have chosen to take to Oslo as their set piece a daring new composition by their composer-in-residence, Nigel Clarke, entitled When Worlds Collide (you can hear a few clips from the work-in-progress at this link). The subtitle of Nigel’s witty piece is ‘or Little Green Men in Intergalactic Spaceships with Rayguns and Phasers‘. In the spirit of the piece, I wrote an acompanying poem composed entirely out of the titles of American 1950s science fiction B movies, and I was invited to read out the poem before the music began. (As I explained to the audience, I think the titles give an extraordinary insight into the state of mind of 1950s Cold War America.) When it was all over, Luc Vertommen had a surprise for Nigel and for me. We were each appointed honorary life members of Brassband Buizingen. I was so deeply touched by this. So talented and stylish are Brassband Buizingen that it is easy to forget that this is an amateur band (you wouldn’t think it if you heard them) and I have grown to admire them as they strive always not just for excellence but also for originality. Taking When Worlds Collide to Oslo is in my opinion a good example of that. Brassband Buizingen could have opted for a ‘safer’ piece within their comfort zone and polished it highly. Instead, they have gone for an original and provocative piece. There are six of Nigel Clarke’s compositions on the double CD, all performed by Brassband Buizingen, and all very different. Indeed, the combination of Nigel’s prolific originality, Luc’s brilliant conducting and the players’ excellence is a perfect match. I wish them every success in Oslo!