Presence... COOL... Transcend - Concerto for trumpet and six players: Music for a socially distanced time

Bede Williams (Performer)

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


“Presence…COOL…Transcend”, subtitled “Music for a socially-distanced time”, was written during lockdown in the autumn of 2020 when people were asking “is Christmas cancelled?”; students were incarcerated in their dorms and loved ones in care homes sometimes couldn’t understand where their relatives had gone. I am an opera composer, and, at one level, the concerto is the most dramatic of all the classical musical forms we have inherited. The concertos of Vivaldi, Mozart, Berg and Sibelius all try to answer the question: “Who is this soloist, this force of nature?” Obviously, there is usually a WOW factor! But what about a soloist you can’t see – one who’s “shielding”, “isolating” and forcibly out of circulation; just like many musicians during the past 18 months? “Presence” explores this idea, while “COOL” is a contemplation on re-birth based on two classic standards from the Great American Songbook. “Transcend” celebrates a return to life with our soloist fully centre stage. The rhythm section transforms from movement to movement; introducing the marimba in “COOL” and the silvery glockenspiel in “Transcend”, which culminates in a ghostly version of the great protest ballad, “We Shall Overcome”. Edward McGuire is one of Scotland’s greatest musicians and I’m tremendously grateful to him for introducing me to the trumpet soloist, Bede Williams.

First performed 17 November, 2021, The Wallace Collection and St Andrews New Music Ensemble side-by-side, directed John Wallace.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2021


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