This short tone poem for orchestra is based on music composed for Erik Knudsen’s film Brannigan’s March in 2003. The film has been shown at cinemas in Manchester, London and elsewhere, and it concerns the journey, both physical and spiritual, of a man who leaves his home and family after being made redundant. The tone poem attempts to convey the emotional dimension of the journey, rather than depicting Brannigan’s travels in town and country. For this reason, the reference to ‘march’ in the film’s title has been dropped. The first performance was given by the Salford Symphony Orchestra, conductor Barrie McKinnon, 24 October 2004.
The piece begins with woodwind instruments playing a hymn-like melody in a minor key, conveying associations of sadness and despondency. Gradually, it converts itself into a march that develops a character of grim determination. Soon a new theme for violas and bassoon suggests a changing mood, less spiky and more lyrical, but with an ever-active string accompaniment maintaining a sense of restlessness. However, a trumpet moves the theme into the major, adding to the growing optimism. This is followed by a return of the hymn tune on string instruments; now in the major key signifying new hope. The climactic section joins together the hymn theme (on horns) and the lyrical theme (trumpets) in a mood of triumphant arrival.