Paul Lovatt-Cooper: Vitae Aeternum
Paul Lovatt-Cooper was born in Alderney, 1976. His parents were both Officers in the Salvation Army, so Lovatt-Cooper was quickly immersed in the family tradition of brass banding. Whilst at school, Lovatt-Cooper began learning the drums, and after he started proving his talents for percussion, was invited to play for the British Open Champions Kennedy’s Swinton Band. His career as a percussionist grew and grew, until he became Principal Percussionist with the Williams Fairey Band. In 2003, Lovatt-Cooper left the band to join Black Dyke band as a percussionist. He also did a lot of soloist work with a range of different brass bands.
As well as a performer, Lovatt-Cooper is also a celebrated conductor, winning the coveted Roy Newsome Conductors Award at Salford University. He has worked with some of the finest brass bands in the UK including the Brighouse and Rastrick Band and the Black Dyke Band. Currently, Lovatt-Cooper is the Director of Music at the television and media company Factory Transmedia. He is also the Managing Director of his own music company PLC Music. As you can imagine, Lovatt-Cooper is in high demand all over the world as he is a ‘triple threat’ – composer, conductor and performer.
As a composer, which is perhaps what he is best known for now, he has had his music premiered in some of the most prestigious concert halls in the world. His compositions have earned him commissions from different ensembles and soloists from around the world. His music is not only confined to concert halls either, Lovatt-Cooper’s music can be heard in a variety of different contexts on television shows and radio stations. Lovatt-Cooper studied at the University of Salford, under brass and wind band composer, Peter Graham. He has composed some very famous brass band pieces, which have often been selected as test pieces for contests. He has composed some contemporary brass band favourites including, Canzona Bravura, Where Eagles Sing and Vitae Aeternum.
Vitae Aeternum was commissioned in 2007 by Gerard Klauke of GK Design. It was premiered by Black Dyke Band at the De Lawei Concert Hall, Netherlands. It was the first substantial composition by Lovatt-Cooper after he had become Composer in Residence with Black Dyke. ‘Vitae Aeternum’ translates into ‘Eternal Life’ and the work is inspired by three songs by Ivor Bosanko and Dick Krommenhoek. Although in three separate sections, the work is played continuously with no breaks.
The first song used in the beginning section is by Krommenhoek and is usually heard at Christmas time. It is entitled God came in Jesus to live among us:
God came in Jesus to live among us
And he lit the light of hope again.
True light, true hope to fill our yearning;
The Light that will forever reign.
Section I is fast and begins with a burst and flourish of sound from both brass and percussion. The atmosphere is exhilarating and the syncopated rhythms and fast bursts of sound come together to make such spirited melodies. The music builds in dynamic and the melodies can be heard in various forms throughout this movement. When the climax is reached the style quickly changes in preparation for the next section, which has a very different atmosphere.
The second song used is by Krommenhoek again, and is entitled I will praise you Lord, with all my heart:
I will praise you Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of the wonderful things you have done.
I will sing with joy because of you.
I will sing praise to you, my God.
The second movement, which has segued smoothly from the first movement, is a stark contrast to the first. This part is very slow and lyrical, and the change of key also makes this section stand out in terms of atmosphere, timbre and melodic development. The timbre throughout this section is breathtaking in places. The most striking is perhaps when the bell sounds, and it is answered with gentle sonority from the lower end of the band.
Muted cornets and lower brass move into a hauntingly delicate chorale. There are then solo lines from the flugelhorn and euphonium, which give a very warm interpretation of the melodic themes. There is such richness in the emotion of this section, which grows into fruition, with the ensemble reaching the final climax of this section. The flugelhorn then brings the music to a very solemn and quiet ending.
The third and final section is based on Bosanko’s song His Provision:
Holy Spirit! Promised presence fall on me.
Holy Spirit! Make me all I long to be.
Holy Spirit! Holy Spirit!
Give your power to me, O Holy Spirit.
The finale section of Vitae Aeternum is nothing short of thrilling. An energetic and virtuosic solo is heard from a solo cornet, which is then joined by other solo instruments, creating a fugal-like introduction. From then the band comes together for an energetic burst of sound and textures using a variety of musical material. The movement is very heroic and requires performers to play with much dexterity and concentration.
The end of the piece is majestic, bold and heroic in attitude and grandeur. All sections come together to play dominant-tonic chords. It ends on a truly exhilarating proclamation of sound.