St. John’s, 1828

for Concert Band

(To view a performance of the piece by the Wellington Winds, please click here.)

When European settlers first arrived in Newfoundland, they encountered
the Beothuk people. By 1829, the last Beothuk was dead.

Some years ago I composed a music theatre piece based on the tragic yet fascinating events surrounding the final years of Shanawdithit, the last Beothuk, and her people. St. John's, 1828 is derived from the opening scene of that theatre piece. What I originally created for voices and accompaniment, I re-arranged for Wind Ensemble. This is the music that sounds as the curtain rises, to reveal:

A seedy St. John's street, foggy. Evening. September 1828.
A single native drum sounds a slow and ominous pattern. The rising curtain reveals a dirty, slovenly, evil, drunken, and lecherous St. John's street. Close to the harbour, it teems with those who make a living from the sailors who have come ashore. The drum beat remains steady, but the rhythm changes to that of a 6/8 bodhran rhythm. The music is in a minor mode, Celtic and fast. The harbour parasites sing; they sell their wares, the dark rum, and themselves...

If you would like to perform this piece, you can download the score of St. John's, 1828 in pdf here. Please contact me by clicking on the contact button and I will gladly send you the parts in pdf format.

Play 1. Overture St. John's, 1828 UVic Winds