Paul Englishby, a prolific film and theatre composer who has written many film scores including 'An Education' and 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' and scores for the Royal Shakespeare Company, was appointed for the music commission.
Paul's brief was to work closely with the community - schools, young people, residents, miners - to create several short pieces of original music. Musicians and singers who lived or worked in the village were recruited on a voluntary basis, eventually numbering over 80. Paul's composition, 'Fireworks', comprises a suite of musical works based on the four elements - Fire, Earth, Air and Water - found in nature. 'Fire', 'Stone', 'Song' and 'Waterways' loosely refer to the mining and engineering history of Combe Down. Each is played as individual performances before culminating in a final performance which brings the four elements together as 'Fireworks'.
'Fireworks' was performed by the Ralph Allen School band and Choir (FIRE), Combe Down Primary School Percussion Group (STONE), Combe Down Residents Choir (SONG), and Combe Down Chamber Ensemble (WATERWAYS) under the musical direction of Mike Smith. The groups worked alongside renowned professionals including saxophonist Nick Moss, percussionist Corinna Silvester, bassist Thad Kelly and trombonist Chris Traves over a six month development and rehearsal period, leading to a recording of the work and the premiere performance on 26 September 2009.