Composer pens special piece of music to mark Mallard's world record breaking exploits

A special piece of music has been penned to mark Mallard's record breaking feats

A special piece of music has been penned to mark Mallard's record breaking feats

First published in News

AN HISTORIC line-up of locomotives, marking the world record-breaking exploits of the Mallard, has inspired a North-East musician to pen a piece of nostalgic celebratory opera.

Composer John Kefala-Kerr, of Newcastle, incorporated live actors and music into a one hour long piece of music called Steamsong.

A Guildhall School of Music graduate, he wrote it to mark the 75th anniversary of Mallard reaching 125.88mph on July 3, 1938.

The multi-media opera involves video, drawn from British Transport Film Archive footage, and the final piece will be projected on to a fog screen for audiences to view and walk through.

Staff at Locomotion: The National Railway Museum at Shildon commissioned the music six months ago for the museum’s The Great Goodbye event - which brings together the last six  surviving A4 class locomotives to mark Mallard’s anniversary.

A 20 minute segment has been screened at Locomotion for visitors, and the full piece is to premiere at the Gala Theatre, in Durham, as part of the Durham Brass International Festival, in July.

Mr Kefala-Kerr, 55, said: “Mallard’s record was a matter of great prestige for the British people at the time, as Germany also had a strong claim for the steam engine world speed record.

“It was similar to something like the race to be the first country to put men on the Moon.

“I’ve tried to bring this into the piece."

He brought in singers from the Newcastle-based Voices of Hope group, under the watchful eye of conductor Simon Sidler, plus designer Frances Anderson and choreographer Paula Turner to help. 

The Gala Theatre premiere of Steamsong is on Saturday, July 12, and Sunday, July 13, with tickets £12 and concessions £8.

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