Oxford Encaenia, 26.06.2019.
Working in parallel posts at Oxford, Royal Holloway, and Kings College London over the last 12 months has left little time for composing – so I was honoured when Simon Desbruslais approached me to write the fanfare for this year’s Encaenia at Oxford University.
The Encaenia is a ceremony to confer honorary degrees (doctorates) at Oxford University. It is conducted almost entirely in latin and the opening fanfare has been a long tradition to welcome and honour the graduands.
Petunia Fanfares are varieties of the Solanaceae flower family. The Fanfare Series are compact, trailing tender perennials typically grown as annual bedding plants with sticky, hairy, ovate to lance-shaped, mid-green leaves and, from late spring to autumn, lobed, fluted, trumpet shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple, yellow, red, and white.
‘Petunia’ is also the name of Yo Yo Ma’s cello. This musical fanfare, commissioned by Simon Desbruslais, incorporates a canon upon a pitch contour from Korngold’s Robin Hood. They are trailed together, corresponding to the characteristics of the bright and vibrant Petunia flower.
Each year Simon Desbruslais commissions a new fanfares for the University of Oxford Encaenia Ceremony. Over the past few years, composers have included:
Solfa Carlile, ‘Interruptions’ (2014) for Sir Harrison Birtwistle
Mark Slater, ‘Fanfare from the Edge’ (2017) for Judith Weir
Rob Keeley, ‘Sheldonian Fanfare’ (2018)