EarthriseMy composer friend, Nigel Clarke, has invited me to team up with him once again. He was recently appointed guest composer for the Buizingen Brassband here in Belgium and is busy writing an original piece for them to perform in the European Brassbands Championship. The title of his piece is Earthrise and Nigel has invited me to write an accompanying poem, as I did for Heritage Suite. This is a slightly taller order than writing a poem about a Kentish town, though that too was a great challenge. To help me out, Nigel offered me a book, Earthrise, by Robert Poole, and I have been galloping my way through it. It’s a fascinating read. If I ever knew, I had long since forgotten that the Russians beat the Americans to the moon; their unmanned Zond 6 mission got there more than a month before Apollo 8, and took the first photographs of the earth rising (though a Lunar Orbiter probe took some fuzzy, grainy shots in 1966). But it’s the ancient history that is perhaps the most fascinating; Plato, Cicero, Ovid, Seneca and Lucian all tried to imagine what the earth would look like from afar, and with a fair degree of accuracy. In the 1630s already, Kepler imagined journeying to the moon and looking back at the earth and Jules Verne and H.G. Wells penned convincingly accurate descriptions of the clouds and the seas and the colours. Poole’s account is also full of wonderful ironies. For example, the crew of Apollo 8 only first saw the moon when their spacecraft travelled behind it. Because of the position of their ship, they had spent the whole of their quarter of a million mile journey gazing back at the receding earth! Happily, I have completed a first draft of the poem and must now start knocking it into shape.