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LIFE IS A DARING ADVENTURE OR NOTHING for Wind Band by Lucy Armstrong (Great Britain, 1991)

[#178] December 19, 2022 2017 | Wind Orchestra | Grade 4 | 5'- 10' | Tone poem

British composer and conductor Lucy Armstrong
Credit: Nina Kuttler

“Life is a daring adventure or nothing” by British composer and conductor Lucy Armstrong is our Composition of the Week.

The work was premiered on March 25, 2017, by Leo Gayer and the Junior Trinity’s Wind Band at Blackheath Halls, London.

It has a duration of 7 minutes, and it is scored for standard wind band setting.

“I saw the phrase “Life is a Daring Adventure or Nothing” in Leh, a town in the Indian Himalayas, where it was the name of a shop selling guided mountain treks. I set off on an adventurous trek but quickly developed altitude sickness and collapsed on a remote mountain path. Unfortunately, there was a long ascent up to 5000 m before the next village. Things were not looking good until a pack of food-carrying donkeys arrived and I was hoisted onto one of them. My donkey skillfully navigated the steep, rocky mountainside and we reached the top long before the rest of the group. I spent a few hours with the donkeys and the brilliant Himalayan view waiting for the two-legged travelers. Each donkey had a bell and as they grazed, the bells gently tinkled creating a beautiful, calm sound to match the epic landscape. I start this piece with a gentle bell-like texture and the piece then sets off on a daring adventure.” (Program Note by Lucy Armstrong)

Lucy Armstrong’s work is eclectic and theatrical; she enjoys working collaboratively, writing for concert hall, opera, and theatre. Her works are broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 3 and performed internationally. In 2017 and 2018, she wrote an opera in association with the Royal Opera House.

Recent commissions include: FontanaMIX Ensemble (Italy), Psappha Ensemble (Sir Peter Maxwell Davies Commission), Bergen National Opera, The Borealis Saxophone Quartet, Size Zero Opera, The Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra, RNCM Engage, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, The Meon Valley Orchestra, John Miller’s “Brazmataz”, Gillian Blair, Blair/ Mertens Duo, Erin Royer, Jeremy Young and A4 Brass. She recently had a 25-minute piece for choir and orchestra premiered by Salford Choral Society and Piccadilly Symphony Orchestra.

Lucy Armstrong studied at the Royal Northern College of Music under Gary Carpenter and Adam Gorb then with Julian Philips at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she graduated with distinction. In 2018-19, she was a Fellow in Composition at the Guildhall. She is currently the Rosie Johnson RPS Wigmore Hall Apprentice Composer and is writing a piece for french horn and piano to be premiered at Wigmore Hall.


Other works for winds include:

  • Marine Overture (2012)

  • Wedding Bells (2013) ensemble for mezzo-soprano and winds, strings and percussion, harp and Celesta.

  • Jolt (2013) for Saxophone quartet.

  • Same same but different (2015/16) for saxophone quartet.

  • Repulsion (2015) for Brass quartet

More on Lucy Armstrong


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