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‘Odyssey’ Variations was composed as a result of a commission in May 2020 from Five Lakes Silver Band and its musical director, Christopher Ward. This music is based on an original theme that I first used in an earlier composition, Odyssey, which was the test piece for the European Brass Band Championships, held at Munich, Germany, in April 1999. I distinctly remember getting into my hotel room and turning on the television to be greeted by news coverage of the Columbine High School shooting, so that piece has always held some significance for me, though because of a very sad coincidence.


The melody was originally a cornet solo in the central slow section of Odyssey and pitched deliberately to test the soloist. I have, more recently attempted a straightforward choral setting of the melody, and the harmonies I use in the three chorale-style settings at the start of these variations are loosely based on that setting. The melody is a setting of the familiar words of Be Thou My Vision, an old Irish hymn, translated by Mary E. Byrne, and versified by Eleanor H. Hull.


The form of the work is as follows:


Theme - three presentations

Variation 1 - Allegro

Variation 2 - Moderato (featuring the horns, baritones, euphoniums and basses)

Variation 3 - Maestoso (featuring the cornets, flugel horn, and trombones)

Variation 4 - Adagio

Variation 5 - Allegretto

Variation 6 - Largo - Moderato

Variation 7 - Allegro molto

Theme - Maestoso e sostenuto

Finale - Allegro vivace - Adagio e allargando


To view a video of Five Lakes Silver Band performing the work please visit:


Sheet music available from:

UK -



Difficulty Level: 1st Section +



Soprano Cornet Eb

Solo Cornet Bb

Repiano Cornet Bb

2nd Cornet Bb

3rd Cornet Bb

Flugel Horn Bb

Solo Horn Eb

1st Horn Eb

2nd Horn Eb

1st Baritone Bb

2nd Baritone Bb

1st Trombone Bb

2nd Trombone Bb

Bass Trombone

Euphonium Bb

Bass Eb

Bass Bb


Percussion 1-3

'Odyssey' Variations (Brass Band) Kevin Norbury

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