Friday, 29 April 2016

Today (29 April) at 16.00 the Set Piece Contest starts at Le Nouveau Siècle. 12 bands will give their interpretation of the test piece written by Thierry Deleruyelle.

Composer Thierry Deleruyelle hopes that the 12 bands playing his 'Fraternity' will each find something individual to project into this journey.

Presenting ‘Fraternity’: a journey from the pitch black of despair to the light of hope and solidarity. A composition that ends in a hopeful non-triumphant ending leaving the listeners with their thoughts …


Deleruyelle’s inspiration

European coal mining dates back to the Middle Ages but it reached its peak from the 18th century and until the late 19th century. The valuable energy source was extracted manually in extreme conditions, at very great depths and under inadequeate safety regulations. However, it provided the opportunity of work for thousands of miners despite the hardships.

The composition of Deleruyelle pays homage to miners worldwide, to the countries, cities and families that bear the mark of coal mines. These are deep scars but als a rich heritage: the mining towns and settlements, churches, sports halls, wind orchestras and brass bands that were created by the mining companies. Persistence, camaraderie and the pleasure of being together are all traits to be found in both miners and musicians.


The disaster of Courrières

The work is based on one of the most significant events in the history of coal mines: the disaster of Courrières. It was Europe’s worst mining accident, caused the death of 1,099 miners (including many children). A coaldust explosion – the cause of which is not known with certainty – devastated a coal mine on 10 March 1906. The work is commemorating the 110th anniversary of this disaster.  

Thierry dedicated this work to paternal grandfather, who was a miner in the coal mines of northern France where he worked from the age of 12 years.

The pieces consists of seven parts:


1)  Black Land

The representation of the miner who wakes in the cold and dark of an early morning in March, preparing for the day that lays ahead.

2)  The Towering Colliery

It is mining ground. The pit head, with its frame and gigantic wheels, imposes its presence. There is a pervasive atmosphere of heaviness and ice. It is just before 6 am – miners start to arrive. They hang their token on the charging bank and take their lamp before assembling in front of the lift shaft cage.

3)  From light to dark

Miners are pressed against each other in the cage that will take them to a depth of from 320 to 340 metres. They are engulfed in this black hole, the pit swallowing them like a gaping mouth.

4)  Extracting the coal

Deep in the mine, each miner takes up his task and his post. The work begins. The diggers attack the seam to extract chunks of coal and put them into carts pushed along by workers. The horses pull the carts, attached one to the other, before the carts are taken to the surface in the lift cage.

5)  Firedamp

6:34 am, a thud, a terrible explosion devastates 110 km of galleries in seconds. It is an explosion of a pocket of gas then a dust blast that is responsible for the disaster. 1664 miners find themselves trapped.

6)  Bring out the dead miners

The situation is alarming. The pit shafts are blocked, cages are jammed by ground movements and escape to the surface by the miners is near impossible. When rescuers reach some of the galleries they are confronted by an appalling spectacle.

7)  Fraternity prayer

The crowd gathers in front of the pits and streets are crowded. All are looking for a parent or close relative. Many miners will never be identified because of severe burns. They will hastily buried in a common grave three days after the disaster which has cost 1,099 lives.


Three days after the disaster, searches are abandoned to allow the fire to be smothered and the coal deposits protected. Twenty days after the explosion, thirteen survivors manage to find their way through kilometers of galleries, in total darkness; a fourteenth survivor is found four days later.


The draw is published shortly after 16.00. 

Return to previous page