Sails of Time

From Wind Repertory Project
David Gillingham

David Gillingham

Subtitle: Celebrating the Rich History of Sydney, Australia

General Info

Year: 2007
Duration: c. 10:05
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: C. Alan Publications
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $140.00   |   Score Only (print) - $40.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II
Bass Trombone
Organ (optional)
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V, including:

  • Bass Drum (small)
  • Bells
  • Brake Drum
  • Chimes
  • Concert Toms (3)
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crotales
  • Link Chain (large)
  • Marimba
  • Slapstick
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Temple Blocks
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Sails of Time was commissioned by Kingsway International and was written to celebrate the rich history of Sydney, Australia, and to honor the beauty of grandeur of this magnificent city identified by the icon of the sails of its famous Opera House.

The work is bound together by two main melodic ideas consisting of the Australian folksong, Click Go the Shears, and an original theme, Sails of Time, after the title. The work begins with the tolling of the "bells of time" followed by a drone of the "didgeridoo" played by the tubas, representing the indigenous aboriginal people who fished the waters of the Sydney harbor for 50,000 years prior to its settlement. Above the drone, a distant solo piccolo and muted trumpet play phrases from the popular Australian folksong, Click Go the Shears. Woodwind trills along with a piano ostinato announce the arrival of British convicts in 1788. Low brass and woodwinds play the folksong Bound for South Australia, ominously in B-flat minor. This is followed by a "prisoner walk", emulating the monotonous daily routine of the prisoners who were the first inhabitants of Sydney. They sing a blues-like tune to break the monotony as they shuffle along in shackled feet. (Listen for the constant clash of the chain.) The section escalates to a conclusion and segues into gentle breezes of keyboard percussion and rustling flutes leading to the first presentation of the Sails of Time theme played by horns, alto saxophones and oboes. The theme represents the hope for a much brighter future for the fledging settlement of Sydney. The section settles down to stillness and a distant piccolo and muted trumpet again play motives from Click Go the Shears.

A vibrant percussive interlude leads to a presentation of Click Go the Shears by piccolo and bass clarinet followed by echoing of motives between the ensembles within the massed band. The "growing pains" of Sydney are reflected by a sequence of motives from the Sails of Time theme which rise to a pinnacle in C major by the massed band. only to be interrupted by a mournful section in F-sharp minor. In this section, one is reminded of the "unruly society" in the early years of the city of Sydney. An oboe solo sorrowfully sings the tale on a motive extracted from the Sails of Time. Cascading woodwinds and keyboard percussion interrupt and, once again, provide hope to the negative situation and grow to a fugal exposition on the theme from Click Go the Shears. The sure-footed counterpoint and energy evidence the city's "gold and growth" era. The section segues to a sparkling and energetic percussion interlude which transitions to a joyful rendition of the Sails of Time accompanied by the driving rhythm Click Go the Shears. The "bells of time" interrupt to remind one of the city's roots with the drone of the didgeridoo. Distant solo piccolo and muted trumpet echo motives of Click Go the Shears one last time. The work ends triumphantly with a final statement by both themes.

Sails of Time was written to be performed as a massed band divided into three ensembles, premiered in the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. However, the work can be easily performed by one concert band.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

  • North Carolina: VI


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  • David Gillingham website – Accessed 22 April 2022
  • Gillingham, D. (2007). Sails of Time : Celebrating the Rich History of Sydney, Australia [score]. C. Alan Publications: Greensboro, N.C.
  • Perusal score