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Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew

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James Curnow

James Curnow

Subtitle: Based on a poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

General Info

Year: 1993
Duration: c. 10:05
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts - $95.00   |   Score Only - $10.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
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-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III-IV
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:

  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Orchestra Bells
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This impressive work is based on an inspiring poem written by an American pilot in World War II. The dazzling brass sonorities and sweeping woodwind lines reflect the young man's love for flying and its release from the troubles of the world.

- Program Note from publisher

John Gillespie Magee, Jr., was 19 years old when he was killed in action on December 11, 1941. Magee was born in Shanghai, China, to an American father and a British mother, who both worked as Anglican missionaries. He came to the United States for a visit and, due to the war, was unable to return to Europe. The U.S. had not yet entered the war, so Magee joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. A poem in a letter to his parents shortly before his death has become a classic and the inspiration for this composition.

James Curnow was commissioned by the Graduates Association of Tenri High School Band in Nara, Japan, to write a piece for concert band in honor of its 50th anniversary. Curnow composed Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew with the subtitle, “Based on a poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr”.

High Flight

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward, I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle, flew;
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

- Program Note by Austin (Texas) Symphonic Band concert program, 7 February 2015


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

  • Alabama: Class A
  • Georgia: V
  • Iowa: IV
  • Kansas: V
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Michigan: Senior High A
  • Minnesota: II
  • Mississippi: VI-A
  • North Carolina: V
  • South Carolina: V
  • Virginia: V


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Georgia Southern University (Statesboro) Wind Symphony (Michael Thomas, conductor) - 10 November 2022
  • University of Georgia (Athens) Hodgson Symphonic Band (Davaron Edwards, conductor) - 18 April 2022
  • Cascadia Wind Ensemble (Abbotsford, B.C., Can.) (Shannon Goldsmith, conductor) - 7 November 2021
  • New Orleans (La.) Concert Band (Charles Taylor, conductor) – 2 November 2019
  • Highty-Tighties Concert Band (Blacksburg, Va.) (James Bean, conductor) – 5 May 2019
  • Ohlone Wind Orchestra (Fremont, Calif.) (Tony Clements, conductor) – 10 March 2019
  • Concordia University (Chicago, Ill.) Wind Symphony (Richard Fischer, conductor) - 2 November 2018
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Maroon Campus Band (Cassandra Bechard, conductor) – 29 October 2018
  • DuPage (Glen Ellyn, Ill.) Community Concert Band (Terry Redford, conductor) - 7 May 2018
  • San Luis Obispo (Calif.) County Band (Leonard Lutz, conductor) - 29 April 2018
  • Bemidji (Minn.) State University Symphonic Band (Scott Guidry, conductor) – 7 November 2017
  • Florida International University (Miami) Symphonic Band (Barry W. Bernhardt, conductor) – 3 November 2016
  • San Ramon (Calif.) Symphonic Band (Bryan Holbrook, conductor) – 25 October 2015
  • Charlottesville Municipal Band (Stephen E, Layman, conductor) - 2 June 2015
  • Indianapolis Symphonic Band (Joe Poio, conductor) - 31 March 2015
  • Los Angeles Symphonic Winds (Stephen Piazza, conductor) - 15 March 2015
  • Austin (Texas) Symphonic Band (Richard Floyd, conductor) - 7 February 2015
  • Charlotte (N.C.) Concert Band (Drew Carter, conductor) - 12 April 2014

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Curnow, J. (1993). Where Never Lark or Eagle Flew: (Based on a Poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.) [score]. Hal Leonard: Milwaukee, Wisc.
  • Girsberger, Russ. Percussion Assignments for Band & Wind Ensemble. Volume I: A-K. Galesburg, MD: Meredith Music Publications, 2004, 74. Print.