Festivo for Symphonic Wind Band was commissioned in 1985 for the 10th Anniversary of the Bolton Youth Concert Band with funds provided by the Trustee Savings Bank. It received its first performance from the Bolton Youth Concert Band, conducted by Nigel Taylor, at the Conference of the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles in Kortrijk, Belgium, in July 1985
As the title suggests, it is a festive piece, exuberant in style and cast in rondo form. An introduction announces, in fragmented form, some of the melodic and rhythmic ideas. The main theme, which is light-hearted and exuberant, is then announced on clarinets but is immediately tossed around the band. The first episode is lyrical in mood with a variation of earlier material passed from one wind soloist to another, whilst the second episode starts quietly but gradually adds layer upon layer of repeated ostinato, rather in the manner of ‘minimalist’ technique, until the whole band eventually joins in (important parts for melodic percussion here).
The final statement of the rondo tune is heralded by bell-like chords on the brass with tubular bells adding colour. This leads to a short but triumphant coda (with melodic percussion again prominent). Throughout there is much emphasis on changing time patterns and asymmetric rhythms with the scoring utilising solo and chamber-like textures.
Festivo has become a standard repertoire piece in many countries and is one of the composer’s most popular and most frequently performed works.