Occasion was commissioned and published in 1986 as the test piece for the Youth Finals of the Boosey & Hawkes National Brass Band Championships, held that year in the Royal Albert Hall, London. The material was drawn from three different sources: Fanfare was written in 1981 as a wedding present for his friend and fellow composer Paul Patterson; Elegy and Dance was commissioned a year later for a new brass band competition in Scotland, whilst Festivities was freshly added to complete the Suite. As Paul Hindmarsh has commented: ‘It is a true occasional work and seems to summon up all the ingredients of Gregson’s early style in a thoroughly entertaining and surprisingly coherent fashion, given the circumstances of its creation’.
Festivities, cast in ABA form, projects a highly rhythmic idea with dissonant syncopations before giving way to a more lyrical melody before its return. The intense Elegy unfolds a modal folk-like tune which, after a brief introduction, is heard on flugel horn, then euphonium, before building to a powerful climax – the melody now being heard on the full band, then subsiding to a reprise of the introduction. The exuberant Dance is the composer’s tribute to Malcolm Arnold – again in ABA form, its exuberant main tune in 7/4 time is contrasted with an elegant melody, interrupted by echoes of the dance tune, before a repeat of the dance tune and a brief coda bring the work to its joyful conclusion.