The Trumpet Fists of Saint Nicholas by bencomposer published on 2018-05-07T19:25:17Z Whilst at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe Festival my friend, the comedian Seán Morley, explained to me an unusual custom that emerged in the Middle Ages. On the feast of Saint Nicholas (the 6th of December) a chorister was elected to be a boy bishop. He would dress in full bishop attire, and engage in mock ceremonies to the amusement of the general public. Then, on the Holy Innocents’ Day (the 28th of December) he would step down. (These dates are symbolically apt; Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of children, and Holy Innocents’ Day commemorates the mass infanticide committed by Herod). The Trumpet Fists of Saint Nicholas follows a similar structure, chronologically exploring both religious and non-religious ceremonies that take place between the 6th of December and the 28th of December. I am an atheist and know little of religious tradition, so in the early stages of wring this piece I spoke to my friend, the composer Piers Tattersall, who explained to me how Saint Nicholas had, at the First Council of Nicaea, become so angry with the heretical Bishop Arius that he hit him. Thus, the piece opens with argumentative material; this then gets beaten into submission by trumpet outbursts, until it transforms into an extract from Haydn’s Saint Nicholas Mass. From here, just as boy bishops gently mocked religious tradition, the piece introduces pious-sounding musical ideas which are then parodied. Towards the end of the work, two non-Christian festivals are explored; Saturnalia, the ancient Roman festival of Saturn (the 17th to the 23rd of December, Julian calendar), and Takanakuy (which translates as “to hit each other”), a violent Peruvian festival held on the 25th of December. The work is approximately 10 minutes long. Started on the 14th of February 2018, in Leeds (which was both Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday). Finished on the 1st of April 2018, in Leeds (which was both April Fool's Day and Easter Sunday). Commissioned and premiered by the Outcry Ensemble, conducted by James Henshaw, at St. John's, Notting Hill, on the 25th of April 2018.