The West Somerset Brass Band performed the UK premiere of Crash Bang Donkey last week on Watchet Esplanade as part of the week long activities during Watchet Summertime. The music is set to the children's book written and illustrated by Watchet's very own author Jill Newton. Jill joined the band on stage for the performance with her hand painted story boards to a packed and enthralled audience of young and old.
The original music was written by a young American musician, Joshua Guarisco, who set the book and narration to music for his 67 piece Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin. In February 2019 Jill and her husband Cosmo visited the city of Sheboygan for it's debut performance as part of a children's concert. The band's Musical Director Niall Watson "Jill handed me the original orchestral score in March 2019 and asked us to try and play it! We had it transposed over to brass band music, by our friend Nigel Moyles, which was a long and complicated process, reducing it from 67 orchestral players to 12 brass musicians. It's been a really enjoyable process rehearsing it, and very satisfying too, that 4 years later, 3 rewrites of the music, a lot of hard work by the talented musicians in the band, including our narrator Colin Whitworth, the full support of Jill & Cosmo and a global pandemic thrown in for good measure, that we've been able to finally perform it in public. We're already planning some more performances of the piece for 2024."
Jill Newton:Jill was drawing as soon as she could hold a crayon in her paw. When not scribbling she could often be found on the ground after falling off pushbikes or ponies.
She studied illustration at Cambridge Art School where she focused on her love of animals and children’s books. Through this passion Jill made a career illustrating over 150 books, as well as having more than 20 of her own stories published.
Her love of horses and other animals continues to this day as does her interest in history and the way it shapes our present world.
Jill lives in Watchet with her husband Cosmo and their dog Garry. When not at work in her attic studio she seeks inspiration in the countryside that surrounds her, running or rambling with Garry, through the woods, up and down the hills and along the ever-changing shoreline.