One of Ernest Tomlinson’s most delightful miniatures is Kielder Water. Despite its short duration, this is a musical tone poem of the first order.
In 1983 Ernest Tomlinson received a commission to compose a piece of music to commemorate the opening of Kielder Dam in Northumberland. This massive engineering project had created a reservoir nearly six miles long by two miles wide. Although initial proposals for the project had been made in the late 1960s, work did not commence until 1975. The project was completed in 1981 and was flooded the following year. The Kielder Reservoir was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh on 26 May 1982.
The progress of work on the reservoir was filmed and made into a documentary. The company, CinePhoto Productions approached Ernest Tomlinson asking for ‘a suitable accompanying score.’ The present tone-poem is the main theme of the film. I have been unable to discover anything else about this film.
Tomlinson’s Kielder Water, presents an idyllic view of this stretch of water. Quite understandably, it is musically devoid of any angst generated by the considerable criticism generated by the project. Nor does it allude to the loss of several farms, houses, a school and the track-bed of a disused railway.
The sweeping strings present a picture of a summers day's boating or rambling on or by the Water: people making use of the project’s recreational facilities. It is a perfect piece of nature music creating lasting impressions of water, forest and hills.
I understand that there is only a single recording of this work available: Marco Polo, British Light Music Series: Ernest Tomlinson 8.223413. This is available on download or from second-hand record dealers. It has also been uploaded to YouTube.