By 1999 Judy, then Joint Head of Music at Coombe Dean School, Plymouth, now Joint Head of Music at Liskeard School & Community College, was already gaining a reputation as a local composer of classical music and the prestigious Plymouth Symphony Orchestra commissioned her to compose a piece for them to perform that year.

As a total eclipse of the sun was taking place in August 1999 Judy decided to make this her inspiration and the work was a big success, part of it being broadcast on Plymouth Sound radio during the total eclipse. The orchestra has performed the piece in four more concerts since then, most recently in 2012 when the Herald's music critic wrote: 'Judy Whitlock’s Eclipse – a stunning, and well-crafted musical depiction of this astronomical phenomenon – drew some excellent playing from all sections of the orchestra.' The orchestra has commissioned Judy to write 2 further pieces for them over the years -'Dartmoor Letterboxes'(being performed again this summer) and 'Star-gazing'.

You can listen to the wonderful piece in its entirety below (Please note The audio file may not work in Safari or if you are using an old or out of date browser)

Eclipse – a Tone Poem for Orchestra by Judy Whitlock 1999

Commissioned and premiered by the Plymouth Symphony Orchestra

(performing on the live recording)

The music follows the stages of a total eclipse of the sun:



the onslaught of the moon shadow,

bailey’s beads,

diamond ring,

totality (a savage passage in 11/8 time to reflect the time and date of the 1999 eclipse:   11.11 a.m on 11/08),

diamond ring,

bailey’s beads,

retreat of the moon shadow,

sun restored to full glory.

These stages are clearly recognisable in the 10 minute piece.



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Head Teacher: Mr Alex Lingard

Liskeard School & Community College
PL14 3EA

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