'Hold On': now rugby league gets to grips with classical music

The only music that Leeds rugby league fans have been accustomed to in recent years is the occasional rendition of Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" and a tuneless chorus of "Barmy Army" from the terraces.

But times are changing. At Leeds Town Hall this weekend, fans will be treated to the premiere of the Leeds Rhinos' new anthem, the first classical composition to be written for a rugby league team.

Composed by Carl Davis, the Bafta-winning TV and film theme composer, the seven-minute piece includes musical representations of tackles ("aggressive with a lot of tension and very active," says Davis), tries and the sport's 10-yard rule. It even transmutes the Rhinos' fans favourite terrace chant into a section of classical music.

The piece, entitled "Hold On", shows rugby league is no longer about meat pies and cold terraces, says the Rhinos' chief executive, Gary Hetherington. "The idea of classical music at what most people see as a working-class sport might seem strange at first. But the profile of our crowd is changing. It is partly because of sponsorship and companies renting private boxes to entertain important clients, and because rugby league is appealing these days to a much wider audience." Davis, who had a long association with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, is best known for film and TV music such as his Emmy-winning theme tune for The World at War and the Bafta-winning music for The French Lieutenant's Woman.

He spent a day at the Rhinos' Headingley ground to prepare himself for the commission. He was struck by the sense of theatre as Leeds beat Salford City Reds, and was much taken by his walk from the changing room to the centre of the pitch via a "dark, long tunnel". It is a "great, triumphant moment" when the players finally face the pitch, he said.

"I found [the match] was full of music. There was continuous playing from a small jazz band high in the stands, singing and rhythmic shouting from the fans and a high degree of almost balletic movement during the game. It was also an incredible finale [which befitted] the ballet stage.

"I don't think I have written anything more easily because the stimulus was so great."

The title "Hold On" draws on the "steadfastness of spirit needed by the players", as in Kipling's immortal lines from "If".

"And so hold on when there is nothing in you/ Except the will which says to them, 'Hold on'."

It also relates to something more prosaic: rugby players' habit of holding on to each other. "Every photo I've seen [of the player] they are holding on to each other," Davis says.

The idea came from Matthew Simms, Leeds council's principal music officer, who asked Davis for "something like the opening of the Superman film theme" to commemorate the Super League and the World Club Challenge winning team.

"The idea is that the opening fanfare is the 'hook' which will stick in everyone's minds and the fans can recognise instantly," Mr Simms says. "The middle section could be adapted for a song and we hope the supporters will put their own words to it which they can sing from the terraces."

Kevin Sinfield, the team captain and Super League top-scorer last season seemed unperturbed by the suggestion that his team's performances would not be out of place on the ballet stage: "The players all think it's a great idea," he said.

Davis has not ruled out further sporting commissions. "There's always the Olympics in 2012," he said.

The town hall premiere of "Hold On" is at 7.30pm tomorrow. It will be played for the first time at a match in the Boxing Day derby againstBradford Bulls.

Scores to match the sporting mood

By Karl Mansfield

* The Welsh classical singer Katherine Jenkins has a deal with the Welsh Rugby Union to sing at all Wales's rugby matches. She has sung alongside Aled Jones and Bryn Terfel.

* The Three Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, staged their first concert at the Italia 90 World Cup football finals.

* Queens Park Rangers have chosen a song written by the British classical composer Michael Nyman to welcome the team onto the pitch at their home ground, Loftus Road. Nyman is a long-term fan of the west London team.

* Amici Forever, a five-strong classical group, sang the theme to the BBC's Olympic coverage. "Eternal Flame" was released in August last year. The group - Geoff Sewell, tenor, Jo Appleby, soprano, Tsakane Valentine, soprano, David Habbin, tenor, and Nick Garrett, bass baritone - also performed at the FA Cup final in May and at the English rugby union challenge cup final.

* The film Chariots of Fire was propelled by a powerful score by Vangelis. The 1981 film tells the tale of two men and their journey to the 1924 Olympics, tackling nationhood and class.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Saunders stars as Miss Windsor, Dennis's hysterical French teacher
filmJennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress
Life and Style
tech
Sport
Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Life and Style
Sebastian Siemiatkowski is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of Klarna, which provides a simple way for people to buy things online
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum