British Airways unveils reimagined Flower Duet theme

17 Apr 2019 by Mark Caswell
British Airways unveils reimagined Flower Duet theme

British Airways has released a new composition based on the Flower Duet, a piece of music which has been regularly used in BA adverts and inflight during boarding.

The famous British Airways “Face” advert of the late 1980s (see You Tube video at the bottom of this piece) featured the Aria soundtrack, an adaptation of the Flower Duet theme.

The theme – from Delibes’ opera Lakmé – has been reimagined “to reflect British Airways’ history, in the airline’s centenary year”, and features ten variations representing significant milestones in the carrier’s history, from the formation of Imperial Airways to Concorde’s farewell and the opening of Heathrow T5.

The new version was composed by Lyndon Ooi, a BA quality engineer, and was performed by the British Airways Orchestra, made up of 30 colleagues and external musicians.

BA has released a series of technical notes, detailing specific characteristics of the piece and how they relate to the carrier:

  • Years are used as bar numbers starting from 1919, the year Air Transport and Travel, the forerunner to British Airways, was formed
  • The theme has been deliberately transposed from B major to G major so that the first two notes of the flower duet theme are “B” and “A” representing British Airways
  • In variation IV, the BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) version is “B”, rest, “A”, “C”. The Cello plays “B”, “E”, “A” (representing British European Airways) against this. Both BOAC and BEA merged to form the current ‘British Airways’ customers know today
  • The time signature of 7/4 in the bar 1971 represents the inaugural flight of British Airways’ first 747.
  • The Concorde theme in bar 1976 – the year of is the aircraft’s first commercial flight – involves climbing up two octaves and back down signifying its ability to reach the speed of Mach 2 (supersonic speed)
  • The end of the piece involves the entire current British Airways fleet of aircraft being represented by numbers on the diatonic scale. For example, 787 (the Dreamliner) and 320 (a popular short-haul aircraft) are on trills. As a look to the future, 350 comes in the final bar representing the A350 British Airways will receive later this year

Commenting on the news Lyndon Ooi said:

“Music has been a passion all of my life – much like the excitement of flying and the experience of travel it communicates with people and speaks straight to their hearts.

“It was a real challenge to fit the entire 100-year history of British Airways into the piece but I’m really happy with the final result. And what a pleasure it was to perform it with my colleagues in the British Airways Orchestra.”

BA is planning a number of celebratory initiatives during what it considers its centenary year, including the unveiling of four retro liveries, and a bespoke Speedbird 100 ale in partnership with Brewdog.

British Airways traces its history back to August 1919, when Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service, between London and Paris. A potted history of the airline can be seen here.

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