The Way to Heaven was commissioned by the Royal Air Force Music Services. 2015 was the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, which took place between July and October 1940, when the courageous fighter pilots of the Royal Air Forcethwarted Hitler’s ambitions to launch an invasion on the UK.
The Way to Heaven opens with fluttering woodwind figures and brass fanfares, which build to a climax before a change of key introduces a short quotation for the Polish National Anthem - Mazurek Dbrowskiego. This fades and you can hear thesignal to scramble and the throaty sounds of the squadron’s Merlin engines bursting into life before they line up to take off. This leads to the main thematic material of the work, which depicts the heaven-bound flight of 303 Squadron as it climbs tointercept the incoming Messerschmitt 109s. A brief allusion to the Polish national anthem brings the piece to a triumphant close.