by Carl Holmquist (Grade 4+, 8:00)
This work is inspired by the famous statement from Leonard Bernstein, “This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
The piece begins with a somber chorale in the woodwinds, with harmonic language inspired by Vincent Persichetti. After the brass choir plays the theme, we hear a harsh, dissonant chord followed by a silence. Suddenly, the band alternates between violent chord strikes and a statement of the familiar hymn tune “Wonderous Love,” presented in the octatonic mode (alternation of whole steps and half steps). There are 28 chord strikes, equaling the number dead in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.
The second variation on “Wonderous Love,” brings in syncopated, dance-like rhythms around a statement of the tune in the solo alto saxophone, changing the emotion from rage to urgency. There is also a prominent solo line in the bongos of 50 strikes, which is the number killed in the Pulse night club shooting in Orlando, FL.
The final variation is a collective call to action, in which the ensemble brings together the opening chorale melody, the hymn tune in the trumpets and trombones, and an energetic, pulsing rhythmic groove which builds and finally culminates in a bold, brilliant and powerful close.
Carl Holmquist, April 2018