Brave Heart



For middle school string orchestra.

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Brave Heart (2013)

for middle school string orchestra

Commissioned by the Deerpath Middle School, Sarah Truding, director
Premiered by the Deerpath Middle School Orchestra in October of 2013

Notes from the composer:
Brave Heart was commissioned by the Deerpath Middle School (Sarah Truding, director) in the spring of 2013, and completed on August 21 of that year. This piece is important to me because:
1) DPM commissions a new work every two years, which I believe to be a fantastic experience for the young students. 2) My daughter Kate – a cellist – happens to be a 7th grade student at the time of this commission, so she will get to play it!

When I was asked to write the piece, I subsequently went into the school to meet with the students to ask them what they might like to have in a new piece. Some of the answers I received included:
Auxiliary percussion Stormy Windy/Fog/Strobe lights Adding different art elements / cross curricular Different sections of the string orchestra could be different characters in the story/movie. War – bows as swords
Give all sections interesting parts Taking these into consideration, along with the mascot of DPM being the “Braves”, the idea for Brave Heart was conceptualized.
However, rather than reveal what my piece is about (I will admit that it is programmatic), I have decided to submit the piece as is, and let the students come up with the story to go along with it.

Please email me at to find out what my story is for the piece, if you desire.

Performance notes:

1) Per the students’ wishes, there is an optional tambourine part. I would suggest that this be used; however, it might only be awarded as the result of an ‘audition’, because rhythm and sound-control are very important to its execution.

2) The cello solo at letter D could be performed by the entire section, if preferable; however, I like the idea of it being a solo.

3) Two observations for letter J:
a) there is an optional offstage ‘banda’ part.This is because the original premiere was to include a collaborative effort with the local high school.The banda parts could either be ignored entirely, or used according to each situation’s needs.The parts are very flexible, having been scored in Bb or C, and are merely for treble or bass instruments.
b) The slash marks indicate an option for ‘acting’ by the students. Once the story-line is decided, the sections can then stand up during their 4 bars to act out something in line with that story. If available, the use of a strobe light might enhance the effect during this section.

4) This piece is composed with the abilities of a middle school orchestra very much in mind. I would stress that dynamics are very important, and significant efforts should me made to adhere to them. One of my ‘instructions’ was to give interesting parts to all of the sections. I have tried to do this, sometimes passing themes or motifs from one section along to another. My music is oftentimes ‘large-scale chamber music’ meaning that there is a lot of musical conversation that can happen between the sections.
5) Play with abandon. Have fun! Jim Stephenson,August 21, 2013

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