for symphonic winds
I. PRELUDE: ‘of PASSION’ – 5 min
II. SHOUTS and MURMURS – 8 min
III. Voices of One – 7 min
James M. Stephenson
Recently, I was awaiting an international flight, when I heard the distinct sound of laughter coming from behind me. Because I could not see the people laughing, it occurred to me that it was a universal language of happiness; one which cannot evoke any judgment based on racial, religious, gender, social, or any other type of prejudice. I decided to not turn around, but rather to enjoy the laughter for what it was. It was this decidedly delightful sound of the human voice that inspired my 2nd symphony for wind ensemble.
Voices. They come in so many forms. Some high, some low. Extremely loud, or extremely soft. Some are menacing, or angelic. A voice is completely unique to each individual, and instantly recognizable to a close friend or relative. As a verb, it is used to express or vocalize an opinion. Used together, voices can express opposition, or unification. It occurred to me that all of these and more can be represented within the scope of a wind ensemble. The symphony No. 2 is an exploration of as many voices as I could formalize, resulting in a kind of concerto for wind ensemble. The culmination of the symphony is one of a unified voice, bringing together all of the different “cultures” and “individual voices” of the wind ensemble to express an amassed vision of hope and love; a vision I believe to be shared throughout all the world, yet disrupted continually by misguided and empowered individuals. I could think of no better messenger for such a work than the US “President’s Own” Marine Band – the commissioners of the work – who not only stand among the best musicians of the world, but also represent a country based on the principles of all-inclusiveness and celebrated diversity. It is because of this that no text is used for the mezzo-soprano voice used in this symphony. Instead, the singing voice is another instrument in the ensemble, joining in, or emerging from, the surrounding textures.
I would like to personally thank Lieutenant Colonel Jason K. Fettig for his invitation to compose such a significant work, and also the members of the band, many of whom I’m honored to call friends, for their remarkable musical gifts and dedication to our country.
~ Jim Stephenson; September, 2016
piccolo – 3 flutes (+alto) – 2 oboes – english horn – E clarinet – 3 B clarinets – alto clarinet – bass clarinet
2 bassoons – contrabassoon – saxes: 1 soprano, alto, tenor, baritone
4 french horns – 3 cornets (+flugels) – 2 trumpets – 3 trombones – bass trombone – 2 euphoniums – tuba (2) double bass – piano/celesta – harp
6 percussion: 2 mallets + 4 percussion
Mallet 1: Marimba, Glockenspiel, Crotales, Xylophone, Chimes, Cymbals, Triangle Mallet 2: Xylophone, Cymbals, Vibraphone, Marimba, Glockenspiel
Perc 1: Snare Drum, Triangle, Tam-Tam, Sus. Cymbal (20″)
Perc 2: Triangle, Tam-Tam, Woodblock, Sus. Cymbal (13″), Tambourine, Slap-stick Perc 3: Sus. Cymbal (17″), Triangle, Tambourine, Chimes
Perc 4: Bass Drum, Djembe, Sus. Cymbal (20″)