America: Now and Forever (2021)

for concert band

As Americans fought for their independence against the British in the Revolutionary War, there were many moments of doubt. In fact, in the autumn of 1781, the situation was so dire that General George Washington wrote:

 

“We’re at the end of our tether and now or never, our deliverance must come.”

 

Despite the odds, the American military, aided by the French, slowly but sure began to build momentum in their quest for liberty from the British. This momentum came to a head at Yorktown, VA on October 19, 1781. After weeks of fighting, the British ultimately surrendered. The ringing of gunshots and cannon fire stopped and for a moment, there was silence. The silence was short-lived and legend has it that as they retreated, the broke out a rendition of a 17th Century English ditty entitled “The World Turned Upside Down” (brought to public relevance in the Broadway musical: “Hamilton”). 

This song serves as the foundation of America: Now and Forever,though it isn’t presented in its actual form until m. 37 (flute).  The first half of the composition harmonizes this melody in a minor tonality. Furthermore, the first three notes of the piece outline the beginning of that melody and serves as motif in its own right. Just like our world, the three-note motif is turned upside down several times beginning with the alto sax in m. 33. 

 

The Americans, overjoyed and overwhelmed by the turn of fate, began to drown out the British band a performance of their own: “Yankee Doodle” and this is depicted quite literally in the music during m. 53-77 (first augmented in chorale-like fashion and then more traditionally by the trumpet and clarinet). 

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