The Mystic Trumpeter

Year: 2021

Instrumentation: trumpet & string orchestra

Duration: 24 minutes

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Program Notes

As I observe American society fall apart at the seams, I find my thoughts often turning to the past, particularly to the time of the Civil War, as the unreconcilable divisions of those days and the societal ills that drove them are still with us today, creating similar divides. Such thoughts led to me browsing through the pages of Leaves of Grass, looking for poems that addressed the subject of our nation’s struggles and the delicacy of Democracy if not carefully tended.

Further searches on-line, trying to delve into Whitman’s life and times, led me to discover his poem, The Mystic Trumpeter. While not on the subject that started me down the road, the poem speaks to all of humanity, plumbing its heights and depths. After some consideration, I decided not to set the words as song, but rather to write a musical response to each of the 8 parts of his poem, this setting for trumpet and string orchestra. My mind filled with the vivid images in the poem, the music just flowed out and was started and completed within a week.


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