I composed Hymn to the Vanished in a whirlwind of emotions following September 11, 2001. Because there would be limited rehearsal time the music director and I settled on string orchestra as the best vehicle for the piece. Recently, however, I revisited this piece with the idea that a different type of ensemble could bring a more powerful quality to the piece. My decision to rewrite the piece for concert band not only retains the feeling of prayer but strengthens it by the use of “call and response.” The heartbeat motive that was originally in the double bass now incorporates timpani, snare drum, bass drum, tuba and euphonium and offers great resonance. Maybe the greatest change occurs to the original sustained string chords. These chords are now charged with a quarter-note pulse. This change adds the element of suspense that is only broken by the sustained climactic chords by the entire ensemble. The instrumentation is for piccolo, flutes 1 & 2, oboes 1 & 2, Eb clarinet, clarinets 1, 2 & 3, alto clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, trumpets 1, 2 & 3, 4 horns, trombones 1 & 2, bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, timpani, snare drum, bass drum and crash cymbals with a duration of ten minutes.
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Hymn to the Vanished was composed just after 9/11 for a December 2001 concert by the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. It was also performed a few months later by the string ensemble S.O.N.Y.C. at Carnegie Hall. The work is dedicated to all the lives lost on September 11, 2001 terror attacks.