Fanfare For Life was commissioned by AT&T and composed as a direct result of the gang violence in Chicago during the summer of 1994.
A 14-year-old girl, Shavon Dean, was shot and killed by 11-year-old gang member Robert Sandifer. Robert was then hunted down and killed by two members of his gang, a 14-year-old boy and his 16-year-old brother. Robert was shot twice in the head. That same summer 5-year-old Eric Morse was dropped to his death from the 14th floor of a public housing high-rise by a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy, because Eric would not steal candy for them.
With Fanfare For Life, the beauty of life is presented with an orchestra fanfare. In the second part the lives of these children are symbolized by two distinct pentatonic melodies. These melodies are cut short as were the young lives that never developed. The third part (brass tutti) is a variation of the two "child" melodies, symbolizing the families that now only have memories of those lost lives. The last part is a repeat of the initial fanfare again emphasizing the beauty of life and the need to cherish it.
Fanfare For Life is dedicated to the memories of Shavon Dean, Robert Sandifer, and Eric Morse.
Reasons to celebrate life can come in many forms, the birth of a child, finding God, release from prison, getting married, winning the lottery, or just sitting under a tree and appreciating your existence on earth. In 1970, while on guard duty in Viet Nam, I vowed to myself that if I ever got out of there alive I would always cherish the life that I have.
In 1994 a young Chicago boy took the life of a young girl and then two young boys took the life of that young boy and another young boy took the life of a baby boy and it went on and on and on.
Viet Nam becomes a distant memory.
Fanfare for Life is my celebration of life, and I hope that each listener can find a reason to also celebrate life in whatever relative way the music presents itself.
Narration by Gary Sinise
Track Two: Overture
Track Three: Calls
American Soldier (originally titled Buffalo Soldiers) was commissioned in 1999 for the Bicentennial of the United States Military Academy at West Point. It was premiered on February 21st, 1999, at Eisenhower Hall, on the grounds of the West Point Military Academy.
American Soldier is my contribution to the legacy of the servicemen and women who have protected this country and continue to do so. Through my experience as a combat soldier in Vietnam, I am fortunate to have a deep appreciation for the sacrifice that all soldiers make when they take the oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. Soldiers may have various motivations for serving their country, but we must always remember that whatever that reason, we owe them our support, regardless of our opinions towards the conflict they are engaged in.
After seeing American prisoners of war in Iraq this year, what moved me the most was realizing that many of these young soldiers never expected to be in harms way. But as always, by wearing the military uniform, they are vulnerable each day no matter what their job or location. I thank them and I am proud to have served.
I dedicate this work to all those who have served this country, especially to all those who have died in conflict, and for those who are serving now as American soldiers.
American Soldier opens with an awakening bell that brings a new day to those who have left their families to start a new life in service to their country.
The music continues with a series of selected bugle calls used by the Army to give troops nonverbal commands. These musical phrases, usually sounded by trumpets or drums, still direct the daily activities of soldiers on many Army posts.
In some sections the bugle calls are reharmonized, and in other sections they are played as written. In all cases the melody of the bugle call is unaltered, and are presented in the order that they are used during a regular garrison day of an American Soldier.
Reveille (0530hrs), Assembly (0535hrs), Mess Call (0640hrs), Drill Call (1530hrs), and Retreat (1800hrs).
The narrative for American Soldier was written by Carol Williams, a Chicago poet and musician who is also a US Army veteran.
©2003 Little Beck Music
They came from everywhere.
They came from America.
They came to America
to be American Soldiers.
They came from everywhere,
and were altered forever
and are to be remembered
Always the memory of the boot
reflecting the returned salute,
the pain of marching, the waiting,
the cold and the sweat.
Soles that had to first climb mountains
before moving them.
Always the image of the rank-
the stripes, the bars,
the stars and the eagles.
The following of orders,
the giving of orders.
Orders they took that cost lives.
Orders they gave that took their own lives.
Always the shadow of fear,
living as target, protector
forever at the mercy of the machine that is
the struggle between
the real and the ideal .
Always the music of the drum and bugle
calling out the history and tradition,
the ceremony of change.
The pattern of sound to movement.
The shared momentum of
Always the message of home;
A place of many languages.
Voices that have blended together
to create American soldiers with mothers from
every country, every continent, every culture.
Then always back to the place you can never return to;
To pick up plowshares,
and paperwork and computers.
Sometimes taking a lifetime to make peace with themselves,
with the country, with the enemy,
with the knowing that the next inevitable war
will send their children to be
Always to live in awe of those who can no longer
speak of what they did
to survive: for survival of the world they knew,
as we inherit it today.
They are forever the MinuteMen, the Yanks, Buffalo Soldiers,
the Doughboys, GIs, flat-feet foot soldiers, Grunts, and the WACs......
They are American Soldiers.
Symphony For The Sons of Nam
Track 4 - Chapter one
Remembering the past can provide images that a composer can best express through music.
With Symphony For the Sons of Nam, I have formed musical interpretations which reflect my experience as a soldier in Viet Nam.
Initially written for string quartet, Symphony For the Sons of Nam was expanded to full orchestra in 1992.
The score is broken down into four chapters with individual "events" representing snapshots of my most vivid images from the war.
In 1986, after marching in the "Chicago Welcome Home Parade" for Viet Nam Veterans, I felt a desire to finally confront the emotions from my own time in Viet Nam.
Symphony For the Sons of Nam, along with other compositions, is a musical recollection of memories from my service in Viet Nam and represents my personal catharsis.
Events leading to my arrival in Viet Nam in 1970 and my departure eleven months later are represented here as Chapters 1 and 2. Chapters 3 and 4 are yet to be completed.
Symphony For The Sons of Nam
Event 1 " March of the Sons"
From all over the country we came to California for our jungle indoctrination.Boys from all walks of life coming together for one common purpose - War -
Event 2 "Conversations"
Late at night in the barracks we talk to each other about our lives back home and what we expected from Viet Nam. Suddenly, we're interupted by a Viet Nam returnee who tells stories of enemy soldiers who are so high on drugs that they become numb. He tells how they keep coming at you even after being shot several times. I try to sleep as I hear one lone soldier break into tearswhile he prays aloud for his safe return home.
Event 3 "Moment With Memories"
After three days of processing and waiting for orders, I hear my name called over the loud speakers indicating I was to leave for Viet Nam in 8 hours. It was at that moment that I realized every-day life, and the special people left back home, were soon to become nostalgic memories to be cherished.
Event 4 " Questions and Answers"
All departing soldiers attend a deployment briefing given by some hard-nose sergeants. They give no answers to our questions about Viet Nam. Their only reply to our apprehension and curiosity, was an evasive and repetitive, "You'll find out when you get there" It would prove to be the only reasonable response.
Event 5 "In Country"
As the doors open from the back of the C-130 cargo plane, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of theViet Nam landscape. With this backdrop I watch as soldier after soldier slowly exit the plane. I am filled with pride and patriotism knowing the sacrifice each of us was making and that some of us would not make it back.
Chapter 2 Track 5 Chapter Two
Event 6 " Anticipation of Going Home"
Due to go home in a week, I count down the days with nervous anticipation, hoping nothing will cause a delay in my departure.
Event 7 "March of The Sons"
We (short- timers) are marched from one out- processing station to another as we prepare to finally go home.
Event 8 "Leaving the Jungle"
The suspense of waiting for the orders that would send you home was unbearable. When my orders finally came, I rushed to the orderly room with uncontrolled excitement only to find that they were misplaced. I waited another day and finally headed for the airport.
Event 9 " Reflections"
Reflecting on the war, I think about friends made and friends lost. The memories are bittersweet.
Event 10 " Silent Prayer"
Leaving Viet Nam I pray for peace. I pray harder for those still fighting.
Event 11 " Flying Home"
A peaceful happiness overtakes me as I vow to keep in my heart the realization of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing every moment.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Fanfare For Life
2. American Soldier
3. Symphony For the Sons of Nam Chapter 1
4. Symphony For the Sons of Nam Chapter 2