Grade: 2.5 Year: 2019 DURATION: 4 min PUBLISHER: The FJH Music Company, Inc.
commissioned by the Muir Middle School Bands (Milford MI). Kristin Blanchard, director.
River Poem was commissioned by the Muir Middle School Bands of Milford, Michigan. When their director, Kristin Blanchard, approached me about writing a work for her ensemble, she had the idea of surveying the students to generate inspiration and identify potential subject matter for the piece. Upon reading their many responses, I found two ideas to be common. First, the students felt proud of the diversity within their ensemble and school community. Second, they felt that they were each on a journey- a journey that is individualized yet ultimately influenced by the people around them. I found these ideas to be quite compelling and inspiring. As I continued to think about how this might manifest into a single metaphor, I thought about the many water systems within and around the midwestern states. In addition to the great lakes, many river systems connect regions of the states that lead to larger masses of water. This seemed to be the perfect metaphor to describe the ecosystem that the students have created within their band program- a community with many differences, yet depends on one another in a journey to a bigger and brighter future. It is my hope that this work would encourage performers and audiences to consider how we interact with one another and how our own “journeys” have been positively shaped by those around us.
River Poem is dedicated to Brian Balmages- a dear friend, teacher, and mentor who has positively impacted my life and career for more than a decade. I am grateful for all he has taught me and continues to teach me musically, professionally, and personally.