Symphony for Ferguson, Symphony No. 10
II. The Fallen
II. Together in Harmony
Commissioned by the Missouri Humanities Council the Symphony for Ferguson was premiered October 2015 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis by the University Orchestra under the direction of Dr James Richards. The commission sought to have familiar and meaningful tunes for the city of Ferguson, St. Louis County, and the state of Missouri. The Ferguson tragedy of 2014 has been deeply troubling to people all around the world. In response, countless performing and visual artists have gone deep into their hearts and minds to find meaning, acceptance and peace in this troubled time. Harbach composed Symphony for Ferguson to help her in dealing with the Ferguson tragedy.
- The first movement, Heroes, portrays the men and women who came forward to help during the time of crisis and the months that followed. The first theme heard is “Johnny, You’re No Hero” from Harbach’s musical Booth! It is a tumultuous melody that crystallizes the public scorn and indignation over the death of Abraham Lincoln as seen through the eyes of Edwin Booth and his daughter Edwina, the assassination having been committed by Edwin’s brother, John Wilkes Booth.
- The Fallen is dedicated to all who lost their lives, whether through war or injustice. The interplay of melody, rhythm, and instrumentation produce a chiaroscuro effect with strong contrasts between light and dark, or in musical terms, between major and minor keys that create
a sense of unrest – a musical nocturnal scene lit by flickering candlelight. The use of subtle gradations of affect and instrumentation enhance the uneasy mood for dramatic effect.
III. The final movement, Together in Harmony, is a wish for hope and peace. It begins with an animated fanfare followed by a short fugue before evolving into W. C. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues.” The ‘blues’ begin in a medium rock style, before morphing into a New Orleans Groove style for full orchestra with the addition of a drum set, electric bass guitar, and bass trombone. The music sways, syncopates, and imitates, while all enjoy playing ‘together in harmony.’