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Two Brothers (2013)
for full orchestra
Commissioned by a consortium led by Sara Edgerton and Edward Benyas. Consortium members include Nick Palmer and the Owensboro Symphony, and Michael Shasberger and Westmont College.
Chamber orchestra version commissioned by Lawrence Golan and the Yakima Symphony
Notes: Two Brothers is a narrative tone-poem, telling the story of many families divided in allegiance during the bloodiest battle in US history, the Civil War. The references in the narration cite many documented occurrences, such as the Halsey brothers, the Culp brothers, the McIntosh brothers, and a father who shot his very own son in the heat of battle. To support these heartbreaking tales, poetry is chosen from the era, including those penned by Whitman, Dickinson and others, as well as diary entries from Union soldier Edmund Halsey. Also woven into the music are many musical elements from the day, including the Rebel Yell itself, bugle calls, camp-songs and spirit songs from both sides of the conflict. Undeniably one of the most important events in all of American history, the music documents the variety of human emotions flowing through the veins of Americans in the early 1860s; ranging from tragedy to the heroic, optimism and naivety to complete darkness. In terms of human life, there certainly was no true winner of the war, and the story of “Two Brothers” portrays events as they were, without hyperbole. The reality of the events were in many cases unfathomable, and in such cases sometimes the only way to react is with sincere compassion, and it is in this spirit that this music was composed.
I would like to sincerely thank Sara Edgerton and Edward Benyas, for their coming forth with this opportunity and leading the consortium to make it a reality. I would also like to thank the additional members, including Nick Palmer and the Owensboro Symphony and Michael Shasberger and Westmont College. I would also like to thank Lawrence Golan and the Yakima Symphony for their support in creation of the chamber orchestra version.
Jim Stephenson March, 2013