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Letters From Birmingham

for Orchestra
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Image by Zach Farmer

Dedicated to the city of Birmingham and the

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​From its inception as the steel capital of the south in the late 19th century, the city of Birmingham, Alabama has seen many changes. I could think of no better way to pay homage to my hometown and my identity than to compose a symphony, the first of its kind, to encapsulate the history, growth, and hope of Birmingham.

 

The work is set in 4 movements:

 

I. Sloss

Named after the most prominent pig-iron blast furnace in the city, Sloss turns the orchestra into a working steel factory. Clanging in the percussion section are bells and whistles inspired by the sounds of metal that fueled the beginning of one of the largest steel producing entities in the country.

 

II. Tuxedo Junction

Known from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s as the place "where the town folks meet," the intersection of Ensley Avenue and 20th Street on Birmingham's west side was "Tuxedo Junction."

 

From alabamaheritage.com: "It served as the hub of nightlife for the surrounding predominantly black communities of Ensley, Fairfield, Wylam, Bush Hills, and Pratt City. Locals simply called it the Junction. The Junction was the only venue for dining, dancing, shopping and live music that Birmingham's black population could call its own. The renowned intersection was the turn-around point for the Birmingham Trolley Company's Wylam and Pratt City streetcars. Many of the residents, partygoers, and fun-seekers who were employed at the steel mill, iron works, or lumber mill would catch the trolley after a shower and fresh change of clothes at work and head straight to the Junction for an evening of food, fun and entertainment."

III. March

From the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights Movement, the city, region, and the country would not have made the progress it has in regard to social justice, equity and inclusion without the brave men, women, and many young people who marched, protested and sacrificed their lives for the betterment of future generations to come. This movement is a reflection of the struggle then and now. It is to honor those attacked by hoses and dogs, the innocent killed in the bombings that occurred at the hands of racial terrorists, and a contemplation on the steady foundation all of us continue to build upon to secure the very ideals of freedom that are bestowed upon each and every American, and furthermore, every human being. 

IV. The Magic City

A rambunctious finale celebrating the cultural and enduring spirit of The Magic City. It's a sparkling ride to the very end, representing the beauty and hospitality of its people, and the efforts that continue to make Birmingham a wonderful place to live.        

Image by Jonathan Rivera

Specs

Duration: 25:00 mins

Instrumentation

2-2-2-2, 4-2-2-1, timp. + 3 perc, harp, piano, strings