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Beginning of Spring, The

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Harrison J. Collins

Harrison J. Collins

Subtitle: Concerto for Trombone and Wind Ensemble

General Info

Year: 2020
Duration: c. 20:30
Difficulty: VI (solo); V (ensemble) (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: J Stands for Joe Music
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


1. O Great Mystery – 6:45
2. Columbia Calls – 7:10
3. In Our Own Hands – 6:35


Full Score
Solo Trombone
C Piccolo
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
E-flat Alto Saxophone
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III-IV
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
Euphonium I-II
Tuba I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-VI, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Bongos
  • China Cymbal
  • Cowbells (2)
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Glockenspiel
  • Hi-Hat
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Toms (4)
  • Vibraphone
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

“Today is the beginning of spring, and tomorrow is the beginning of democracy. Now is the time to come together, not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans. Americans of the same flesh and blood, that care about one thing and one thing only, and that’s the future of this country and the children that are going to lead it.” - David Hogg

The Beginning of Spring is a humble meditation on the state of being a young adult in the modern political and social climate of the United States and of the world. Originally, the work was conceived as a conceptual expansion of my brass fanfare Young Voices, a celebration of the determination of young Americans who shout out and make their voices heard. As a young American myself, there was much that I felt about this topic that could not fit in three minutes of music. The Beginning of Spring seeks to capture, in a much larger scope of time, all the feelings that I and my many peers have experienced in the context of a society that is largely characterized by tension and divisiveness: uncertainty, frustration, anger, helplessness, anxiety, and hope. It also, like its predecessor, serves as a nod of respect towards the young adults of the U.S. and of the world who have fought tirelessly for change for the better. The trombone soloist plays the role of an outspoken young person, the chief expresser of the intense emotions felt throughout the work. At times, they are resigned to feeling alone, unrepresented, and threatened, and at other times they are empowered and resolved to shout and fight to instill the seeds of positive change and growth.

O Great Mystery explores resolve, frustration, and anger. The title is a translation of O Magnum Mysterium, a Christian Latin text that has been set to music for centuries. This movement is based heavily around a Renaissance chant setting of this text by Tomás Luis de Victoria, which serves as a representation of uncertainty. While the mystery described by the original text is the birth of Jesus Christ, the idea of this “mystery” is reinterpreted as the mystery of what the future of the United States and of the world holds for the young people who inhabit it. After an opening statement of uncertainty, the soloist instills resolve and hope in the ensemble, and the movement unfolds as a resolved fight for change. Though the ensemble experiences frustration, the soloist is able to maintain resolve for some time. Eventually, however, uncertainty becomes too powerful to ignore, and the ensemble swallows the soloist, still shouting for hope, in frustration and anger.

Columbia Calls explores helplessness, resignation, and reflection. Columbia (with a “u”) is a personification of America that was created by and first portrayed in the poetry of Phillis Wheatley in 1776. Columbia is one of several personifications of America, but is unique in that she is portrayed in an almost exclusively positive way. It is, perhaps, as if she represents America at its best; she represents a version of America that is compassionate, generous, and vigilant. Columbia Calls is originally the title of a paired poem and poster, both designed by Frances Adams Halsted and illustrated by Vincent Aderente, which dated from 1916, shortly before the United States entered World War I. The poster is for the enlistment, and the implication of both poem and poster is that Columbia was calling for Americans to join the army. In this movement, I interpret this phrase in a different way: in the face of resignation, the powerful and compassionate Columbia is calling on young people to maintain hope and continue to push forward. The soloist, having lost their resolve, shares a mournful dialogue with the ensemble, eventually leading to an outburst of sorrow and anger. With these powerful feelings let out, the soloist begins to reflect, and eventually begins to sing of hope once more.

In Our Own Hands explores anxiety and hope. The title and idea of this movement come from Greta Thunberg’s powerful and stirring speech at the World Economic Forum in January, 2019. Her speech, which focused on the necessity of urgent action on climate change, contains a single line of hope: “...Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands”. The movement, like this quote, is in turns anxious and hopeful, and explores a sense of honesty for shortcomings and anticipation for what’s to come. The soloist begins to speak over a newly energized but anxious ensemble, shouting a new message of hope. The ensemble listens, and begins to speak of hope as well (using, among other things, a small quote from William Schuman’s Chester, borrowed for its bright and sonorous quality). Together, soloist and ensemble process their anxieties and hopes. Uncertainty and frustration return, but they are informed in a way they were not previously, and they eventually give way to a radiant, climactic statement of hope. The end of the work is not exclusively anxious or hopeful, but rather a mix of the two; the future may not be guaranteed, and there is much work to be done, but there is a sense of affirmation that “we still have everything in our own hands”.

Commissioned by LeAndre Benton as a gift to John Romero, principal trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera. To be premiered by John Romero, ensemble TBD.

- Program Note by composer


  • ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, 2022, finalist.


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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