Ghosts of the Old Year

From Wind Repertory Project
James M. David

James M David

General Info

Year: 2016
Duration: c. 14:50
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Murphy Music Press
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $250.00   |   Score Only (print) - $50.00

Movements (may be played without pause)

1. Calm but Determined – 7:55
2. Ferocious, Intense – 6:35


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
Contrabassoon/Contrabass Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
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
Bass Trombone
Tuba I-II
Percussion I-VI, including:

  • Anvil (or small brake drum)
  • Bass Drum (small and concert)
  • Bell Plate
  • Bongos
  • Brake Drum (small)
  • Chimes
  • China Cymbals
  • Claves
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Crotales
  • Glockenspiel
  • Marimba
  • Ride Cymbal
  • Sizzle Cymbal
  • Snare Drum, piccolo
  • Splash Cymbal
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Tom (2)
  • Triangle (small and medium)
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes, metal (optional)
  • Wood Block (large, small and medium)
  • Xylophone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

As a native Southerner, I have often struggled with my identity as a member of the exalted worlds of both academia and classical music. The past decade has seen some of the greatest conflict in the South since the civil rights era. From Hurricane Katrina to Virginia Tech to Charleston, the Southeast has seen more than its fair share of troubles. Yet many with roots to the region have chosen to remain silent and aloof.

Breaking this silence and attempting to express the anger and frustration I have felt serves as the inspiration for my new work for wind ensemble. The title Ghosts of the Old Year is taken from a poem by the African-American writer and educator James Weldon Johnson. I hope to draw on the many great musical traditions of the South including jazz, blues, and shape-note hymns. Particularly, the tune Beach Spring, attributed to B. F. White, is set in multiple guises throughout. While much of the work deals with conflict, the conclusion is optimistic for the future but tinged with a sense of unease.

Ghosts of the Old Year

James Weldon Johnson (1917)

The snow has ceased its fluttering flight,
The wind sunk to a whisper light,
An ominous stillness fills the night,
A pause — a hush.
At last, a sound that breaks the spell,
Loud, clanging mouthings of a bell,
That through the silence peal and swell,
And roll, and rush.

What does this brazen tongue declare,
That falling on the midnight air
Brings to my heart a sense of care
Akin to fright?
Tis telling that the year is dead,
The New Year come, the Old Year fled,
Another leaf before me spread

On which to write.

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Braswell High School (Audrey, Tx.) Wind Symphony (Aaron Snipes, III, conductor) - 21 December 2023 (2023 Midwest Clinic)
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Wind Ensemble (John Stanley Ross, conductor) - 23 September 2022
  • Gonzaga University (Spokane, Wash.) (Wind Ensemble) (Peter J. Hamlin, conductor) - 4 December 2021
  • Colorado Wind Ensemble (Denver) (David Kish, conductor)– 17 November 2019
  • Lone Star Wind Orchestra (Dallas, Tx.) (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 22 September 2019
  • Colorado State University (Ft. Collins) Wind Ensemble (Rebecca Phillips, conductor) - 6 March 2019 (84th Annual ABA National Convention)
  • Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Symphony Band (Caroline Hand, conductor) – 16 February 2019
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Symphony (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) - 14 February 2019 (2019 TMEA Conference, San Antonio)
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Wind Symphony (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor) – 12 February 2019
  • University of Illinois (Champaign) Wind Orchestra (Beth Peterson, conductor) – 25 February 2018
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David Waybright, conductor) – 11 January 2018

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works


  • Grey, Alyssa. "Ghosts of the Old Year." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 944-956. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • James M. David website Accessed 9 November 2017
  • Perusal score