Grace (Balmages)

From Wind Repertory Project
Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages

General Info

Year: 2016
Duration: c. 9:00
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music Company Inc
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $75.00   |   Score Only (print) - $7.00


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

  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone
  • Wind Chimes (outdoor)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The word “grace” has many meanings. To some, it is a way to carry oneself. To others, it has strong religious connotations. Yet to others, it is a type of simple elegance. Regardless of background, I believe this word carries a common theme of peace to those who hear it. In writing this work, I wanted to draw on all backgrounds of the word in hopes that everyone can identify with the music and feel their own personal “grace” while experiencing the piece.

A little background on the timeline of this work, as it is extremely important:

The piece was commissioned by the Lincoln County (North Carolina) High School Honor Band. Initially, I tried to take the piece in several other directions but found the music going nowhere. Eventually, I felt drawn to the title Grace and proceeded in that direction. The music flowed and I was surprised how quickly I was able to complete the work. I delivered it on April 21, 2015. They had their first rehearsal that evening, and I arrived two days later to rehearse the work and ultimately premiere it on April 24. At the premiere, I gave the above description to the audience and we had a very powerful premiere.

I flew back home to Baltimore on Saturday, April 25. That night, I watched as my home city was ripped apart by violent protests as a result of the death of Freddy Gray while in police custody. The National Guard was called in and I witnessed the unthinkable -- armored National Guard vehicles patrolling the streets and enforcing curfews. I grew up in this city -- I met my wife here and many of my close friends still live here. I was overcome with emotion as my city seemed to unravel before my eyes.

I was scheduled to conduct the Connecticut All-State Band the following weekend. I had sent them my program months ago, but called Monday morning in hopes that I could make a last-minute change. They obliged, and we put Grace in the folder. On Saturday, April 2nd (exactly one week after the violent protests began), I conducted the second performance of Grace. It was one of the most emotional performances I have ever conducted and the group received a standing ovation in the middle of the concert. I will never forget this span of two weeks. It reminded me how music really can help to heal.

While the piece is largely original material, conductors will quickly notice the appearance of Amazing Grace just before measure 88 (alto saxophone solo). I prefer not to explain this to the audience ahead of time since it is not the focus of the piece. It is much more effective if the melody emerges without being expected. In my mind, it is one of the most sincere moments in the work and sets the tone for the rest of the piece, ending in a final “amen.”

- Program Note by composer


State Ratings

  • Indiana: II (ISSMA High School Band)
  • Louisiana: IV
  • Texas: IV. Complete


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Matthew Flinders Anglican College (Sunshine Coast, Qld., Aus.) Wind Symphony (John Thomas, conductor) - 27 October 2022
  • Florida State University (Tallahassee) Concert Band (Steven N. Kelly, conductor) - 14 April 2022
  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Concert Band (Joseph D. Conti, conductor) – 24 April 2019
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (Kirk Saville, conductor) – 10 February 2018
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus) Symphonic Band (Scott A. Jones, conductor) – 15 November 2017
  • Keene (N.H.) State College Concert Band (James Chesebrough, conductor) - 2 November 2017
  • University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) Symphony Band (Brian Balmages, conductor) – 16 October 2017
  • 13th Army Band, Florida National Guard (Miramar) (Stephen K. Rivera, conductor) – 3 May 2017 (ACB 2017 Annual Convention (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.))
  • Ohlone Wind Orchestra (Fremont, Calif.) (Tony Clements, conductor) – 26 March 2017
  • Westminster College (New Wilmington, Penn.) Wind Ensemble (Jonathan Nickel, conductor) - 3 March 2017
  • Lincoln County All-County Symphonic Band (Lincolnton, N.C.) (Brian Balmages, conductor) – 24 April 2015 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

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