Lone, Wild Bird

From Wind Repertory Project
William Walker

William Walker (arr. Brian Balmages)

General Info

Year: c. 1835 / 2023
Duration: c. 2:45
Difficulty: I-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Hymn
Publisher: MakeMusic Publications
Cost: Score and Parts - Unknown


  • Full Score
  • Flute
  • Oboe
  • Bassoon
  • B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II
  • B-flat Bass Clarinet
  • E-flat Alto Saxophone
  • B-flat Tenor Saxophone
  • E-flat Baritone Saxophone
  • B-flat Trumpet
  • Horn in F
  • Trombone
  • Euphonium
  • Tuba
  • Timpani
  • Percussion I-II, including:
*Crash Cymbals
*Suspended Cymbal


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

This hauntingly beautiful arrangement of Lone, Wild Bird is surprisingly accessible despite its complex sound. Brian Balmages has created multiple opportunities for instruments that are often not heard at this level such as oboe, bassoon and horn (cues are always provided). This powerful musical experience that will surprise you several times as the work develops.

- Program Note from publisher

In the fall of 2021, the Marcus High School Band landed on The Lone, Wild Bird by William Walker from the Southern Harmony Songbook as the ballad for its marching show. Made famous by Stephen Paulus in his work the Road Home, the music describes the yearning for something missing or lost, something so treasured it can only be found through a friend's calling. The students really latched on, and the melody has held a special significance to the program ever since. In particular, one phrase by Paulus made its mark: "There is no such beauty as where you belong."

There is also a verse from the original hymn that served as inspiration for this arrangement: "The lone, wild bird in lofty flight, is still with you, nor leaves your sight."

Commissioned by the Marcus High School Wind Symphony and Director of Bands Jeffrey D. Jones for the 2023 Midwest Clinic performance, this arrangement is my own take on this beautiful melody inspired by the powerful lyrics mentioned above. It begins with a three-note motif derived from the full melody. This three-note sequence comes back several times throughout the work as a unifying device, especially during transitions. One of my favorite moments occurs just before measure 39, when the entire ensemble is slowing down and doing a crescendo to forte for the first time in the piece. Then they arrive at the downbeat of 39, which immediately pulls the rug out from everyone who was expecting a huge climatic moment, as a soft duet between bells and vibraphone emerges, almost like the sound of a music box. This then leads into measure 47, where the music reaches its most powerful moment (dynamically, anyway – one could easily argue that there are many other "most powerful moments" throughout the piece that are much softer.)

- Program Note excerpted from score


None discovered thus far.

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer