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Urgent Voices

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Timothy Mahr

Timothy Mahr

General Info

Year: 2020
Duration: c. 11:30
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Mahr Music Press
Cost: Score and Parts - Available July 2021


1. Innocence, Fractured
2. One Becomes Many
3. Looking into the Mirror


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

  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Shekere
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tambourine
  • Tam-Tam
  • Tom-Toms (2: high and low)
  • Triangles (2: high, medium and low)
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

A striking aspect of our world today is the urgency heard in the strong voices and observed in the determined actions of the young as they boldly confront critical issues of our time. Personally, I am impressed, inspired, and challenged by their clarion calls.

The piece was primarily motivated by the efforts of Malala Yousafzai (women’s rights), Emma González (of Stoneman Douglas High School -- gun control), and Greta Thunberg (climate change). They work to improve their worlds, rising up and becoming reluctant figureheads for fledgling movements, bent on change. The music, however, is not specifically tied to just these three young women. Hopefully the performer and listener will perceive the confusion, frustration, and anger, as well as the energy, strength, and pressing demand for change found within this groundswell of well-intentioned activism we see rising up in the youth of today.

The first movement, Innocence, Fractured, centers on the nascent innocence that all children are born with and rightfully should have -- the concerns of the world should not affect them. This tranquil opening moment succumbs to overpoweringly tragic music. Inevitably, a stark realization of the true nature of the world intrudes, and it decimates the blissful ignorance among children, exposing them to the bleakness ahead. It is distressing how many children in this world are denied of the simple innocence that should be at the core of simply being a child. This is their right, after all.

The opening of the second movement, One Becomes Many, heralds an energized plea, followed by a musical depiction of a single voice being heard, felt, understood, and amplified as it gains traction and notice. Ultimately reality crashes down -- ugly, unwanted, inescapable, invasive -- a thief insidiously stealing away with innocent peace and any true hope for a bright future. This is the music of the turning point -- once experienced, there's no going back -- only forward. The movement reacts in its closing with an overwhelming surge of energy.

The final movement, Looking into the Mirror, is about self-reflection and action: initiatives are gaining energy, the world is starting to listen, and these young activists are proud and hopeful. The music reflects the future these urgent voices are calling us to protect. We sense the goal of these imperatives, and perhaps feel motivated to take action. The musical journey ends, however, with the listener -- the participant -- being shocked again by the insistent demand for change and the dire necessity for a radical adjustment in behavior and relationship. The future clouds, and the tasks ahead seem insurmountable. This work ends with the solo sounds of an individual, now transformed from the start of this music journey, less innocent, more aware, and moved to become involved in effecting change.

The work Urgent Voices was commissioned by a consortium of high school, collegiate, and community ensembles, led by the Maryland Winds and its conductor, Timothy J. Holtan. I am humbled and grateful for this opportunity to create.

The composition bears this dedication to the performers involved with the premiere:

For the 2020 Music for All National High School Honor Band, Timothy J. Holtan, Conductor

- Program Note by composer


(Needed - please join the WRP if you can help.)

State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • University of Wisconsin-Parkside Wind Ensemble (Laura Rexroth, conductor) - 4 May 2023
  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) Wind Ensemble (James Popejoy, conductor) - 26 April 2022
  • Music for All National High School Honor Band (Timothy J. Holtan, conductor) – 16 March 2020 (Premiere performance scheduled, but concert canceled)
  • Maryland Winds (Columbia) (Timothy Holtan, conductor) – 11 February 2020

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Mahr Music Press Accessed 13 June 2020
  • Timothy Mahr, personal correspondence, June 2020