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Always United, Forever Strong

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Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages

Subtitle: Fanfare for Winds and Percussion

General Info

Year: 2013
Duration: c. 4:20
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $75.00   |   Score Only - $6.00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet (optional)
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
Trombone I-II-III
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Snare Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Bells
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Tam-Tam
  • Triangle
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Commissioned by the Nassau Music Educators Association and premiered by the Nassau All County Division 4 Band, Long Island, New York.

- Program Note from score

Very rarely do I come across a situation where my instincts know exactly what a piece is about, but my conscience does not pick up on it until the piece is complete. So was the case with Always United, Forever Strong. I went into the compositional process knowing only that I wanted to write some type of fanfare. After spending a significant amount of time brainstorming and jotting down ideas, I came across a few motives that began to develop. It immediately became clear to me that the spirit of the piece was drawn from several pieces that I have experienced in my career as a performer and conductor. The first is the Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare by Richard Strauss. Some of my most enjoyable musical experiences are with brass ensembles, and I first performed this piece with the Skyline Brass, a group of incredible musicians who came together once a year to perform. The second inspiration is Verdi's Requiem, particularly the Tuba mirum. I first experienced its sheer power as a student performer at James Madison University. The third inspiration, something completely different than the first two, is Alfred Reed's Festival Prelude. This is one of the first pieces I conducted as an honor band clinician; for that very reasons it holds a special place in my heart. Interestingly, the composition Always United, Forever Strong drew from elements of all three works.

The entire structure of the piece was very clear to me (I actually sketched the entire piece out by hand prior to doing any orchestration); however, I did not figure out the title until I finished orchestrating the work. Then, while looking at the structure and orchestration together, it hit me like a ton of bricks. While I in no way specifically intended to do so, I wound up writing a piece about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Rather ironic, since the piece was commissioned by the Nassau Music Educators Association on Long Island in New York. Upon completion of the piece (November 30, 2012) nearly a month after Hurricane Sandy hit, many in the area, including band directors and student musicians, were still attempting to get back to normal. Once I figured out the title, I emailed Paul Caputo, the Vice President of NMEA District 4 in Nassau County. He emailed me the following response:

What's funny in all of this...I was helping a friend on the South Shore gut his house couple of weeks ago, after the storm had sent seven feet of water through his place. On the way home that day, I was thinking it would be cool if the title of your piece had something to do with the victims of the storm. I was going to email you my thoughts, but I thought "Who am I to tell someone what his piece should be about???" I'm glad we ended up on the same page!!

In thinking about the work, it was not quite about victims. Rather, it is about community. The music follows a single person coming outside the morning after a catastrophic event. This person is portrayed by a single note, which opens the piece. Shortly thereafter, additional people begin to come out, one by one (portrayed in the music). The cumulative effect becomes apparent rather quickly. While the single original note continues to sound, the power and combination of all the notes around it lift it up and make it glorious -- clearly resulting in something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

It is in this spirit that I offer Always United, Forever Strong. This piece is for all those who have come together in the past and continue to do so to this day; for communities which support one another; and most importantly, for people who help pick each other up, lean on each other, and find a way to come to stronger than ever.

- Program Note by composer

This dynamic concert opener reflects on the power of a community coming together to be greater than the sum of its individual members. A single note fanfare progressively builds and blossoms into a massive declaration of power and might. Glorious and resolute, this may just be the concert opener that brings your audience to its feet.

- Program Note from publisher


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

All Wind Works