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Lift Up Thine Ears

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Michael Daugherty

Michael Daugherty (trans. by composer)

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General Info

Year: 2021 / 2022
Duration: c. 20:40
Difficulty: (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Orchestra
Publisher: Michael Daugherty Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - Rental


1. “Lend me your ears” (William Shakespeare; 1599) – 5:25
2. “It rings in the ear” (Martin Luther King; 1963) – 7:50
3. “The Spirit Is the Conscious Ear” (Emily Dickinson; 1899) – 6:55


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III-IV
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Contra Alto Clarinet (or B-flat Contrabass Clarinet )
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-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium I-II
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III-IV-V

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

Lift Up Thine Ears (2021) for orchestra was commissioned in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Omaha Symphony. The theme of my three-movement, 20-minute symphony is how the human spirit can be uplifted by learning to listen with new ears.

The first movement recalls Shakespeare’s dramatic words, “Lend me your ears,” from his play Julius Caesar. These four words are echoed in a four-note musical motive that I have composed, which is heard at the beginning of the movement, played by the strings. I then develop the four-note motive through various orchestrations, melodic transpositions and rhythmic transformations.

The title of the second movement comes from Martin Luther King’s 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail, where he wrote “it rings in the ear” as a lamentation and call for action after he was arrested for leading a civil rights protest. I have composed a musical lament introduced by the English horn and harp, developed by the woodwind section, and then leading into the cellos and French horns playing a melody that evokes Dr. King as “a wayfaring stranger traveling this world of woe.”

The third movement turns a phrase from Emily Dickinson’s poem The Spirit Is the Conscious Ear into a celebration of the orchestra as a spirit of community created through the power and energy of music. As they listen to each other, the conductor and the musicians of the orchestra, playing diverse instruments in the woodwind, brass, percussion and string sections, collaborate in pulsating rhythmic counterpoint to create an uplifting experience for all listeners.

- Program Note (for orchestral version) by composer


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


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