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Miles of Blue

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Brian Balmages

Brian Balmages


General Info

Year: 2020
Duration: c. 9:15
Difficulty: IV (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: FJH Music
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $90.00   |   Score Only (print) - $8.00


Instrumentation

Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon
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
Trombone I-II-III
Euphonium
Tuba
String Bass
Timpani
Percussion I-II-III, including:

  • Bar Chimes
  • Bass Drum
  • Bells
  • Chimes
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Marimba
  • Snare Drum
  • Suspended Cymbal
  • Triangle

Antiphonal Trumpets (see Discussion tab above for more information)


Errata

None discovered thus far.


Program Notes

It was something you only see on television...in movies...in newspapers and in magazines...but never in real life.

On November 4, 2016, my cousin Lisa Tuozzolo lost her husband, NYPD Sergeant Paul Tuozzolo, who was killed in a Bronx shootout. His last words and actions saved the life of his partner and he was remembered as a hero by many, including Mayor Bill de Blasio who spoke at his funeral. It was an incredibly emotional period that peaked on November 10, when nearly 20,000 police officers showed up from around the country and Canada to pay their respects and salute him one final time.

It is hard to put into words what it was like to drive from the funeral home to the church and to see streets lined with officers paying their respects – mile after mile. In addition to the nearly 20,000 officers, there were countless civilians who lined the streets with American flags, memorials, or just stood quietly paying their respects.

I asked my cousin Lisa to contribute to these notes, because no one else in the world can articulate this sacrifice better than she can. What I can share is the imagery behind the music.

When we decided to move forward with a piece to honor Paul, Lisa shared an NYPD video which is played at many of the functions she attends, including the annual Police Academy Graduation. She has become an avid speaker at events honoring her blue family, and she has also become a key figure in their efforts to support the many NYPD families who have suffered similar tragedies. She described the emotional arc of the music and the feelings it evoked. I was inspired by this emotion to create the structure of Miles of Blue.

As the music begins, it is very transparent, recalling the image of the hundreds of American flags that were set in blocks around the funeral home. It was quiet, yet overwhelmingly powerful. The procession begins, indicated by the statement of the full melody in the horns and clarinets. It is a noble-sounding melody with a touch of raw emotion always hovering above it. There is a faint allusion to a military-style cadence off in the distance and then echoing off-stage – foreshadowing the worst sound my cousin could ever hear in this situation, the strike and tone of the NYPD Pipes and Drums.

After a dramatic and powerful moment where the music embraces the heroism of the melody, the sound of the pipes and drums is fully realized. In the background, the melody of Amazing Grace is heard. This, the moment we arrived at the church, is the sound that continues to haunt my cousin to this day. I spoke with her about it before adding it to the music, but felt it was important to tell the full story of the day, including the entire series of emotions that everyone (especially Lisa) experienced.

As the music moves into a more thoughtful and tranquil setting, the audience hears Taps for the first time, performed by an off-stage trumpet player, but the musician never finishes. This is soon echoed by several antiphonal trumpeters all playing Taps at different intervals, representing the many officers that fall in the Line of Duty each year. In the case of the premiere, these antiphonal parts were performed by members of the New York City Police Band. As each person finishes, they enter the auditorium playing a triangle softly at random intervals, slowly enveloping the audience in delicate, sparkling sound. This, along with the visual presence of people in uniform, brings the piece to an emotional close.

Whenever possible, I invite ensembles to ask men and women in uniform (active or retired) to perform these antiphonal parts. I believe it helps the community to make a connection to those who risk everything to keep us safe. I know there has been a lot of negative press about police brutality and corruption. I would like to think that this piece provides the smallest glimpse into the thousands upon thousands of officers who protect us every day with kindness, dignity, respect, and compassion. And further, I hope this music draws attention to the number of first responders who lose their lives every year, risking everything to help someone in need.

Paul Tuozzolo was 41 when he was killed. He was a 19-year NYPD Sergeant who chose to be out on the streets with his colleagues protecting strangers, like you and me. He was a hero. And his wife, my cousin Lisa, has made it her mission to make sure that his sacrifice is never forgotten. I hope this music plays a small part in that mission.

- Program Note by composer

A letter from Lisa Tuozzolo may be found in the perusal score.


Commercial Discography

None discovered thus far.


Media


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


Performances

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Works for Winds by this Composer

Adaptable Music


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