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Song for Silent Voices

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Wayne Oquin

Wayne Oquin

General Info

Year: 2018
Duration: c. 4:35
Difficulty: III-1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: Choir
Publisher: Watersong Press
Cost: Score and Parts (digital) - $300.00 - Available after 1 May 2019


Full Score
Flute I-II-III
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
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
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion, including:

  • Marimba
  • Vibraphone


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

I love composing for the human voice. Nothing is more musically meaningful than finding the perfect poem, however unknown, and letting it transport me into worlds of sound I otherwise might not have considered. For me, the process of setting any text usually involves culling from the countless ways a stanza could be sung, to find the one I feel best captures the essence of the written word. I labor on every detail of the language -- syllables, vowels, and consonants -- giving each element its own unique melodic shape. Without fail, the music brings added meaning.

In October 2017, I began an unaccompanied choral work to honor the memory of a remarkable man, my long-time friend, Herbert M. Loyd, M.D. The text consisted of one word: Alleluia. I became fascinated with the idea of setting this single utterance hundreds of ways, each repetition determined to portray some new element of this ancient sacred expression.

Even before I knew the ending or how it would arrive, I was certain I wanted to explore an instrumental version. Beyond the affirmative title, beyond the emphatic nature of the repetitive lyric -- alleluia ... alleluia -- the slow harmonic rhythm in the opening, the song-like simplicity of the themes, the long soaring lines of the climax -- at times as many as eight singing simultaneously -- all urged me to undertake a transcription for the many colors of the wind ensemble.

Continually I'm drawn to music's power to connect, its gift of going beyond words. To enter music, this seemingly separate world of pitches, harmonies, rhythms, and textures, is to plunge more deeply into life itself. How true of the current work: unresolved dissonances speaking to our collective humanity in all its beauty and many imperfections; frequent modulations reflecting a world of constant change; a single solo voice signifying child-like innocence; the final diminuendo depicting life’s brevity. Words alone would be inadequate.

What an honor to have my work premiered by The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wind Symphony. These brave young musicians, having been through unspeakable tragedy, are an inspiration to all. My hope is that this music somehow merges grief and gratitude; the quiet void from a life lost and the thankfulness for times shared. Song for Silent Voices, inspired by the loss of my friend Herb, is dedicated to Alex Kaminsky and is to be premiered December 20, 2018, at the Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference in Chicago. Gary Green will lead the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Wind Symphony, Alex Kaminsky, director.


Many friends have helped bring this music to life. I want to recognize Robert Gehrenbeck and his Wisconsin Chamber Choir for their commissioning and beautifully premiering my 2018 choral work, Alleluia, which led me to this transcription. A special thank you to John Lynch who offered invaluable advice on orchestration, particularly in the early stages of composition. I'm deeply indebted to Col. Larry Lang for having Adrian Holton and The United States Air Force Band read my final draft. Much appreciation to all the band directors who joined and so generously supported the consortium. Lastly, my heartfelt gratitude goes to Michael Butler who believed in this idea from the beginning. Without his leadership, encouragement, expertise, and patience(!), this piece would never have been written.

- Program Note by composer


  • NBA William D. Revelli Composition Contest, 2018, winner


(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 Georgia (Athens) Honor Wind Ensemble (Alfred Watkins, conductor) - 22 January 2023
  • Dordt University (Sioux Center, Iowa) Wind Symphony (Onsby Rose, conductor) - 8 March 2021
  • Farmington (Minn.) High School Wind Ensemble (Erin Holmes, conductor) - 11 February 2021
  • Gustavus Adolphus College (Saint Peter, Minn.) Wind Orchestra (Heidi Johanna Miller, conductor) – 20 February 2020 (CBDNA 2020 North Central Division Conference, Chicago, Ill.)
  • University of South Florida (Tampa) Wind Ensemble (Matthew McCutchen, conductor) – 17 November 2019
  • Kansas State University (Manhattan) Wind Symphony (Alex Wimmer, conductor) – 24 October 2019
  • The Ohio State University (Columbus) Wind Symphony (Alexander Gonzalez, conductor) – 3 October 2019
  • University of Nebraska at Omaha Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Karen Fannin, conductor) - 3 October 2019
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg) Wind Ensemble (Jonathan Caldwell, conductor) – 5 May 2019
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Tuesday/Thursday Concert Band (Archie G. Birkner, IV, conductor) – 24 April 2019
  • Indiana University (Bloomington) Concert Band (Jason H. Nam, conductor) – 6 April 2019
  • United States Air Force Band (Washington, D.C.) (Alex Kaminsky, conductor) - 8 March 2019 (84th Annual ABA National Convention)
  • Truman State University (Kirksville, Mo.) Wind Symphony I (Curran Prendergast, conductor) – 7 March 2019
  • Texas A&M University (Lubbock) Wind Symphony (Timothy Rhea, conductor) - 2 March 2019
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fla.) Wind Symphony (Gary Green, conductor) - 20 December 2018 (2018 Midwest Clinic)
  • University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Michael Butler, conductor) – 19 January 2019 (Performance at NBA-Wisconsin Conference)
  • University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Michael Butler, conductor) – 18 October 2018 *Premiere Performance*

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Caldwell, Jonathan. "Songs for Silent Voices." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 12, Compiled and edited by Andrew Trachsel, 460-471. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2021.
  • McCutchen, Matthew. "Wayne Oquin's "Song for Silent Voices" Wins the 2018 William D. Revelli Composition Contest." NBA Journal. Winter 2019: 22-23. Print.
  • Perusal score
  • Wayne Oquin website Accessed 18 October 2018