A six minute concert piece celebrating persistence and hard work in times of challenge and adversity. A mysterious introduction soon gives way to the driving main theme powered by syncopated percussion.
Concert Band | Grade 3 | 6:00
Performance materials available for purchase on J.W. Pepper:
Commissioned by the NRHEG High School Band
Miles Otstot, conductor
About the piece
Now Rise Hearts of Enduring Greatness is a testament to the idea that character is formed by persevering through adversity. It was commissioned by the NRHEG (New Richland, Hartland, Ellendale, Geneva) High School Concert Band, Miles Otstot, conductor. It is dedicated to his students, for their persistence and hard work in the face of the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a broader sense, the piece honors all who persevere through the trials of these times. Students, teachers, doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, those who have lost work, those who have lost loved ones—the list goes on. There is suffering all around, and most of us identify with it in some way, or know someone who does. Yet I am encouraged by these words: “we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4, NIV) In any trial, we have a choice: we can focus on the suffering itself (which leads only to bitterness), or we can fix our eyes on the goodness that exists beyond it. An enduring greatness of character awaits those who persevere.
In addition to the title, the piece itself is a play on the name of the school district for which it was commissioned. I’ve used a combination of note names (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and solfège syllables (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti) to musically spell NRHEG and each of its component towns. Depending on the letters required to spell any given word, a bit of poetic license is required to fill in the gaps. Nevertheless, each cipher is surprisingly tuneful and provides the starting point for an associated musical theme.
I’m particularly grateful to Miles for reaching out to discuss this commission. His call came at a time of great vocational uncertainty for me, when, in the middle of the pandemic, I was questioning the validity of my career path. At that point I realized two things. First, that the educational music system in this country is quite resilient—students and teachers have faced these challenges with courage and creativity. Second, that music is not a non-essential service—we need people to bring light and beauty into the world. It has always been my hope, as Bach put it, to write music “for the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.” Now more than ever, this is essential.
Now Rise Hearts of Enduring Greatness was premiered on May 18, 2021 by the NRHEG High School Band, Miles Otstot conducting.