The Passion of John Brown (band version)
Orchestral Version Winner of 2011 American Prize
Standard concert band, plus short violin (fiddle) solo, plus narrator
The fascinating life of 19th-century abolitionist John Brown and the events that forged his iron will in his long struggle against slavery. 19 minutes.
Band version commissioned in 2016 by the Mid-Atlantic Wind Symphony, the Windiana Concert Band,
the Riverbend High School Band, and the Michigan City Municipal Band
"TOTAL KNOCK OUT"
"JOHN BROWN was a total knock-out. I keep hearing from people how moved they were by the music, the drama, the pacing, and the haunting flashbacks. Just as remarkable was the reaction of our educational audiences ... they were perfectly rapt, nobody moved!"
—Christopher Wilkins, Music Director, Akron Symphony Orchestra
An amazing work, beautifully paced and orchestrated. I love it.
If it weren't that I have retired from conducting, I would be figuring out a way to program it."
—David Daniels, author of Orchestral Music Handbook
This surround-sound, narrated work tells the fascinating story of the controversial 19th-century abolitionist through his own words, as well as those of his children, Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, and the widow of a man Brown ordered murdered. Robert E. Lee, "Jeb" Stuart, and Frederick Douglass also figure into Brown's story. The work includes uptempo action sequences describing paramilitary operations, nostalgic memories of Brown's children, Brown's own dramatic defense spoken at his 1859 trial, and the letter he wrote to his wife and children from jail as he awaited hanging.
Excerpt of orchestral version. Scroll down for a complete recording of band version.
Performance by the Michigan Philharmonic; Nan Washburn, conducting; Emery Stephens, narrating.
Score & hardcopy parts $295
"Total knock out" —Maestro Christopher Wilkins, Akron Symphony
"Jesse Ayers' The Passion of John Brown is a total knock-out. On a purely visceral level it is magnificent. The audience was overwhelmed, and their powerful response has continued unabated. I keep hearing from people how moved they were by the music, the drama, the pacing, and the haunting 'flashbacks.'