The Passion of John Brown
Winner, 2011 American Prize for Orchestral Composition
3333 (or 2222) - 4431 - timp+3, pno, hp, str. narrator.
The fascinating life of 19th-century abolitionist John Brown and the events that forged his iron will in his long struggle to end slavery. 19 minutes.
Commissioned by the Akron Symphony Orchestra
"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
The 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. Scroll further down for a full recording
The Michigan Philharmonic. Nan Washburn, conducting; Emery Stephens, narrating.
"A 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.'
Composer Jesse Ayers at the Engine House at Harper's Ferry, the building where John Brown made his last stand against the U.S. Marines under the command of then-Colonel Robert E. Lee and his Lieutenant, J.E.B. Stuart.