Although my family roots do not include Ukraine, the conflict in that country has captured my attention ever since Putin fired the first shot. The very personal kind of devastation he has wrought in the name of his ambition is hard to ignore. The Guardian’s online news is my main source of information, and one day last year I read something that stuck in my brain as if it had been glued there: “A resident of Yablunska Street told me that, when he stepped out of his yard on March 8th, he saw a road strewn with bodies and heard music. It was coming from cell phones ringing in the pockets of the dead.”
Knowing that many other composers – Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian – have been inspired to write music about the conflict, I still wanted to add my voice. The varied sounds offered by brass quintet seemed to suit the “music” of a missile barrage followed by silence, then slow footfalls and eventually recognizable snatches of melody from cell phones, all building to a wall of grief engulfing the Ukraine national anthem. Another brief missile attack follows, peacefully resolved in the final cadence. That last sound is my hope for a lasting peace in Ukraine.