A Moment for Peace

for double string orchestra

Grade 5+

Perusal score

The music herein began as a response to numerous tragedies unfolding around the world. Mass shootings. City riots over the treatment of minorities by police (including my own city of Baltimore). Bombings in London. Then, once I began writing, the tragedies continued - attacks in Paris, more shootings, the ongoing refugee crisis involving refugees fleeing North Africa and the Middle East. In times like this, I often turn to the arts for comfort as so many others do. My goal with this music was to create a musical moment of peace – a time when the listener and performer will be drawn away from the chaos of the world and surrounded by absolute calm. A time where emotions can run rampant in a safe place and a large number of musicians can come together in a single, musical voice. The piece explores a roller coaster of emotions, but ties them all together with a unifying theme that promotes the peace that we all desperately need.
The music is scored for double string orchestra. Ideally, orchestra 1 is to the conductor’s left and orchestra 2 is to the right. If that is not possible, the piece can certainly be performed in a standard configuration. In such a situation, I prefer to divide the orchestra so that Violin 1 and 2 (left) would take up the space that a traditional violin 1 section would occupy. Violin 1 and 2 (right) would then occupy the space of a traditional Violin 2 section, etc. The spatial element of the piece was inspired by Ralph Vaughan Williams’ amazing and powerful Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis. While Vaughan Williams also calls for a string quartet, A Moment for Peace calls for soloists from every section of both orchestras – single voices emerging from the masses.
A Moment for Peace was commissioned by the Virginia Band and Orchestra Directors Association in celebration of its 75th anniversary. The piece was premiered by the All-Virginia Orchestra; Dr. Kathleen Horvath, conductor.

© 2015 by Brian Balmages.

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