A Solitary Wish 

for concert band

Grade 2.5 – 3

Perusal score

Recorded by The Appalachian Wind Ensemble

John Stanley Ross, Music Director

Adam Campbell, Recording Engineer

I learned an amazing lesson before I began this piece. While I consider myself to be a “good” person, I read a friend’s comment about seeing a homeless woman named Joyce outside of Target. Joyce needed a new pair of shoes because it was getting cold outside and she only had sandals. My friend decided to get her the shoes, but also decided to buy her lunch and some extra food. Simple comments like “How will you heat up canned soup?” “Usually the microwave at 7-Eleven works.” “Why don’t you get the big peanut butter?” “Because it is too heavy to carry around.” And then she remarked how every single person around them averted their eyes as they walked by. It gave her a tremendous amount of perspective and a desire to be much more empathetic in the future. I thought the same thing.

 

Fast-forward just a few hours. I was outside a food store with my kids and there was a man outside asking for some food. I watched quite a few people walk by. Some actually said “sorry” as they walked by, but most of them did not even look at him or acknowledge him when he spoke to them. Finally, with my new “perspective” in hand, I walked up to him and asked him if he was okay. He just needed something to drink and a little bit of food. I took him into the store with me and bought him something. His name is Bruce. He is 32 years old. He has three kids – 2 in elementary school and 1 in middle school. He acknowledged that he’s made plenty of mistakes in life, but that he is trying really hard to get back up on his feet and live in the area so he can be close to his kids. We chatted for a bit, then I had to run and get my youngest to a soccer game. As we were leaving, he held the door open for us and said thanks. “It’s hard when people ignore you all day long. Thanks for stopping.” With the holiday season approaching, this struck me hard. So many of us are already making our “lists.” Others are bugging us for them so they can start their shopping early. We are annoyed because we have to go to several houses on Thanksgiving Day, or open gifts at several houses (or travel) during the holiday season. And then some perspective – someone like Joyce or Bruce – they wish for food, water, and for someone to notice them.

 

There are many holiday pieces out there about everything you can imagine. This one begins with a single individual (a cello soloist) just asking to be noticed while everyone walks by – some dropping a few coins or a dollar but avoiding conversation at all cost. As the music develops, we experience a wide range of emotions as the joy of the holidays is juxtaposed with solitude. Ultimately, in this particular story, the individual is joined by another, and eventually there are four of them together (the quartet). As a couple people begin to leave, one stays behind (a violin soloist) and the person’s wish comes true.

 

Please share this story with your audience. It is my hope that this piece will spread awareness and help individuals all over the world. Donate your time, donate a small amount, or just smile and say hello. You just may make someone’s wish come true.

© 2015 by Brian Balmages.

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