This is a work I created to commemorate the senseless slaying of seventeen students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD)
in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018. It is dedicated to the fallen students, and to "The Parkland Five," who courageously stood their ground in the days and weeks that followed, and who still fight for what is right.
In remembrance of the horrendous Parkland massacre. A dedication to the survivors' bravery and commitment -- as we remember and mourn the seventeen slain students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida; February 14, 2018.
My orchestral tribute to the Parkland Five
This is a programmatic work intended to recreate my musical vision of this event, separated into six brief movements:
I. Prologue and Routine / II. The Classroom / III. Heinous Monster /
IV. Dead Silence / V. Endless Grief / VI. MSD!: March For Our Lives.
What is not heard in this replication is the chant that the orchestra players are to shout in the last movement : “MSD !…. MSD STRONG !, a rallying call of the school’s initials shouted to and from the groups of students who were marching.
I was moved to compose this work as a response to the infinite sadness, empathy, and ANGER that I felt, having the privilege of standing with these proud and brave survivors that day in Washington, DC.. this is how I described it :
"Yesterday, at 8 AM I traveled by train to the “March For Our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C… I went there in support of the amazing young people who, it seems, might be this nation’s only hope to ever reverse the absurd homicidal direction that the lack of reasonable gun laws has allowed. This very intelligent and effective movement is now comprised of young people around the country who have suffered gun violence. It has partnered survivors of the latest horrendous massacre at Parkland, Florida with those of Columbine, Sandy Hook, Newtown, Pulse, Charleston, et al . It has also joined forces with youth groups in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities that have long been dealing with gun violence— or the threat of it— every single day.
The speakers ranged in age from eight to nearly 20 years of age-- they were not speaking out of political bent or ego of position; they were angry and showed justification; they were passionate and let their passion erupt; they were politically aware of the difficult political realities that lay ahead, and showed a firm commitment to stay on course. Each had his or her own poetry and was unique.
I am hardly ashamed to say, that tears were in my eyes most of the day… it was deadly serious, endlessly sad, and yet excitingly hopeful.
Scattered, but in force among the crowd, were many students, both current and alumni— from Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ( “MSD!!” as they chanted loudly throughout the event..”MSD STRONG!!”). These were the young people who suffered the life-changing trauma and unfathomable grief at losing family and friends to the latest of heinous mass child murder in the United States.
The crowd of 800,000 people, of all ages, ethnicities, and denominations was overwhelming. We were all standing so close to each other that our bodies seemed linked as one, to the cause.
I picked up conversations that led me to believe that some of the survivors were next to, and behind me.
Turning to a girl directly behind me I said, “Were you there that day?” She responded softly, “No, but my friend was,” pointing to a younger girl standing next to her. The second girl looked at me with tears in her eyes, baring a depth of grief I have never before seen in the eyes of anyone. As she looked at me—as if for answers— all I could say was, “I am so sorry that happened to you and your friends.” I heard myself say, ”..it is unspeakable”. A woman who I believe was her mother, and perhaps an affiliate at the school, locked eyes with me, echoing the depth of her daughter’s grief. A young man was to my right, and it occurred to me that he might too be part of the Stoneman group. I asked him if he was at the scene, and he told me that he wasn’t in the same room as the shooter but down the hall or in another building close by… His eyes, too, welled up throughout the day.
I had precious little to offer … besides a continuing commitment to become more involved. More a part of this heroic, historical national movement —however I could—a movement that exposes one of the ugliest, gaping rips in the American texture. I said to an older African American gentleman standing next to me with his family, “Today we are all MSD.”
This is a “programmatic work,” intended to recreate my musical vision of the event, comprised of six movements.