Last Breaths

Solo baritone (amplified)
2 flutes (flute 1 doubles piccolo)
2 clarinets
Bass clarinet
Soprano saxophone
Alto saxophone
Tenor saxophone
Baritone saxophone
2 horns
Trumpet in C
Tenor Trombone
Bass Trombone
2 percussion:
Glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, bass drum, kick drum, snare drum, suspended
cymbal, floor tom, conga, whip, brake drum, four tom-toms, timpani.
The large ensemble version of Last Breaths was commissioned by a consortium of
the following ensembles
The College of New Jersey Wind Ensemble, David Vickerman, conductor (leader)
Arizona State University Wind Ensemble, Jason Caslor, conductor
Gustavus Adolphus College Wind Orchestra, James Patrick Miller, conductor
Gustavus Adolphus College Office of the Chaplains
Limestone College Wind Ensemble, Patrick K. Carney, conductor
Montclair State University Wind Symphony, Thomas McCauley, conductor
California State University Stanislaus Wind Ensemble, Stuart Sims, conductor
University of Maryland Wind Orchestra, Michael Votta, conductor
University of Georgia Hodgson Wind Ensemble, Cynthia Johnston Turner, conductor
University of South Florida Wind Ensemble, John C. Carmichael, conductor
 Premiered By
In December, 2014, a grand jury in New York declared police officer Daniel Pantaleo
not liable in the choking death of Eric Garner, a street vendor of “loosey” cigarettes
who posed no violent threat to officer Pantaleo or those around him and was killed
in a display of police arrogance and brutality that is sadly all too common (especially
against African Americans) in the United States of America in the 21st century. A
month before, the town of Ferguson, Missouri, a subdivision of St. Louis, a city
close to my heart, exploded in sometimes violent demonstrations when another
grand jury acquitted police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael
Brown, who was unarmed. The Ferguson riots were not only an explosion of rage
from an increasingly marginalized community, but also proved a demonstration of
the increased militarization of police forces in the United States.
I do not tend to write a lot of specifically political pieces, but the events above are
merely a drop in an increasingly bloody bucket, and angered a lot of people,
including myself. In Last Breaths, I join my voice in the outcry against these growing
injustices. The piece began as a much more straightforward set of songs for
Loadbang, with whom I’d been trying to find a collaborative project for
some time, but by December, 2014, after the Ferguson riots and the Eric Garner
decision, I needed to join my voice to the growing outcry, however humbly. in 2016,
my friend and Great Noise Ensemble colleague, David Vickerman, asked me to
prepare a large ensemble version of it for a his On Justice and Peace project. This
piece is the result.
Last Breaths sets the last words of six young men killed by police in the last ten
years. I hope it honors their memories in some small way, and it is to those
memories, along with countless others’, that this work is dedicated.

Audio Coming Soon