Of Unsurpassed Heroes is a brief symphonic essay for large brass choir and percussion that is inspired by the beautiful and powerful wartime works of Walt Whitman. The title is taken from Whitman’s poem “The Wound Dresser” that describes his feelings while serving as a combat nurse during America’s Civil War. He describes both the pain and tragedy of war as well as the bravery and compassion of the soldiers who fought. My piece attempts to capture these feelings through simple hymn-like settings based on an original five-note motive. Field drum and muted trumpet calls are interspersed throughout, while a cantabile melody based on a “falling-fifths” progression floats gently over the battlefield. The work concludes with a spirit of optimism that humanity can ultimately triumph over war and violence.
-Notes by the composer, July 2021, Fort Collins, Colorado