About the Music

Freedom (2019)

Commissioned by the "Freedom" Consortium

in support of the Semper Fi Fund

Freedom - Recording 2Jeff Herwig
00:00 / 09:40

According to the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, between 11-20% of veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom & Enduring Freedom, 12% of Gulf War veterans, and 15% of Vietnam veterans have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in a given year.

 

While the members of our Armed Forces signed up to serve our country in times of war, none of them knew that they may bring the war back home with them... 

 

Freedom is an uninterrupted, three-movement work detailing the struggles associated with Post-Traumatic Stress in the lives of American heroes, and the process of overcoming it. The piece is meant to bring about awareness of the vast number of American servicemen and women who struggle with Post-Traumatic Stress after serving, help erase the negative stigma that surrounds the disorder, and encourage others to take action in one way or another. My hope is that performers and audience members will be inspired to give back in some way. I hope that it makes a positive difference in the lives of the heroes it is dedicated to.

Freedom was commissioned by 38 ensembles and contributors which make up the "Freedom" consortium. Every single penny spent by the consortium members ($2,000!) was donated to the Semper Fi Fund (www.semperfifund.org). A percentage of the lifetime sales of the piece will be donated yearly to the Semper Fi Fund.

 

i. A Hero’s Return

This movement is meant to represent the homecoming of an American Hero returning from deployment. There are moments filled with valor and pride, followed by the elation of being reunited with family after months of separation, loneliness, and constantly living with the fear of possibly never making it home. The warm embrace of loved ones soon gives way - seemingly out of nowhere - to something darker, something painful, something that the Hero thought he had left behind when his tour had ended…

 

ii. Trapped in a Memory…

The second movement depicts an internal struggle within the Hero. The themes of comfort and elation from the first movement have now transitioned into themes of emotional pain. The Hero fights to suppress the feelings, emotions, and memories that are beginning to resurface. The internal conflict grows exponentially as the Hero is drowning in anger, terror, and agony until he can no longer fight back. He is immediately transported back to a time and place he never wished to think about again. He is frozen in place, watching horrific events he had already lived through once before unfold around him again. He has no choice but to sit - surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells of the battlefield - and experience these painful memories until they begin to fade away.

 

iii. Freedom

The final movement is not necessarily programmatic, but, instead, representative of the Hero’s future as he overcomes his struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress. This movement is optimistic. It’s reflective. It’s determined. And it represents what I wish for every veteran dealing with mental illness: Freedom. It is unfortunately ironic that many of the brave men and women who protect our freedom unknowingly sacrifice some of their own… There should be no stigma surrounding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Veterans should not feel embarrassed to discuss it with their family, friends, and therapists. It’s up to us to help them overcome the mental obstacles that develop after serving. 

 

This piece is intended to make a difference in the lives of heroes to whom it is dedicated. I hope that it inspires the performers and audiences who experience it to take action, and to repay the debt that we owe every single American Hero. 

Members of the "Freedom" Consortium

Allegheny College Wind Symphony

Dr. Lowell Hepler, director

Ambridge Area High School Symphonic Band

Mrs. Marie Dewar, director

Arts Laureate

Mr. Christian Amonson, owner/producer

 

Beaver County Wind Ensemble

Mr. Kevin Newton, director

Dordt University Wind Symphony

Dr. Onsby C. Rose, director

Duquesne University Wind Symphony  

Dr. Robert Cameron, director

East Lansing High School Wind Ensemble

Mr. David Larzelere, director

East Winds Symphonic Band

Ms. Susan Sands, director

Gahanna Lincoln High School Gold Band

Mr. Rob Cebriak, director

Geneva College Symphonic Band

Mr. Mark Godwin, director

Hart High School Senior Band

Mr. John Taranko, director

Indiana University of PA Symphony Band

Dr. Jason Worzbyt, director

Mr. Jeremy Ulrich

Hershey, Pennsylvania

Jordan Vocational High School Symphonic Band

Mr. Jon Carmack, director

Kittanning Community Band

Mr. Jason Venesky, music director

Laurel High School Band

Mr. Brian Croach, director

Mercer Community Band

Dr. Hendley D. Hoge, director

Minnesota Symphonic Winds

Dr. Timothy Mahr, conductor

Montgomery County Concert Band

Mr. Charles Neidhardt, director

Mr. Ryan Pongras, assistant director

Mr. Bret Mascaro, assistant director

Mr. Michael Langston, president

Mukwonago High School Wind Ensemble

Ms. Emma Angoli, director

Musicians' Concert Band

Mr. Jeffrey Kroner, director

Muskego High School Wind Ensemble

Mr. James Beckman & Mr. Matt Mueller, directors

 

Neshannock High School Band

Ms. Kimberly Heim, director

New Castle Senior High School Concert Band

Mr. Nick Yoho, director

Newark High School Symphonic Band

Mr. Lee Auer, director

North Catholic High School Concert Band

Mr. David Emanuelson, director

North Hills High School Bands

Mr. Len Lavelle & Mr. Lucas Beaver, directors

The Packard Band

Mr. Thomas A. Groth, executive director

Rochester High School Band

Mr. Troy Thomas, director


Slippery Rock University Wind Ensemble

Dr. Jonathan Helmick, director

South Jersey Area Wind Ensemble

Mr. Keith W. Hodgson, conductor & music director


South Side Area Concert Band

Mr. Shawn Sisler, director

Thomas Worthington High School Wind Ensemble

Mr. Eric Doolittle, director

Dr. Travis J. Weller

Grove City, Pennsylvania

University Heights Symphonic Band

Mr. Matthew Salvaggio, musical & artistic director

Watertown High School Wind Symphony

Mr. Reid LaDew, director

Waunakee High School Bands

Mr. Ryan Caloud & Mr. Ryan Gill, directors

Whetstone High School Concert Band

Mr. Josh Reynolds, director of instrumental music