strength in all things (wind ensemble, grade 3-3.5)


Grade 3-3.5. Run time: approx. 6’05”. strength in all things includes solos in the following parts (simultaneous solos are grouped in brackets): oboe (cross-cued in piccolo), euphonium (cross-cued in tenor sax), [Flute 1 and Flute 2 (duet)], [piccolo, Clarinet 1, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone,] [Clarinet 3, Alto Saxophone, Trombone 1, and glockenspiel].

Written in memoriam of my former classmate, Amber Nicole Smith, and her family, strength in all things commemorates her life and the lives of the four family members who perished alongside her.


“They found the plane!”

In December 2013, a small plane carrying Amber Smith, a young woman I’d known in high school band, and several members of her family went down somewhere in the treacherous, icy terrain of a part of Idaho so untouched by man I’d hesitate to even call it rural. Amber’s father Dale was flying her, her fiance Jonathan Norton, her brother Daniel, and her sister-in-law Sheree from a Thanksgiving celebration to Idaho, where Daniel and Sheree lived and Amber and Jonathan attended BYU-Idaho. Dale, an experienced pilot, reported engine problems, but despite being directed to an airstrip, the Smiths never arrived. Though Amber and I had never been incredibly close, she was someone I enjoyed keeping up with via the internet as we pursued careers in separate states, and after the plane disappeared, I found myself among the band kids and family friends supporting the search effort however we could.

On January 10th, 2014, the day before Amber and Jonathan were supposed to be married, a team of searchers found the plane after weeks of fruitless efforts. I remember seeing the post that went out the next day and being awed by how Amber’s mother, Janis, was able to rejoice that her five family members had been found even as she began planning their memorial service. Though I’d never planned to fly back to California for any two-day weekends, I made my one and only exception to attend the funeral for Dale, Daniel, Sheree, Jonathan, and Amber. The music director allowed me to sing in the choir despite missing every rehearsal; the memorial was easily the most powerful one I’ve ever experienced. The sight of five caskets, evenly spread in front of the altar with little room to spare, is not one I will soon forget.

During the service, a friend and fellow trumpet player recalled an award she had given to Amber at the end of a marching band season. She had called it the Strength In All Things award, referencing Amber’s physical ability, her emotional and mental fortitude, and the power of her faith. Though it has taken me three years to reach the right point in my creativity to compose this piece, I’ve had the title since that sunny February day. I can only hope it touches hearts as permanently as Amber and her family have touched mine.

Run time: approx. 6’05”. strength in all things includes solos in the following parts (simultaneous solos are grouped in brackets): oboe (cross-cued in piccolo), euphonium (cross-cued in tenor sax), [Flute 1 and Flute 2 (duet)], [piccolo, Clarinet 1, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone,] [Clarinet 3, Alto Saxophone, Trombone 1, and glockenspiel].

Frequently asked: How should I write the name of this piece in programs/posts/etc.?
Answer: In all lowercase (“strength in all things”). This song is intentionally not written with Capital Letter Energy; please honor that by writing it as I’ve written it for your programs and other media.
May I chop up your program notes?
Answer: ABSOLUTELY DO NOT. This is a piece I wrote in honor of a friend and a massive number of her family. Amber and her family deserve better than being editorialized down in the name of saving space (and trust me, the press coverage at the time provided plenty of that already). If you don’t have enough space to print the full notes, I totally understand, but please consider providing a QR code that links to this page for interested audience members, and consider reading the notes aloud to the audience before your performance of the work. These program notes are, in the vast majority of cases, the only chance I get to communicate my thoughts to your listeners. Please honor that by letting me tell the story, rather than editing it yourself.
(If you knew Amber or her family personally and are presenting this piece, I’m willing to talk alterations if they make sense with how you’re presenting the work. Please drop me a line using the email address on my Contact page.)

strength in all things perusal (preview before you buy!)

Listen to a recording of strength in all things as sightread by the ASU Wind Ensemble below. Note: because this was a 10-minute session, you’ll hear some inconsistencies, errors, and additional sonic artifacts. However, it’ll give you a general idea of the piece as a whole!

Known performances:

  • 2/21/2020, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA
  • 10/3/2019, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY (world premiere)

A word on my large ensemble policy: I am fully aware that the circumstances of your ensemble’s instrumentation and/or your judges’ requirements for festival score submissions may require you to print additional copies of the scores and/or parts you purchase from me. That’s totally fine! Every time you buy a PDF from me, you also buy the right to make as many copies as your ensemble needs—for this performance and in the future. If you need written permission to possess and use additional copies of a score, shoot me an email (either with your initial order or before your performance) or use my Contact form. I’ll happily write you one!


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