Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the United States Air Force (1947-2007), “No Finer Calling” is a symphony in three movements. The movements are individually based on the United States Air Force Core Values. These values, setting a common standard for conduct, were introduced in 1995 and were promulgated throughout the Air Force at every level by the Air Education and Training Command and The United States Air Force Academy. The Core Values are “Integrity First,” “Service Before Self,” and “Excellence In All We Do.”
I. Integrity Fanfare and March - “Integrity First” - Integrity, Virtue, Morality, Truthfulness, Accountability and Pride. When I thought of these words as a composer, I heard a fanfare, a processional and a march. Not all at the same time, but more of a melding of all three. A fanfare that states “We are here;” a procession that states “We are prepared;” and a march that states “Lets GO!”
II. Far from Home - “Service Before Self” - With careful consideration of the Core Value “Service Before Self,” only one word came to mind... “Sacrifice.” Certainly during day to day normal military existence there is an ongoing personal “service before self” commitment. During wartime, it is lived day by day, minute by minute. “Far From Home” finds our military men and woman afield, dreaming of home and loved ones.
In measures 65-72, the oboe closely quotes the opening phrase of “America the Beautiful,” the words for which were first conceived in 1893 by Katharine Lee Bates. (Bates wrote the second version in 1904 and her final version in 1913.) Very easily, an original musical phrase could have been used in this spot, but I wanted the audience to feel a “patriotic” moment as well as mentally hear the opening words to “America the Beautiful.”
The celesta in the piece represents things childlike in particular, as when a mother or father is missing their children or when a father has thoughts of that newborn whose birth he has missed. At times the piece is a folk song, and at times it is a lullaby. As a whole, it is a simple wish to be where the heart is.
III. Honor Above All - “Excellence In All We Do” - This movement is a musical portrait of the many occupations and duties in the Air Force, in peacetime and wartime. In measure 229, the movement arrives at its musical destiny, a hymn entitled “A Military Prayer.” In keeping with the programmatic theme of depicting all that the Air Force does, this section represents the most important thing they do -- defend and protect the United States of America. The prayer is an original prayer by the composer, it is a combat prayer, and the words are as follows:
“Lord, God, My Saving Grace. In Your Hands My Soul I Place,
Dear Lord, God Forgive My Sins, Please Let My Faith Not Falter
Lord, God. Please Grant Me Strength. Let Your Spirit Flow Through Mine.
Dear Lord, God. Let Wisdom Reign and Courage Guide My Journey.
Oh Lord, God. The King of Kings. Armor Born of Love Be Mine.
Dear Lord, God. When My Days End Let Heaven's Light Shine On Me.” Julie Giroux
Measure 254 starts the final section entitled Fieramente “La Mano di Dio.” This section represents the acts of warfare and has 3 motifs going on simultaneously. The upper woodwinds (12/8 pulse) are the “Integrity,” the horns and saxophones (4/4 pulse) are the “Service Before Self,” and the trumpets and trombones (3 against 4 triplet pulse) are the “Excellence In All We Do.” The final phrase is a bold tribute to the men and women, past and present, who have been a part of the United States Air Force. It is important to resist the temptation to crescendo in measure 252 leading into this final section. The measure should be played mezzo-forte with a subito unleashed forte at measure 253.
NO FINER CALLLING
(Total Duration: 19:55 - I. 3:55; II. 5:05; III. 10:40 )
Jointly commissioned by
The United States Air Force Band of Flight, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
Lieutenant Colonel Alan Sierichs, Commander and Conductor
The United States Air Force Academy Band, Peterson AFB, Colorado
Lieutenant Colonel Steven Grimo, Commander and Conductor
The United States Air Force Band of Liberty, Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts
Lieutenant Colonel Larry H. Lang, Commander and Conductor.