For concert band
2014 marked the 70th anniversary of the landing at Normandy Beach, most commonly known as "D-Day," in which thousands of Allied soldiers landed in northern France to fight the Axis forces that had taken the country. I found that to be a perfect inspiration for the six edition of the Symphonic Composition Project.
One of the neat parts about setting a piece of music in such a specific setting is that I can use music of the time within the song. On the opposite side of the coin, I had to be careful not to use so much existing music that my students' melodies would be lost. Below are the program notes:
Red Tide is based on the events of June 6, 1944 - known to most as "D-Day." On that day, soldiers from ten allied nations landed on the beaches at Normandy, France. The piece is a combination of original themes written by the members of the 2013-2014 Fillmore Central High School Concert Band and music directly relating to D-Day.
The song opens with a declaration of the war drums, the Nazi's presence in France. This is followed by fanfares of the national anthems of the ten nations in the landing: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Free French Forces, Poland, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Greece.
At mm. 24, the tenor sax plays "Horst-Wessel-Lied," the anthem of the Nazi party. It is intentionally set in a dissonant mode, and appears throughout the piece with such dissonance as is to be expected of such a dark piece of our history. Below the Nazi song, a snare drum plays out a message in Morse code: "Let Freedom Ring."
The trumpets lead Reveille at mm. 48 as the Allies unite their forces against the Nazi occupiers. After the Allied theme, the forces head to the English Channel at mm. 65, leading to the landing and battle at mm. 93.
The battle begins with back and forth attacks between the upper and lower voices, while the percussionists man the guns throughout. The battle rages on, finally coming to its final blows at mm. 130.
After the last gun has fired and the last of over 20,000 soldiers fell, a lone trumpet sounds Taps in their honor. The piece ends on a low, but hopeful note, that we may never again see a war of nations as great as this.
Red Tide was first performed in concert on May 6, 2014 by the Fillmore Central Concert Band.