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Songs of the Valiant: Expressing Honor through Music


This is a guest blog post by members of the Empire Film Music Ensemble, who you may have heard playing The Little Theatre before our Classical 91.5 Presents...movie screenings. This post by Claire and Grant reflect their thoughts on the music they will be playing tonight for Veteran's Day.  

At the Empire Film Music Ensemble, we believe that the purpose of music within film is to express the inner emotions of an onscreen event, especially when words cannot sufficiently portray the feeling surrounding it. This idea of words not fully capturing an experience drove our decision to perform Songs of the Valiant: A Veterans Day Concert. This concert aims to honor service members through the performance of scores from award-winning military films. As civilians, we often stop and express our gratitude to former and current service members, graciously saying, “Thank you for your service,” to any man or woman in uniform we may see on the street. However, this simple act cannot nearly convey the amount of honor we feel for our troops and the value of their sacrifices. Through the performance of the concert, Songs of the Valiant, Empire Film Music Ensemble hopes to more deeply express the feeling of sacrifice and honor within the American military.

The repertoire for this concert includes selections from Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan, and The Longest Day. Each of these award-winning films explores the sacrifice of war and military service. The scores to each of these films further express this sacrifice and elevate the experience of the viewer, creating an emotional investment in the events seen onscreen. In addition to depicting honor and sacrifice, these films also show the human aspects of military service, both the friendship and loss. The music within the films expands upon these feelings. The theme of The Longest Day expresses friendship through its bouncy melodies, “Hymn to the Fallen” from Saving Private Ryan demonstrates loyalty in its use of strongly rooted harmonies and percussion, and “Adagio for Strings” captures the feeling of loss in its use of dissonance and soaring melodies. The scores of military films further show the human experience and sacrifice of service by expressing the deep emotion that cannot easily be conveyed onscreen.

The concert Songs of the Valiant was conceptualized in order to allow music to act as it was intended: to communicate emotion and offer comfort. The repertoire of the concert honors service members by depicting their sacrifices and experiences. Empire Film Music Ensemble’s Songs of the Valiant will be held on Friday, November 10 at 7:00 PM at Downtown United Presbyterian Church.