Commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the Cincinnati Pops, In the Cause of the Free reflects on the themes of Veterans Day and signing of the Armistice which ended the hostilities of World War I, the centennial of which will be marked in 2018. The work features a prominent part for solo trumpet. The title is derived from a line in the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon, written during “The Great War.”

In the Cause of the Free is part of the Cincinnati Pops’ American Originals, Vol. 2 project, premiered and recorded live in concert at the newly-reopened Music Hall in November 2017 (following its $135 million, two-year renovation), with the recording to be released on the Fanfare Cincinnati label (distributed by Naxos) in 2018.

Instrumentation

2.2.2.bcl(opt).2.cbsn(opt)—4.2(1=solo).3.1—timp.perc(3-4)—harp—strings

Duration

6:30

Composition Date and Commission

Composed 2017
Commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the Cincinnati Pops

Critical Acclaim

“Peter Boyer’s In the Cause of the Free was a poignant, cinematic piece inspired by British poet Laurence Binyon’s For the Fallen. It began with somber drumming, chimes and distant fanfares and built to a stirring melody for solo trumpet. The beauty of that tune was only outshone by the silvery tone and seamless line displayed by principal trumpeter Robert Sullivan.”
— Janelle Gelfand, WGUC.org

View Performance History

— Premiered by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Robert Sullivan, trumpet, John Morris Russell, conductor, at Music Hall, Cincinnati, November 10, 11, & 12, 2017
— Recorded live in concert for the album American Originals, Vol. 2, to be released on Fanfare Cincinnati label, 2018
— Filmed live in concert by CET Public Television for release in the American Soundscapes video series

Read Program Note

This work was commissioned by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the Cincinnati Pops, which requested a work that would reflect on the themes of Veterans Day and the signing of the Armistice which ended World War I, with the concerts to occur on and around Veterans Day 2017. In reading poetry from “The Great War,” words from the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon led me to choose this title.

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

While these lines were written by a British poet, remembering his fallen countrymen, of course these words could be seen as equally relevant to American and other soldiers who were lost in that war. Though this poem honored soldiers who were killed in battle, I think the phrase “in the cause of the free” might apply more broadly to those who have served in the military, past or present.

The theme of this commission suggested to me an opportunity to feature solo trumpet, and a kind of “soliloquy” on the subject matter in a cadenza passage. I was delighted that Robert Sullivan, returning principal trumpet of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra, could perform this music at its premiere.

Music Hall, Cincinnati