At a dinner with Maestro Brian Groner of the Fox Valley Symphony, we started talking about books we had read recently. I had just finished James Bradley’s magnificent book “Flags of Our Fathers”. I described the book to Brian, pointing out that the main character in the story, James Bradley’s father, came from Appleton, Wisconsin, home of the Fox Valley Symphony. My creative intuitions convinced me that this amazing story would make a great piece for orchestra and narrator. Luckily, Brian and the FVS Executive Director Marta Weldon, agreed. Through the generosity of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Fox Valley Symphony commissioned me to write Quiet Heroes: A Symphonic Salute to the Flagraisers at Iwo Jima.
I met Wilford Brimley when I was playing at the Monterey Jazz Festival and I told him about the project. Wilford, a Marine himself, enthusiastically said “Why, I’d crawl over hot coals tot he narrator. He has been incredibly supportive of this piece, and has narrated it in several other performances as well, most recently in a band version with the President’s Own US Marine Band.
Quiet Heroes tells the story of the 5 Marines and one Navy Corpsman who enlisted from various parts of this country and in a strange combination of luck and fate, were the 6 men who were captured in the iconic Joe Rosenthal photograph raising the American flag on the hellhole of Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi. Three of the Marines didn’t survive the next week of battles on Iwo Jima, and the three surviving soldiers were then assigned to a new line of duty by President Roosevelt: Tour the U.S. re-enacting the famous pose and raising money for the military coffers by selling U.S. War Bonds. How did these three survive the next exhausting and exploitive tour of duty? How did they put their war-bruised past behind them to assume a normal life?
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“Chris Brubeck writes quality music, music finelycrafted and imaginative, music of strong emotional loading, music that conveys purpose and focus, music that is both visionary and firmly-rooted._ … Brimley was everything one could wish in his resolute narration and the work’s pull on the audience’s emotions was palpable. … At its conclusion – shouts of acclamation and thunderous applause.”
– Erik Eriksson, Peninsula Pulse