In the summer of 2015, Pete Poletti, a founding member and principal tubist in the Saint Louis Wind Symphony, approached Director Tom Poshak with the offer of funding a commission for the Wind Symphony – he wanted it to be a large work by a major composer. He wanted it to reflect the Midwest that he recalled growing up in and offered the photography of David Plowden as inspiration. Tom presented the idea to Julie Giroux, who immediately grasped it as the motivation she had been seeking for her next symphony.
The Photography of David Plowden
Over the next months, Ms. Giroux worked on the piece, while staying in constant contact with Pete Poletti and Tom Poshak via email.
Julie Ann Giroux was born 1961 in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and Monroe, Louisiana. She received her formal education from Louisiana State University and Boston University. She studied composition with John Williams, Bill Conti and Jerry Goldsmith, to name a few. Julie is an accomplished performer on piano and horn, but her first love is composition. She began playing the piano at the age of three and had published her first piece at the age of nine.
In 1985, she began composing, orchestrating, and conducting music for television and films. Within three hours after arriving in Los Angeles, she was at work on the music for the Emmy Award winning mini-series North and South, followed soon by work on the television series Dynasty and The Colbys, as well as the films Karate Kid II, White Men Can’t Jump, and Broadcast News. She received her first Emmy nomination in 1988 for North and South Part II – Love and War, and over the next three years was nominated each year for her arranging and original compositions for the Academy Awards show. To date, Julie has well over 100 film and television credits and has been nominated for an Emmy several times. When she won her first Emmy Award, she was the first woman and the youngest person ever to win the award in that category.
Julie is an extremely well rounded composer, writing works for symphony orchestra (including chorus), chamber ensembles, wind ensembles, soloists, brass and woodwind quintets and many other serious and commercial formats. She began writing music for concert band in 1983, publishing her first band work Mystery on Mena Mountain with Southern Music Company. Since that time, she has composed and published numerous works for professional wind ensembles, military bands, colleges and public schools and has conducted her music in clinics worldwide. She is also a very well received speaker and clinician. Julie is a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
Completing the Piece
Late in the evening on November 16th, 2016, Julie Giroux sent a Facebook post with the Saint Louis Wind Symphony, excitedly sharing that she was very close to finishing the piece:
So close, but too tired to finish tonight…on the last 4 measures of Symphony No. 5 “Heartland Portraits”. Some of the best music I’ve ever written. It’s for the Saint Louis Wind Symphony. It can be performed with video – the photography of “A Vanishing American” – photos by David Plowden.
Another post came just a few days later on November 18th, 2016. Ms. Giroux was finished with the piece! Take a look at her humorous Facebook post:
On November 25th, 2016, Ms. Giroux delivered the finished parts to the Wind Symphony. With those, she wrote:
My work is over, now yours starts! I am super excited!
The first rehearsal of the piece took place on December 13th, 2015. Over the course of the next few months, the Wind Symphony worked hard to refine the 18-minute work.
On Monday, March 7th, 2016 RAF Radio host Kathy Lawton Brown spoke with Dan Presgrave, Tom Poshak, and Pete Poletti about the commissioning of Julie Giroux’s Symphony No. 5, “Heartland Portraits” and the upcoming March 13, 2016 concert.
Click below to hear the interview: