The Alms Tree – New Music For Orchestra

Alms Tree Collage_smallWhat if this doesn’t work?

The thought must have crossed my mind a hundred times this fall. After months of imagining and many hours of labor, it was time for new music to escape into the world. To take ownership and say, “I made this!”. In my opinion, this is the most difficult part of any project. The finishing. Do you agree?

I’ve just finished writing a brand-new piece of music for orchestra called The Alms Tree. The music is my submission to the Victoria Symphony’s 2013 Call For Scores. If successful, I’ll be one of five or so BC composers able to hear their work played by the VS at a workshop in March. My piece Prayer Without Words was chosen in 2011, and hearing professional players interpret my music was an unforgettable experience.

The ink is still drying…

Creating a large score takes a long time and many hours. I was hesitant to tell anyone about it, because the chances of failure are great. Failure to meet the deadline, rejection by the jury, and the possibility of an embarrassing performance (for me, not the ensemble) are very real in my mind. (Those last two could still happen.) But the work is done. And that’s a feeling worth bottling, hence this blog post.

The Alms Tree

The inspiration for this music is something we all see on a daily basis. Poverty. Of finances, of health, or of spirit. This is the description I wrote inside the score:

There is a place in my neighbourhood, in Victoria, where people beg.
In the shade of a large tree with gnarled roots, men and women sit and ask for coins or for food. I and many others pass by the tree every day. Each time, I’m compelled to ask,

“What am I doing to help my community?”

This music evokes the challenge of poverty in our city.
The Alms Tree questions me on a daily basis, and it will continue to do so until those under its branches have no more need.

The image above shows the tree I’m describing.

Is there an “Alms Tree” in your neighborhood?

I’d love to know what you think about this. Send me an email or comment on the blog.

ps – If you received this post via email, congratulations! This is my first newsletter post. Originally I intended to write a newsletter separate from my blog, but right now it makes sense to keep them one and the same. So you will receive my blog posts as they are published. I hope to offer, among other things:

– inspiring music
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This blog is for people that love music, are maybe curious about how it works, and what effect it might have on our culture. I don’t want this to be an autobiography, because I’m hoping to offer you something valuable. But I will also from time to time let you know what I’m up to. and hopefully share new music!

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2 thoughts on “The Alms Tree – New Music For Orchestra”

  1. Hey David,

    The blog looks great! Might you post samples of your scores for your listeners to view? I am looking forward to hear whether you get the VS readings again this year!!

    Best Regards,


  2. Hi Roydon,

    Thanks! It sounds like I’ll find out next week sometime. And that’s a good idea… I’ll think about showing scores in future posts and as I tinker with the site.

    How’s your music going? Anything in particular I should know? 🙂

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