‘Hope Arises’ on the wings of the premiere of James David composition, ‘Flying Jewels’

James David headshot
James David, composer and CSU professor.

Story by Chloie Piveral

James M. David, an internationally recognized composer who currently serves as professor of music composition at Colorado State University, is dedicated to creating dynamic and thoughtful music for all. His work is regularly inspired by moving words, images and ideas from the past and present. David’s composition, “Flying Jewels,” was inspired by Brian Doyle’s essay “Joyas Voladoras.”

“Flying Jewels,” commissioned for The United States Air Force Band project “Hope Arises,” was first recorded in Sept. 2020. The piece recently received its premiere live performance at the New Jersey Music Educator’s Association conference under the baton of Col. Don Schofield, USAFB commander and conductor, Feb. 24-26, at the Convention Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Col. Don Scholfield
Col. Don Schofield, USAFB commander and conductor.

“My vision for this project was to infuse concepts of community, hope, joy and resilience into music that the USAF Band brings to worldwide audiences,” Schofield said. Nine pieces were commissioned for various ensembles at The United States Air Force Band. “Flying Jewels” was one of three pieces commissioned for the concert band.

A two-time graduate of CSU, Capt. Christy Muncey, served as the associate producer for “Hope Arises.” Muncey graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor of Music and in 2012 with a Master of Music. When asked about the project, Muncey said, “The composers were asked to write around the themes of hope and togetherness, and ‘Flying Jewels’ captures both of these essences.”

David noted how he was inspired by Brian Doyle’s essay, especially its musings on “how intensely and passionately these tiny birds live their lives, with their hearts beating ten times a second.” In an obvious connection to the theme,  David added, “ultimately, the essay asserts the connection that all people and creatures share: We all have one heart that carries us through life’s struggles, victories and simple pleasures.”

Read additional “Flying Jewels” program notes.

Christy Muncey headshot
Capt. Christina Muncey, CSU ’05, ’12.

“Flying Jewels” has an inherent connection to the themes of the “Hope Arises” project. “There are many things I enjoy about this piece, from the almost frenetic woodwinds at the opening to the towering melodies of the middle section to the ending’s driving energy,” Muncey said. “The beautiful melodies throughout the piece and the energetic, uplifting ending point to better times ahead, something we have all been looking forward to since the pandemic started.”

Schofield said of the project, “I want to welcome audiences back after the pandemic restrictions with music that celebrates the culture of community and the joy of being together.”

“At the center of the work is the human heart,” David said. The listener of “Flying Jewels” hears in the piece the collective heartbeat of many inspired artists, from the essayist Brian Doyle, to the composer, to the conductor and the musicians of The United States Air Force Band, all rising on the wings that hope provides.

All of the recordings for the “Hope Arises” project can be found on the USAF Band’s YouTube page.

Read Brian Doyle’s original essay that inspired the piece.