James Kimo Williams | Buffalo Soldiers

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Classical: Orchestral Classical: Copland Moods: Mood: Patriotic
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Buffalo Soldiers

by James Kimo Williams

Contemporary Classical orchestral new music with echoes of Copland and Mussoursky. Works commissioned by AT&T and West Point Military Academy and music from the composers experience in Vietnam.
Genre: Classical: Orchestral
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Fanfare For Life
4:27 $0.99
2. Buffalo Soldiers-Overture
11:27 $0.99
3. Buffalo Soldiers-Bugle Calls
4:08 $0.99
4. Symphony For The Sons of Nam-Chapter 1
11:07 $0.99
5. Symphony For The Sons of Nam-Chapter 2
9:20 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Track One
Composers Notes

Fanfare For Life was commissioned by AT&T and composed as a direct result of the gang violence in Chicago during the summer of 1994.
A 14-year-old girl, Shavon Dean, was shot and killed by 11-year-old gang member Robert Sandifer. Robert was then hunted down and killed by two members of his gang, a 14-year-old boy and his 16-year-old brother. Robert was shot twice in the head. That same summer 5-year-old Eric Morse was dropped to his death from the 14th floor of a public housing high-rise by a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old boy, because Eric would not steal candy for them.

With Fanfare For Life, the beauty of life is presented with an orchestra fanfare. In the second part the lives of these children are symbolized by two distinct pentatonic melodies. These melodies are cut short as were the young lives that never developed. The third part (brass tutti) is a variation of the two "child" melodies, symbolizing the families that now only have memories of those lost lives. The last part is a repeat of the initial fanfare again emphasizing the beauty of life and the need to cherish it.

Fanfare For Life is dedicated to the memories of Shavon Dean, Robert Sandifer, and Eric Morse.

Program Notes

Reasons to celebrate life can come in many forms, the birth of a child, finding God, release from prison, getting married, winning the lottery, or just sitting under a tree and appreciating your existence on earth. In 1970, while on guard duty in Viet Nam, I vowed to myself that if I ever got out of there alive I would always cherish the life that I have.

In 1994 a young Chicago boy took the life of a young girl and then two young boys took the life of that young boy and another young boy took the life of a baby boy and it went on and on and on.

Viet Nam becomes a distant memory.

Fanfare for Life is my celebration of life, and I hope that each listener can find a reason to also celebrate life in whatever relative way the music presents itself.

“What Kimo’s score Buffalo Soldiers sets out to do, it does most effectively.
Both the musical layout and the uplifting tone of the 15-minute piece recall
Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.” - Jon VonRhein Chicago Tribune

Commissioned by The West Point Academy for their 2002 Bicentennial celebration at Carnegie Hall Composer Kimo Williams is the Buffalo Soldier on horseback and featured on the cover as the subject for the artist Konrad Hack.

The music and the program notes provide the historical perspective
that makes this work appropriate as a recognition of these brave
soldiers and their service to this country.

This current CD was initially distributed as Symphony For The Sons of Nam and the current track Buffalo Soldiers was re-titled American Soldier for that release and included a narration by Kimo’s friend actor Gary Sinise.

The motivation for the initial title change was the war in Iraq.
After viewing the first prisoners of war on television at the start of the war,
Kimo was so moved by their plight he decided to re-title the work and dedicate it to all soldiers.
He felt that throughout history all service members sacrificed themselves, as did those great Buffalo Soldiers in 1866, for what we all believe in.

In 2006 Kimo re-titled American Soldier to it's original title Buffalo Soldiers and reinserted an Abraham Lincoln speech as well as a speech (personally granted to the composer)by General Colin Powell. The work is now back in its original definitive version that more clearly reflects the initial inspiration of the composition.

The track Buffalo Soldiers includes a narration by Kimo Williams of a speech by Abraham Lincoln and a speech given by Colin Powell to celebrate the unveiling of the Buffalo Soldier Statue at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas in 1992.

Symphony For The Sons of Nam
Track 4 - Chapter one

Composers notes

Remembering the past can provide images that a composer can best express through music.

With Symphony For the Sons of Nam, I have formed musical interpretations which reflect my experience as a soldier in Viet Nam.

Initially written for string quartet, Symphony For the Sons of Nam was expanded to full orchestra in 1992.

The score is broken down into four chapters with individual "events" representing snapshots of my most vivid images from the war.

In 1986, after marching in the "Chicago Welcome Home Parade" for Viet Nam Veterans, I felt a desire to finally confront the emotions from my own time in Viet Nam.

Symphony For the Sons of Nam, along with other compositions, is a musical recollection of memories from my service in Viet Nam and represents my personal catharsis.

Events leading to my arrival in Viet Nam in 1970 and my departure eleven months later are represented here as Chapters 1 and 2. Chapters 3 and 4 are yet to be completed.

Symphony For The Sons of Nam

Chapter 1

Event 1 " March of the Sons"

From all over the country we came to California for our jungle indoctrination.Boys from all walks of life coming together for one common purpose - War -

Event 2 "Conversations"

Late at night in the barracks we talk to each other about our lives back home and what we expected from Viet Nam. Suddenly, we're interupted by a Viet Nam returnee who tells stories of enemy soldiers who are so high on drugs that they become numb. He tells how they keep coming at you even after being shot several times. I try to sleep as I hear one lone soldier break into tearswhile he prays aloud for his safe return home.

Event 3 "Moment With Memories"

After three days of processing and waiting for orders, I hear my name called over the loud speakers indicating I was to leave for Viet Nam in 8 hours. It was at that moment that I realized every-day life, and the special people left back home, were soon to become nostalgic memories to be cherished.

Event 4 " Questions and Answers"

All departing soldiers attend a deployment briefing given by some hard-nose sergeants. They give no answers to our questions about Viet Nam. Their only reply to our apprehension and curiosity, was an evasive and repetitive, "You'll find out when you get there" It would prove to be the only reasonable response.

Event 5 "In Country"

As the doors open from the back of the C-130 cargo plane, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of theViet Nam landscape. With this backdrop I watch as soldier after soldier slowly exit the plane. I am filled with pride and patriotism knowing the sacrifice each of us was making and that some of us would not make it back.

Chapter 2 Track 5 Chapter Two

Event 6 " Anticipation of Going Home"
Due to go home in a week, I count down the days with nervous anticipation, hoping nothing will cause a delay in my departure.

Event 7 "March of The Sons"
We (short- timers) are marched from one out- processing station to another as we prepare to finally go home.

Event 8 "Leaving the Jungle"
The suspense of waiting for the orders that would send you home was unbearable. When my orders finally came, I rushed to the orderly room with uncontrolled excitement only to find that they were misplaced. I waited another day and finally headed for the airport.

Event 9 " Reflections"
Reflecting on the war, I think about friends made and friends lost. The memories are bittersweet.

Event 10 " Silent Prayer"
Leaving Viet Nam I pray for peace. I pray harder for those still fighting.

Event 11 " Flying Home"
A peaceful happiness overtakes me as I vow to keep in my heart the realization of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing every moment.



to write a review

Roderick Ellem

The music of James Kimo Williams are heartfelt works acknowledging the joy of life and the work done by African American Soldiers, both past and present. It is wonderful music well composed and played.