Enduring City was composed to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the founding of New Bern, the first permanent seat of the colonial government of the state of North Carolina. It was first settled in 1710 by Swiss and German immigrants under the leadership of Christoph von Graffenried and and John Lawson. The 2010 composition was commissioned by the New Bern 300th Anniversary Committee and the City of New Bern, to portray the city in terms of its history, its present and its optimism for the future; the North Carolina Symphony gave its first performances, in venues throughout the state.
Its one continuous movement is in well-defined sections. Most of the musical themes derive from names of people and places connected with New Bern, using letters that are also note-names, omitting those which are not. For example, the opening trumpets spell out E-B-E-D for New Bern (‘R’ standing for Re, which is D in fixed-doh sol-fa notation) and B-C-G for Baron Christoph von Graffenried. They are answered by the orchestra’s “John Lawson, Gent.”, the name on the cover of the co-founder’s A New Voyage to Carolina.
Lawson’s questing and adventurous character is then suggested, accompanied by a “Carolina” note-name theme; and, after the Graffenried theme on solo horn, the music of both men combines for their voyage, culminating (on trumpets and trombones) in the founding of New Bern.
The story of Tryon Palace, central to the city’s history, is represented by echoes of the various kinds of music heard at the Governor’s residence – fife and drum bands, minuets and the slaves’ “Jonkonnu” festivals from Africa, celebratory fanfares and fireworks; the section reaches a climactic ending when all are combined.
After a peremptory interruption by the snare drum, the perky fife theme is transformed to portray the conflicts that visited New Bern over the centuries, alternating with a new “grief” theme, which – when sounded by strings alone – leads to music of reconciliation and then of the natural beauty of the city’s surroundings.
A steady, lively rhythm underpins the final section, confidence – in the present and for the future. Echoes of previous themes are heard, but the closing peroration is reserved for a majestic and joyous statement of the name of New Bern itself.
NOTE TO CONDUCTOR: With support of the composer, the arranger has offered an optional cut from the end of Bar 166 to Bar 225.