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Winds of the Mountain Empire 
16th Annual Summer Concert

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"Home Grown"

Sunday, July 17th, 2022

4:00 PM

Union High School Auditorium

2 Champions Ave, Big Stone Gap, VA

Free admission!

The 2022 Winds of the Mountain Empire will present its 16th annual summer concert entitled “Home Grown” in the auditorium of Union High School on Sunday, July
17. The performance takes place at 4 p.m. This year’s program celebrates new works composed primarily by
musicians with connections to our region.


The 55-piece concert band is a professional wind ensemble primarily comprised of musicians from Southwest Virginia, northeast Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky, that convenes each July for professional development and a culminating performance.

Winds of the Mountain Empire was founded by conductor Donald Sorah in 2006. He was inspired by a performance of Symphony of the Mountains in the Tri-Cities. The band held its first concert at Mountain Empire Community
College. A summer concert has been held annually, except in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.


Sorah explained that the concert will have a great variety of music and feature world premiere performances of compositions or arrangements created by musicians with ties to this area. Sorah said he had been writing some music and thought it might be a great idea to highlight local composers. Several of the selections will be performed for the first time.

“Trestle Tree,” a composition initiated by Whitesburg resident Roy Crawford and completed by Sorah, is based on a tree that is growing on a walking trail in the town. Crawford noticed the tree growing on the old train trestle that is now part of a rails-to-trails project which inspired
him to write a melody. Sorah developed Crawford’s melody into a four-minute composition. The theme is about overcoming adversity in a place where you shouldn’t flourish.

“And the Home of the Brave” is an arrangement of the “Star-Spangled Banner” created by Jason Griffith, the band director at Letcher County Central High School. Sorah calls it an exciting arrangement that he hasn’t heard before.

“Transitions” was written by Cody Myre, a former student at Pound High School who also played in a jazz ensemble at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise and earned a degree at University of North Texas in composition. The piece was written a year ago and devoted to his eight-month-old son as Myre reflected on the life changes his son brought.

“Mourning Hymn” was written by Steve Sensenig, who was the musical director at the Barter Theater and is now doing film scoring. Sorah connected with Sensenig by common interest, and he agreed to let them perform with a brass ensemble. Sorah said the piece was a project that Sensenig submitted while working on a certificate in film scoring.

Sorah composed “Steadfast and True” about a year ago for his wife, Kelly, on their 14th wedding anniversary. Sorah described it as a trombone solo with wind ensemble accompaniment. Kelly Sorah will be featured soloist trombonist on the piece.

“A Southwest Virginia Portrait” is an exciting piece written by Norton native Jason Bailey, who is on staff at UVA Wise and helps with the band. The composition has three movements: Powell Valley, Clinch River, High Knob, Va. Sorah describes the song as having a folky sound and hymn-like quality with snippets of tunes people will recognize.

George Naff wrote “On Wings of the Morning” based on Psalm 139:7-10. Sorah characterizes this piece as the light of the morning for being a metaphor for divine love. Naff has a connection to Coeburn, where his father was once a Methodist minister. Naff said it is his hope that all who play and hear this piece will be uplifted and affirmed. Sorah depicts Naff as a mentor and once toured Europe with him in the Spirit of America band.

John Mackey composed “Let Me Be Frank with You,” which is a piece commissioned, in part, by Winds of the Mountain Empire. One of the band’s former members is a fan of Mackey’s music and initiated the commissioned piece. The composition is written in the style of composer Frank Ticheli with Mackey’s own touch, according to Sorah. The song was planned for performance in 2020 but that year’s concert was canceled due to the COVID pandemic.

Sorah said he hopes to have the composers present an introduction with each selection —if not in person, then by audio or video recording.

The concert will be presented free of charge, but donations to help sustain the longevity of the organization are gladly welcomed.

For more information, email Winds of the Mountain Empire at or search for Winds of the Mountain Empire on Facebook.


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