ORCHESTRAL » Victims of Us All

Instrumentation:  *2 *2 2 2/ 4 2 3 1/ timp + 2 perc/ harp/ strings
Duration: ca. 23'

Programme Notes

  1. Untimely Elegy
  2. In Memoriam
  3. Deliverance

This piece was inspired by the tragedies that happen time and time again when innocent people are affected by senseless, needless acts of violence. Although we may or may not experience the pain and loss at first hand, we cannot help but feel a sense of sympathy and anguish, and indeed a small part of us dies with every human tragedy we encounter. I wanted to capture all of these emotions we experience in such situations and communicate them in a piece of music.

The first movement, Untimely Elegy, begins with a simple and delicate melody introduced by a solo violoncello, gradually joined by other solo strings. However, the sound of eight solo strings is fragile and is easily overwhelmed. Gradually the remainder of the orchestra ruthlessly overpowers the simple tune played by the strings. Once the small ensemble is drowned out, the music becomes vicious and belligerent with the horns grotesquely mimicking  the theme introduced by the solo cello. This wild section culminates with thunderous poundings from the percussion section, imitating the rapid beat of an adrenaline-charged heart. Gradually, the drums slow down and the regular rhythm fades to a lifeless pulse. After a brief solo for the horn and woodwinds in canon the strings play the opening melody again; this time, however, the entire string section is now playing, passionately pleading for the existence of this tune. Once again, the remainder of the orchestra overpowers the strings and by the conclusion of this movement the melody has been completely silenced.

The second movement, In Memoriam, begins with the tolling of bells and a solo air for trumpet. With its chorales for winds and brass, the beginning of this movement suggests that it might perhaps be a comforting and gentle memoriam; the trumpet air, however, eventually turns into an angry and bitter funeral march featuring relentless drumming from the percussion. The movement concludes with the solo trumpet now off-stage, mournfully playing its air.

Unlike the preceding two movements, the final movement, Deliverance, is peaceful throughout.
It begins with a comforting and tranquil solo for clarinet which is passed on to the flute and strings. Then, in the middle of this movement, the winds perform the theme that was introduced by the solo cello in the first movement; finally this theme has found a haven and can play itself out in the context of the final movement without the threat of being overpowered. The piece concludes with the strings and harp playing the clarinet theme high in their registers; the final audible sound is an interval of a perfect fifth played by two wine goblets and bowed vibraphone.

Audio Samples

For further information, please contact John Estacio.


February 3, 1996

Conductor: Grzegorz Nowak
Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium
Edmonton, Alberta

Subsequent Performances

September 2001

Centre in the Square
Kitchener, Ontario
September 1999

(In Memoriam only)
October 3, 4, 1996

Conductor: Grzegorz Nowak
Centre in the Square
Kitchener, Ontario


"…an unexpected, powerful piece." –D.T. Baker, Edmonton Journal, February 24, 1996

"…Estacio’s scores was bursting with raw emotion… the listener is immediately jolted into Estacio’s vivid, yet delicate sensibilities… Estacio is one of those rare talents who appreciates and can write new music which is also beautiful, shapely, melodic and... moving." Colleen Johnston, Kitchener-Waterloo Record, October 5, 1996

Score/Parts Rental

For more information on score and parts rental for Victims of Us All, contact the Canadian Music Centre.