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A Lament For The Dead, A Vow To The Living: A Composer Sets Her Sorrow Over Gun Violence To Music

C. DiMattei
Dan Bassett conducts during a rehearsal of the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble

Watching the news that morning, Julie Giroux was devastated. She stared at her partner of 20 years and said, “I don’t want our anniversary on this date.”

The couple were in Las Vegas to be married on the morning of June 12, 2016. They’d traveled there from their home in Mississippi, where gay marriages were still being denied in certain counties.

The woman who would become Giroux’s wife that day replied, “But if we change this date, he wins.”


The “he” she referred to was the gunman who stormed into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando earlier that very morning, killing 49 people.

Giroux, a prolific, Emmy Award-winning composer, decided to take her strong feelings about the senseless violence and set them to music. But it wasn’t until right after the school shooting in Parkland that she started writing her piece titled “My Soul To Keep.” It makes its South Florida premiere this coming weekend at the Broward Center for The Performing Arts.

Giroux’s composition is one of two newly-commissioned pieces on the program for (R)Evolution, a concert by the South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Credit Lone Star Wind Orchestra
When it comes to social change, music can be "our loudest, strongest voice," says composer Julie Giroux.

“I wanted to try and do something to fight the gun violence in this country,” says Giroux. “And besides voting, the obvious choice being a musician was to do it through music.”

Giroux has arranged “My Soul To Keep,” for orchestra, full choirs and solo singers and dedicated the piece to “everyone touched by gun violence.” The piece is equal parts elegy for deceased victims and promise to the living – a pledge that Giroux says must extend beyond one’s friends and family.

“We keep close intimacy with people that we love. But as a human, we have to be aware of everyone,” says Giroux. “To extend that care towards other people. A vow to keep somebody else safe and let them keep YOU safe.”



South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble

(R) Evolution
A Concert Commemorating and Celebrating
The 50th Anniversary of Stonewall

Saturday, October 19, 2019
7:00 PM
Amaturo Theater at The Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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