Jordan Holloway’s “Symphony No. 1” redefines patriotism

Original article published on the CU Independent here.

“A patriot is someone who wants to see their country do the right thing,” CU composer Jordan Holloway said. “To be a patriot is to love one’s country for what it could be, not just what it is. This to me is the difference between patriotism and nationalism.”

This daring statement inspired Holloway’s “Symphony No.1 – The Patriot,” which premiered on YouTube July 16. The symphony, which now has over 1400 views, is the result of a 4-month long remote collaboration of 48 musicians from around the US, France, Canada and Spain, organized by Holloway.  

The symphony is an honest, refreshing take on American patriotism. Unlike the idealized America of the “Star Spangled Banner” or “God Bless America,” “The Patriot” tackles the darker sides of the American identity — oppression of Native Americans, Black people and other minorities, corrupt political power and protests. 

The four movements are “I. Landscapes,” the “innocence of a child discovering this land for the first time;” “II. Portrait” about “evil political power;” “III. Elegy,” an “image of fear, a post-apocalyptic US;” and “IV: Protest,” a “confused” outcry against oppression.  

Though written in 2018, the symphony is even more relevant in 2020 with Black Lives Matter (BLM), President Trump’s “corrupt” government and the fallout of COVID-19. 

For Holloway, “The Patriot” is his “dramatic” musical protest against the injustices of our time.

“It’s a bit unusual in the 21st century, going to the symphony to hear a political statement,” Holloway admitted. “It’s a different expression of the same thing that we have been feeling for the past several years. What I like about this medium is that I don’t have to be apologetic. I can be overtly terrified by the potential outcomes for humanity.”

Holloway’s musical confession resonated. As musicians in the symphony and listeners echoed his sentiments, he realized many others were also scared and outraged.

“I didn’t realize how much it would mean to a lot of people,” Holloway said. “People became so invested in making music together and in the message of the music. It was incredibly validating and it’s really cool that I could provide an opportunity like that.”

Going forward, Holloway will comment on the 2020 political climate in his music and speak up as an LGBTQ+ and BLM ally.

“It’s interesting to work with issues of racial injustice because I am a straight, white man, and a lot of it is really speculative, I guess,” Holloway said. “That’s not to say that any of it isn’t genuine or trying to be something that it’s not. I don’t want to come off as though I am experiencing any kind of oppression.”

Instead, he aims to express his own “outcry against racial violence and the incompetence of our administration,” a message which he hopes will resonate with listeners like “Symphony No. 1.”

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