John B Hedges

composer & musician

Nightcrawler (2013) for concert band

Duration: 4'30''

Difficulty: Grade 4

Program Notes:

The older I get the more interested I am in the things that fascinated me as a kid.  Among those things were comics.  Particularly Marvel comics.  Particularly Marvel’s Uncanny X-men of the early 80’s.  And my favorite X-man was Kurt Wagner, better known as Nightcrawler.

Like so many X-men, Nightcrawler had depth and complexity and was a victim of the persecution that was so central to the civil-rights-era story of these ‘mutants’.   But Nightcrawler’s social issues were a little more severe than most.  Besides being a mutant, he looked like a blue version of the devil, complete with tail.  His persecution took on a whole level and was his youth was spent being chased by mobs throughout Germany for being a demon.  Ironically, Nightcrawler was himself one of the most overtly religious Marvel characters of the time.  As a superhero, he was agile, quick, and could teleport with a ‘BAMF’ and a whiff of sulfur.  And unlike his darker compatriot, Wolverine, his damaging past did not render him angry and jaded but he was instead joyful, a prankster and a devoted friend.  We should all be so superhuman.  Nightcrawler was not just fun to read but was a  good role model for a middle school kid looking for heroes.

This piece a short tribute to one of my childhood heroes and the central idea in the work is the conflict between Nightcrawler’s joyful, kinetic spirit and the prejudice and anger that seemed to follow him wherever he went.  Nightcrawler was written for the extraordinary young musicians of the Aledo Middle School Band from Aledo, TX, who are the same age now that I was when Kurt Wagner’s story first inspired me.

For a recording of the live premiere of this piece click here.

Downloadable PDFs of parts will be coming soon.  For more information contact