09 April 2008

"An American Elegy"

Two Sundays from now our nation will observe the ninth anniversary of the horrific tragedy at Columbine High School. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Concordia University - Ann Arbor Wind Ensemble performed Frank Ticheli's "An American Elegy," a tribute to the victims and survivors of the Columbine tragedy. I found the piece to be a very moving and stirring one, especially as images of that sad event come flooding back into my mind. I highly recommend finding and listening to Ticheli's stirring tribute.

Here's what the concert program said:
Frank Ticheli writes: “An American Elegy is, above all, an expression of hope. It was composed in memory of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, and to honor the survivors. It is offered as a tribute to their great strength and courage in the face of a terrible tragedy. I hope the work can also serve as a reminder of how fragile and precious life is and how intimately connected we all are as human beings… The first eight bars of the main melody came to me fully formed in a dream. [CU-AA Conductor Matthew Wolf said that this is the only time Ticheli says anything came to him in a dream.] Virtually every element of the work was discovered within the span of about two weeks… The work begins at the bottom of the ensemble’s register, and ascends gradually to a heartfelt cry of hope. The main theme that follows, stated by the horns, reveals a more lyrical serene side of the piece. A second theme, based on a simple, repeated harmonic pattern, suggests yet another, more poignant mood. The three moods: hope, serenity, and sadness—become intertwined throughout the work… A four-part canon builds to a climactic quotation of the Columbine Alma Mater. The music recedes, and an offstage trumpeter is heard, suggesting a celestial voice—a heavenly message.”

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