into air, into thin air
1 Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Bassoons, 1 Contrabassoon, 4 Bb Clarinets, 1 Bass Clarinet, 2 Alto Saxes., 1 Tenor Sax., 1 Baritone Sax., 4 Trumpets, 4 Horns, 2 Tenor Trombones, 1 Bass Trombone, 1 Euphonium, 1 Tuba, 1 Piano, 1 String Bass, 5 Percussion, Electronics (Live or Recorded Playback)
I. a hole in the world
II. clouds of melancholia
III. of unspeakable love
"Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air...
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep."
– William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
Loss is an inevitable and integral part of being human. Whether grandparents, parents, siblings, children, or friends, we all experience it. It is an ordeal unique to each of us, and yet it is a uniting facet of life. Despite our differences in backgrounds, beliefs, identities, and cultures, we all will or have dealt with loss.
The purpose of into air, into thin air is to bring the audience together, even for a moment, beyond a typical concert environment. It starts with an exploration of the anger that often initially accompanies loss, especially sudden loss. The second movement weaves a tapestry of colors above which the names of loved ones are set. These names could have been said by you, the person next to you, or someone else nearby in the theatre. Perhaps a name reminds you of someone special that you miss. It becomes personal and intimate, and yet also a means of uniting the audience in a shared moment while we each contemplate our loved ones. The third movement begins humbly and builds to majestic finish as we reflect on how we have persevered while holding onto their memories.
This piece is quite personal to me, too. When initially conceiving of this work, I had recently lost my two remaining grandparents. To honor them, I have interspersed two significant elements into the piece: the hymn tune “How Great Thou Art” (which was played at my grandmother’s funeral) and cardinal birdsongs (my grandfather could imitate their call, and the birds would sing back to him).
This work was commissioned by a consortium organized by Timothy Shade and includes:
Wichita State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Timothy Shade, conductor)
Arizona State University Wind Ensemble (Jason Caslor, conductor)
Arkansas State University Wind Ensemble (Timothy Oliver, conductor)
Case Western Reserve University Symphonic Winds (Ryan Scherber, conductor)
University of Tennessee at Martin Wind Ensemble (John Oelrich, conductor)
I would like to extend a special thanks to the following individuals for lending their voices and providing names for the rehearsal/pre-recorded option:
Kyle Allman, Jaden Berry, Kennedy Brookfield, Tori Brownhill, Corrine Carey, Matthew Carey, Tyler Chamberlain, Savannah Cormier, Patrick Fowler, Trey Goff, Jane Jamison, Emily Jenkins, Joseph Jenkins, Sandy Jenkins, Brody King, Parker Long, Katie Montecucco, Rose Riley, Rike Robinson, Clint Steward, Ryan Sullivan, Clyde Trapp, JoAnn Trapp, Patti Trapp, and Drew Walker.
Additional thanks to Dr. Than Boves, Professor of Ecology at Arkansas State University, for his assistance with the Northern Cardinal birdsong.