Click image above to zoom

Click any image above to view larger

Sorrow & Celebration (2015) (score & parts) - EH/CL/ASAX/BCL/BSN/AUDIENCE

Composer: Steinmetz, John

Publisher: TrevCo

Edition: 1813 - 68856


Sorrow & Celebration (2015)
for reed quintet & audience: English horn, clarinet, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and bassoon
by John Steinmetz (b.1951) - American composer, bassoonist, writer, satirist, speaker

Commissioned by the Akropolis Reed Quintet for their CD The Space Between Us
This piece imitates a ceremony or ritual, calling people together to mourn or rejoice. The idea is to simulate a familiar and comfortable tradition, like singing together for a birthday or seventh-ining stretch. As I began composing, the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were in the news, and the subsequent public reactions and demonstrations in Ferguson, in New York, and around the country revealed, among many emotions, an old, deep seam of grief. The sorrow in this music started there, even though it came under the influence of other griefs that afflict us individually and together. After mourning, the music changes mood, eventually becoming dance-like. I don't think this means that the grief is gone, only that life includes both sadness and joy. A Wendell Berry poem advises, "Be joyful though you have considered all the facts". And grief, in bringing people together, can cut through the illusion of separateness. That is cause for gratitude and celebration. When the pieces was nearly finished, I read about Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Miller's transformative experience while returning from the moon to earth: "I became aware that everything that exists is part of one intricately connected whole." It seems to me that one task for our time is to learn how to celebrate that wholeness and those interconnections. Making music together is one time-honored way. I am grateful to Akropolis for commissioning this piece, bringing it to life, helping to improve it, and for encouraging audience participation.
--John Steinmetz