It’s not the prettiest title, but it’s eye-catching. Our upcoming concert is now Sunday, March 1st at 8pm at Singletary Center Concert Hall on UK’s campus, performed with UK’s Symphony Band.
In addition to the all-important time update on the concert, there’s space to talk about another one of our pieces (mentioned briefly in the previous post): “Elegy” by John Barnes Chance. We’ve played his music before – you may remember “Incantation and Dance” (a personal favorite) – he’s an excellent concert band music composer. “Elegy” was commissioned by the West Genesee Senior High School Band, in memory of one of their number dying.
It was also the last piece John Barnes Chance wrote, as he also died at tragically young age, only 39. The note on “Elegy” reads that “the music symbolizes the tragedy of a life cut short, seemingly unfinished, as a portion of the original motif is left hanging while each instrument dies away.” While about a member of a high school band, it seems that these words can be applied to Chance as well, his own career cut short, seemingly unfinished.
In my mind, it feels appropriate to think of elegies in wintertime, when the trees are bare and the air is cold. It’s an easy time to feel the sadness that comes with poems and songs about bereavement and lamentation.
But elegies are not simply full of grief and sorrow. There’s room for consolation, for a remembrance of all the good things, hand in hand with the feelings of loss, for the knowledge that there will be good again, that we can feel the pain and celebrate the life. This, too, seems perfect for wintertime (such as it is in Kentucky). We have the cold, the snapping twigs, the crunchy frost, and the knowledge that spring will come, with green buds and red-chested robins.
To quote Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”: