Memorial: To JBC — NOW Ensemble

NOW Ensemble

NOW Ensemble

This piece, commissioned by Logan Coale and the NOW Ensemble, is dedicated to the memory of one of the most important teachers and people in my childhood, Jeffrey Cumpston. Memorial is an attempt to honor Jeff’s influence in my life by creating a piece that I thought he would have liked. Jeff had the rare ability to listen to his students to understand their lives, but also listen to the potential that each of us had and to push us to achieve it.

All music requires listening, but this piece is written so that all the musicians must listen to each other in order to perform it. The music is written in “spatial” notation where each note is played in time based on its position on the page in relation to all the others, not with traditional meter. All the musicians read from a score with all the parts, and so they must always be listening to their ensemble partners to know when to play their parts. Like in a living ecosystem, everyone must lead and react to their neighbors while working towards a common goal. It is a reflective tribute to a musician, father, and teacher who cared enough to really listen.

I wrote a bit about this piece, and my experience since my undergraduate work at Lawrence University on the Lawrence Composition Blog.