When I work with Jean, I have two spots I like to sit: either on the couch behind him so ...
If you could arrange that you and your spouse die together at the same time, would you like that to happen?
I’m not talking about some murder-suicide thing. Either die naturally or even in an accident. I often think about this. I have been with my life partner since we were kids and I just can’t picture not having her in my life. So I think the answer to the above question has to be “yes” for me.
I guess this is what caught my attention when I read an article online about 4 years ago about a couple married 72 years who died holding hands. It’s a well told story that’s beautiful and heart-wrenching all at the same time. I bookmarked it and vowed that if the right musical project come along, I would set that story to music.
Fast forward to a couple of years later and I get an email from my friend, clarinetist, Michael Westwood. Mike secured a gig with the Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra as a soloist. Would I like to compose a new clarinet concerto?…hell ya, I said!
I right away went back to that article I bookmarked. Gordon and Norma’s story never left me and I thought that a concerto would be the perfect way to tell their story. The clarinet has such a beautiful bright and melancholy high tone that soars across the rich strings and winds in the orchestra.
So I started working on it in the fall, and I worked and worked well into the winter and finally completed 3 movements and 20 minutes of music in March. Despite the many hours of focus, I’m so proud of the sound that I hear from the MIDI demo evoking the beauty of their story. Even though I never met Gordon and Norma and they come from a world far away from mine, I can hear them resonating in the music. I wonder what their family would think? Would they hear it too?
Now we’re just days away from the debut by Mike and the GTPO this Saturday night, May 9. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Do the musicians and the conductor hear and see Gordon and Norma in the music? If they do, then we have the best chance of the audience hearing it and feeling it as well.
And what about Gordon and Norma? What attracts us to their story? I guess we look to stories for something we wish for in our own lives. Lisa and I will both be 95 when we celebrate our 72nd wedding anniversary… I’ll be content holding her hand then as we fade away together.