Elegy for Our Children
Cynthia Van Maanen (orch. by composer and J. Stern)
Duration: c. 9:50
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Original Medium: String quartet
Publisher: ADJ-ective New Music
Cost: Score and Parts - $1r45.00
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass Clarinet
B-flat Contrabass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II
Percussion I-II-III-IV, including:
- Log Drums
- Marimba (2)
- Suspended Cymbal
None discovered thus far.
I have long observed that in the classical music world, composers seek to do something new -- something groundbreaking -- in their art. This is extremely important! For me as an artist, however, this concept alone was not satisfying. In my artistic journey I have learned that what always felt right for me was communicating an emotion. I believe that by composing music which helps others in some emotional way -- to feel joy, to express pain, to explore anger or frustration, to celebrate happiness -- I am able to reach my best potential as an artist and as a human being. This type of expression is the most fulfilling to me because of the communication and connection with other people.
Elegy for Our Children began as the second movement of a string quartet I composed while I was working on my doctorate. I knew I wanted to expand it to a string orchestral piece someday but the timing wasn't right until now (2018). I also knew what emotions it expressed ... and that it wasn’t tied to a story, just feelings. For me, this music has always elicited a yearning for something better ... a desire to move from a place of sadness or loss to one of hope.
When Jherrad Hardeman asked me to provide a string orchestra piece for the Detroit Chamber Orchestra, I immediately thought of this second movement and knew the time was right to expand what had been a four-minute work into this fuller, more realized version of the ideas I had years ago. As I began to rework the material my focus was still on these emotions I have described.
Then the school shooting on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School happened. I was working on this piece when the news came over my computer. I watched, as we all did, for days as the students began voicing their thoughts and acting with more authority than we had seen in our country. The convergence of this incident happening at just the time I was working on a piece specifically about the same emotions I was experiencing made me realize that, while my music did not start with a story, it did represent how I felt during those days, watching our youth. The despair and sadness that was yearning for something better ... for some solution ... any solution ... turned into a feeling of pride in these students who were taking action in the best ways that they could. I feel more hope now because of both those students and also the students where I teach.
At my own school, Interlochen Arts Academy, we had a thoughtful, beautiful day of joining our students in a walkout for 17 minutes to honor the victims. We followed it with a meeting of all students, faculty, and staff that discussed the history of guns in this country and how we came to the place where we are so divided in our opinions. We used it as an opportunity to listen to how our students were feeling, to learn about our shared history, and to gain a small understanding of both sides of this issue, as well as discuss what actions we could take to solve these tragedies before they happen in our small area of Michigan.
I hope Elegy for Our Children is music that will communicate all these emotions and inspire hope in you.
Thank you to Jherrard Hardeman for reaching out to me about the string orchestra piece. Thank you also to Caroline Beatty [Texas State University Wind Symphony] for seeing the potential as a transcription for band, and to Jordan Stern for his help with the transcription.
- Program Note by composer
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Texas State University (San Marcos) Wind Ensemble (Caroline Beatty, conductor) – 22 February 2019 (CBDNA 2019 National Conference, Tempe, Ariz.)
- Texas State University (San Marcos) Wind Symphony (Caroline Beatty, conductor) - 15 February 2019 (2019 TMEA Conference, San Antonio) *Premiere Performance*
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Elegy for Our Children (orch. Maanen and Stern) (2018)
- Cynthia Van Maanen, personal correspondence, January 2019
- Cynthia Van Maanen website Accessed 3 April 2021
- "Dr. Cynthia Van Meenen." Interlochen Center for the Arts. Web. Accessed 6 January 2019
- The Horizon Leans Forward…, compiled and edited by Erik Kar Jun Leung, GIA Publications, 2021, p. 505.