Subtitle: Tone Poem for Solo Trumpet and Wind Ensemble
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
B-flat Bass 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:
- Bass Drum
- Crash Cymbals
- Egg Shaker
- Orchestra Chimes
None discovered thus far.
In 2017 I was made aware of the passing of a long-time member of the trumpet section in the Elkhart [Indiana] Municipal Band (EMB). Joyce Gerber had been a member of the band for more than 50 years. She had served in many roles outside of also performing as a member of the trumpet section. With her passing came a tremendous loss not only to the band, but to the entire community of northern Indiana. Upon hearing of her passing, I began to discuss with EMB's director a commission in her memory.
"Lamentation" is defined as the passionate expression of grief or sorrow, an expression of lament. During the beginning phases of composition, I always turn to God to lead me toward what needs to be said with the music. After months of thinking and praying, I was led to the idea that we all must go through a process when we lose someone close to us. Psychologists David Kessler and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross have a well-documented progression of the “Five Stages of Grief.” I feel God led me to these to provide the friends and family of Joyce the opportunity to “hear” these stages that they have inevitably traveled through upon their loss.
The stages of grief as defined by Kessler and Kübler-Ross are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
Denial helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this?" Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, maybe a person who didn’t attend the funeral, maybe a person who isn’t around, maybe a person who is different now that your loved one has died. Suddenly you have a structure -- your anger toward them. The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing. We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.
Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God,” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others? Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream.” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what it was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening ... if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if only” causes us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone. Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether the situation you’re in is depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
In the beginning of the work we are presented with the Denial of loss. The first melody is based on Joyce’s last name ... GERBER. In G-Minor this give us the pitches G-Eb-C(re in Gmin)-Bb-Eb-C(re). This initial theme is heard throughout the solo part and the band in various permutations.
Next, we arrive at Anger. The percussion joins us for a bombastic moment before the soloist comes in to present a new theme. This time we find ourselves in G minor pentatonic. Throughout the Anger section we find that the soloist and accompaniment only utilize the pitches found in the G minor pentatonic scale (G, A, C, D, F). This creates a tremendous feeling of unrest. The theme is found in the ensemble after the initial statement, but this time harmonized in perfect 5ths and 4ths throughout.
Following Anger is Bargaining. In this section, we find the solo “talking” back and forth between the ensemble to convince God to please allow this all to be a dream. This begins after the harmonized Anger section and continues through the first short cadenza sections.
Depression is reached at the end of the cadenza as we hear the initial theme re-stated. The move from Bargaining to Depression can be heard as we hear the first statement of the Bach Chorale #54, Das Neugeborne Kindelein. We hear the soloist continue to try to bargain with God due to their loss, while the chorale is stated. The chorale represents the entry of Depression. This Depression leads us into the long cadenza section where the soloist spends time re-visiting each of the previous emotions and their associated themes while they struggle to find acceptance.
Finally, we arrive at the closing section where the full ensemble re-states the Bach Chorale, although this time the third phase is weighted with a G diminished chord (G, Bb, Db) to create the strife felt as we traverse the final stage (depression) of grief.
We then arrive at the end of the work with the final screams from the soloist as the ensemble and solo part rise to their height in the final statement of the ending phrase of Das Neugeborne Kindelein. We find that acceptance is finally attained in the final chord utilizing a Picardy third to create a G-Major chord, representing our acceptance of the loss.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.
- Psalms 23:1-4
- Program Note by composer
None discovered thus far.
- Audio: Reference recording. Frostburg (Md.) State University Wind Ensemble (Shannon Shaker, conductor; Deborah Caldwell, trumpet)
None discovered thus far.
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Frostburg (Md.) State University Wind Ensemble (Shannon Shaker, conductor; Deborah Caldwell, trumpet) – 11 May 2019
- Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, N.C.) Wind Ensemble (C. Kevin Bowen, trumpet) – 29 April 2019
- Elkhart (Ind.) Municipal Band (Stephen Allen, conductor; Dennis Wakeman, trumpet) - 17 February 2019
- Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Concert Band (Bruce Moss, conductor; Charles Saenz, trumpet) – 29 November 2018 *Premiere Performance*
Works for Winds by this Composer
- Die Helden
- Chant, Songs and Celebration (2019)
- Fanfare for World Peace (2017)
- Fanfares, Flourishes, Chorale, and Jubilee (2019)
- Feuilles-Oh! (2018)
- Heroes from the Sea (2017)
- Lamentations (2018/2019)
- Scenes from the Blue Ridge (2019)
- Symphony No. 1 (2018)
- Onsby Rose, personal correspondence, November 2018
- Rose website Accessed 9 November 2018