Adagio for Trumpet & Strings
Arsis Press & MMC CD, 6 minutes
The composer writes: "Adagio for Trumpet and Strings (1990) was written to accompany the final scene of The Shadow Box, a play by Michael Cristofer that explores the stages, defined and popularized by E. Kubler Ross, that every human being is said to experience when confronting the reality of his own death. The scene, itself a theatrical coda, forms a summation of the five stages: denial, anger, guilt, bargaining, and acceptance. The music is intended to represent not the individual stages but rather the ongoing rhythm of life, the persistent breathing of nature over which we have no control. The more completely we comprehend the finiteness of our days on earth, the more profound is our appreciation of the life we know. From the dark soil of pain, there blossoms joy."
The piece begins with a short introduction which, with an upward sweep to a B major chord, captures the agitation of lives in crisis. The music soon fractures and settles into a moment of quiet. The body of the Adagio is a passacaglia, with an ostinato that moves downward by a whole tone on each repeat and as it is passed from one instrument to another. The trumpet stays apart from the ostinato, and in the end is free to wander.
The Adagio was premiered at the 1990 production of The Shadow Box by the Little Theater of Alexandria (Virginia), and was produced by Marty and Ricki Kushner and directed by Lucian Zabramny. The piece was taped for the performance with the introduction heard at the beginning of the play.
The piece may be performed either with trumpet and string trio or trumpet and string orchestra. The trio version was premiered in concert by the Contemporary Music Forum at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. in October, 2004. The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vit Micka and with Vaclav Bazant, trumpet, performed the orchestral version for the MMC recording.