Below are the original notes that accompanied Elegism, which was one of my earliest substantive pieces of music. My close childhood friend’s father died suddenly and left our whole community in shock, and with so much grief. As an 18 year old, just beginning to understand how my thoughts translated into musical form, I can see now how the overwhelm of losing a person I had revered so deeply finally pushed me through the door into a much deeper and more raw form of musical expression.
Here are the original notes, written as an 18 year old in 2001:
“When my close friend’s father, actor David Dukes died suddenly at the age of 55 on October 9, 2000, the pain of his premature death stayed with me long after the funeral had ended. This work, for unaccompanied cello, is the tangible product of a series of writings, emotional outbreaks and musical sketches I began to compile to begin to come to terms with what had happened. It is an “elegism” — an elegiac gesture that frames the pure and plaintive elegy with the many other more disturbing feelings that make up loss.
While not programmatic, the piece explores both dense and biting sensations of moments throughout the entire grieving process, from the initial cry of disbelief to having to pick up life and begin to feign normality once again. In the final notes of the piece, the music reflects the mindset of the bereaved sitting among the belongings of the deceased, and picking them up nervously, not quite knowing what to feel.
To David, Carol and Annie: I will always consider it an honor to be part of your lives and to have known David for the time he was with us. He was a true inspiration.”
This piece was premiered by Michael Nicholas on October 29, 2001 at Paul Recital Hall at Juilliard.