In its original version, RE|Member is a wildly colorful overture for orchestra, sandwiched between two plaintive solos for oboe. In the opening solo, a recorded oboist on a screen plays alone in her living room, and at the end of the overture, the onscreen oboist returns to play a duet — with the real oboist, live in person, in the hall. This piece opened the 2021-22 Seattle Symphony season with oboist Mary Lynch – it was the first piece performed at Benaroya Hall after eighteen months of shutdown.
When I saw the piece live, I knew that I had to make a version of the work that focused on the two oboes — there are times when the oboes are almost playing as one instrument, and other times where they feel like a huge ensemble, as they cascade over one another in huge waves of sound.
The original version of this work (for orchestra) was premiered in September 2021 by Seattle Symphony and oboist Mary Lynch VanderKolk. This version was premiered by Mary Lynch VanderKolk and Lexi Doremus-Wessels at the University of Washington on December 16, 2022.
The surprise of the evening, for this listener at least, was the Esmail piece: evocative, imaginative and surprisingly powerful, it featured a large screen above the stage, and a film of principal oboist Mary Lynch playing a wistful and evocative solo. The orchestral music rises to a big statement and trumpet motif, then fluttering downward passages for the winds — and then Lynch herself rises from her seat in the orchestra to play a duet with her filmed self. It’s beautiful, moving music. — Seattle Times