Parting Memory

Parting Memory is a piece for Violin, Trumpet, 2 Percussion, Electronics, and Trimpin Organ that was written for the 2015 Seattle Symphony Young Composers Workshop. In this workshop, the composers worked with sound artist Trimpin and wrote pieces that included his installation in the Grand Lobby of Benaroya Hall- a midi-controlled reed organ with its pipes attached to each column in the Lobby. The installation also included midi-controlled chimes. For future performances of this work, the Trimpin organ can be substituted with any harmonium or organ, or an electronic keyboard set to an organ sound, and the Trimpin chimes can be substituted by another set of chimes played by another percussionist.

This piece is about two of my friends: Ivy Macduff, who plays Violin, and Yola Stehling, who plays Trumpet. In 2013, Yola and her family had to go back to Germany, where she was initially from, because of her father’s work. This piece is about us saying goodbye, hence the title. It is simultaneously a memory of parting, and a memory that is in itself parting. In this piece I explored using musicians as “actors”- they play the part of characters, in this case me and my friends, and “speak” using their instruments. The piece opens with a long melody played in the violin and marimba and sung by the trumpet player. Then the four musicians interact and “talk” to each other as the melody is developed and passed from one instrument to another in a generally happy, carefree environment. Then there is a woodblock that intrudes, and the conversation dissipates, replaced by a mournful muted trumpet solo- the realization that the trumpet has to leave. Then there is a passionate outburst as the main theme from the beginning is played in the Trimpin organ and timpani, which is cut off by the chimes. Then comes the actual farewell- the violin and the trumpet play a lullaby, answering each other’s phrases. As this happens, the trumpet player slowly backs offstage. As they get farther and farther apart, the lullaby phrases get more an more passionate, until after a huge outburst, the trumpet player disappears offstage. Then the violin has an episode of angry grief accompanied by the percussion section, but this quickly subsides. The violin line becomes more and more ethereal, accompanied by bowed vibraphone and then crystal glasses, as well as bird calls in the electronics. However, just as the music appears to disappear, the trumpet player plays from far offstage, accompanied by ghostly electronics. The melody played by the trumpet is a distorted, minor-key version of the opening melody, suggesting that the distant memory of the opening is forever transformed, and will never return in its original form. Eventually the violin joins the trumpet, and the piece fades out regretfully.

Specific instrumentation details are on the second page of the score.

Score (pdf): Parting Memory transposed score

The piece was performed by Seattle Symphony musicians and thus that recording copyright by the Seattle Symphony, but they graciously allowed me to upload an excerpt here:

(Performers: Brittany Boulding, violin; Tony DiLorenzo, trumpet; Matt Kocmieroski, percussion; Rob Tucker, percussion)

A full recording by musicians at the Marrowstone Music Festival 2017 (Timothy Buck, violin; Olivia Pidi, trumpet; Aidan Gold, percussion; Evan Berge, percussion; Gordon Robbe, percussion; Gunnar Folsom, electronics):

For additional information, questions, electronics sound files or parts requests, contact Aidan at aidangol@usc.edu.