Describe your inspiration for composing the piece.
Nearly three years ago, my family lost a wonderful person - my uncle Jonathan Herwig. He was only 55-years-old when he lost his life to cancer. While we knew that he was sick, we had absolutely no idea just how sick he was. That was because my Uncle Jon had an infectious personality, an incredibly positive outlook on life, and a fantastic sense of humor. His death came as a shock to our family... it seemed impossible to us that there was any possible outcome besides him defeating the terrible disease. I wrote Hope for Tomorrow in his memory.
What is the overall conception for the piece (for example, is it programmatic or abstract? Is there a specific formal structure, color, or musical device you employed?)
Hope for Tomorrow is based around two basic themes. The piece starts off softly with Theme A presented by the vibraphone and supported by the clarinet choir. This is followed by the full ensemble stating the same theme before the texture thins out. There is a bit of development before Theme B is stated for the first time by solo flute and horn. Throughout the course of the rest of the work, the two themes are presented in a variety of different timbres and rhythmic combinations. The climax point of the piece, marked "Exuberant," combines bits of Themes A and B in a celebratory manner. Soon after, the dynamic level dies down, and the piece ends just as it began - vibraphone playing Theme A while being supported by the clarinet choir.
What are some of the challenges you faced in writing the work?
I really struggled with choosing what direction to take after deciding to write a piece for my late uncle. I thought about writing something that dealt with the evils of cancer. I can't forget the rage that consumed me when seeing my uncle's grandchild, children, wife, siblings, and mother have to say good-bye to him far too soon. A piece dealing with that anger and devastation would have honestly come much easier to me. But after much thought, I realized that a work of that nature wouldn't have been an appropriate way to honor Uncle Jon. He was the most happy-go-lucky and positive person I had ever met. He would have thought that a dark piece would be a real bummer... Instead, I decided to write something positive and optimistic. Hope for Tomorrow is about thinking forward to a future where cancer is a thing of the past.
What do you hope your audience ultimately take away the most from hearing your work?
I hope that this piece can provide a sense of hope to the audience. To those who are fighting cancer, I hope that it provides them with the confidence to keep up the fight. To family members and friends of those diagnosed with cancer, I hope it gives them the inspiration to support their loved ones. And for those who have lost someone to this terrible disease, I hope that Hope for Tomorrow provides them with comfort in their mourning, and with hope that someday soon, no one will have to experience the same loss that they have endured.