Embers is a little difficult to put into words because it’s partly about my dad’s mental health, which has slowly been fading, and the grace that my mom has carried herself with even as her 29-year marriage also fades. My dad’s condition didn’t diminish overnight; unfortunately, it’s been much more insidious than that, taking nearly ten years for anyone in our family to recognize (or admit) that something in him seems significantly different.
I don’t want to share too much information here, because these issues are both incredibly personal and particularly complex, but I do want to say that it has been kind of interesting (for lack of a better word) to watch my mom and myself try to figure out the best way to try and help my dad. (I think it’s important to note that he still doesn’t recognize that his behaviors have changed, which makes professional diagnosis a challenge when therapy and counseling are generally only voluntary.)
And so we’ve loved and supported him as best we can, but I’ve recently realized that after all this time, my mom and I have spent a lot of time waiting — waiting in sort of a hopelessly romantic way. We share the thought that maybe someday my dad will have a moment of self-realization where he says to himself, “you know, something doesn’t feel quite right. Maybe I should get myself checked out.”
But unfortunately, it’s not usually that easy. My mom seems to keep saying, “we’ll see what tomorrow brings,” but waiting for new symptoms to arise in order to seek any kind of medical or psychological treatment feels a bit like purgatory. So now I figure that if I don’t know how to help my dad, if I’m stuck somewhere between simply loving him and strong-arming him into counseling, maybe I can at least attempt to help myself and help my mom make some emotional sense of our situation by taking all these complicated feelings and expressing them in a piece of music.
The commission of this work was made possible by the Mizzou New Music Initiative, the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation, the Eta Upsilon Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, and the Zeta Omega chapter of Tau Beta Sigma.
Premiered by the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble
Dr. Brad Snow, Director of Bands
Dr. Brian Silvey, Associate Director of Bands
Dr. Fuller Lyon, Assistant Director of Bands
Markowski Creative (ASCAP)
Winds: Flute 1 & 2 (one player doubling Piccolo), Oboe, Bassoon 1 & 2, B-flat Clarinet 1-3, B-flat Bass Clarinet 1 & 2, B-flat Contrabass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone 1 & 2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone
Brass: B-flat Trumpet 1-3, Horn 1-4, Trombone 1-3, Euphonium, Tuba
Strings: String Bass, Cello (optional)
Keyboards: Piano, Celesta
Percussion: P1) Crotales (two octaves); P2) Glockenspiel; P3) Vibraphone; P4) Marimba, Suspended Sizzle Cymbal, Patio Wind Chimes; P5) Small Triangle, Suspended Splash Cymbal, Suspended Cymbal; P6) Sleigh Bells, Suspended Cymbal, Mark Tree, Tam-Tam; P7) Bass Drum
No known errata.