Wind EnsembleReally Hard7:45


“…difficult to put into words…”

Listen to Embers

Performed by the University of Missouri Wind Ensemble
Conductor Dr. Brad Snow

View Sample Score


Program Note

By Michael Markowski

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.

Commissioned By

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


Embers premiered on May 4, 2015 at the University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri) performed by the University Wind Ensemble conducted by Brad Snow.

View program here.


Markowski Creative (ASCAP)


Flute 1 & 2 (one player doubling Piccolo)
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

B-flat Trumpet 1-3
Horn 1-4
Trombone 1-3

String Bass
Cello (optional)

Percussion 1: Crotales (two octaves)
Percussion 2: Glockenspiel
Percussion 3: Vibraphone
Percussion 4: Marimba, Suspended Sizzle Cymbal, Patio Wind Chimes
Percussion 5: Small Triangle, Suspended Splash Cymbal, Suspended Cymbal
Percussion 6: Sleigh Bells, Suspended Cymbal, Mark Tree, Tam-Tam
Percussion 7: Bass Drum


No known errata.

Year Completed


Weight N/A
Dimensions N/A


Wind Ensemble