Robinson McClellan ~ composer


for orchestra

2(picc)222/4221/timp.vib.glock(opt bd)/opt pf/str
Duration ca. 7:30

— Premiere: 2006 Yale Philharmonia (Shinik Hahm, director)
— Read by the Forth Worth Symphony in 2008 (Miguel Harth-Bedoya, director)
— Third performance April 2012, Knox-Galesburg Symphony (Bruce Polay, director)

About the piece

Gone Today is a response to several deaths that came close to me in 2005, of many kinds: death in my family, deaths of friends; people very old, very young and in between, in good health and bad; deaths that were long expected and those that came from nowhere. As it is, I spend a lot of my time thinking about death — it serves as a kind of meditation for me. All of these deaths made it feel even closer. Today, those that died are gone. And today, death is so unthinkably close to you and me that we are also, in a very tangible sense, already gone. 

I had an image in my mind as I wrote the piece: vast beings step through our human-sized world with vast feet. They are not ill-meaning, but the physical scale they inhabit is too large for them to concern themselves with us, or even to notice us. If we do not watch carefully for their movements, we might be crushed. This image informs the musical material itself in a general way. Three overlapping sequences, mainly heard in the strings, determine the harmonic structure. Each sequence begins at a different time, on a different pitch, and the notes change at a different rate. When each sequence has arrived back at its starting place, it begins again.

The sequences proceed according to their own logic, indifferent to any incidental frictions or odd concords in the resulting harmonies between them. Among and around these steadily marching progressions, a delicate piano/harp figure alternates with a free oboe melody of long, soaring notes, aided by the horn, flutes, violins, and finally the trumpets.

The piece begins in the depths, and at the end it rises higher and higher until it disappears–as if the music has simply left the audible range, though it may continue indefinitely beyond our hearing. 


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