GRACE (2013)

for trombone and piano

In March 2013 William Connell contacted me about writing him a work 

for his graduate recital at the New England Conservatory. 

 

April 15, 2013 was the date of the Boston Marathon bombing. Just weeks into 

the writing process, and, like most Americans, affected on an emotional level by 

what had happened, I found the new piece taking on an increasingly elegiac 

quality. It became clear this music was going to be a kind of personal 

commemoration of a tragic event. 

 

I have never visited Boston. However, in the days after the marathon bombing 

one poem about that city was frequently quoted by the media, E.B. White’s 

Boston Is Like No Other Place In The World, Only More So. Particularly this stanza: 

 

For Boston’s not a capital, 

And Boston’s not a place; 

Rather I think that Boston is 

A sort of state of grace. 

 

In the final line I found the title of the piece. And the meaning of that word, 

with its connotations of redemption, seems to outline the emotional territory 

of the piece: despair, through anger, to acceptance. 

 

On the technical side, this seven-minute journey begins centered in A minor. 

After an excursion to B major it eventually returns to the opening key, 

juxtaposing themes and ideas from the previous two sections 

before concluding with the piece’s only A major chord.

 

Premiered by William Connell at the New England Conservatory on April 20, 2014.

Scott Hartman, Trombone

Avis Romm, Piano