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What Lies Above

(Or Down Below) (2014)

for brass ensemble and percussion

When I was approached by John Almeida about writing a piece for Horns & Pipes, a professional brass & percussion ensemble that meets only three times a year, I began thinking of what the piece would be about. Knowing that the concert would be performed at St. Luke’s Cathedral in downtown Orlando, my mind immediately referred me to a song entitled “St. Peter’s Cathedral” by an alternative rock band named Death Cab for Cutie. The stanza of the song from which the title is derived is:


“When the candle in the tunnel,

is flickering in sputters and fading faster

it’s only then that you will know what lies above or down below.

Or if these fictions only prove how much you’ve really got to lose.”


WHAT LIES ABOVE (OR DOWN BELOW) is a question of what, if anything, comes after life ends. The title lends itself very nicely to a piece of music - most of the melodies are built from the of idea shifting above and/ or below, and the harmonic progressions tend to have a falling or rising characteristic too. The work contemplates the possibilities of what comes after we die. There are very dark moments that suggest nothing happens, or even Hell. But my overall belief and the overall shape of the piece is hope. A hopefulness that something does come next, even though we will never really know.

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