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Burden of Destiny (2009)
for trumpet and piano
Written for by Chris Martin (principal trumpet, Chicago Symphony). Premiered in May of 2009, at the International Trumpet Guild conference in Harrisburg, PA
In the winter of 2007, the Chicago Symphony was on a Florida tour, which included Naples, where I was living at the time. After their performance, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Martin (Principal Trumpet), where he implied that it would be nice someday to get a new piece from me. Two years later, which included my family’s move from Naples to Chicago, and after many text-messages and emails, the opportunity finally presented itself in the form of a recital to be held at the International Trumpet Guild’s (ITG) Conference, to be held in Harrisburg, PA.When considering what to write for Chris, I was looking to do something that would be a relatively serious piece, and one that would represent both of our ties to Chicago (I am originally from the area). It was during this search that I was reminded of Carl Sandburg’s poem, ‘Chicago’, and I decided to give it a read to see what might serve as inspiration.
Those of us from the city are well aware of the famous lines “Hog butcher for the World” or “City of Big Shoulders” – but it was a line describing the city, hidden later in the poem, that caught my eye: “Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs.” The idea of being burdened by something unknown, such as destiny, struck a chord with me, and inspired me to being work on the piece.The piece immediately takes on a serious nature, starting almost hauntingly slowly and simply, not yet daring to take on the impending difficulty which is sure to come at any time. The challenges do in fact arrive, and it is during these moments that I strove to portray some of Chicago’s known qualities, the working man’s city, “strong and cunning”, a “tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities.” I wanted to write a strong piece, full of action and weight, all the while showing off what I believe to be Chris Martin’s best qualities as a musician: which in a word would basically be: Everything.
I do believe the piece could also be done as a multi-media venture, using a narrator to read the poem, either before, or interspersed throughout the performance of the 9 minute work.