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Remember Forward (2010)
for trumpet and piano
Commissioned by Bob Sullivan in loving memory of his wife, Robin Sullivan. Premiered at a fund raising event for the Sarcoma Cancer Foundation in NY, NY, 2010
It is, of course, impossible to express through music, the emotions that individuals are faced with when dealing with the loss of a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a sister. So many questions beg to be answered: Why? Why at this time? to this person? in this way? Music can only go so far as to suggest certain emotions through the various choices of melodies, harmonies, rhythms and textures. Each listener is responsible for channeling and categorizing the music and applying an emotion to it.
And so when Bob Sullivan contacted me to take part in this important event – supporting the search for a cure for sarcoma – I was very honored to accept the invitation, but at the same time anxious about the process:
How could I come up with notes on a page that would even come close to the magnitude of dealing with the loss of a human life – in this case Robin’s?
The answer for me came in the form of a question.
Remember Forward is, in essence, a musical question. There are at times harmonies unanswered; melodies unfinished; rhythmic ambiguity, and times of hope mixed with despair. And just as with Robin’s life, and with so many others, the piece is cut short, leaving many questions unanswered.
The title is out of respect for what Bob is doing in response to his own personal tragedy: choosing to live on, using his talents to honor the memory of Robin while at the same time helping to support the search for a cure for sarcoma, so that others in the future might be spared the pain he and his family have suffered.
Coincidentally, only after I finished writing the piece did I discover that two of Robin’s favorite composers were Copland and Bernstein – the same two that this piece intentionally draws upon at several instances.
I am very grateful to Bob for trusting me to be a part of this special concert, in what became a personal journey of my own, in seeking answers to life’s unanswerable questions.
Jim Stephenson January 14, 2010