Written as a tribute to a young band student who lost his life in a car accident, The Song Shall Never End alludes to some of the stages of grief, particularly depression and anger, but it mostly celebrates a human spirit that will live on forever after touching the lives of so many people.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 4 | Duration: 7:10
B-flat Clarinet 1
B-flat Clarinet 2
B-flat Clarinet 3
Alto Saxophone 1/2
B-flat Trumpet 1
B-flat Trumpet 2
B-flat Trumpet 3
F Horn 1/2
F Horn 3/4
Timpani (4 drums)
Percussion 1 (bells)
Percussion 2 (vibraphone, chimes, crash cymbals)
Percussion 3 (4-oct marimba, bass drum, hi-hat)
Percussion 4 (suspended cymbal, brake drum, tam-tam)
Percussion 5 (wind chimes, 4 concert toms)
The Song Shall Never End was commissioned by the Viewmont High School Band, Dan Chaston, director, in Bountiful, Utah. On March 27, 2012, the band lost one of its members, Andrew Jeffrey Tolman, when a car struck him as he was walking his bicycle in a crosswalk. Andrew was a trumpet player in the band and loved to play the piano. This piece serves as a tribute to this wonderful young man whose death devastated his family, friends and community. Moreover, it celebrates his life and affirms that Andrew’s “song” will never end in the hearts of all who knew him.
The overall musical intention of this work was to somehow help the members of the Viewmont High School Band, Andrew’s family, and friends deal with this tragedy in a way that transcends words. The music alludes to some of the stages of grief, particularly depression and anger, but it mostly celebrates a human spirit that will live on forever after touching the lives of so many people.
The work begins with a scene of reflection and hope with the sounds of metallic percussion and piano over an underlying Eb major-seventh chord. This segues into a melody, sweetly sung by solo trumpet. This is “Andrew’s Song” and serves as the unifying thread running through the entire work. It is joined by the flutes and clarinet and rises to its pinnacle as more instruments join the refrain. A short interlude follows, alluding to some regret, and leads to solo piano playing a reprise of the song. Deeper feelings of regret and depression follow when the song is morphed into a more somber character and builds to an emphatic grieving plea and then subsides into a quiet benediction.
A timpani roll leads to an impending intense, agitated, and dark section, suggesting anger. Clanging hits by the brake drum and persistent articulations by the bass drum and tom-toms contribute to the overall mood of the section along with the darkness of Ab and Eb minor tonalities. Two interjections of the “song” motive are heard but are overshadowed by the intense rhythmic drive of the dark lines and percussive sounds. The section gathers more intensity and rises to a triumphant statement of the first two measures of the song, first in F major and then followed sequentially in the chromatic mediant key of D major. This is the ultimate moment of the piece in which overall joy of the human spirit reigns over the darkness of death. The moment settles into calmness through B major and then residing in Eb major where the work began. A flute solo sings “Andrew’s song” and is joined by trumpet. A prayerful benediction ensues with players softly singing the first two measures of the song followed by a chord progression (fm-Cb-Fb-Eb) suggesting an ascent into heaven. The work ends with the backdrop of bells and piano (as in the beginning) with the first three notes of the song played by the solo trumpet, reminding us that the spirit is eternal.