Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (1994)
Commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra.
Premiered May 15, 1994. Severance Hall, Cleveland, OH.
Additional performances by the Portland Youth Philharmonic, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony, the Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestra, the Lubbock Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Etowah Youth Symphony, the North Idaho Youth Symphony and College Symphony Orchestras, the Mansfield Symphony, and others.
This work, composed when I was 19, is based on a few short motives that are transformed rhythmically and texturally throughout the piece. My intention with "Do Not Go Gentle" was to write a piece that would be challenging for young musicians to play - it's rather difficult in some sections - without presenting seemingly impossible technical demands. The piece takes its title from the Dylan Thomas poem of the same name, although my work has no direct programmatic connection to the Thomas poem. In fact, I decided on the title after the piece was complete. One of my teachers, John Corigliano, argued that I should change the title, given that Thomas's poem is so well known.
Following the premiere performance, an older woman approached me. Inspired, and perhaps a bit frightened by the great dynamic contrasts in "Do Not Go Gentle," she suggested that I call the piece "And the Walls Came Tumblin' Down!" Although her suggestion is quite fitting, the piece has since developed an identity of its own with its current title, and I think it's best to leave well enough alone.