Simple yet soulfully bittersweet adagio for brass, suitable as a farewell or memorial. Also available for orchestra.
Brass Ensemble | Grade 4 | 4:30
Performance materials are available for purchase:
About the piece
I wrote Benediction in 2012 while at Concordia College. In practice it was to function as a closing piece for my senior composition recital, but symbolically it grew into a token of farewell to my friends in the music department, to whom I had become very close over the preceding four years. Since it followed my capstone work Tetra on the program, I decided to orchestrate it for the same large brass choir voicing.
Although musically uncomplicated, the piece seeks to convey a deeply bittersweet sense. Indeed, my goal was to find an intersection between ultimate simplicity and great emotional impact. The melody, such as it is, is little more than the rise and fall of a scale, but the harmonies and dynamics render it much more compelling listening than the basic theory would suggest. The form is straightforward as well, essentially a long ballad (AABA), with a coda of plagal cadences evoking the “amen” at the close of a hymn.
“Benediction” is a Latin-derived word for an expression of good wishes, especially as a closing prayer in a religious context. Possibly the most famous example is the Aaronic benediction from Numbers 6:24-26, which has been set numerous times for choral and liturgical use. One of these settings, by Peter C. Lutkin, was sung by the Concordia Band to close all of their domestic tour concerts. Its title (and opening line of text) is “The Lord Bless You and Keep You”. The ascending trumpet and trombone line at the very end of the piece is designed to be an instrumental rendition of this text.
Benediction was premiered on April 15th, 2012 by the Concordia Brass Choir, the composer conducting.