for Orchestra
Commissioned by the Pacific Symphony
Premiere: Pacific Symphony/ Carl St.Clair, conductor – May 2004
Duration: 14 minutes
3(picc).3(E-flat and bass cl).3.3(cbsn) – – timp; 3 perc; pno/cel; harp – st

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Still was commissioned by and is dedicated to Carl St. Claire and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra. This work deals with the subject of facing one’s mortality and the spiritual beliefs that both challenge and comfort. The word “still” suggests at the same time something that is everlasting and something relatively motionless or at peace. In many ways this word suggests to me the death of the body and the subsequent life of the human soul in God’s love; only through stillness can we truly perceive the eternal world around us. There is a beautiful passage in the Bible (Job) that relates to these thoughts. This passage served as both a programmatic reference as well as an inspirational guide in the creation of Still.

Job 26:6-14
Death is naked before God;
Destruction lies uncovered.
He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;
He suspends the earth over nothing.
He wraps up the waters in his clouds,
Yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.
He covers the face of the full moon,
Spreading His clouds over it.
He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters
For a boundary between light and darkness.
The pillars of the heavens quake,
Aghast at his rebuke.
By his power he churned up the sea:
By his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
By his breath the skies became fair;
By his wisdom he cut Rahab to pieces.
By his breath the skies became fair;
His hand pierced the gliding serpent.
And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
How faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?

In this passage, it is the sharp contrast in going from the “quaking pillars of heaven” to the “faint whispers” that creates such an awe inspiring sense of “stillness” in the last two lines. Likewise, Still approaches the evocation of this poignant atmosphere through the juxtaposition of a thunderous build-up and the final section, which consists of cascading, downward “sigh” – motifs that suggest, in my mind, showers of light raining from above. In essence, the entire piece leads up to this final section where the spiritual ideal of the piece exists in its purest form.

Still was written in memory of Haskell Edelstein, who passed away shortly after I was commissioned to write this work. Haskell was a source of great support to me as he was to many young composers and musicians in his role on the board of the New York Youth Symphony. I can’t adequately qualify this support in words, but suffice it to say that his doors were always open, his love of music was great and he never hesitated for a minute to help a striving young artist.

Additional information

Score Dimensions

Page Size: 11"x17"

Part Dimensions

Page Size: 8.5"x11"