For the Fallen

The marvelous Italian trumpeter Ivano Ascari contacted me on the recommendation of composer Fabrizio Festa, a mutual acquaintance. Ivano was creating a program in honor of the centennial of World War I and asked if I would be willing to contribute to this effort, and I thought it was an important project. Whenever I create a piece for a soloist or ensemble, I am interested in finding connections that move me both in terms of conception the musical design during our discussion, Ivano told me about the Campana dei Cauditi (Bell for the Fallen) in his home town of Rovereto. It was originally cast from cannons melted down after World War I, with the project conceived by the Priest Don Antonio Rossaro. This amazing bell is rung 100 times at sunset every day in memory of the fallen in all wars, and there is now a useum and many ancillary projects. After further discussion, I asked whether high quality recordings could be made of the bell that I would then use a source material for the electronics, and the answer was yes! I fashioned the electronics from those recordins, shared by sound engineer Marco Olivotto. Ivano premiered the piece at the Mondi Sonori, XV Edizione Festival at the Trento Conservatory in Trento, IT on 10/5/12, and subsequently recorded it on his CD A Hundred Years, to commemorate  the Centennary of WWI. All of the pieces for this project were written for and dedicated to Ivano.

I subsequently did a brief residency at the Conservatory in 2015, delivering my first lecture in Italian, and attending a concert that included a spectacular performance of For the Fallen by Ivano, whom I had the pleasure of finally meeting. The next day, my husband and I visited Rovereto, and Ivano took us to see the impressive bell and the museum on the same grounds where there is a great deal of information both about the bell and the ongoing work to foster peace.

While I rarely envision multiple versions of my compositions, this one is one of the few for which I have done so. In addition to the original version for trumpet, I’ve also created versions for flute, soprano sax and cello. The marvelous flutist Lindsey Goodman premiered and recorded it on her CD Returning to Heights Unseen, while the outstanding sax player Drew Whiting released it in the version for soprano sax and electronics on his CD In Lights Starkly Different. And still another version exists for cello, and was premiered by Madeleine Shapiro, who also premiere and recorded For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics fashioned from birdsong.  It has been a fascinating process to reimagine the timbral world of the bell for several different instruments, finding a way to interweave each with the compelling sound world of the electronics that I fashioned from the recordings of this amazing instrument.

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