One of Dan’s most beloved choral pieces, this short a cappella piece was written as a response to the death of an infant girl in Ethiopia who was about to be adopted by the composer’s brother and sister-in-law.
(May be freely copied for printing in programs, papers, etc.)
A few years ago, my brother and his wife found out that the four month old girl that they were soon to adopt from Ethiopia had fallen ill and passed away. They had been making plans for her, staring endlessly at her picture, and loving her from across the ocean, so the news was devastating. God’s plans were not for her to ever see the people who had loved her from halfway around the world, but for her to be taken instead to His loving arms. For me, life circumstances (whether euphoric or tragic) don’t usually translate into musical inspiration; the two typically remain separate. The night they received this news, though, I found myself longing to pour out a musical elegy. My search for a suitable text led me to a picture from a cemetery in my hometown (Elmira, NY), where the great American author Mark Twain and his family are buried. My brother and I, from our youth, have known the poem that Twain placed on the tombstone of his beloved daughter Susy, when she died unexpectedly at age 24 and left him heartbroken. I was stunned by the bittersweet irony of this text being from our hometown, and in honor of a beloved daughter who died unexpectedly. I wrote this setting that night; it was quickly added to an upcoming concert and premiered only one week later, as an elegy for Etsegenet and a reminder of the orphans of Ethiopia.
Tags: Memorial, Professional/Collegiate Repertoire