Renaissance of WonderTrumpet and Orchestral Winds
Renaissance of Wonder is a work for solo trumpet and ensemble (consisting of orchestral winds and brass, percussion, piano, ‘cello and double bass) commissioned by Ryan Anthony, Gary Ciepluch and the Case Western Reserve University and a consortium of 11 other ensembles and individuals: Gary Ciepluch, OH, Vince DiMartino, KY, Birch Browning, Cleveland State University, OH, Dr. Brendan Caldwell – Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, OH, William Ciabattari, Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA, John Climer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, WI, Dr. Jay Gilbert, Doane University: Crete, NE, Galen S. Karriker, University of Akron, OH, Matthew Salvaggio, Hiram College, OH, Frank Tracz, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, David A. Turrill, Muskingum University, OH.
Ryan Anthony’s battle with Multiple Myeloma has inspired all who have encountered him. The inspiration comes not only from his own, personal, courageous battle with cancer, but through his wider vision of the world he lives in; setting up The Ryan Anthony Foundation that supports his CancerBlows events (which in turn raises money that is donated for improved Cancer treatment and research for all); creating a legacy of music through concerts, recordings and the commissioning of new music for trumpet; or through something as simple, yet strikingly powerful, as his Foundation’s tag line “Music = Hope.
When first conceiving the composition, I instinctively was drawn to Ryan’s ability to make melodic, lyrical, music sing in such a special way, and so the idea of a piece that had its foundation in words, a set of songs based on text, became a natural basis for the work.
As we spoke more about the piece, Ryan mentioned the many quotes, words, poems and thoughts that had provided moments of inspiration and solace, which he sent through to me. As I read them certain themes became apparent: steely determination and drive, love of life and family, dreams and hope: no matter what adversity, no matter the pain, there was always a greater goal, a bigger picture. These ideas – especially the idea of a dream – became, almost through necessity, part of the piece.
Several of the quotes stood out. Some for me personally, some because they seemed to represent and embody Ryan and all that he is. One such quote (from Merrill Root) became the title:
We need a renaissance of Wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is a miracle and magic.
From our early conversations, I knew that I wanted the Dylan Thomas poem “Do not go gentle” to be part of this piece. I have always read the poem differently to how it is traditionally interpreted – to me it has always been a lesson about life, and how it should be lived with purpose, making the most of every minute. The work opens up with an unaccompanied setting of the first stanza of the Thomas poem:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
As a motor racing fan, another quote Ryan sent me stood out. Mario Andretti’s quote “If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough”. The music in this second section “you’re not going fast enough” strives to use some of that energy, and embody the spirit of Andretti’s words – to live on the edge, as that’s where life – and music – live also.
The third section of the piece, “Hymn: Dreamers of dreams, makers of music” was written (and titled) not only for Ryan, but for his family. Their dream was their family, and of all the families he could have been born in to, it was a family of musicians. Through the Salvation Army Band heritage and church, Ryan would play hymns – and whilst not a traditional hymn, this section pays homage to his beginnings as a trumpet player, and his beginnings in life, as well as his time in Canadian Brass with a setting of the verse for brass quintet.
The title has its origins in the Arthur O’Shaughnessy poem “Ode” – but I first came across the opening lines (“We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams”) as a child reading the Roald Dahl book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Dahl encompasses everything positive about life, and makes children all over the world believe that anything is possible. Nothing seemed more appropriate for this piece.
The fourth passage (Rave at the close of day) recaps the poem and music from the opening, leading to the final section, a dream sequence titled “The deathless dream” (taken from the “renaissance of wonder” quotation). By their very nature dreams are deathless, and in its own way that makes dreams more important than life itself. We all dream, we were all someone’s dream, and long after we have all departed this earth, dreams will continue to bring ambition, happiness and – most importantly – hope.
Renaissance of Wonder is dedicated to Ryan Anthony, in friendship, inspiration, and wonderment.
Pete Meechan, May 2016.