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What Happens Waiting for Moments That Never Come

What Happens Waiting for Moments That Never Come (2012)


The Last Year's Free Man Chamber Orchestra

Michael Henson, solo clarinet


            In an episode towards the end of the third season of HBO's award winning series The Wire, we find Detective Jimmy McNulty, troubled from personal issues at home, throwing himself into his job in order to escape. Older, wiser Detective Lester Freamon implores Jimmy to think about having something to keep him going outside of his casework. When McNulty proposes the idea that there will always be another case, that there will be another brass ring to chase, Freamon reminds him that every case ends, that "...the job will not save you, it won't make you whole." McNulty of course rejects the idea that his place of refuge isn't enough, and Freamon tries to convince him that he needs something outside of the job to keep him going and maintain his drive, and that we can't judge our life based solely on these grand moments that we're expecting to happen; that no one can possibly be completely defined by one aspect of their life. In a quote that was surely inspired by John Lennon, but with a hint of cynicism, Freamon assures McNulty that life is "...the s#!^ that happens waiting for moments that never come."


            For some reason, the first time I heard that quote something clicked in my head, and I knew that I was going to write a piece related to the images and personal experiences I had from waiting for my own "moments." In that sense, my composition What Happens Waiting for Moments That Never Come is programmatic, but similar Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony, I feel no need, (or desire,) to divulge to the listener what that particular program is, and I'd prefer they hear it and perhaps reflect on some of their own "moments."


            The piece is divided into two main sections, each with a different affect and a different character in the clarinet, that go back and forth throughout the piece. One of the two is a more consonant, harmonically stable section that gives the clarinet longer, more flowing lyrical lines[1] and the other is a darker, dissonant section that is more unsteady harmonically, and generally finds the clarinet more active in nature. Early on in the compositional process, Dr Schelle advised me to take advantage of the freedom and flexibility I had with a chamber orchestra; soloistic, flowing lines amongst all players, a tight sense of interaction in the group, and an immediate transparency if needed. In other words, I was encouraged to take advantage of the "chamber-ness" of my ensemble. As a result, a number of small chamber groups, duos, and trios emerge from the orchestra and come to the forefront at different times, even if only for a few brief moments.

[1] Lovingly referred to as 'the tune' by Dr. Schelle.