by Patrick J. Burns (Grade 5, 7:45)
Always We Begin Again was commissioned by the Sigma Chapter of the Kappa Kappa Psi Fraternity at Ohio Northern University. The piece is a tribute to the memory of two individuals, Edwin and Rosemary Z. Williams, who left an indelible imprint on the ONU music department and of all of their colleagues, students and friends there.
In speaking and corresponding with the people who knew them, who learned from their teaching, who enjoyed their warm friendship and who shared their love of music, it became clear to me that Ed and Rosie were extraordinary people whose lives were part of the fabric of the lives of so many others. One of Rosie’s poems, written after Ed’s passing, explores this very concept and serves as the inspiration for the composition’s two main sections:
Lives intertwine in the most beautiful pattern
and even after out individual thread stops,
what we’ve woven up to that point
remains locked into a tight weave,
with all the others we woven our life with, through, and around,
forever a part of a cloak of beautiful memories
that lives to warm us on the cold days [and] nights of sorrow.
The title, Always We Begin Again, is a line from the Rule of Saint Benedict from which Rosie drew strength and hope during her illness. It implies an ongoing transformation, a continual weaving of our own individual thread during our life’s journey. As for the music, I imagined the initially slow process of threads intertwining in different patterns, as suggested in the first line of Rosie’s poem. As these threads coalesce, they retain their individuality but are animated and strengthened by all of the threads around them. The weave becomes tighter, stronger, more colorful, vibrant and joyous. One of these threads is the opening to Rosie’s Marche Brilliante which serves as the central focus of the latter part of the composition.
As a composer, there is no more difficult job for me than to write a memorial commission. I never had the privilege of knowing Ed and Rosie personally, yet I feel as though they were as much a part of this process as I was. It is my sincere hope that this work is a fitting tribute to them on behalf of all of the people who loved them so well.
- Patrick J. Burns