This has been the most challenging and meaningful piece I’ve ever written. When Seamus Bennett first contacted me to talk about writing a piece in dedication to his father, Brian Joseph Bennett, who had just passed away, I was both humbled and completely intimidated by the request. So much of my music has been inspired by volcanoes, unusual weather patterns, or other trivial nonsense, so writing a piece to help Seamus and his family through this tragedy was an important, if daunting, responsibility.
Writing this piece about losing a father proved to be a deeply personal and emotional journey for me as well, as this June will be fifteen years since my own father passed away. Revisiting the thoughts and emotions I experienced during that time was poignant and uncomfortable, but expressing them through music in this way felt cathartic.
The title of the piece, “When Great Trees Fall”, comes from a poem by Maya Angelou that explores how we process and cope with the loss of a loved one. The piece is divided into two movements that each uses a line from the poem as its subtitle. The first movement, “Senses Eroded Beyond Fear”, depicts the immediate and visceral emotions after losing a loved one, alternating between somber numbness and illogical rage. The second movement, “Peace Blooms, Slowly and Always Irregularly”, represents the hopeful and optimistic sentiment that, even though there may still be lingering pain and sadness, time will bring healing and peace.
I am immensely grateful to Seamus and the Bennett family for trusting me to write a piece of this importance and sincerely hope that it will help them through the grieving process in some way.