If, Only (2017)
for piano solo
in one movement
Approx. duration: 5'20"
This little rhapsody began life back in my college days under the slightly sophomorically titled Ruminations. It was, I believe, my first exploration in what I then considered to be bi-tonality. Originally, I got about halfway through what is now the benison or “lullaby” section, which was originally intended as an actual lullaby for an opera I had contemplated (which I may actually fully tackle some day.) At that point, I found myself stuck, and despite occasional repeated attempts, I didn’t know where to head the piece.
For reasons I cannot now remember, when I headed to Alberta, Canada in January of 2018 to attend rehearsals for the jazz version of HMS Pinafore I’d been commissioned to arrange and orchestrate by Opera Edmonton, I brought these ancient sketches with me on the off chance that I might be inspired to finish the piece if there was any spare time. Sure enough, on the Wednesday of that week, I borrowed a practice room at the Edmonton Symphony’s headquarters and looked at the piece anew. Maybe it was the inspiration of that innervating week and the joy of the show’s creative process, or the unusual location, or the -20° Fahrenheit (-29 C) temperatures, but I believe it only took me an hour or two that morning to polish the piece off. That the solution was simply a slightly different restatement of the opening section, resulting in the ABA structure on which I’ve relied a little too often, is not in hindsight exactly amazing, but it works.