College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 1 Page: 72
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An American Elegy (2000) is, above all, an expression of hope. It was composed in memory
of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, and to honor the
survivors. It is offered as a tribute to their great strength and courage in the face of a terrible
tragedy. The work is intended to serve as one reminder of how fragile and precious life is
and how intimately connected we all are as human beings. The composer states:
I was moved and honored by this commission invitation, and deeply inspired by
the circumstances surrounding it. Rarely has a work revealed itself to me with
such powerful speed and clarity. The first eight bars of the main melody came to
me fully formed in a dream. Virtually every element of the work was discovered
within the span of about two weeks. The remainder of my time was spent refining,
developing, and orchestrating.
David R. Gillingham (b. 1947) earned his bachelor and master degrees in instrumental
music education from the University ofWisconsin-Oshkosh and a Ph.D. in Music Theory and
Composition from Michigan State University. Dr. Gillingham is the recipient of numerous
awards and honors, including the 1981 DeMoulin Award for Concerto for Bass Trombone
and Wind Ensemble and the 1990 International Barlow Competition for Heroes, Lost and
Fallen. Gillingham is a professor of music at Central Michigan University and the recipient
of an Excellence in Teaching Award, a Summer Fellowship, a Research Professorship, and
recently, the President's Research Investment Fund Grant for his co-authorship of a proposal
to establish an International Center for New Music at Central Michigan University. His
works are regularly performed by internationally recognized ensembles. He is a member of
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and has been receiving the ASCAP
Standard Award for Composers of Concert Music since 1996.
A Light Unto Darkness (1997) was written for the Mt. Pleasant (MI) High School Symphonic
Wind Ensemble, conducted by Roger Sampson and dedicated to the composer's daughter,
Amy. The piece is an homage to the 168 victims of the Oklahoma City bombing disaster of
April 19, 1995. The composer writes of the piece:
The work is in three main sections, each alluding to a different idea, setting or
emotion associated with the disaster. The first section deals with the everyday
routine of Oklahoma City which is completely unsuspecting of the terrible fate
which is knocking at the door. This fate interrupts the music several times during
this section. The cosmopolitan nature of Oklahoma City is suggested through the
music with references to the hustle and bustle of traffic, country-western music,
jazz music and the mechanistic drone of oil wells in the surrounding countryside.
The ensuing section depicts the disaster itself with loud explosive articulations in
the percussion, sinister motives, driving rhythms and unyielding dissonances. The
final section begins with a lament by the English horn and a mournful call by the
Here’s what’s next.
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University of North Texas. College of Music. College of Music Program Book 2011-2012: Ensemble & Other Performances, Volume 1, book, 2012; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc114723/m1/73/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Music Library.