“One Life Beautiful” - The title itself is a double-entendre which in one sense is referring to the person this work is
dedicated to as in “one life” that was beautifully lived. The other sense is a direct observation concluding that having
only one life is what makes life so sacred, tragic and so very precious. This is an impressionistic work musically
describing that condition. Shakespeare’s “sweet sorrow”, the frailty and strength of life, the meaning of what it is to
truly live One Life Beautiful.
INSTRUMENTATION: With regard to Low woodwinds - If only 1 bass clarinet player is present, play the 1st part, all
others should play the 2nd part. Two bassoonists must be used. Additional bassoonists are to play the bottom part. Either
a contra bass clarinet in Bb OR Contra Alto Eb must be used, the part is not optional. Contra Bassoon is optional.
Using both a contra bass clarinet or contra alto with contra bassoon is preferred.
If only 1 String Contrabass is used, play the bottom line. If 2, play both parts. All others play bottom line.
The vibraphone has Vibes ON/OFF marked in the part but feel free to use it how you feel best suits your tastes.
DYNAMICS: One Life Beautiful is scored with Mezzo-Piano (mp) as its dynamic center. This Mezzo-piano volume
is an intimate, perfectly relaxed medium. (I think of this dynamics energy and air speed as identical to a relaxed hum,
where you inhale relaxed and deeply then exhale normally while humming with only the force of your chests natural exhale
pushing the air past your hum.)
Orchestration & Balance: The orchestration & balance most often used is by section then family.
Example: The low woodwinds all together form a complete tonal/harmonic grouping and must be balanced amongst themselves.
The same goes for the saxophone family and Bb clarinets. Balance these groups before adding them to the rest of the woodwind family.
The entire woodwind section together is also its own balanced entity separate from the brass. I highly encourage you to rehearse
the entire work beginning to end with woodwinds/ strings only and also brass/strings only so they can hear and understand their own
individual lines/harmony and how they effect the whole. The French horns and Euphoniums at times cross over between the
woodwind and brass family scoring.
One Life Beautiful is an impressionistic freestyle work. The opening is marked “Adagio with internal motion” (Phrase/Measure)
which is a request to continually push phrases and chords delicately to their peaks and back down with great care not to over exaggerate.
As a small reference to divine creation, chords are purposely overlapped allowing them to rise and sink in and out
of each other.
Tempo and expressive choices throughout should reflect motion and flow with either ebb and flow of dynamics and/or very small
increases and decreases in tempo.
There is an abundance of dynamic markings and several ritards and tempo changes throughout the piece
but I would like to stress the fact that this work has a myriad of ways it could be performed and in the spirit
of individuality and artistic freedom I encourage you to play this work with your own heart, mind and musicality at the helm.
This Performance recording by the Musashino Wind Ensemble with Ray Cramer conducting is one of the finest live performances I have ever heard. As a composer I know all too well that pieces like "One Life Beautiful" are far and few between. The same holds true for this recording.
In the realm of inspiration pieces of this nature come into the world "as is" wrapped in the miracle we know as music and in some cases at great emotional cost.
The journey Ray, Molly and I along with the dedicated musicians of the Musashino Academia Musicae Wind Ensemble has been a priceless one, full of emotions, life, loss and love.
The experience has changed my life but most importantly, my soul and I thank Heather, Molly and Ray