"Etched in Stone" to receive performance at The Midwest Clinic!

I’ve enjoyed a productive friendship with Gary P. Gilroy for a number of years now. When touring in California with the St. Olaf Band a few years ago, he graciously helped to host us and shared the concert stage that evening. His engaging Fresno State University Wind Orchestra performed and we also combined our members at the end of the program. I’ve also been a guest clinician/conductor at the Dr. Lawrence R. Sutherland Wind Festival that Gary hosts at FSU. Gary has been a strong supporter of my compositions, as well. We’ve been known to exchange works for each other’s ensemble to perform.

When he called to say that his wonderful new Wind Symphony of Clovis was selected to perform at the 2018 Midwest Clinic and ask what might I have in my catalog that was new, well, I was excited for him and blown over that he’d consider my music. It just so happened that I was premiering Etched in Stone around that time, a piece involving a narrator sharing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I was able to send him the materials to review. I also mentioned to him how timely and important the message of the work was, given its focal center on Dr. King. I offered to him the notion that this important message of peace and justice should be heard our colleagues in attendance at the clinic. I also asked, wondering aloud basically, that wouldn’t it be amazing if perhaps Alfred Watkins, the well-known band director from Georgia who is highly respected around the world for his musical and personal integrity, would agree to be the narrator?

Gary wrote back within about 24 hours to say that it was a done deal! I was floored, and certainly honored. It’s going to be an amazing performance! The Wind Symphony of Clovis will perform Etched in Stone at The Midwest Clinic on Wednesday, December 18 at 1:30 pm, with Gary P. Gilroy conducting and Alfred Watkins providing the narration.

The commission for Etched in Stone came from Westbrook High School in Maine and their inspirational conductor Kyle Smith. The students in the band there wanted to do something special to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King and they came up the idea of commissioning a work for narrator and band. I had a very gratifying and deeply moving experience creating the work and premiering it with this fine ensemble. I’m quite grateful for the entire experience.

I urge you to listen to Etched in Stone and take in Dr. King’s thoughts anew today, fifty years later. His message burns bright with an increased urgency in our troubled times.

Timothy Mahr