And Suddenly It’s Evening

  • September 9, 1994
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Commissioned: The Youth Orchestra Consortium of The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra; The Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra; The Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra; The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Symphony and the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra

Premiere: June 1995; San Francisco Youth Orchestra; Alasdair Neale conductor Dedicated to Aryeh Lev Stollman

Orchestra instrumentation: 2(2.pic).2(2.ca).2(2.bcl).2(2.cbsn)- vn: concertmaster)

Duration: 16’

Publisher: Schott Helicon Music Corporation (BMI)




"AND SUDDENLY IT'S EVENING" was commissioned by a consortium of youth orchestras consisting of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, The Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, The Greater Boston Youth Orchestra, and the Chicago Youth Orchestra.


The title is borrowed from that of a short poem by the great twentieth Century Italian poet Salvatore Quasimodo. Roughly translated it says:


Each Stands alone on the heart of the earth, Impaled upon a ray of sun: and suddenly it's evening. My pieces usually have something to do with some poetic imagery or narrative. In this instance, knowing that several youth orchestras would be giving the piece its first life, I gave a lot of thought to the idea of youth both artistically and personally. And to how I might perhaps pass along some shreds of experience I had gained simply by Standing, as it were, alone on the heart of the earth a little bit longer man the younger people I had in my mind. I wrote the piece in 1994, completing the score on my fortieth birthday. And the music resonated for me, as I composed it, in the same way the poem which inspired it did - as a kind of farewell to my own youth (a friend of mine calls it "AND SUDDENLY I'M FORTY"). This piece is in three movements lasting a total of sixteen to eighteen minutes. The writing is very "exposed" with many solos for principal players. (The movements have no titles.)


Movement I features a long obligato for the orchestra piano playing even eighth notes persistently for several minutes while solos in the strings and horns, the oboes and trumpets play along in longer contrapuntal lines. There is an accumulation of dialogue between individuals and sections and toward the end of the first movement there is a loud stop. After this, the strings play a dance-like coda all pizzicato accompanied only by an occasional timpani note. The piano returns to join the pizzicato strings at the final cadence.


Movement II is really a little violin concerto. One long lyrical line played by the concert-master dominates the music set over a cushion of divided strings and with an oboe obligato and several long breathed horn lines. In this movement the rhythm is written in more complex and changeable ways to encourage a feeling of rubato, romance and spontanaiety.


Movement III is full of driving rhythms. Slow trill tunes in the strings are punctuated by sharp, short bursts of sound from other parts of the orchestra. After a while the solo bassoon leads the orchestra into a large unison melody, which seems to cry out "have mercy upon me" for it will all end soon. And it does.


The playwright George Bernard Shaw said: "Youth is wasted on the young". Perhaps, I hoped "And Suddenly It's Evening" would give it's players and Iisteners some sense of Standing alone on the heart of the earth, impaled upon a ray of sun light—the loneliness and the joy intertwining—and that they would try to remember that it does not and cannot last forever. "And Suddenly It's Evening is dedicated to my friend, Aryeh Lev Stollman.

For orchestra and solo violin concert master

2(II=picc).2(II=corA).2(II=bcl).2(II=dbn)- (solo violin=concertmaster)