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REF NO.: 269

SUBJECT: Memorial’s School of Music to première The Pensive Veteran in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War
DATE: March 24, 2005

Note to editors:

Memorial University’s School of Music has commissioned a major new work for concert band from Newfoundland composer Michael Snelgrove. The work, titled The Pensive Veteran, will make its debut on Thursday, March 31, 2005, in the D.F. Cook Recital Hall.

The piece was written in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, a subject of particular resonance to Memorial University, itself a living memorial to this province’s war dead. The idea for the piece was conceived by Douglas Vaughan, a Memorial graduate student in conducting, and School of Music faculty member Dr. Kjellrun Hestekin.

Mr. Snelgrove is a graduate of Memorial’s School of Music and a major figure on the provincial music scene as a composer, teacher and performer. He started work on the piece in November 2004 and was finished the first three movements by mid-December.

“The inspiration for the piece came from conversations with veterans at the Royal Canadian Legion,” Mr. Snelgrove said. “I started talking to them about their experiences during and at the end of the war and ideas started to form in my mind about how I could represent these experiences. From start to finish, the piece took on a life of its own culminating in four parts. They are titled: We Won, In the Dance Hall, Love and Loss and Celebration March.”

“The last movement was a challenge for me. I knew I wanted to do a regal-sounding march,” Mr. Snelgrove said. “I got the idea to take some of the anthems of Allied countries and intersperse them between the thematic materials of the march.”

The commission was funded by a grant from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

Dr. Tom Gordon, the director of the School of Music welcomed a new work by a local composer. “New works by Newfoundland composers are rarities,” he said of The Pensive Veteran. “New works of this magnitude and with timeliness are even more infrequent. We are very pleased that the School – in collaboration with musicians of the calibre of Mike Snelgrove, Douglas Vaughan and Kjellrun Hestekin, can participate in a tribute to our veterans in this way.”

The Pensive Veteran will be performed on Thursday, March 31, 2005, at 8 p.m. in the D. F. Cook Recital Hall, located in the Music Building on Memorial’s St. John’s campus. Tickets are available from the School of Music on the evening of the performance. Prices are $10/$5. Reservations can be left through the School of Music’s reservations page located at www.mun.ca/music/conc/tkt.htm.

Note to editors:The composer’s program notes for The Pensive Veteran follow below.

The Pensive Veteran:

One of my favorite places to go for libation is the Royal Canadian Legion. There one meets such interesting men of various backgrounds and experiences of war. Many have adjusted well to those experiences, other not so well.

I have had too many conversations to list with various men about different aspects of the Second World War. From battles to dances, hospitals to airplanes, lost loves and lost lives, and moments frozen in time inside a man’s brain for him to cherish or loathe for the rest of his life.

The Pensive Veteran tries to get a reflection from one of these men of the ending of the war.

1. We Won: This part depicts the very end of the war with the buzz in the cities of the news of the finished campaign. It suggests people’s frenzied conversations, frantic traffic and the hustle and bustle of downtown London or Paris.

2. In The Dance Hall: The nights following the end of the war were filled with parties, a spirit of camaraderie, with dancing and drinking. This part represents a mediocre band playing a waltz over and over. They get progressively sloppier as the piece goes on due to drink. The young soldier finds himself dizzy with drink but still not at all unhappy. Strain of swing tunes echo through the waltz.

3. Love and Loss: A man thinks of a young girl with whom he had a relationship. This is their farewell conversation: A simple duet in reality, but a magical Hollywood moment in their minds. As I converse with the man, he looks away lost on thought of what could have been or what should have been.

4. Celebration March: A regal march set “ala Walton” where amongst the two themes of the march, I will try to weave the anthem of the Allied powers though the tapestry of this movement.

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