My composition for the WWI Memorial Concert, premiered April 25, 2018 at Gardner-Webb University.
On May 7, 1915, the RMS Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat. The British ocean liner was on its way from New York to Liverpool and sank only 18 minutes after being hit - less than the length of two room rotations at tonight’s concert. Of the nearly 2,000 passengers on board more than 1,100 died, including 120 Americans.
Sea warfare was a crucial part of World War I, largely due to the first worldwide incorporation of submarines for both surveillance and surprise attack purposes. The synthesizers used in the piece represent the technological advances that led to such destruction. World War I was a new time for naval warfare - new ships and technologies such as dreadnought battleships, battlecruisers, submarines, radio, sonar, and torpedoes were all put into effect during the course of the war. Although death at sea had always been a terrible aspect of warfare, the recently-invented technology causing death painted the tragedy in a new light.
The Melancholy Waters Lie remembers the lives lost in the tragic sinking of the Lusitania, as well as the thousands who lost their lives in service to our country during naval warfare. The title of the piece comes from Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, “The City in the Sea,” which speaks of death and the sea as a final resting place. The piece was written in ‘ABA’ format. The ‘A’ sections are comprised of an original melody; its first appearance is quiet and reflective, while its recurrence is heroic, celebrating the bright future of our country made possible by the brave sacrifices of these men and women. The ‘B’ section incorporates a pensive arrangement of the Navy hymn, “Eternal Father, Strong To Save.” Throughout the piece, George Cohan’s popular song of the era, “Over There” is incorporated as a countermelody. The composer encourages the listener to quietly meditate on the lives lost in the First World War, and offer prayers for those who have been, or currently are, in service to our country - protecting and defending us just as they did one hundred years ago.