Perchance to Dream for concert band
Grade 4 (trumpet solo 4+)
Available after February 11, 2023
To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
Hamlet, Act III, Scene I
On February 18, 2020 my nephew Alec Connor Lebel passed away in his home in Pueblo West, Colorado. He was just 21 years old. Alec was a whip-smart, insightful, and good-natured young man whose life was marred by a drug addiction that eventually overcame him despite several attempts at rehabilitation. He enjoyed sports and traveling and in the words of his father, he had "the soul of a poet." We were graced by his short time with us.
The stigma associated with addiction has made it easy to dismiss the personal stories of those who struggle with the disease. When we lose them they often become yet another statistic to everyone except those fortunate enough to have truly known them. This music is my humble attempt to honor Alec’s life and to prevent his memory from slipping quietly into the abyss. Perhaps it can also provide some measure of comfort to others who have suffered similar loss.
On the evening of Alec's memorial service I met with Alan Mills, who is the Director of Bands at Colorado State University, Pueblo to ask if Alan could perform a piece that I was planning to write (for free) in Alec's memory. Alan not only accepted my proposal but suggested that the work become part of the Rocky Mountain Commissioning Project. Less than two weeks later our world was completely upended by the first quarantine orders for the COVID-19 pandemic and our plans were delayed for well over a year. It took a long time to come to life, but Perchance to Dream is the end result of this process.
The music is symbolic of a journey from struggle to redemption. It begins with a forlorn solo trumpet in a minor key that gives way to an unsettled section for full band. Next, an altered but familiar hymn tune enters quietly in imitative counterpoint, as if seeking an uneasy peace. Soon however, this quiet is shattered by brass and percussion who lead the band into a confused and anguished passage that ends abruptly and with a long pause from the ensemble. The return of the solo trumpet signals the beginning of the final stage of the journey, and once again the strains of the hymn Abide with Me can be heard but this time in a major key. As the hymn builds, the solo trumpet can be heard playing the material from the opening over the top of the ensemble, transformed from bleak to euphoric, before rejoining the ensemble. It all ends triumphantly, ascending towards heaven: Not an elegy, but a glorious celebration of life.
NOTES TO THE CONDUCTOR
The solos between measures 1-8 and 77-18 should be as rubato and elastic as possible. Regular tempos return with the vibraphone entrance in each case. It is strongly suggested that the trumpet soloist is placed in the back of the hall or off-stage from measures 1-25. If the clarinet cues are used for the solos, they should remain on stage with the ensemble.
It is important to carefully observe the tempo changes throughout the work, the opening Andante espressivo should be performed as closely quarter note = 60 as possible. The moderato risoluto between measures 36 and 37 should be approximately quarter note = 104. The con moto in measure 119 should beat least quarter note = 72 and carry that tempo to the final bar.
This is an intentionally programmatic piece of music. I would strongly encourage you to share the story with your ensemble and allow them to understand that my nephew’s death was a tragedy, but it was not shameful. He was an intelligent and thoughtful young man who was clean for nearly six months before his relapse cost him his life. He was fighting and battling but in the end he lost his battle with addiction. Please provide program notes or explain the piece from the podium so that we may make connections to others and create more dialogue that may save lives. It would also not be inappropriate to solicit donations to the National Alliance on Mental Illness in the name of Alec Connor Lebel.
Mark J. Connor
February 8th, 2022
Perchance to Dream is dedicated to my brother Richard Lebel, my sister-in-law Lana Lebel, and my niece Olivia Lebel to honor and preserve the memory of
Alec Connor Lebel (February 27, 1998 - February 18, 2020)
who tragically lost his battle with addiction at the age of just 21 years old.
A portion of the proceeds from this commission have been donated to The National Alliance on Mental Illness in Alec’s name.
Perchance to Dream was commissioned by the Rocky Mountain Commissioning Project for the 14th Annual Colorado State University Pueblo Festival of Winds.
Liz Connor Kodadek, Apex Friendship High School, NC
George and Colleen Eastman, Brighton, CO
Neil Guy, Cherokee Trail High School, CO
Dan and Kari Bell, Colorado Springs, CO
Alan W. Mills, Colorado State University Pueblo
Chad Dempsey, Edinburg North High School Band, TX
Ryan Lipscomb, Edwardsville High School, IL
Shaun R. Popp, Henderson State University
Timothy McGarvey, Houghton College
Ted Ferrucci, Los Altos High School Bands, CA
David Kish, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Doris Doyon, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA
Adrian Holton, National Concert Band of America
Richard and Lana Lebel, New Bedford, MA
Andrew Killgore, North Carolina
Raleigh "Butch" Eversole, Palmer Ridge High School, CO
Amanda Kaus, Rochester Century High School, MN
Jonathan Helmick, Slippery Rock University
Jim Blankenship and Micah Ewing, Sycamore High School, OH
Carter Biggers, Texas Woman’s University
Timothy Kaiser, Tucson, AZ
Justin Davis, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Alex Kaminsky, VanderCook College of Music NBA Collegiate Chapter
Mr. & Mrs. John Biello, Watertown, CT
Michael Zens, Whitnall High School, WI
Patrick K. Carney, Winter Haven, FL
Bradley Faryniarz, Woodhaven High School Bands, MI
Colorado State University Pueblo
Hoag Recital Hall
Saturday February 12, 2022
CSU Pueblo Wind Ensemble
Alan W. Mills, Conductor