In Memoriam was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Artillery in 2014 to commemorate the end of the Canadian Armed Forces’ involvement in Afghanistan. The challenge of expressing something meaningful through music with a subject of such enormity and weight was not lost on me, and I spent the majority of the creative process deciding how best to approach such a task. In the end, I opted to write music that would function, first and foremost, as a heartfelt tribute to the impossibly brave men and women who gave their lives in service of the greater good. Without diminishing their sacrifice, I also wanted to acknowledge the experiences of suffering, loss, and trauma that are the inevitable costs of human conflict. These are represented in subtle ways by undercurrents of dissonance which bookend the piece – minor fractures on an otherwise polished surface which nonetheless suggest the darkness beneath.

The piece opens with a mournful prayer, composed of lilting minor-mode fragments which echo one another uneasily, like flickering shadows or disturbances in water. From there, distant, muted fanfares herald an oncoming storm. Soaring wind lines, heard against a restless flurry of triplet figures, eventually resolve into a hymn-like chorale. The elegiac trumpet solo that follows, with its yearning leaps and expressive high notes, was written both in the spirit of patriotism and – especially – of remembrance; it is a song commemorating lives that were fully lived, and heroically given. The piece ends where it began, in mourning. Heard on the piano, the resolution of leading tone into the final C is not one of triumph, but of somber reflection.