Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sweet Beginnings

I was sorting through my memory box this morning when I stumbled upon it. A letter-sized, white, sheet of paper, slightly stained with a mysterious substance (I'm guessing chocolate), that made its way into my possession about 9 years ago...
I had only been taking from my new piano teacher for a couple months when she gave me the insurmountable assignment: find a poem I liked, and put it to music. Coming home that morning, I was filled with trepidation. Grapple with the time signature, key signature, and the actual logistics of writing a melody and accompaniment out on a sheet of paper? Much as I loved the idea of composing my own songs, I was certain that a purposeful tune of my own was beyond my abilities.

But an assignment is an assignment. I struggled through the process, eventually finding myself with a piece that fit together, worked with the poem, and met all the theory requirements. Nonetheless, I was disheartened by the result. Benjamin, however, thought "The Captain's Daughter" was wonderful, and could daily be found pounding out the minor tune on the piano, until I finally cried in exasperation: "Ben, write your own piece!"

And so he did. A few days later I found a sheet of paper, folded in quarters, sitting on my bed.
Opening it up, my eyes beheld a two-line tune that switched meter not only unconventionally, but also unnecessarily, considering that the beats did not always add up anyway. I knew as I looked at it that the tune was unplayable - my musical prowess at the time was such that I could not understand playing a piece without the exact beats. Yet, I was touched by the title, and went to find Ben and thank him for "my song." "Yeah, well, I figured that I want to write lots of music, and if I ever get famous, I wanted the first song I had written to be for you," my 9-year-old little brother told me, gazing proudly at the sheet in my hand. I had him play it for me, and then copied his performance to the best of my abilities, using the paper to be sure of the notes. And so Ben's first composition was performed in the quiet of our music room - just he and I, sitting on a piano bench, sunshine warming our backs.

video

Several years later, in 2010, another piece of his was performed, this time for a much larger audience, when friend Jenny and I played the piano-cello duet he composed specifically for us: "Forgotten Fantasia." And again, this spring, another ensemble of his, "Time," was played by Emmy, Rachel, and friend Jo.

But tomorrow is the real deal. At 3pm, in the sanctuary of Mount Scott Church of God, Benjamin will conduct OPAYCO in the first performance of his orchestral piece, "Battle for Skandia." Exciting, beautiful, and just plain fun, it has been such a privilege to be a participant in the premiering of his music. Tomorrow, as the grin slides over my face in response to the catchy cello motif, or the throb of the timpani beat, or the melancholic measures of the English horn, I'll look at Ben, and remember his first song. I'll remember that afternoon, swinging our bare feet from the piano bench, playing "My Sister Sarah." And I'll be proud of my famous composer-brother.

6 comments:

Keri On said...

Yea! Sarah! Thanks for capturing the historicity! (Yes, you brought tears to my eyes...remembering is SO MUCH FUN! - what a blessed life we have, eh?) It's so fun to see what ALL those years of "writing music" has produced! Thanks for the wonderul reminiscing and expectant post!

Rachel said...

That is touching! I don't ever remember hearing that song. That is now one of my favorite pieces he's composed!

Four For France said...

Loved it, Sarah! Thanks for sharing.

Ruthie H. said...

What a sweet post! It's a blessing to see God grow and use Ben's talents. :) How exciting! Maybe someday soon, I will be saying, "I knew him when..." :)

Lauren said...

That is just beyond sweet! Thanks for the video of Ben's first composition--I'm quite impressed!

SarahJayne said...

Mama, Rachel, Aunt Jen, Ruthie, and Lauren - yes, I know! It is such a sweet little song and was such a sweet little gesture! :)