In the Secret Places
for tenor trombone, bass trombone and piano (approx. 8:30 minutes)
Written for Jeremy Wilson and Evan Clifton
Premiere at the Vanderbilt Trombone Symposium on March 1st, 2019
“In the Secret Places” was written for Jeremy Wilson and Evan Clifton. Evan asked me to relate the piece to our experiences with lip injury since I suffered a tear to my orbicularis oris muscle and he suffered from focal dystonia. When discussing our experiences with recovery, Evan mentioned he could only play a single note over and over while he was recovering. I had a similar issue where I could only buzz a single low pitch on my mouthpiece while re-learning to play after surgery. I was eventually able to do “sirens” on the mouthpiece where I would do a slow glissando into lower pitches. I allude to this aspect of my recovery throughout the piece at various times with a glissando in the trombone. Evan also mentioned the hymn, “It is Well with My Soul”, which he was able to play in a practice session during recovery. That part of his story struck a chord with me because I also turned to a hymn after my injury. The hymn that became an important part of my life during that time was “Be Still My Soul”. Small excerpts from both of these hymns are the backbone of this piece.
Suffering from a severe lip injury was devastating, however I now consider it one of the greatest things that could have happened to me. Blessing is often found in places we do not think to look and there are secret places of suffering that we may not let others see. We ourselves may not even fully see while we are in this place of suffering. However, there are often treasures hidden in this darkness. It may take a long time before the treasures reveal themselves, but eventually we find them. Mentors can also shed light so we can find blessing in darkness. I know this to be true in my own life, especially during the time of my lip injury. I would like to dedicate this piece to the mentors and friends who have helped keep us on a path of light so we can find the good that often reveals itself through pain and struggle.