This piece wasn't in the plans.
Last night, I found out that my friend Kent Leslie passed away. Kent was a killer horn player; I met him when he was hired to play the solo part on my dissertation piece, Chiasmus, a chamber concerto. He shared the stage with eighth blackbird...and if you'll pardon my French, he played the shit out of it. We became friends and kept in touch. He regaled me with stories about his dogs (all named after characters from Wagner operas). He introduced me to Scotch Eggs at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub when I was in Indianapolis (his home base). I cheered when his son made it to the National Spelling Bee. Kent would later commission me to write him another chamber piece - the result was ...sky is falling in... for flute, horn and percussion, which Kent included on his CD with every leaf, a miracle. He was a champion of new music for the horn, and his interest in my music meant more to me than I can say.
My favorite people tend to have eclectic tastes, and Kent was no exception. He loved Wagner (hence his dogs' names). And he loved Alice Cooper - to the point that Kent would email friends on Alice Cooper's birthday to make sure they marked the occasion. I wove tiny aspects of both Wagner and Alice Cooper into today's little Elegy. The opening gesture is loosely borrowed from the Alice Cooper instrumental "Grande Finale" (from 1972's School's Out). There are many descending half-steps throughout the piece - a nod to Wagner's use of that interval to symbolize grief. Finally, there's a fleeting (albeit incomplete) reference to the "Annunciation of Death" leitmotif from Die Walküre.
Kent, I will dearly miss your musicianship and friendship. Rock on, my friend.