Prayer and Elegy
Composed by Stephen Barr
for Flute, Alto Flute, and Piano
Published by Alry Publications
Includes score, flute part, alto flute part, and and flute/alto flute part in score form
(Score shown in samples 1-4, flute part in sample 5, and flute/alto flute part in sample 6)
Prayer and Elegy was premiered on 09/11/16 at Slippery Rock University by Kathleen Melago (flute), Cassandra Eisenreich (alto flute), and Michele Bonnici (piano).
Prayer and Elegy was composed for Kathy Melago on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the devastating 9/11 terrorist attacks. It is dedicated to the victims and first responders who perished – as well as the families and friends who had their loved ones painfully ripped out of their world – on that fateful day. The piece is offered as a lament: an invocation of remembrance for all those who have passed from this world and our lives, in many cases far too soon and as the result of utterly senseless violence.
The piece is constructed in a loose A-B-A form. The first section is characterized by open harmonies and a pedal point in the piano, over which the flute plays a Prayer of lamentation. After a time, the alto flute joins in the Prayer, and the two flutes trade melodies in a duet before the piano rejoins and the three instruments take up a series of smoothly flowing undulations, which rise and fall in intensity until they reach a climactic point, followed by a fleeting resolution: a chord stated three times by the flutes, and then passed to a single octave stated three times by the piano.
In the second section, the Elegy, the flute presents a plaintive and mounful tune, which again develops into a duet with the alto flute over the piano accompaniment. The tempo increases steadily and the mood becomes more uplifting; after a pause, the earlier undulations return, again, gathering intensity, as the piece reaches its ultimate climax with the three instruments emphatically stating the song of the Elegy.
The lament of the opening Prayer returns briefly; this then leads to a short cadenza in the flute. At the close of this solo passage, the flute intones three repeated pitches, similar to the end of the Prayer, and the denouement of the piece ensues as the three instruments play an interweaving counterpoint of a number of melodies and thematic ideas from throughout the piece, a penultimate gathering of themes before a final and tranquil resolution.