After many rehearsals, Newtown High School’s wind ensemble, orchestra, and choruses took the stage Wednesday, May 22, to perform the world premiere of Samuel R. Hazo’s Glorificare, under the guidance of the composer.
The performance took place near the end of the NHS orchestra’s scheduled spring concert. The evening was the culmination of work and dedication to provide a special memorial celebrating the lives and spirits of the people lost at Sandy Hook School on 12/14.
“I want to thank every one of you for coming and sharing this evening with us tonight,” said NHS Band Director Kurt Eckhardt, who originally reached out to Mr Hazo after multiple requests from students to help provide healing through music following 12/14.
Along with the entire NHS music department, teachers from across the district, community musicians, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and the Hartford Voce Singers also performed Mr Hazo’s Glorificare on Wednesday.
Mr Eckhardt explained before the premiere that Mr Hazo immediately warmed to the idea of creating a memorial piece when Mr Eckhardt contacted him shortly after 12/14.
“I thought it was important that we get out entire music department. My vision was to have teachers in on this too,” said Mr Eckhardt. “He couldn’t have been more gracious, accepting, sensitive, and enthusiastic about the project.”
Mr Hazo also came to the district on Monday, May 20, to work with students prior to the premiere.
When Mr Hazo introduced the piece, he said we have learned that there is a fate worse than death and there is a love larger than life.
“The irony is that sometimes they exist right next to each other,” said Mr Hazo, “and music helps us express that love, which is why I am honored to have been contacted by Mr Eckhardt, members of the community, and the students to compose the piece.”
Commemorative music pieces have been written in the past for other school tragedies. Mr Hazo also wrote a piece for Virginia Tech following its tragic day in 2007.
According to Mr Eckhardt, Glorificare is the only memorial composition to be requested by members of the Newtown Public Schools district.
According to Mr Hazo’s website, www.samuelrhazo.com, Mr Hazo became the first composer to be named the winner of both composition contests sponsored by the National Band Association. He has composed for the professional, university, and public school levels in addition to writing original scores for television, radio, and the stage. His original symphonic compositions include performances with actors Brooke Shields, James Earl Jones, David Conrad, and Richard Kiley. He has also written symphonic arrangements for three-time Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams.
When writing Glorificare, Mr Hazo added in aspects of music that reflect a personal connection to Sandy Hook School. Each year when the Sandy Hook School chorus presents its winter concert, the song "Light the Candles" is performed, and Mr Hazo worked that song into his piece.
“Music does not heal,” said Mr Hazo. “Music fills spaces in us that we didn’t know were empty.”
Mr Hazo also shared that he was standing next to a poem written by his father when his wife called him with the news of what happened in Sandy Hook on 12/14. The poem was written as a surprise for Mr Hazo’s wedding, and he recited it for the audience on Wednesday to be the last thing heard before the performance of Glorificare.