Composition • September 1, 2017
In my last semester of my Master’s degree at Texas Christian University, I participated in the University’s division of the international 3 Minute Thesis Competition, which is a speech competition in which each contestant explains their entire graduate thesis in under 3 minutes! I was given the People’s Choice award for my speech detailing my work for Wind Symphony, entitled End Times. The speech is written out below, and the piece is set to be premiered by the TCU Wind Symphony in the 2017-2018 school year. The drawings are by artist Treena Muir, who did a fantastic job!
About End Times
During the summer of 2015, while attending Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas; I witnessed an incredible five-sermon series given by Pastor Jimmy Evans regarding the 2nd coming of Christ. After hearing his thought-provoking insights into the future final events of human history, I chose to create a musical work to both depict these events and satisfy the Master’s Thesis requirement for my M.M. in Composition at Texas Christian University.
As a composer, it is a strong belief of mine that significant work often stems from collaboration and interdisciplinary efforts. I am also well aware of the fact that music is a communication medium, and therefore when I’m writing my compositions I have the privilege, and the responsibility – to communicate…something. So, when the time arrived to begin my master’s thesis it was no surprise to me that I found my inspiration in an unlikely place.
While attending Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, I was impressed upon by a series of messages given by Pastor Jimmy Evans entitled “Tipping Point” regarding the future final events of human history. After hearing his thought-provoking insights into the book of Revelation (and other relevant biblical scripture), I soon decided that my thesis would follow a programmatic text based on these messages.
My resulting work, entitled End Times, is for symphonic band and is set in three movements.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 says that the “mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.” The idea of this restraining force gave me the title for the first movement, which I call Remnant. The remnant is the good in the world – and is represented musically with an ethereal theme played by the brass instruments who continually interrupt a dark, militant theme played by the woodwinds, who represent evil. The movement progresses with shorter and shorter statements by each group of instruments, until the two themes are overlapping with all instruments shouting. Suddenly, the remnant is removed, and all that’s left are eerie sounds coming from the woodwinds. This sudden removal of the brass represents the rapture of the church, and the remaining ominous sounds begin the second movement, which I call Rain.
In writing this movement, I drew from the well-known story of Noah and the great flood to depict the tribulation and wrath of God on the earth. After all, the last time the earth was destroyed it was done through a tremendous rainstorm, and so the movement is a sort of “throwback” to that event. To create the sounds of nature, I ask the players to use body percussion such as hissing sounds to create wind, and snapping and tongue clicking for raindrops.
After the destruction, out of the darkness emerges the french horn section, to begin the third movement, Return. The french horns begin by playing figures that mimic its ancestral counterpart, the shofar, which historically would alarm and gather people together. As the movement continues and expectation builds and builds, all instruments are finally reconciled together at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth, playing the well-known tune from the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy. In ending the composition, this seemed appropriate to me, because when Christ is among us, what else is there to do but sing? (In fact, it is written in Rev. Revelation 4:11 that day and night they never cease to say “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.)
It is my hope is that other artists, like the one who drew the picture, will hear End Times, be inspired to make a new work and in doing so, continue the chain of creativity.