• So It Goes8:43

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frank stemper

So It Goes  (1998-99)

for clarinet, trumpet, piano, and percussion  9 mins.


So It Goes was written during the winter of 1998-99 just after the death of my father. 

I had heard about a new music quartet in Louisiana named PASTICHE, and was very intrigued by the crossover makeup of their instrumentation: clarinet, trumpet, piano, and percussion.  So I wrote the piece for the quartet and sent it to them out of the blue. I remember Dave Scott calling me “out of the blue” after he’d read through my score.  He was very excited by the “peculiar but solid groove” my piece had, and very much wanted his group to perform it.  PASTICHE then premiered, performed it many times over the years, and also recorded the piece (Centaur Records). For a composer, it doesn’t get any better than that. 
Then in 2003, an six-piece new music group, The CATALYST ENSEMBLE, in England contacted me, wanting to perform the piece.  However, they asked if somehow I could add flute and trombone – thus including their full ensemble (fl, clar, tpt, trb, pno, + perc).  So I re-composed the piece for them (a few things needed to be changed to suit the added instruments), and they premiered it, re-titled
So It Goes (and goes) in Haddersfield, England.

The title “So it goes,” comes from the novel SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE by Kurt Vonnegut.  In the book, the main character, Billy Pilgrim becomes “unstuck in time,” traveling abruptly from one point in his life to another - much like the formal setting of this piece, which has a rather “flexible” form, jumping abruptly back and forth from one formal moment to the next.  Also in Vonnegut’s novel, “So it Goes” was an expression used by the author every time someone was reported dead, such as Billy Pilrgim’s friend - Edgar Derby, his dog - Spot, his wife - Valencia, or, in one case, thousands of Dresden citizens who were fire bombed by the Allies during World War II. 

In my case, just my dad.


 20 August 2008