Amy Scurria

Beyond All Walking

Instrumentation2,2,2,2; 4,2,2,1; 3 Perc; Harp; Piano; Strings
LengthApprox. 10 minutes
DifficultyModerately difficult
CommentsBeyond All Walking is based on a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke entitled "Goind Blind". The end of the poem from which the title came is:
"She followed slowly, taking a long time,
as though there were some obstacle in the way;
and yet: as though, once it was overcome,
she would be beyond all walking, and would fly."
-Rainer Maria Rilke
-Translated by Stephen Mitchell
The piece makes a good concert opener and has been very successful in all of its performances.
SourcesAvailable for rental from Theodore Presser. For a tape and perusal score please contact Theodore Presser, or Amy Scurria at website:
History1998 Haddonfield Young Composers' Competition Winner.
Premiere: Haddonfield Symphony Orchestra - Daniel Hege.
Other performances: Peabody Sympony Orchestra - Teri Murai, Greater Bridgeport Symphony - Gustav Meier.
Reading: Peabody Symphony Orchestra - Teri Murai.
ContributorAmy Scurria, the composer

Blessings of Liberty

Instrumentation3(picc),2,2,2; 4,3,3,1; Timp; Perc (2 players); Harp; Strings
Length5 minutes
DifficultyComposed for the Vermont Youth Orchestra
CommentsThis piece could be considered a patriotic work. Also, it makes a nice rousing concert opener.
SourcesAmy Scurria / Adamo Press
For sound file:
For score and parts:
HistoryCommissioned by the Vermont Youth Orchestra. Performed by the Hewlett Packard Symphony Orchestra.
Contributorthe composer

What the Soul Remembers

Instrumentation2,2,2,2; 2,2,2,1; Timp; Piano; Strings
CommentsA melodic tribute to three women, this work was commissioned by the Fort Wayne Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota and premiered by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic under the baton of Andrew Constantine. The work has been likened to Elgar and contains beautiful, sweeping melodies, lush orchestration and a dramatic ending that brought the audience to a standing ovation at the end of the work.

See History for program notes.
SourcesScore and parts available through Amy Scurria
HistoryThis work was premiered by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Andrew Constantine on October 10, 2009.

Program Notes:

I. Wilda Gene Marcus
II. K Marie Stolba
III. Colleen Benninghoff

SAI was kind enough to fly me to Fort Wayne last year so that I could begin the process of learning about these three extraordinary women. I was given a memory book filled with thoughts, photos, letters, and sometimes music. I also had the opportunity to meet family members and friends of these three women. Their photos sat on my piano as I composed each movement. Much of what I have written was done out of pure intuition and is my musical reaction to what I hope is the essence of each of these women. Though, admittedly, it is quite daunting to try to embody three extraordinary women within a piece of music, particularly when I never had the honor of meeting them firsthand. As I composed this work, I was also pregnant with our daughter, Lily. And as I continued to reflect on creating a new feminine life inside my own body, it was an honor to also be able to birth a different kind of =creation in the memory of three feminine spirits. Through this experience, I found myself tapping into those strengths, those mysteries and the power that comprises what it is to be female. As I write these program notes, I can feel my own daughter moving around inside my womb and I feel more connected to women in general, and inspired by the lives of Wilda Gene Marcus, K Marie Stolba, and Colleen Benninghoff. I am inspired by their words of wisdom and by the many ways that they contributed to this world selflessly. Again, it is an honor and a gift to have been entrusted this project and I know that my own daughter will somehow be connected (even in a very small way) to these three women.

The work is organized into three movements, each movement representing one of these women. The work opens with Wilda Gene Marcus. Obviously, as a piano teacher, it was important to highlight the piano in her movement, however, as I learned more about her, I realized that the piano part could be neither too flashy, nor too much at the forefront. Because above all, Gene Marcus was a teacher and, I believe, took great pride in what she was able to pass along to her students. To me, she seemed to be the type of woman who would step aside in order to allow someone else to be recognized. It made me laugh to know that while she was a true advocate for music and teaching, she simply did not "do meetings". The opening melody is represented by both the oboe and the French horn. The oboe represents a quiet, internal strength. Gene Marcus seems to me to have been the type of person who celebrated others' accomplishments, but was happy to step aside so that others might shine. Thus, the opening melody represents the gifts she left to her many students. When the piano takes over the melody, it is understated and simple. At the end of the movement, the piano playing with the viola and cello represents another legacy she left, her two sons who are both professional musicians.

* Incidentally, Gene Marcus and I share the same birthday.

The second movement, K Marie Stolba, opens with her own music from one of her songs, Memory Hither Come. My own theme then enters in the strings against her music now transposed into a major key as opposed to the opening minor key. The movement builds until the entire orchestra juxtaposes her music with my own. Utilizing her music seemed the best way to capture her spirit that, from my understanding, seemed to be bold, straight forward, and honest. As a professor and scholar, she strikes me as someone who was serious about her craft and purposeful in the way she lived her life. Additionally, she strikes me as someone who inspired others through her music, intellect and giving spirit. The second movement attempts to weave the serious and straightforward sides of her personality with the inspiring and creative parts of who she was.

The third movement, Colleen Benninghoff, opens with a solo clarinet. Colleen, while a trained pianist, seemed better represented by the independent strength of the solo clarinet. Her movement opens with an inversion of the subsequent main melody. Other solo instruments in the woodwind and brass families enter in contrapuntal movement repeating and responding to the opening clarinet theme. As I understand it, Colleen had many gifts, one of which was her gift to bring people together for a greater good. This is what I tried to represent in her movement. I imagined her coming up with an idea and forging ahead until that idea came to fruition. The ending of her movement (and of the piece) represents the fruits of her labor. In particular, I know that she paved the way for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic to begin their outreach concerts in towns outside of Fort Wayne. I have no doubt this was no small feat, but represents the strength of her vision and tenacity in seeing an idea through. I know from her memorial service, which she planned herself, that she loved Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma Variations. This is also one of my favorite movements in music and it seemed fitting to utilize the opening notes of this movement in the finale of this piece. It is from this idea that I derived the opening clarinet theme as well as the final chorale-like theme that ends the piece.
ContributorAmy Scurria

La Loba

Instrumentation1,1,1,1; Ocarina; 1,1,1,0; 2 Perc; Piano; Strings
CommentsA haunting piece based on the story, La Loba (Wolf Woman), from the book Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

See History for program notes.
SourcesScore and parts available through Amy Scurria
HistoryThis work has yet to have a premiere. It has been read by the NYC group Alarm Will Sound.

Program Notes:

There is an old woman who lives in a hidden place that everyone knows but few people have ever seen. As in the fairy tales of Eastern Europe, she seems to wait for lost or wandering people and seekers to come to her place.

She is circumspect, often hairy, always fat, and especially wishes to evade most company. She is both a crower and a cackler, generally having more animal sounds than human ones.

They say she lives among the rotten granite slopes in Tarahumara Indian territory. They say she is buried outside Phoenix near a well. She is said to have been traveling south to Monte Alban in a burnt-out car with the back window shot out. She is said to stand by the highway near El Paso, or ride shotgun with truckers to Morelia, Mexico, or that she has been sighted walking to market above Oaxaca with strangely formed boughs of firewood on her back. She is called by many names: La Huesera, Bone Woman; La Trapera, The Gatherer; and La Loba, Wolf Woman.

The sole work of La Loba is the collecting of bones. She is known to collect and preserve especially that which is in danger of being lost to the world. Her cave is filled with the bones of all manner of desert creatures: the deer, the rattle-snake, the crow. But her specialty is said to be wolves.

She creeps and crawls and sifts through the montanas (the mountains) and arroyos, (dry riverbeds), looking for wolf bones, and when she has assembled an entire skeleton, when the last bone is in place and the beautiful white sculpture of that creature is laid out before her, she sits by the fire and thinks about what song she will sing.

And when she is sure, she stands over the criatura and raises her arms over it, and sings out. That is when the rib bones and leg bones of the wolf begin to flesh out and the creature becomes furred. La Loba sings some more, and more of the creature comes in being: its tail curls upward, shaggy and strong.

And La Loba sings more and the wolf creature begins to breathe.

And still La Loba sings so deeply that the floor of the desert shakes, and as she sings, the wolf opens its eyes, leaps up, and runs away down the canyon. Somewhere in its running, whether by the speed of its running, or by splashing its way into a river, or by way of a ray of sunlight or moonlight hitting it right in the side, the wolf is suddenly transformed into a laughing woman who runs free toward the horizon.

So it is said that if you wander the desert, and it is near sundown, and you are perhaps a little bit lost, and certainly tired, that if you are lucky, La Loba may take a liking to you and show you something–something of the Soul.

adapted by clarissa pinkola-estes from women who run with the wolves

*** With very special thanks to Stephen Jaffe
ContributorAmy Scurria

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