Where dreams come to musical life
Many Are the Seasons (2008-2009) – Chamber Ensemble
Flute, French Horn, B flat Trumpet, Piano, 1st and 2nd Violin, Viola and Cello
Many Are the Seasons is a loving series of seven sketches written for chamber ensemble in tribute to Wendy's mother, Kathleen Janet Bartlett, who passed away quietly at home after battling Parkinson's. The programmatic pieces, played chronologically, tell and celebrate the story of Kathleen's life from early childhood through her final years.
1. With My Sister, for flute, piano, 1st and 2nd violin, viola and cello, depicts a simple, childlike atmosphere of two little girls playing hopscotch and jumping rope on the sidewalk in front of their Seattle home.
2. In a Dollhouse, for solo piano, illustrates Wendy's grandfather, William Peck, proudly presenting a dollhouse he built in his basement woodshop for Kathleen and her sister Carol on the front lawn of their house.
3. Skiing, also for solo piano, tells a humorous story of a ski trip that Wendy's mother and father made to Port Angeles as young parents. Wendy's mother challenged her father to a race downhill, with some pratfalls. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries, although her father had a slightly comical mishap with a small tree, as can be heard at the ending of the piece with a thump!
4. Across the Bay, for flute, french horn, B flat trumpet, piano, 1st and 2nd violin, viola and cello, portrays a time in the summer of 1969 when Wendy's family, after facing an unexpected tragedy in Seattle, moved north to Fidalgo Island on the Swinomish Reservation five miles west of La Conner, Washington. Based upon some pictures of her father rowing the family across their residential Kiket Bay, there is a feeling of almost childlike wonder of the beauty of abundant nature that surrounded them. As a family from the city, they were suddenly quite blessed with two state parks – islands in the middle of the bay with campgrounds that they could paddle to and from, from their house. Listen for the flute in its high range in the middle of the piece. The flute is depicting a bald eagle flying out of its nest in one of the high trees on the Kiket Island Peninsula. Each instrument is illustrating shore birds (blue herons, seagulls), sea life (fish, otters) and the peaceful tranquility of clear-as-glass water, with water ripples from the oars the only movement. Towards the end, there is a slowing tempo, as they paused to take in the awe of their surroundings before returning to the shore in front of their beach house. The final two measures are played by the piano only, illustrating the soft scrape of the bottom of the rowboat on the beach as they reached shore.
5. Riding the Colorado Rapids, written for flute, french horn, B flat trumpet, piano, 1st and 2nd violin, viola and cello, recalls the adventure of Wendy's father's 50th birthday celebration. One day about the time of her father's birthday, her brother Craig, working that summer on a river rafting crew in Colorado, phoned Wendy's mother to tell her that a couple from the East Coast had developed second thoughts about booking their trip. This meant that there were two seats available. Did her parents want to go? Imagine Wendy's unsuspecting father's stunned reaction when her mother, after getting off the phone, excitedly announced, "Guess what, honey? We're going white water rafting next week!" The piece opens calmly as the rafts depart from the shallow bank. Listen for the piano and cello at the beginning of the fast section. The piano is the running water; the cello is the river's undercurrent pulling the rafts into the rapids! The final section returns to the slower paced calm, ending with a brass coda as the sun sets in the west, the rafts are brought up on the bank for the night, guitars are brought out, and everyone gathers around the campfire under the stars.
6. Pie and Roses is a piece for flute, french horn, B flat trumpet, piano, 1st and 2nd violin, viola and cello. This describes several of the sweetest attributes of Wendy's mother: the much-savored treat of her delectable golden crusted homemade pies, and her prized roses. When Wendy's parents sold their family beach house, one of her father's dreams as a home designer was to build a house for himself and her mother. To surprise her mother, Wendy's father sought to put in dozens of rose bushes in the planned gardens of their country home in Pleasant Ridge. Wendy's mother, of course, gently reminded her father that roses take a tremendous lot of care. And care she did – winning countless accolades and prizes from Christensen's Nursery for her lovely roses! In addition, this piece has the warmth of an Old English Christmas Carol, as there are family gatherings over holidays. At the end of the piece, as the grown children and their families start to say goodnight and leave, the Christmas tree lights are turned off, and Wendy's parents retire upstairs quietly to bed.
7. Skagit Mist, the seventh and final chapter in the story of Wendy's mother's life, for piano, 1st and 2nd violin, viola and cello, offers several meanings. When Wendy's family first moved to Skagit County, her parents purchased a sailboat from a marina on Lake Union in Seattle. They christened her "Skagit Mist," and sailed her all the way up Puget Sound north to their bay, buoying the sailboat in front of the house. Another illustration is the plumes of mist that rise off the fields at dawn. Wendy's mother was an early riser and cherished the early morning. While Wendy's grandfather was still alive and worked as a postman, her mother enjoyed getting up and having breakfast with her dad. This is a reflection of Wendy's mother's final years before taking her final breaths, as heard on the piano, and rising up to heaven to reunite with her daddy.