Two Urns

I. Asteria
II. Mnemosyne

Piano | Duration c. 6'00”

Hewitt Hill Music

Just after beginning my PhD studies in Aberdeen, Scotland in 2014, I was on tour with the Devanha Consort in North Wales when I received word that my grandma Esther had passed away. I immediately flew back to Michigan to be present at the memorial service, and was asked to play a short piano piece that I had written for her before her death. Her ashes were placed in a copper urn and set on a pedestal in the center of the church, directly visible to me from my seat at the piano.

In December of that year my grandmother Florence also passed away, this time while I was already back home for Christmas. Again I was asked to play a piece that I had written for Florence the preceding year, and again her ashes were placed in an urn that was directly visible from the piano. The urn was the exact same design as the one that had contained Esther’s ashes, except it was silver in color rather than copper.

My final goodbyes to each of them were almost exactly the same; playing music I had written specifically for them while they were alive in the presence of their ashes. Far from being psychologically damaging or morbid, these two experiences were some of the most profound moments in my life. They were honest, tender moments that will stay with me always.

The two pieces I played on those difficult days in 2014 are collected here as Two Urns. The first, Asteria, is dedicated to Esther, and is thus named after the Greek goddess of nocturnal oracles and falling stars. The second is titled Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory, and is dedicated to Florence, who fought for her own memory against Alzheimer’s Disease in the years before her passing.

Two Urns
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