Distant Voices
David Sampson (1990)

Distant Voices for brass quintet is a four movement, sixteen minute composition written during the spring and summer of 1990. Commissioned by the American Brass Quintet through a grant from The Jerome Foundation, the work was premiered on May 5, 1991 at Delbarton School/St. Mary’s Abbey Church at the eighth annual “Hardly Any Sampson” Music Festival.

The titles of the movements are as follows:

  1. James Agee: Writer
  2. Bobby Hackett: Jazz Cornetist
  3. Br. Paul Diveny: Benedictine Monk
  4. 4. Ben and Mark: My Sons

These curious titles were chosen from a long list of people who have had a profound effect on my life. We are all the result of our continuous filtering of a myriad of influences. The “distant voices” referred to in the title are simply the voices in one’s mind that guide one’s thoughts and actions. Distant Voices is meant to honor these people.

James Agee, the writer of A Death in the Family, impressed me from my college days as truly absorbed in his life as a creative artist. His voice challenges me to not accept the obvious or comfortable. Bobby Hackett, an elegantly lyrical jazz cornetist, was one of the first musicians I studied through recordings. I used to listen to and play along with his deceptively simple improvisations. He taught me how to play a line and make a beautiful sound. Br. Paul Diveny, a Benedictine monk at St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, NJ, is a special friend who helped me survive family tragedy through religion. He introduced me through his example to the spiritual aspects of life in a way that profoundly deepened my awareness. My sons, Ben and Mark, are a constant challenge and surprise. They allow me to see life as a child again and feed my creative approach to living. This depiction captures the energy of them playing “monster.”

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