Were You There? by John P. Lynch. For concert band (Flute 1, Flute 2, Oboe 1/2, English Horn, Clarinet in Bb 1, Clarinet in Bb 2, Clarinet in Bb 3, Bass Clarinet in Bb, Bassoon, Contrabassoon, Alto Saxophone 1/2, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpet in Bb 1, Trumpet in Bb 2, Trumpet in Bb 3, Horn i). Band Music. Grade 4. Score and parts. Duration 6:10. Published by C. Alan Publications (CN.11030).
Were You There? is a tone poem based on the traditional hymn tune. Tender, flowing themes permeate the work as the rich scoring carries the listener to many levels of musical expression.
Were You There? is a tone poem based on the traditional hymn tune. The title becomes a philosophical and rhetorical question as the piece examines various contemporary views of the message of religion. A primary unifying musical element is the river motive, marked 'flowing,' a metaphor for life. Two new themes are introduced: One, marked 'with conviction,' presents a righteous viewpoint whose interpretation of the message of Christianity is literal, and a second, marked 'tenderly,' that expresses an interpretation based on compassion. The ensuing section is a transformation of the river motive. An ongoing ostinato creates a sense of stasis and introduces a third point of view reflecting Buddhist philosophy, in which the themes are posed as questions. A brief piano solo, a cyclic idea that could go on forever, alludes briefly to the atheist point of view. This section culminates in the most straightforward presentation of 'Were You There?' The piece draws to a close with a forceful statement of the three main themes in juxtaposition to the hymn tune, which appears in augmentation in the horn and chime parts. The final conclusion is thus left to the listener.