Michael Christie, a senior who plays the trumpet in both the ensemble and the honors jazz band, said that you can feel the emotion of both composers in their pieces.
”Literally every measure has a different meaning,” he said of Umar’s work. “It’s amazing. You can hear the children playing, the mourning in the later measures. It’s a very powerful work.”
Todd, a Town of Tonawanda native and 2005 Ken East graduate who now lives in Brooklyn, attended college at the State University of New York at Purchase. He was a student of saxophone player Jimmy Greene, whose daughter, Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, was one of the students killed at Sandy Hook.
That was not long after Aguglia asked him to write a new ballad for the jazz band, Todd said.
”Just about the time I started to finish out the tune and melody and the way it was going to go .... Sandy Hook happened,” he said. “I was feeling all this stuff inside and it had to come out. It was overwhelming. The piece I had started was scrapped; this new wave of emotion kind of took over.”
”Too Soon to Say Goodbye” came from that emotion, and from a message about his daughter Greene left on Facebook after the shooting.
”That’s kind of the energy I wanted the piece to have,” Todd said. “It’s tragic, but at the same time we have to appreciate the people around us. Ana Grace, from what I’ve heard about her, she was an amazing little girl.”
Not long after the shooting, Todd also lost his aunt Barbara unexpectedly, an experience that also affected the work.
”I couldn’t help putting all that in the piece, too,” he said. “With two people in mind who left too soon ... that’s where the piece was coming from.”