a thousand miles away (wind ensemble) (grade 1-1.5)
Run time: approx. 3′. One of the most prescient pieces of advice I’ve ever seen about coming out was given on Twitter by someone I’ve never met: “you will lose almost everything, but not all at once.” While not all of my friends pre-transition followed me as I began that journey, the ones who showed up in their stead have become some of the most supportive people in my life—even though they’re almost all online. a thousand miles away is about them.
a thousand miles away will be available for purchase on July 1, 2022. More specifics available below if you’d like to get a feel for the piece before then; a perusal score will be available in early 2022.
One of the most prescient pieces of advice I’ve ever seen about coming out was given on Twitter by someone I’ve never met: “you will lose almost everything, but not all at once.”
To be fair, coming out itself can be a joyous occasion accompanied by celebration or at least affirmation. But even if it goes as well as it could go, the road after that moment is often fraught with realizations that not everyone around you is willing to adapt to what your newly-publicly-realized identity actually means. My own coming out was widely supported, yet the year following saw me lose countless friends who initially reacted positively or neutrally to the news yet later realized being part of my nonbinary life would require at least a modicum of undoing their default assessments of what my presentation said or didn’t say about my gender. The road got a lot lonelier—not all at once, and not due to any single moment, but because of the fact that my gender identity exists on the same timeline everyone else’s does, not as a fixed point in the past or future. (And mine happens to change periodically.)
In late 2020 and early 2021, though, those lost friends were replacing themselves. This time around, many of the folks I was beginning to hold dear were people I’d only ever met online. Many of them are also LGBTQ+, and a solid chunk are nonbinary, but even those who aren’t have been immensely supportive in those critical moments where I was newly alone and needed someone. My partner and I stopped calling them friends and started calling them family, even though, in many cases, they’re family we may never have the chance to meet in person. This network of love and support is spread out across the U.S. and beyond, and many nights, I wish I could have a few of them over for dinner and an evening of laughter. I almost cried the first time I hugged one, after a year of friendship and twenty-four hours of driving to visit him while taking every available safety precaution. The connections between all of these people are so tenuous yet so strong, and as I’ve come into myself, they’re the folks who have kept me going. I may have lost friendships I thought would follow me further in life, but I’ve gained so much more as I’ve found those who are not only passively accepting but aggressively supportive.
This piece is called a thousand miles away, but for most of these dear friends, the actual distance is much further. Still, they’re a constant source of energy and queer family that I don’t currently have access to in person. I hope I get to see their smiles for real someday, but for now I’ll probably just keep writing songs about what they mean to me.
Dedicated to Nathan Witte, one of those friends, and his cat, Lochlyn. (We hang out online. You really think we don’t send pet pictures on a regular basis?)
A few things to know if you’re trying to figure out if this piece would work for your group:
- There is a dotted quarter-eighth rhythm that consistently appears in the main motive. I don’t do any of that “let’s make the syncopation fun and slightly different this one time so everyone screws it up” stuff, though.
- (All of the following ranges are as written.) Flute range: Eb4-Bb5. Clarinet range: A3-Bb4. Alto Saxophone 1 range: E4-A5. Alto Saxophone 2 range: E4-G5. Tenor saxophone range: E4-Bb5. Baritone Saxophone range: E4-G5. Trumpet range: Bb3-D5 (with splits). French Horn range: A3-D5. Trombone range: Bb2-Bb3, with one F3 that I have marked in 6th position to make a note change much easier. Euphonium range: Ab2-Bb3. Tuba range: Bb1-C3. Timpani: Eb2, Bb2, C3 (no shifts during the piece). All other percussion: glockenspiel D4-F5 (Perc. 1), vibraphone Eb4-Bb5 (Perc. 2), marimba Bb3-Eb5 (Perc. 3), triangle and windchimes (Perc. 4), and suspended cymbal (Perc. 5).
- Each mallet part has a single two-note chord in it; everywhere else, it’s one note at a time.
- If your percussionists aren’t learning vibes or marimba yet or you don’t have those instruments, you can use the Percussion 1 (glockenspiel) part as is and use the Percussion Alt part (glockenspiel or xylophone) to cover all the important harmony. (I don’t believe you can play both on the same glockenspiel, sorry.) Do not use Percussion Alt if you have Percussion 2 and 3 covered.
a thousand miles away will be available for purchase on July 1, 2022. Once it goes live, use the discount code QueerFamily from 7/1/22-7/31/22 for 20% off the score and parts! (Like with all my large ensemble pieces, once you buy it, make as many copies as you like. All I ask is that you send me programs at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime you perform my work—if you can.)