The End of the World (I’m Not Dying) [grade 4 wind ensemble and narrator]


Commissioned by Gretchen Renshaw James for Hendrix College, The End of the World (I’m Not Dying) is a 9-minute work for grade 3.5-4 wind ensemble and narrator about clinging tight to the people we love. Content warnings for this piece include suicidality and anti-trans violence.


Commissioned by Gretchen Renshaw James, Nancy and Craig Wood Odyssey Associate Professor of Music, Hendrix College.

Listen to the Hendrix College Wind Ensemble give the world premiere, with me (Eris) narrating:

Uncensored program notes (CW: suicidality, anti-trans violence):
My brain doesn’t always want to be alive. Don’t get me wrong—I love my life and have every intention of staying corporeal—but my body isn’t necessarily wired to handle that very well. Although I’ve learned to live with that dissonance, grappling with it amidst America’s legislative and cultural onslaught against transgender people intensifies my struggle. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t go to bed most nights laden down with grief and anxiety, particularly as violent trans death begins to permeate the mainstream news cycle.

As much as I sometimes want nothing more than to burrow into the comfort of other trans people, like many other trans folks around the world, my in-person and virtual support systems are mostly comprised of cisgender loved ones who will (probably!) never walk through life as I do. My thoughts frequently swirl with worry, not only that they won’t understand the trauma I experience but also that they will, at one point or another, decide the trappings of my existence are too much to deal with. It is very easy to feel alone. And yet, my friends still hold me in their love and care, whether they’re halfway across the country or halfway around the world. Even on my worst nights, when nothing but the void stares back at me, the presence of just one of those voices in my inbox or my earbuds can get me through to the morning.

That love, that care, is immeasurable to me. I would not exist—I would not be able to exist—as I am today without it. Many of them are aware that my brain doesn’t always want to be alive, but fewer of them know they’re a big part of what keeps me going. I owe them an immense debt I will never be able to fully repay. For now, all I can do is burn brighter for them and for all my trans siblings—because they make it possible. The End of the World (I’m Not Dying) is me inking that promise into my musical veins.

Notes to the director and performers:
The End of the World (I’m Not Dying) is a piece I’ve conceived somewhat like a film score or theater piece—although certain motives persist and evolve through the work as a whole, the textures and shifts that occur primarily serve the emotional throughlines of the narration. Ultimately, narrator and large ensemble should work together to craft a compelling story. This journey may lead to interpretations which are occasionally at odds with notational details. This exploration is encouraged.

(Notes continue in the score)

For Vis, who inspired the reboot framing, and for Totes, Augy, and the rest of the guildies who keep me up.

Run time: approx. 9′.

Frequently asked: does the narrator need to be trans to perform this piece?
Not at all! Although this piece is about being trans and was envisioned for a trans narrator, you do NOT have to be trans to narrate this work. I am completely fine with cisgender folks performing the part as long as the material and its intent are treated with the respect it deserves.
How should I write the name of this piece in programs/posts/etc?
Please do refer to it in full for programs and marketing materials, including the parenthetical. This is important from a royalties standpoint—if I cannot prove that my work is the one that’s been programmed, my PRO will not grant me the royalties I am entitled to from your performance!
Can I chop up your program notes?
Whenever possible, please include the full notes either in your program or via a QR code. If shortening is absolutely necessary, omitting the first paragraph and starting at “As much as I sometimes want nothing more…” is acceptable.

The End of the World (I’m Not Dying) partial perusal score (preview before you buy!)

All copies of the full score and parts include a 9×12 score and an 11×17 score. The study score option includes a 9×12 score and narrator part.

Piccolo, Flutes 1 & 2, Oboe, Bassoon, Clarinets 1 & 2, Bass Clarinet, Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Trumpets 1 & 2, French Horns 1 & 2, Trombones 1 & 2, Bass Trombone, Euphonium, Tuba, Timpani, Percussion (Bass Drum, Vibraphone, Glockenspiel, Thunder Stick, Sandpaper Blocks, Tambourine, Suspended Cymbal, Finger Cymbals, Splash Cymbal, Water Gong). Percussion alternatives are suggested in the performance notes.

Known performances:

3/7/2024, Hendrix College, Conway, AR (world premiere)

Additional information


Full score and parts, Study score only


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