Brian Norcross has been a dedicated conductor and my valued colleague at F&M College for about 25 years. One of the most challenging and poignant aspects of his job involves the never-ending four year cycle of freshman to senior student musicians that he shepherds through the musical ranks. Much like Haydn's seasonal experience with the departing orchestral musicians in Esterházy, that inspired the "Farewell" Symphony, Brian's yearly experience is to see F&M's students who are all to eager to depart at the beginning of each summer. In this case, the graduating seniors don't return; hence the title of the piece Carpe Diem, which of course is Latin for "Sieze the Day." The piece begins with a solemn processional reminiscent of Convocation, one of the academically robed ceremonies celebrated each Fall to welcome the Freshman class. This music returns three more times in varied forms, suggesting the ongoing cycling through the four academic years and classes of students: freshman, sophomore, junior and senior. Rumbunctious music suggesting the harried pace of social life at F&M is interpolated between the refrains of the ceremonial music, and the fabric becomes more contrapuntal and scholarly as the years progress towards graduation. Once I siezed upon the idea of the work, the initial tongue-in-cheek stance I had adopted evolved into an appreciation of the pognancy of this ongoing welcome and farewell procession, and I hope the music captures a little bit of both moods.
February 3, 2007: Carpe Diem was premiered by the
Franklin & Marshall College Philharmonia, Brian Norcross conducting.
November 13, 2010: Carpe Diem was performed by the Franklin & Marshall College Orchestra, Brian Norcross, conductor, Barshinger Center for the Performing Arts, F&M College, Lancaster, PA.