In Two Worlds



I began this piece in May 2005 while caring for my aunt in the final weeks of her battle with lung cancer.  It is an elegy and homage, but it is also a meditation on the nature of her experience dying.  Willfully denying her condition and determined not to die at age fifty-four, my aunt defied doctors’ predictions and, incredibly, persisted with liver failure for seven weeks.  Early on she slipped into a kind of semi-conscious purgatory in which her labored utterances were dreamlike, hallucinatory recollections as often as they were lucid expressions of fear, discomfort, and sadness.  The title of the piece refers to one of her physician’s observations during this time: as he explained it, my aunt was “caught between two worlds, with one foot in this world, and one foot in another.”  The work was commissioned by the Bennington Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the East and premiered by its players on August 6, 2005.  Upon returning to Yale a month later, I revised and extended the work.  In Two Worlds is dedicated to the memory of Katherine “Kay” Kitchin Snider, with love.

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