World premiere: May 9, 2005, Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA, at Music of Remembrance's Holocaust Remembrance Day concert.
Recording: In Memoriam is available on the MOR CD, For a Look or a Touch (Naxos), with Julian Schwarz, solo cello; Jeannie Wells Yablonsky, violin 1; Leonid Keylin, violin 2; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mara Finkelstein, cello.
Gerard Schwarz offers the following remarks:
In Memoriam is a work for solo cello and string orchestra (or string quartet), written in memory of a great musician and dear friend, David Tonkonogui (1958-2003). I was very thrilled when my son Julian was chosen to be the first recipient of Music of Remembrance's David Tonkonogui Memorial Award. David meant so much to all of us in our household and was such an inspirational teacher for Julian, fostering his passionate love of music. When Mina Miller, the artistic director of Music of Remembrance, and I were discussing what short work Julian would play as part of his prize for the MOR spring concert, I suggested that perhaps I could write something. I was very interested in the possibility because of my deep affection for David Tonkonogui and everything that he represented as an artist and as a person. Mina embraced the idea, so during the end of March and beginning of April, I wrote this work. In Memoriam is basically in three parts: the first section is funereal in spirit, reflecting on the tragedy of death for someone so young and so gifted--and so remarkable. There is a consistent sadness and poignancy in this opening section. The middle section begins with the string quartet and then the material is repeated and embellished in the cello. I wanted this to be positive in feeling, thinking of all the great accomplishments of this wonderful man, individually and as a father and husband. It has a somewhat otherworldly quality but hopefully the experience is uplifting; a tribute to the extraordinary meaning that David Tonkonogui's life meant to all that knew him. Finally, the coda brings back a little part of first section in a much shortened version, which is also much thinner texturally, to end on a single note--the lowest or purest note on the cello.