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Almost Autumn

 

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Composer(s) / Arranger(s): Gary P. Gilroy,

Performance Time: 5:20  |  Grade: 2  |  Style: Contemporary

“Almost Autumn” is a loving tribute and celebration for the memory of Nancy Fowler from her students and fellow educators of the California Music Educators Association, Central Coast Section, Carmel Music Boosters and the Fowler Family. It was premiered on January 28, 2017 at the Henry J. Mello Center for the Performing Arts in Watsonville, California with the composer conducting the CMEA Middle School Junior High School Honor Band. 
Nancy Fowler was a very successful music teacher at Carmel Middle School since 2004. On September 10, 2015 a tragic automobile accident claimed her life. She left behind a devoted husband, Jeff Fowler, along with a world of loving students and fellow music teachers and colleagues. 
This composition is meant to be a celebratory work in honor of the life of Nancy Fowler. The composer felt the material for the celebratory section came to him much faster than his normal writing process, almost as if Nancy Fowler were dictating her own melody to him. Dr. Gilroy felt the music also needed a middle section that was reflective and solemn, almost as if to give listeners a chance to say a formal “goodbye” to their beloved music teacher/colleague. While the opening theme is presented in the flute, clarinet (Nancy’s instruments) and French horn (her husband, Jeff’s instrument), the closing of this solemn section uses only the French horn as the solo instrument. A recapitulation of the opening material brings all three instruments together again to represent the idea that even though Nancy is not with us physically, she will always be with us spiritually. 
The titles comes from Nancy Fowler herself in a round-about manner. As the work was under way, a couple of her Nancy Fowler’s colleagues, Brian Handley and Barbara Priest, sent the composer an email from one of Nancy’s junior high students who wrote:
Hi. 
I was wondering if you knew what the composition being dedicated to Mrs. Fowler will be called. I had planned on talking to you about this during class, but I had to get to P.E. for seventh period and my mom needed to pick me up right away after school. I did not know Mrs. Fowler as well as many others, but I know of the impact she had on her students and everyone that had come to know her well over the past years. I came to Carmel last year and only knew her from that first month or so. However, I have always remembered one thing she said around the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth week of school. She told the class that she was never really interested in becoming a composer, but if one of us became one, she always though "Almost Autumn" would be a good title for a composition. I thought about writing a piece with that title right after she said that. After she passed, I planned on writing it to dedicate it to her, but I couldn't figure out how to make the music represent her. I was thinking about this in our moment of silence, right before you told the class that someone was making a piece of music in her memory. If there is not a planned title for the piece that already holds meaning, I was wondering if you thought "Almost Autumn" would be a good title. If so, could you contact the person writing the piece to see what he thinks?

Thank you! Please reply and tell me what you think if you have the time.
-Kayla Hall
The composer knew Nancy and Jeff Fowler well from various musical interactions through the years. Nancy served as the honor band manager when Dr. Gilroy served as a guest conducting many years ago. Both Nancy and Jeff worked with Gilroy on the audition team for the California Band Directors Association on more than one occasion. Mrs. Fowler was a dedicated music teacher who consistently produced outstanding performing ensembles. She gave many volunteer hours to her profession through local and state music organizations such as CMEA and CBDA. She is sorely missed by all who knew her!

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