A Serious Man, 2013 (15′)
for violin, cello, and piano
commissioned by the Claremont Trio
A Serious Man is dedicated to my uncle, Bill Carroll, and anyone who knew my uncle knows that the title, appropriately, is a bit of a joke. Bill was not someone you’d describe, first and foremost, as “serious”. In fact, he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, funny in a way that my generation doesn’t always get but would do well to absorb and understand. In his own way, though, he took his life extremely seriously, in that he worked hard to help those around him, first and foremost his family but also his broader community, here in Detroit and beyond. He brought a seriousness to life that didn’t include taking himself too seriously, and I learned a lot from that. The title is also a bit of a poke at the Coen brothers, whose film by the same name depicted a very different kind of midwestern Jewish experience than the one my family represents. I wish they could have met my uncle. This is my second piano trio; the first was also a memorial work, but from a very different time and responding to a very different set of circumstances. This piece doesn’t try to tell the story of his life, or anything so literal; it’s “just a piece,” inspired by my thoughts about my uncle and about this family, and knowing that it would be premiered close to where my aunt and my cousins all live. I am deeply grateful to the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival and the Claremont Trio for giving me the opportunity to reflect in this way, and to be a part of this fantastic musical gathering.