JEREMY HOWARD BECK
HUMAN KINDNESS IS OVERFLOWING for Clarinet, Percussion, Piano, Electric Guitar, Cello, and Double Bass
(Score in C)
Instrumentation Bb Clarinet Percussion (Vibraphone, glockenspiel, triangle) Piano Electric Guitar (Pedals: volume, reverb) Cello Double Bass Duration: 7 minutes Program Note On a warm Saturday night in early May, just as I was beginning work on what would eventually become this piece, my friend went out to a club alone. His drink was spiked, and he was robbed, raped, and left in an elevator—nearly blind without his glasses, which had either fallen of or been taken from him—more than three miles from where he started. My friend was foreign, here on an extended vacation, and so responsibility for his afairs—involving the police, the hospital, and the day-to-day need to care for him and not leave him alone—fell to me and to his one other friend in New York, Andrew. I was in my last week of fnals before graduating from Juilliard, and so Andrew and I took shifts keeping him company, handling as much of the paperwork as we could so that he wouldn't have to, and simply making sure he ate. Whenever I wasn't completing a fnal project or in an exam, I was with him. For one week, every decision I made was made around what was best for him. It is the closest I have come to feeling the love that, I imagine, a parent feels for a child. Countless people were so kind to him: breaking through red tape to get him a free hotel room near his country's consulate, fying his older brother from overseas (and fying both of them home, frst class), giving him box upon box of free samples of contact lenses so he wouldn't have to pay for new glasses, even giving him the option of back-ofce duty at work until he felt up to dealing with clients again. If there was to be any comfort then, the incredible kindness of those strangers—and of Andrew, who was a saint—was it. And then he was taken home, and I had to stay here and write this piece. What followed his departure was the worst writer's block I have ever experienced. All I wanted to do was sit in my mother's company and grieve for the horrible things that had happened to people close to me this year. I had written another piece, You Are Alive, for a friend whose fancée was murdered in the Fall of 2009, but I knew I just didn't have another piece like that in me. I was emotionally and creatively exhausted. And so I wrote this piece about that. I wanted to build a safe space where I could both mourn the horrors I had seen and praise the great kindnesses I had witnessed, without having to choose between the two. An allusion to Mahler toward the end of the piece is my expression of gratitude to the composer who, more than any other, has always guided me through difcult times. I was also listening, on loop, to a great Randy Newman song whose refrain—“human kindness is overfowing / and I think it's going to rain today”—tinged with ambivalence and even a little sarcasm, somehow said it all.