When Bruce and JoAnne Vieweg commissioned Paul Cravens ’12 to write a piece in memory of Dr. Pamela Jolicoeur, Concordia’s 10th president, Cravens asked himself how he would compose a piece of music about someone he didn't know very well.
Bruce Vieweg, Concordia’s CIO, says he admires Cravens’ work and wanted to commission a piece by him. “As we talked about it,” Vieweg said, “it started focusing more and more on Dr. Jolicoeur.”
Cravens struggled with the theme for a while, debating whether he should find out more information about Jolicoeur. Eventually, Cravens decided to go with what he already knew.
“This piece isn’t about my relationship with President Jolicoeur,” Cravens said. “Instead this piece tries to accompany all of us on a journey that I think we all have known or will know, and that is the loss of a loved one.”
It took about six months before Cravens placed the piece in Dr. Peter Haberman’s hands. The Concordia Band, under Haberman’s direction, premiered “Elegy for a Joyful Heart” on the ensemble's recent tour of the Upper Midwest. The tour ended Sunday with a home concert at Oak Grove High School in Fargo.
The title comes from the etymology of Jolicoeur’s name, meaning “joyful heart.” A friend and Concordia Band alumni helped him title the piece.
Cravens says the music honors Jolicoeur while also representing universal grief. He created three sections to reflect the emotions one goes through after losing a loved one: initial grief, fond remembrance and the legacy that lives on.
He incorporated into the piece one of Jolicoeur’s favorites, Johann Sebastian Bach’s “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star” to symbolize fond remembrance, and the Chinese tune “Love Song of Kang Ding” to represent Jolicoeur’s legacy. The Chinese melody honors Jolicoeur’s role in the creation of a relationship between Concordia and United International College in Zhuhai.
“Elegy” starts with a simple piano solo that builds into a complex, haunting melody as instruments are added. Powerful chords close the piece, which ends with a sense of cleansing.
Bruce Vieweg has heard the piece several times. “It is truly moving,” he says.