In 2007, the Saint Louis Wind Symphony lost one of its favorite sons, Sam Goldstein, to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Sam, a french hornist, was an original member of the Saint Louis Wind Symphony and a ray of sunshine to everyone who knew him.
The Saint Louis Wind Symphony decided to initiate a project, via a Kickstarter campaign, to commission a work to honor Sam’s memory and his exemplary service to music making in the Saint Louis area.
In early 2013, the Saint Louis Wind Symphony announced that they had chosen nationally recognized composer Andrew Boysen Jr. to write the piece. Boysen won the University of Iowa Honors Composition Prize in 1991 and has twice won the Claude T. Smith Memorial Band Composition Contest, for I Am, and Ovations. Boysen earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind conducting at the Eastman School of Music, where he served as conductor of the Eastman Wind Orchestra and assistant conductor of the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Andrew often features the French horns in his music, and is a horn player himself. This made him particularly appropriate to compose this tribute piece.
The work would have its world premiere during the Saint Louis Wind Symphony’s March 16, 2014 concert at the Skip Viragh Center for the Performing Arts at Chaminade College Preparatory School.
The four members of the Commissioning Project Team each started with a list of ten composers and then narrowed it to five. When compared, Andrew Boysen’s name was at the top of the list.
Andrew Boysen Jr.
The Kickstarter campaign to raise $3,000 for the Sam Goldstein Commission Project was launched on December 2nd, 2013. Over the course of the next weeks, dozens of generous donors contributed to the project.
On January 3rd, 2014, the Wind Symphony announced that the fundraising goal of $3,000 had been met. By the end of the campaign, over $4,300 dollars had been raised on Kickstarter alone.
From the Kickstarter page:
The Saint Louis Wind Symphony thanks each and every one of you who backed the Goldstein Commission project during our Kickstarter campaign. The campaign is now concluded, and has succeeded well beyond our hopes. We are excited about the March 16 concert when we will premiere “Symphony for Sam,” and hope to see many of you in the audience! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Creating the Music of Sam
Meanwhile, Andrew Boysen Jr. was hard at work on composing the piece.
When he accepted the project, Mr. Boysen asked that four people write essays so that he could know who Sam was. Those people were Dan Presgrave, Sam’s wife JoAnn, Doug Luke and Faye Siegel. Each shared his or her thoughts on Sam.
During the composition process, Music Director Dan Presgrave spoke with Mr. Boysen numerous times. Over the course of the writing process, what started as an 8 -10 minute tone poem became a through-composed symphony of four movements. The movements each represent facets of Sam’s character, and are connected by a promenade motif much like that found in Mussourgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, one of Sam’s favorite pieces.
The inspiration and structure for this change came from Faye Siegel’s essay:
But if you are to know the real heart and soul of this man, what better way than to compose “A Symphony for Sam.” It should be a multi-faceted composition, inclusive of many musical genres, and one that depicts Sam’s true character and spirit. Of course, the french horn section should be prominent, in solo form and majestically and powerfully resplendent in the finale. I offer these suggestions for the movements…
1. Allegro – An Introduction & Theme and Variations, an upbeat portrayal of A RENAISSANCE MAN
2. Adagio – A reflective tone poem of A DEVOUT and COMPASSIONATE MAN
3. Scherzo – A whimsical, playful, charming piece of a MASTER STORY & JOKE TELLER
4. Finale – A triumphant exaltation of PASSIONATE and COURAGEOUS MAN
By the end of 2013, Mr. Boysen had completed his work. “Symphony No. 7: Symphony for Sam” was ready for the Wind Symphony’s first rehearsal in January of 2014. The music was beginning to come to life.
On March 11, 2014, Saint Louis Wind Symphony Director Dan Presgrave and Associate Director Tom Poshak discussed the Goldstein Commission Project and the March 16, 2014 world premiere of “Symphony for Sam” with host (and current Wind Symphony emcee) Kathy Lawton Brown on RAF radio. You can hear that interview here.
Lois Caplan of the Saint Louis Jewish Light also wrote a preview of the March 16, 2014 concert.
On March 16, 2014, thanks to the Wind Symphony’s supporters and donors, the Sam Goldstein Commission Project became a reality. Audience and band members alike were moved by the extraordinary quality and sincerity of My. Boysen’s work. It was a magnificent tribute to a once-in-a-lifetime man.
The score of "Symphony for Sam", signed by the composer
The Sam Goldstein Commission would not have been a reality without the generous support of the following donors. We thank you for contributing to such a special project.
Rick and Sheila Acuncius
Mary Burch Barnett
Mark and Lisa Blackmore
Alan and Suzanne Broddon
Ron and Betsy Cytron
Donna Barry Davis
Shawn and Marsha Etzkorn:
In Memory of LaVelle Etzkorn
General Electric Foundation Matching Gifts
Robert E. Lewis
Doug Luke and Sue Englund
Dan and Michelle McKeever
Monsanto Fund Matching Gifts Program
In Memory of Doris Morhart
John and Ruth Panhorst
Tom and Mary Poshak
Steve and Elaine Repking
The Saint Louis Wind Symphony
Jared, Gay and Katy Spears
Kirk D. Wallace
Bette J. Welch