We Few

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Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 7.00.33 AM.png

We Few

6.50

scena for male voice and piano (2010)

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Model of a home in Agincourt.

Model of a home in Agincourt.

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  • Premiere: 25 October 2015  / The Rourke Art Museum
  • Instrumentation: male voice & piano
  • Duration: 7'

On 25 October 2015, Agincourt, Iowa ("the town that time forgot and geography misplaced") celebrated its 158th birthday with a major museum exhibition at the Rourke Art Museum, a series of public presentations, and other far less formal events. It is also the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V's decisive victory over the French in the Hundred Years' War, a subject I have treated beforein the large-scale work, commissioned to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Agincourt, Iowa, Agincourt Fanfare, for brass and timpani. It is always an honor and pleasure as a citizen-composer to supply music for important public events. I was particularly intrigued by this project because Agincourt, Iowa -- the town for whom I serve as composer-in-residence --  does not exist.

For the 2015 festivities, curate Ronald Ramsay commissioned We Few, a 7-minute scena for voice and piano based on William Shakespeare's great St. Crispian's Day oration (Henry V, IV, 3) in memory of his father, Clifford Ramsay (1917-1980).

Click here to read an article about the event.

Click here to read about the Rourke Art Museum.

First page of the score.

First page of the score.

I am the last living member in this spindly branch of the Ramsay clan in America, the only child of an only child. My grandfather’s two brothers were nearly a generation older than he was; I suppose that they had children, but those branches are so far removed as to be ancient history.

Grandfather was Roy Lanier Ramsey. His only child was Roy Clifford Ramsey. I was destined to have been Roy also, but Marge would have none of it. So Ronald—a name I loathe, by the way—was dutifully entered on the birth certificate. Of course I’ve seen fit to change my name, three time, in fact and might again.

Of the two parents and two grandparents I recall, I knew Roy L. only slightly; he died when I was six. Marge (a.k.a. my father’s first wife) departed ignominiously in the Spring of 1953, but the remaining two I remember each and every day: my father Roy C. and his mother, my grandmother, Clara. These are the people who shaped my character. Those of you who attended the Agincourt closing on 25 October 2015 may not have realized that you heard the memorial to my father.

I am not one who prizes polished lumps of granite in the ground. Indeed, if you seek one at Fairmont Cemetery southwest of Chicago on the road to Lemont and Joliet, save your time and gasoline: I never got around to buying one. Instead I asked Daron Hagen to set the words of William Shakespeare for baritone and piano, nominally to commemorate the Battle of Agincourt six hundred years earlier. Visit Hagen’s website, however, and you’ll find that “We Few” — a scene for voice and piano — does double duty as Roy’s memorial. Each time it is performed, the program will keep his name alive, if not his memory, more effectively than any headstone could have done.
— Ronald Ramsay