In Heaven's Air

Samuel R. Hazo
FJH Music Company, 2002


In Heaven’s Air (2002) is about the letting go of a loved one from your hands into the hands of God, as well as the glorious transformation of the soul to Heaven.  Musically, this letting go occurs from measures 49 to 60, with material before measure 49 representing love on Earth and material after measure 60 representing God’s love. At measure 60, the grand chorale symbolizes the soul’s arrival in Heaven.

Performance Notes

Dr. Robert Cameron, Director of Bands at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, commissioned In Heaven’s Air (2002) after experiencing the passing of his mother.  Because the death was accidental and completely unexpected, there was never a true feeling of acceptance or closure. This piece was composed to help him during his time of healing.  The title is taken from William Shakespeare’sSonnet 21: “And then believe me, my love is as fair / As any mother’s child, though not so bright / as those gold candles fixed in heaven’s air.”

Musical Challenges

Encourage the ensemble to keep all notes connected and flowing except when otherwise marked with breath marks or grand pauses.   There should be no breaks in the sound, even at the end of phrases.  Bells should be played with light, hard plastic mallets for a delicate sound.  At measure 13, the flute and oboe take over the melody as they play with the brass choir.  Have them approach the passage with the sound and phrasing of a brass instrument.  Although there is no dynamic change at measure 29, the sound should be fuller than the previous passage.

At measure 49, there must be tension in the chord because it symbolizes the grief and human resistance toward losing a loved one. At measure 50, the music depicts God’s love and care for the soul and should be performed with a gentle nature. The piece then builds from measure 56 to 60, representing the soul’s transformation to Heaven.  It should be played powerfully and with a representative level of grandeur.  All long tones must be held their entire value while producing the most beautiful tone achievable.  If accomplished, the full ensemble’s sound will be tremendous.

About the Composer

Samuel R. Hazo (b. 1966) resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife and children. In 2003, Mr. Hazo became the first composer in history to be awarded the winner of both composition contests sponsored by the National Band Association. He has composed for the professional, university and public school levels in addition to writing original scores for television, radio and the stage. His original symphonic compositions include performances with actors Brooke Shields, James Earl Jones, David Conrad and Richard Kiley. He has also written symphonic arrangements for three-time Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams. Mr. Hazo’s compositions have been performed and recorded world-wide, including performances by the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra (national tour), the Birmingham Symphonic Winds (UK) and the Klavier Wind Project’s recordings with Eugene Migliaro Corporon. Additionally, his music is included in the series "Teaching Music Through Performance in Band." Mr. Hazo's works have been premiered and performed at the Music Educators’ National Conference, Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles Convention, National Honor Band of America, National Band Association/TBA Convention, College Band Directors’ National Association Convention and also aired in full-length programs on National Public Radio. He has served as composer-in-residence at Craig Kirchhoff’s University of Minnesota Conducting Symposium and has also lectured on music and music education at universities and high schools internationally. In 2004, Mr. Hazo's compositions were listed in a published national survey of the "Top Twenty Compositions of All Time" for wind band. 

Mr. Hazo has been a music teacher at every educational grade level from kindergarten through college, including tenure as a high school and university director. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duquesne University where he served on the Board of Governors and was awarded as Duquesne’s Outstanding Graduate in Music Education. Mr. Hazo serves as a guest conductor and is a clinician for Hal Leonard Corporation. Recordings of his compositions appear on Klavier Records and Mark Records.