There are two versions of Aftermath for multi-instrumentalist and piano. The original 2019 version was written for Matt Fox (clarinet, alto saxophone, bassoon), and the 2020 arrangement was written for Katie Thayer (clarinet, alto saxophone, oboe).
The Aftermath of a tragic event is like the aftermath of winter in Wyoming. Just as the world begins to thaw, everything is raw and still a little frozen, but there is a sense that there is life under the snow. Recovering from grief and emotional trauma is like winter turning to spring. Sometimes the grief gets you like a late winter snow – it’s wet and messy, and in the morning the world is frozen again. But this wet snow doesn’t last long and after a warm day, everything returns to normal. The further you get away from the dead of winter – the trauma – the more the earth thaws. Snowstorms become fewer and more scattered until they fade, replaced by thunderstorms which are different, but not necessarily less harsh than their frozen counterpart. As spring turns to summer, the thunderstorms taper and the snow is gone, but none are forgotten. Wyoming weather is unpredictable – sometimes it snows in July, sometimes it’s hot in January, sometimes flash floods devastate a county, and sometimes fire tears across the state – but we all must weather these storms so that we can enjoy the beauty of a nice day.
Aftermath was commissioned and written for multi-instrumentalist Matthew Fox. The story of this piece begins at the University of Wyoming where we both studied music performance. Our original agreement was a couple minutes of music for the lofty payment of one chai tea latte. Over time, the idea developed as we grew into our professional musical lives; a couple years after we graduated, and nothing had come from the hot beverage, Matt contacted me again about completing the piece for his final graduate recital. He had a couple strange requests and suggestions, telling me that the piece should start on clarinet, then go to saxophone, and finally bassoon, and that “it would be neat to end on a low Bb.” Throughout the process, I would often ask Matt what runs were good and which notes were bad, and no matter what I threw at him, he assured me that he could do it all. With this freedom afforded to me, I decided to showcase Matt’s talents, bringing each instrument to its limits from the nearly silent clarinet at the beginning to the bombastic runs and the lowest Bb on the bassoon at the end.
– Shawna M. Wolf