It was an absolute pleasure to interview Molly. She is someone who has so many obvious strengths and assets that one of the pleasant difficulties for me was deciding what to focus on. The sheer quantity of impressive skills required for teaching high school students with intensive disabilities is jaw-dropping. Her vast experience in theater is intrinsically interesting (she received scholarships from multiple colleges, has acted and directed plays in Denver, worked in PR and Marketing for a theater, etc.). On top of all of this, her demeanor and lack of arrogance (to put it lightly) are incredibly admirable qualities. Here is a short clip of her talking about teaching diverse students in a high-needs environment, while she cares for her one-year-old son. I love how capable she is, how many layers are evident in such a short amount of time, how she draws on a wealth of experience, how caring and tender she is with her son, and how she is never bragging about any of it (turn the volume down a bit; her son is close to the microphone).
I chose to write for three instruments, cello, viola, and violin, as a reference to Molly’s daily life. She is a mother and wife, and so much of her day is spent with her family of three. I specifically chose to put most of the thematic material in the viola, because that instrument is so infrequently in the spotlight, and I think Molly places herself infrequently (read: nearly never) in the spotlight. The piece begins with a very meek chord progression that never allows itself to build too audaciously. It is a pleasant sound, but feels like there is more that isn’t being shown.
My absolute favorite part of this piece comes at 1:14”, when that meek chord progression begins changing and showing what else is under the surface. The piece is written in E minor, with the vast majority of the harmony being traditional, functional, and avoiding unexpected turns. Here, however, all three instruments combine to create a solid G major chord (which is the relative major key of E minor). The intention is to create a noticeable change in the tonal center, which gives a hopeful, forward-looking effect. This is, metaphorically, when Molly first allows her own potential to show, if only for a moment.
The third section of the piece is intended to be lush and beautiful, as if Molly has decided to be more brash in her own depiction of herself. The melody for this section is introduced early on in fragments by the viola and cello at 1:32” and then is played in full at 2:00” by the viola. Later on the accompanying harmony becomes increasingly complex and layered. The melody also changes and takes less expected turns while becoming more expressive and dynamic. This is a nod to Molly’s depth and potential, those qualities that she so often understates or writes off when talking about herself. I wanted this melody to shine more and more brilliantly, and for the harmonies to portray that depth in a way that is more self-indulgent than Molly is in reality. Essentially, it is meant to brag about Molly, who would never brag about herself.