A bitter wind blows though our lives: our humanity is increasingly being taken from us. We work more hours than ever before, and are less satisfied. The people who would control our lives seek to do so only for their own benefit. Altruism and compassion are rapidly disappearing, teaching and learning are being replaced by manipulation and marketing. Lies go unquestioned and truths are attacked. Independent thought is discouraged in favor of dogma and catch-phrases. Diversity and originality are publicly praised but not valued; conformity is king. Quantity reigns supreme over quality. We are being turned not into machines—which would at least require an effort to replace—but into leaves of a diseased tree whose individual lives and deaths seem of no consequence whatsoever. Only through a difficult but vital appraisal of our true situation and our real needs can we fight the bitter wind which otherwise promises catastrophe.
Bitter Wind was commissioned by Kiyonori Sokabe for his newly created Zephyros trumpet, to be performed on his 2008 European Tour. I have tried to exploit the dual nature of that instrument, with both valves and slide; as a trombonist I responded favorably to this innovative adaptation of the standard trumpet. I’m grateful to Kiyonori for the opportunity, and I acknowledge his originality and skill as one of those artists who does indeed fight the bitter wind.