Pink Ribbon for Susan


Clarinet performed by Christopher Hill. Piano performed by Christopher Stanichar
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Pink Ribbon for Susan Program Notes by Christopher Stanichar

A few years ago, my friend and clarinetist Christopher Hill and I discussed writing a composition for clarinet and string orchestra in memory of his brother who had recently passed away as a result of cancer. Chris was going through a horrible time with grief and loss, and I was happy to have the opportunity to write something for him. Unfortunately, I had to put that composition on hold in order to finish other commissions that I had committed to write at the time.

In the fall of 2012, Chris and I discussed a new composition for clarinet and orchestra. This time, cancer was attacking another beloved member of his family: his beautiful wife Susan. After struggling with breast cancer five years ago, Chris and Susan learned that, following a five year period of remission, her cancer had metastasized, resulting in diagnosis of stage 4 cancer. Susan is an inspiration to me, and Chris suggested that she be the sole subject for this work.

I set about this composition in January of 2013, and was able to complete it in a few short weeks. Every time I see Susan, her demeanor, and her beautiful smile inspire me. Although she is suffering, she doesn’t show it: she is gentle and gracious. So, I have sought to incorporate these qualities into the fabric of my composition. I wanted to something beautiful, a love poem of sorts, from her husband (represented by the clarinet) to Susan (represented by the orchestra).

The main melody occurred to me after learning that the father of one of my college friends had passed away following a long battle with stomach cancer. This news stunned me, and I didn’t know how to express my sorrow, so I sat at the piano that night in tears, and the following melody came to me. I saved this melody, and used it as the main motif for Pink Ribbon for Susan.

In the middle of Pink Ribbon for Susan, you will hear a cadenza for solo clarinet. At the end of this work, you will also hear the bare clarinet part accompanied by just a few low strings. As much as this is a composition for Susan, it is also for my friend Christopher, and these solo moments reflect their mutual grief and concern.

Susan Hill wrote the following impressions of Pink Ribbon for Susan, which appeared on her Caring Bridge Site on August 14, 2016:

The Municipal Band concert was amazing last week! There were at least 600 people in the audience! Thanks to everyone who came to support us; it is an evening I will treasure in my heart! The band played Pink Ribbon for Susan, which was written and conducted by our friend, Dr. Christopher Stanichar. My dear, sweet husband, Chris, handed Christopher the baton to conduct so he could play the clarinet solo with the band. Music friends can skip the next few sentences 🙂 …For all my non-music friends: this is like the sound track of a great movie: Chris and my life together. I am represented by the band and Chris by the clarinet. It starts out with a romantic style, like a slow dance, this is Chris and me meeting and falling in love, the cancer battle comes in and the same music takes on a darker sound, then in the end cancer loses and we win and it is triumphant at the end! I will win, maybe not immediately, but definitely!

Susan passed away at the age of 43 on February 16, 2017. I was honored to have this piece played at her funeral, and she has touched my life forever. I watched her daily through some really tough moments, and not once did it ever destroy her spirit. I will always remember Susan with laughter and smile, and a spirit of love, adventure and hope.

Variations on a Theme by Handel

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Work for string orchestra (16 minutes)

  • Original music to be used in Andrew Kightlinger’s new independent movie, Dust of War (2011)
  • This composition is dedicated to Charles and Jane Zaloudek, and is composed in partial fulfillement of the Charles and Jane Zaloudek Faculty Research Fellowship that was awarded by the college in May 2011.


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Anthem for a cappella mixed choir (6 minutes)

  • Commissioned by Augustana College in the summer 2011 for The Augustana Choir (setting of John 14: 27-28). The work is dedicated to Dr. James Johnson on the occasion of his retirement. The Augustana Choir premiered the work at Homecoming Service on October 16, 2011. Dr. Weston Noble, visiting choir director from Luther College, conducted the choir for this event.

Purple Lullaby (Two different editions)

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Extended Lullaby (8 minutes)

  1. For English horn and Piano
  2. For English horn and Strings
  • Purple Lullaby for English Horn and Piano was accepted for publication by Trevco Music in August 2010. The work is dedicated to my daughter, who inspired the piece.
  • Purple Lullaby for English horn and strings was accepted for publication in August 2011. This orchestration was made in partial fulfillment of the Charles and Jane Zaloudek Faculty Research Fellowship.
  • Prof. Virginia Stitt from South Utah University wrote: “Thank you again for the wonderful piece to add to the English horn repertoire.”

St. Mark Passion

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Cantata for choir and chamber ensemble of flute, oboe/English horn, percussion, cello, and piano (45 minutes)

  • Made possible by the generous assistance of the Granskou Grant foundation, this is a collaborative work that included Dr. Richard Swanson, Dr. Patrick Hicks, and Dr. James Johnson. St. Mark Passion premiered in March 2011 with Dr. Johnson conducting the Augustana Chamber Choir and professional musicians to an audience of 500 people. A DVD of this performance was released by Augustana College.
  • This past summer, Richard Swanson presented the video performance of our production of St. Mark Passion at the annual meeting of the Network of Biblical Storytellers.
  • St. Mark Passion was presented in Holden Village, Washington, in the summer 2012


Anthem for SATB Choir and piano (5 minutes)

  • Paid commission by Immanuel Lutheran Church in Omaha, Nebraska, in honor of Mr. Jeff Ingraham on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as Music Director.

The Raven

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Song Cycle for Tenor or Soprano and Piano (25 minutes)

  • Dedicated to Scott Miller, and composed with the assistance of the Augustana Research and Artist Fund (ARAF). The work premiered at Augustana College on March 25, 2010
  • Performance scheduled at Whitworth University (Spokane, Washington) on January 12, 2012, as part of the guest lecture series at that school

Independence Overture

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Work for orchestra in celebration of American Independence (15 minutes)

  • Commissioned by Orchestra Omaha and music director Kenneth Meints. The work had its world premiere on February 8, 2009 and featured in the Omaha World-Herald.


Music used in Ric Burn’s documentary, Andy Warhol (October 2006)

  • COMPOSED an original work, Trisagion, for acappella choir that was used in the PBS documentary, Andy Warhol. The documentary aired nationally in October 2006 and is available for purchase through PBS. Also conducted Chrysostomos Choir of Bratislava, Slovakia, for the performance used in this film. Was contacted by the producer, Ric Burns, at Steeplechase Films. This documentary has been released on DVD in 2007 and is available for purchase here.


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Work for Orchestra (8 minutes)

  • Work commissioned by Glenn and MaryJo Dalrymple for Orchestra Omaha
  • Performed by Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil del Estado de Veracruz (March 2009) REVIEWED
  • Performed by Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra (November 2009)
  • Performed by Augustana College & Community Orchestra (May 2009)
  • Performed by the Braunschweig Technical University under the direction of Anthony Trecek-King (February 20, 2006)
  • Performed by Heartland Philharmonic Orchestra (May 1, 2005)
  • Performed by Mineralny Vody Festival Orchestra (May 13 and 14, 2005)

Songs of Soul Mates

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Song Cycle in Four Movements for Soprano or Tenor, English Horn and Piano (20 minutes)

  • Songs settings of poems in English by Rosetti, Patchen, Shelly and Arnold
  • Listed on the repertoire list for Carolyn Hove, English horn player for the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Performed at Augustana College as part of a faculty recital with Lisa Grevlos, Kristi Stanichar, and the composer (October 2009)
  • Selected for performance at the CMS Super-regional conference at Illinois State University (March 29, 2008)
  • Featured work at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Provo, Utah (July 2008)
  • Performed at the University of Nebraska at Omaha with Wendy Eaton, David Low, and Hal France (January 18, 2007)

Bremen Town Musicians

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Work for orchestra or wind ensemble and narrator (25 minutes)

  1. For Orchestra and Narrator
  2. For Double Woodwind Quintet and Narrator
  • Composed for my son, and based on the famous story from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and premiered with the Omaha Municipal Orchestra (February 23, 2003)
  • Performed four times in November 2009 by Dr. Stephen Hyde and the Baylor Symphony: three times for the annual Children’s Concerts and once for a program at Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas
  • Performed by the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra (March 2009)
  • Performed by Binghamton Philharmonic (New York) and conducted by Maestro José-Luis Novo (February 16, 2006)

Poem for English Horn and Strings

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Work for English horn (9 minutes)

  1. For English horn and piano
  2. For English horn and strings
  • Work composed for my wife, a talented English horn player
  • Listed on the repertoire list for Carolyn Hove, English horn player for the Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Featured work at the International Double Reed Society Conference in Provo, Utah (July 2008)
  • Performed by Krasnodar Chamber Orchestra (May 22, 2005)
  • Performed by the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra (June 15, 2003) REVIEWED
  • Performed by the Sochi Philharmonic (June 20, 2003) with live broadcast


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Work for Band or Orchestra (3 minutes)

  • Performance by Augustana Band at Washington Pavilion (April 3, 2009)
  • Performed by Sochi Symphony Orchestra (May 27, 2005)
  • Performed by the Concert Band Clinic at Kansas State University under the direction of James Saker on January 20, 2006
  • Multiple performances with the professional Concert Band in Riga, Latvia (2003)

Mass of the Last Supper (for Choir and Chamber Orchestra)

play MP3 – Kyrie, Gloria

play MP3 – Credo

play MP3 – Offertorium

play MP3 – Sanctus

play MP3 – Pater noster

play MP3 – Agnus Dei

play MP3 – Deo gratias

Full setting of Mass in English for Mixed Choir and Orchestra or Piano (25 minutes)

  • Composed for the Chancel Choir at Immanuel Presbyterian Church (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Performed in several performances in Cincinnati, Omaha, and Sioux Falls.
  • Featured on Omaha’s Classical KVNO as the focus for an hour-long program “Going Beyond Words” hosted by Stan Schmidt on Sunday, Sept. 19, 2010


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Work for String Quartet or String Orchestra (10 minutes)

  • Performed by the Wister String Quartet (Members of the Philadelphia Orchestra; January 12, 2000
  • Performed by the Orquesta Sinfónica Juvenil del Estado Veracruz (Mexico; April 13, 2007) REVIEWED


Published by Trevco Music

Purple Lullaby for English Horn and Strings

Purple Lullaby for English Horn and Piano

Bremen Town Musicians

Songs of Soulmates

Poem for English Horn and Strings

Poem for English Horn and Piano