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with Piano; Sonata della speranza “Sonata of Hope” for bassoon and piano by Howard J. Buss was written for Dr. Ann Shoemaker and is dedicated to the memory of bassoonist Dr. Eric Van der Veer Varner. When work on this sonata began in the autumn of 2019 it was being composed for Eric, a friend of the composer. After Eric’s sudden, tragic death shortly thereafter, the project was shelved. Work resumed in the spring during the global Covid-19 pandemic. At the time, Italy was the epicenter of the crisis and the composer, having friends living there, was deeply concerned with their welfare. As the composition developed, Italy overcame the worst of the ravages of the disease, and the pandemic took firm hold in the United States. The composer wrote much of Sonata della speranza while at home in Florida adhering to governmental shelter-in-place orders.
The three movements address an array of emotions the composer experienced following the death of his friend and during the pandemic. The optimistic character of “Auspicious Sunrise” radiates the hope imbued in the morning glow of a new day. The musing nature of “Introspective” reflects the inner dialogue often experienced during the extended periods of social isolation. The buoyant, and at times whimsical third movement, “Serendipitous,” combines elements from the previous movements with new material: The music exudes an optimistic, forward thrust, while incorporating feelings from the daily experiences of living through the pandemic.