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Legacy of Jolicoeur lives on through music

Cobber alum wrote piece in memory of former president

No one saw it coming. On June 9, 2010 Bruce Vieweg received a call the he will always remember.

Vieweg was on vacation when he received a call informing him that former Concordia president Pam Jolicoeur had experienced a stroke, and it was unlikely that she would survive. She died hours later.

For Vieweg and many others, it was a day of sadness, loss and remembrance. But now, almost four years later, the legacy of Jolicoeur can live on through more than just words. Her legacy can live on through music.

The piece “Elegy for a Joyful Heart” by Concordia alumni Paul Cravens was premiered on the Concordia Band tour in early February. It was written in memory of Jolicoeur.

In the spring of 2013 Vieweg and his wife JoAnne commissioned Cravens to write a piece. Both Vieweg and Cravens discussed song ideas, and soon the piece evolved to be about Jolicoeur.

Vieweg, chief information officer of the college and an avid supporter of the arts, said that he wanted Cravens to write a piece after hearing his earlier compositions.

“I listened to some of his other works, and it just struck me,” Vieweg said. “He is the real deal. He is accomplished, professional and it just made sense to ask him to write a piece.”

Cravens wrote the piece after it was decided that it would be about Jolicoeur. He incorporated elements of Bach’s “How Brightly Shines the Morning Star” and the Chinese song, “Love Song of Kang Ding”, which the Concordia Band played on international tour two years ago.

Cravens said before the Concordia Band’s home concert on Feb. 10, the piece takes on three distinct sections. The first is the grief, which follows directly after someone dies. The second section is remembrance, which brings in the Bach chorale, one of Jolicoeur’s favorites. The last section embodies the legacy of Jolicoeur; this is where the Chinese tune is incorporated into the piece.

While Cravens did not know Jolicoeur well, he did not want to try and make the piece about knowing her but rather, tried to make the piece more universal.

“This piece isn’t about my relationship with her,” Cravens said. “Learning about someone is no substitute for having a friendship with someone.”

Vieweg said that he was moved by the piece and was impressed by Cravens ability as a composer.

“The way he was able to tell a story through the piece and capture the emotions felt was wonderful,” Vieweg said.

After hearing the piece at the home concert, Vieweg said that the celebration through song was wonderful, but it was still able to capture the sadness surrounding the death of Jolicoeur.

“Pam was a leader among leaders,” Vieweg said. “The piece was majestic. It did her justice.”

Vieweg noted that Jolicoeur had a saying about how good the people of Concordia were.

“She would always say ‘Concordia has to do something about its militant modesty,’”
Vieweg said. “She knew that this place was modest, but it could also be full of passion.”

One Comment

  1. Bruce Vieweg Bruce Vieweg February 19, 2014

    Sean – Thank you so much for writing this beautiful story about Elegy . . . Paul Cravens is a magnificent composer and has created a musical piece that has impacted all who have heard it.

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