Before the Dawn was written to honor the teaching career of Mr. Dave Gott, who served as Director of Bands at Haslett High School in Haslett, Michigan for 19 years. It was commissioned by the Haslett High School Band Boosters. Before I started writing this piece, I visited the Haslett High School Band to ask about their experiences with Mr. Gott and to brainstorm ideas for the piece. What struck me most about their observations and memories of Mr. Gott was how he had helped so many of them do things they themselves did not think they could do, both personally and collectively—he saw potential in them that they could not yet see and helped them achieve goals they could not have even imagined.
I am also fortunate to call Dave Gott my friend. For as long as I’ve known him, he wakes up well before dawn, getting a head start on the day. For me, this time when the deep blue night sky moves toward day through hues of glorious red and orange is a time of hopefulness, joy, and optimism—it feels like anything is possible. My hope with this piece is to capture that feeling—the same optimism, hope, and inspiration that Mr. Gott brought to every student that entered his classroom—and to celebrate it through music. A simple melody rises from the distant horizon, repeating and expanding each time as more voices join. Eventually the melody gives way to unbridled energy, joy, and wonder, with soloists and sections collectively weaving their own unique variation of the melody into a colorful tapestry.