"As She Goes" is a memorial commissioned by the people who loved choral educator Eileen Hower, born Eileen Catherine Murphy. Both names will have a virtual presence in any performance, since I’ve linked the letters in those names with musical pitches, similar to my choice of key: “E” for “Eileen”. The music, literally, grows out of her name. The melody is her name.
I'm using an old Italian technique, and so I give the vowels in Eileen's name an Italian pronunciation. Bearing in mind that in continental Europe "do-re-mi" is "ut-re-mi", I take the vowels in "Eileen Catherine Murphy" (e, i, e, e, a, e, i, e, u, y) and construct a melody,first heard at m. 12: "re, mi, re, re, la, re, mi, re, ut, ti".)
At first I keep the "la" in this melody lowered to "so" and then find various ways to let the note bloom upward in a gesture of release and fulfillment, such as in mseasures 16 and 24. Another reason why the "la" of C# is at first lowered to the "so" of the B (also a featured note in the piano part) is that in the European tradition, B natural is called "H": "H" for "Hower", Eileen's married name.
Folk songs were important to Eileen, so this piece opens with a quote from "My Love's An Arbutus" and closes with "Wild Mountain Thyme", which I believe was the last song Eileen heard in this world. Both folk songs are linked through a falling E, C#, B motif, and through the simple but heart-charged word “go”. Both of these songs should also share 3/4 time, but I have nudged "My Love's An Arbutus" into 4/4, and you can feel how the melody yearns for the lilt of triple time, like shoulders yearning for wings. In the same way that I first deny the "la" in the melody so that I can fulfill it, I deny the opening quote its 3/4 time so that I can fulfill it with "Wild Mountain Thyme". For me, the entry of 3/4 is like the soul lilting upwards, an effect similar to the uplift when the voices finally move into three part harmony at the word “sky” at m. 45.