Ave Maria Para Nossa Mãe was composed in memory of Mrs. Maria Eulalia Avila who died on September 28, 2001, in Modesto, California after struggling with a weak heart and cancer the last five years of her life. The title, Ave Maria Para Nossa Mãe is Portuguese for Hail Mary For Our Mother. Mrs. Avila was the mother-in-law of the composer. The work uses a theme borrowed from a musical clock owned by Mrs. Avila. In the many visits to his in-laws home, Gilroy often noted the melody from this clock with interest. It was later, however, that this melody took on a new meaning. The Rosary service for Mrs. Avila was held in St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Modesto, California. Toward the end of the service, a large group of people from a local Portuguese Society took to the Altar to offer praises for and special memories of Mrs. Avila. They concluded by singing in Portuguese, Ave Maria, the melody from the clock. It now became clear to the composer, why this clock was so special to Mrs. Avila, who led a very religious life. Gilroy decided then that this melody would serve as a catalyst for a composition in memory of his wonderful mother-in-law. The composition initially states the Ave Maria theme in its entirety in the bells and crotales. The work then moves to a hymn based on original material. Before moving to the B theme of the hymn, Gilroy inserts the first fragment of the Ave Maria theme. After the presentation of the B theme of the hymn, another fragment of the clock theme is heard. Next the A theme of the hymn is presented in a less transparent orchestration. Following this, the Ave Maria theme returns with the first three of four fragments only to be interrupted by a very solemn presentation of the entire Ave Maria, which is scored in a low and rich texture. A second statement of this noble theme is developed to climax in a fermata which is followed by a mysterious coda which again features fragments of the Ave Maria theme, but now with the addition of vocals to conjure up memories of the way Mrs. Avila used to sing this and other melodies as she worked around her home. This section moves through some rather transparent and ascending chords before making its final statement of a short fragment of the Ave Maria theme in the bells and crotales. The low winds and chime are meant to evoke a feeling of peace and restfulness as the final tonic chords are heard fading away. The work was premiered by the Stanislaus County High School Honor Band at Modesto Community College in Modesto, California on January 19, 2002 with the composer conducting.
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