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Laurence Owen (1944-1961) was an Olympic figure skater, gold medalist in the 1961 US and North American Figure Skating championships, and on her way to compete in that year’s world championship when her plane crashed on approach to the airport in Brussels. Also traveling on that flight were all the other members of the U.S. National Figure Skating team and its coaches, including Laurence’s mother and sister, both champion skaters in their own right. There were no survivors. The loss of life was devastating and the world championships were cancelled that year to honor the team. A memorial fund was immediately established in their name which enabled many future skaters to gain financial support in pursuit of their careers as the US skating world gradually rebuilt and recovered from the tragedy.
Laurence, only 16 years old at the time of her death, was also a budding writer (she had planned to pursue a career in writing), and much of her poetry and personal journals survive. As a life-long fan of figure skating, I came upon the text of her poem “Awakening” by chance when researching the fate of that 1961 team. The musical ideas took form as I watched a video of Laurence skating at the US 1961 nationals. Although she was still developing as a skater, her artistry, and grace were already prominently evident in that performance, as was her youthful spirit. Her poetry likewise reflected a poignancy and maturity beyond her years. I attempt to reflect those qualities in the themes, lines and shapes of the music, and which I respectfully dedicate to her memory and that of all the 73 other souls who perished that day.
Purchase includes PDF of full score with all instrumental parts. this purchase is exclusive and non-transferable.
Be sure to check out the MP3 accompaniment that is also for sale in the GWA Music Store.