Medfield composer remembers the many

Justin Casinghino of Medfield stands at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he conducted his original composition in memory of the victims of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland, Florida.

By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Between anguish and outrage, the shooting in Parkland, Florida left many at a loss for words.

There are many ways, though, for individuals to express themselves without the use of words, and Medfield’s Justin Casinghino did just that.

Last month, Casinghino conducted his original composition, “Remembering the Many,” for World Projects, Inc. for the Washington D.C. International Music Festival. Performed by the Lincoln High School Wind Ensemble from Stockton, California, the piece premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on April 17.

“By nature, our schools should be a safe haven of learning for students, with no worry of these atrocities,” Casinghino wrote in the program notes. “‘Remembering the Many’ is a personal attempt to comment on these tragedies, honoring those who fell victim both directly and indirectly, while also portraying the crushing shock of the incidents themselves.”

As a music theory and composition teacher at Boston University, where he completed his doctorate, Casinghino is very in tune with the needs and concerns of students.

“Every time I’m working with students, I’m trying to think about what the students need in a musical context, a social context, and this one came up,” he said.

Casinghino had been working up to the deadline on a different commission altogether, but after hearing about the Parkland shooting, he knew he had to start over and focus the piece on several of the tragedies from gun violence that the nation has suffered.

He incorporated references from the shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas into the composition, which is both as shocking as it is moving.

“It goes back and forth between these chorale-like gentle sections and these shocking impact chords,” he explained. “There’s one of these shocking hits for each victim of these events.”

The students and parents were also very much impacted by the composition, and some were even moved to tears. As a parent, a teacher, and a human being, Casinghino found it to be a way for him to express his feelings on the tragedies.

“For me, it’s absolutely a way to deal with emotions,” he said. “As a composer, as a performer, it’s just part of it. It’s how we try to embody those.”

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