In 2007, Pim van Lommel´s scientific research on near death experiences Eindeloos Bewustzijn (Consciousness Beyond Life) was published. The book gives strong evidence for the assumption that life doesn´t end with death and human beings indeed do have a soul that lives on eternally, as all religions claim. I was intrigued by the subject and started reading books that attempt to describe life `on the other side´, like Life in the World Unseen and A Wanderer in the Spirit World.
In 2010 I was commissioned to write a piece for the Koninklijke Fanfare `Sint Caecilia´, from the Dutch town Puth, to commemorate one of its members, the recently deceased young euphonium player Jeffrey Lindelauf. As coincidence would have it, Jeffrey´s parents asked me to express the viewpoint that life goes on after death in the composition, and they proposed that Vita Aeterna (Eternal Life) would be an appropriate title.
I had the feeling that the lyrical theme of this piece would sound very well for Brass Band, so I decided to use it as a starting point. Not only do I use this musical theme from the previous piece, I also wanted to elaborate a bit more on the subject of ongoing life, now combined with what in Hinduism and Buddhism is called Karma. As a result, the Vita Aeterna Variations have the sort of rudimentary `program´ that many composers from the past have wisely kept to themselves. Here it is: Introduction and Theme. Adagio, Tentative beginning of Life.
Variation I. Allegro energico, Full of vital energy.
Variation II. Tempo di valse in modo subdolo, Evil seeks to seduce and gradually succeeds.
Variation III. Allegro tempestuoso, Fate strikes.
Variation IV. Largo, Despair.
Variation V. Adagio, Redemption.
Variation VI. Tempo di marcia, Gradual return of life power.
Finale: Fugue and Apotheosis. Allegro vivace, Boisterous, overflowing with vitality and delight in the beauty of life.