A lovely, lovely piece.
Moved me to tears.
Tree of Life
to honor the Pittsburgh Synagogue victims
poetry by Diane Frank
music by Matthew Arnerich
...a tremendous gift of heart and
sound for our collective healing...


"The tragedy of the shooting has wounded everyone; even reality itself. It's through music, poetry, faith and community that we can help heal these wounds."
         - Matt Arnerich

Tree of Life was written for a full symphony orchestra and soloists.
For now, we have recorded a chamber music version, with the composer at the piano:

recording artists

Time stamp Description Solo
0:00 Diane reads her poem, in honor of Jerry Rabinowitz  
1:52 Theme:  to hold the darkness Clarinet
3:53 Variation 1: tears flowing from a dream  
5:38 Variation 2: seeds planted long ago Trombone
7:01 Variation 3: by the Tree of Life Violin/Clarinet/Trombone
8:11 Variation 4: embrace the growing cold Violin
9:34 Variation 5: rivers emptied  
9:58 Variation 6: shattering of souls Clarinet
12:23 Variation 7: mourner's Kaddish Cello
15:42 Variation 8: the forest we call the world Horn
18:14 Variation 9: mourning into dancing Violin & Clarinet
19:09 Variation 10: wind of prayer (brass chorale)
20:37 Variation 11: shine your light into a dark world  
21:54 coda: those who sow in tears will reap in joy, psalm 126  



PDF Materials:
(right-click or control-click, Save As)

Tree of Life poem

Conductor's Score

Clarinet solo
Violin solo
Horn solo
Trombone solo
Cello solo

Violin I
Violin II

Flute I
Flute II
Oboe I
Oboe II
Clarinet I
Clarinet II
Bassoon I
Bassoon II

Horn I
Horn II
Horn III
Horn IV
Trumpet I
Trumpet II
Trombone I
Trombone II
Trombone III


“A brand new piece, but already dear to many hearts. What a treat to hear a modern composer creating beauty, melody and flowing structure in the style of the old masters. As an antidote to so much horrible news, we must acknowledge the pain yet allow darkness to dissipate and light to triumph. In 23 minutes, Matt accomplishes both. Highly recommended.” - EI


I enjoyed your reading and the beautiful music. Both look directly at the tragedy but find a way to transcend it. Works of art like these make me glad to be alive, help me feel whole amidst the shattering anger and hatred, help me reach a place of gratitude for the lives of others.” - MJ

Program Notes, from the composer:

I had already wanted to compose a piece in memory of the victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting when Diane Frank inspired me with her poem, "Tree of Life." We discussed ideas and got to work. She wrote the poem as a prayer for her friend, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, to grieve the tragedy in Pittsburgh and to honor his memory. The piece begins with the poem, followed by the main theme played by the clarinet. Each variation evokes aspects of the poem and has titles reflecting that. Scales, rhythms and techniques found in klezmer music are incorporated throughout the piece.

Variation six, "shattering souls," evokes the horror of the tragedy, and is the hardest thing I've ever had to compose. A chaos of sound swirls in the strings, and eleven solitary forte chords, one for each of the lives taken, are spaced throughout the variation. It ends with the sound of sirens in the horn and clarinet. The variations that follow seek to heal the wounds of the tragedy through faith (mourner's Kaddish) played on the cello, nature (the forest) and community (dancing, art). Death and hate do not have the final word. "Tree of Life" ends with joyous music that, in Diane's words, "shines a light into the dark world."

A note about this recording:

Ner Shalom invited us to play their wonderful Steinway "Holocaust survivor" piano. It's hard to imagine a more generous gesture or a more fitting location.

       the holocaust piano

About the artists:
Matt Arnerich Matthew Arnerich is a composer and pianist from Santa Rosa, California. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Applied Music and Composition with a Minor in German from Sonoma State University. He's written music for piano, chamber ensembles, orchestra and recently completed a work commissioned by the Navarro trio and the Golden Gate Symphony. "When composing, my aim is to write music that inspires. To light a fire in the soul of performers and listeners."   www.MattArnerich.com
Diane Frank Diane Frank is an award-winning poet, novelist, and cellist in the Golden Gate Symphony. Her new book of poems, Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines (Glass Lyre Press, 2018), is full of poems about music, dance and art. Blackberries in the Dream House, her first novel, won the Chelson Award for Fiction and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Diane teaches at San Francisco State University and Dominican University. She lives in San Francisco, where she dances, plays cello, and creates her life as an art form.   www.DianeFrank.com
Roy Zajac

While at the University of Michigan, Roy Zajac studied in Vienna, Austria with Peter Schmidle, the Principal Clarinetist of the Vienna Philharmonic. After graduating, Roy was selected to be a member of the Filharmoni del Bajio orchestra in Guanajuato, Mexico. Roy then earned a Master's degree at the University of Minnesota in Music Performance, where he studied with Burt Hara.

Roy joined the Air Force and was selected to be a member of the United States Air Force, Band of the Golden West, at Travis Air Force Base. In 1998, Roy was chosen as the Principal Clarinetist of the Santa Rosa Symphony, under the direction of Jeffery Kahane. In February of 2013, Roy performed the Mozart Clarinet Concerto with the Santa Rosa Symphony, under the direction of Maestro Bruno Farrandis, in the newly constructed Green Music Center.

Roy instructs and coaches clarinet, woodwinds, and wind ensembles at Sonoma State University. He also teaches and coaches for the Santa Rosa Symphony youth orchestras, Santa Rosa Junior College, and for other schools and ensembles.

Tammie Dyer

Violinist Tammie Dyer holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Stony Brook University, an M.M. from Rice University, and a B.M. From the University of Utah. She has studied with many of the great artists of our time, including Philip Setzer, Dorothy DeLay, Pamela Frank, Soovin Kim, Kathleen Winkler, members of the Cleveland String Quartet, and the Emerson String Quartet. She has also attended the Tanglewood, Aspen, Sarasota, Eastern, and Marrowstone music festivals.

Tammie enjoys playing a variety of musical styles, and is passionate about sharing the transformative experience of live music. As an active chamber musician, Tammie performs regularly throughout the Bay Area, with such groups as the Hidden Valley String Orchestra in Carmel, on the Opus Series in Mendocino, and the Bellarosa String Quartet. Other groups include the Santa Rosa Symphony, the Mendocino Music Festival Orchestra, and Symphony of the Redwoods.

Bill Klingelhoffer William Klingelhoffer plays horn with the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and recently retired as Co-Principal Horn of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.He studied in Chicago with Stu Liechti, Nancy Fako, Frank Brouk, and Dale Clevenger and graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Music degree. He began playing professionally with the Chicago Lyric Opera at the age of 19. Since then, he has played Principal Horn for the Opera Companies of Chicago, Houston, and Santa Fe, and has toured with the Chicago and San Francisco Symphonies. Bill has toured and recorded with the Summit Brass Ensemble, has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and has given masterclasses at International Brassfests.   www.klingelhorn.com
James Pannell James Pannell began playing trombone at age ten when his mother signed him up for band against his will. Since the first band rehearsal, Pannell has benefited from a life of music that has introduced him to more people, places, and flavors than a native of Georgia would ordinarily receive. Pannell maintains a full schedule as a trombonist in the SF Bay Area in addition to working full time as a music educator and completing a doctorate in education. He has performed with symphonies and chamber ensembles under the batons of Kurt Masur, George Manahan, Dave Brubeck, Fred Mills, Marc Gould, and Marius Stieghorst among others. Pannell’s principal teachers include Phil Jameson, Steve Norrell, and David Finlayson. In his free time he enjoys running and drinking coffee, but not necessarily at the same time.
Jill Brindel Jill Rachuy Brindel has been a cellist with the San Francisco Symphony since 1980 and a member of Trio Navarro for more than fifteen years. She studied at Indiana University and Chicago Musical College and was formerly Assistant Principal Cellist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, Principal Cellist of the Mendocino Music Festival for its first six years, cellist for the Navarro Quartet and a member of the Houston Symphony. She has performed chamber music at Kohl Mansion, the Russian River Chamber Festival, Old First Church, the Ralston Chamber Series, Chamber Music Sundaes and at Sonoma State University, where the Trio Navarro is in residence. In 2006 she returned to the Mendocino Music Festival as Principal Cellist and chamber soloist and in 2009 she became co-director of the Emerging Artists Program at the festival. Ms. Brindel actively promotes the music of her late father, composer Bernard Brindel. She is a private instructor of cello as well as the coach for the cello section of the SFS Youth Orchestra. Ms. Brindel has given seminars on audition techniques to students at the University of Nevada at Reno and the New World Symphony.

Huge appreciation to Michael Demeyer for recording.