Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer 2012 Composer Newsletter

Here is what's been going on in the life of a not-yet-dead composer.

I wrapped up my very rewarding year as composer in residence with the many choirs of The Young Naperville Singers, artistic director Angie Johnson. The students were amazing (330 singers in eight choirs, ages from 6-18) and four new pieces came from this collaboration- some of them easy-ish SA to more involved SSA or SSAA suitable for HS and beyond women's choirs. Let me know if you'd like to see perusal scores (FYI, two of the pieces are Christmas music- one is very festive and has optional handbell parts).

I was thrilled to judge for Heritage Festivals for the first time this spring. They are a wonderful organization and I was very fortunate to get to clinic one of the great choirs there- the amazing Mason City High School Choir (IA) led by Joel Everist.

My sometimes gorgeous, sometimes gnarly double choir re-imagining of Billings' “When Jesus Wept” received two more performances. This is a piece no publisher will touch- they don't want double choir, counterpoint, or anything really creative- so it will remain self-published. The performance led by Patrick Dill (great DMA student of Richard Sparks) at University of North Texas was excellent. You can hear a recording here:

Coming up this summer and next season:

I will be presenting an interest session at the Missouri ACDA meetings in mid-July. The subject is how to commission effectively for your choir and I will guide the attendees through how to do this right and keep it pain-free. After a period when a number of session leaders were covering this topic around the country it seems like no one has been doing it of late. If you'd like a copy of my two-page outline for this presentation, let me know. And while I am there Paul Crabbe's wonderful choir “Voices of Prometheus” will premiere a new piece with a clever battle of the sexes text by Philip Marlowe called “Dirge for Love”. I'm looking forward to hearing them have great fun with this piece (SSAATTBB a cappella).

Speaking of commissions, I am really excited to have been chosen to write for the ACDA Women's Choir Commissioning Consortium led by Iris Levine. I've already been working hard on this piece, a setting for SSA/piano of "Full Fathom Five" which will be presented by over thirty top women's choirs around the country. Wow, talk about good fortune- that's a lot of choirs premiering a new piece. I have some other commission orders too- the other big one is for the Ithaca College Choral Festival in November. This will be a setting of an amazing anti-war poem by Amy Lowell. Hint- I still have time on my schedule for more commissions and short or long term residencies for 2012-13. E-mail me if you are interested.

You made it- you survived another school/concert year and lived to tell the tale. Take a deep breath, enjoy the summer a bit, but I know you are already thinking about repertoire for next year! So with that in mind here are some pieces of mine which might really spice up your December programs. Let me know if you would like any free perusal scores of these pieces. I will just highlight a few- you can view a complete listing with details, score samples, etc. of all of my many Christmas, Hanukkah, and Winter Solstice scores by visiting:

One of my holiday bestsellers is the Hanukkah song "Unending Flame" with a truly nice text (so many Hanukkah texts are awful, I think you will agree). Voicings available are SA or SABar. There is also an orchestration for this piece which really makes it pop. You can see a beautiful video we created for the piece and hear the orchestrated version here:

Another bestselling piece which can be either with piano or orchestra is my very dancey SSA version in mixed meters of I Saw three Ships:

If you are looking for SATB works, Nancy Menk made a very nice recording of my lyrical “Hush my Dear, Lie Still and Slumber" which you can hear:  

I also have a piece with a similar feel to it- my arrangement of “Gabriel's Message”, available in manuscript.

Finally, some pieces with brass. First up is “Christmas Bells”, which was commissioned by Edie Copley at N. Arizona University. This is big and festive (yet with a very introspective middle section)  for SATB/brass/organ/perc/handbells.  The ending will ensure that your entire audience is awake:

The other brass piece is not as festive since the text by the brilliant Thomas Merton is generally more reflective- it's called “The Winter's Night Carol”. I don't have a good recording yet of the piece due to miking issues at performances, but I can certainly e-mail you a score if you like!

So there you have it- all the things I am doing while not sleepwalking, crashing stock cars, or lobbying Congress to make the Congo Buffalo our official national pet. And please accept my sincere thank you to those of you who perform my scores. Without YOU they make no sound!

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