Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer 2013 Composer Newsletter: New pieces available

I hope you all had a great 2012-13 school year and concert season. Many thanks to those of you who performed works by me- it is truly gratifying to know that there are so many directors and choirs out there who want to perform music by living composers. This was also a season during which I Skyped with many choirs around the country- always great fun and such a great opportunity to work together through the magic of the internet.

I have a number of pieces that were commissioned and successfully premiered this past season. These pieces are now available to all choirs through me directly (I am not actively working with any traditional print publishers at this time). These pieces are:

" balance myself upon a broken world" (SATB, piano), commissioned by the Ithaca College Choral Music Festival, premiered last November with Larry Doebler conducting. The process of composing this piece was discussed in an earlier blog which you can see here. The singers and audience loved this anti-war text by Amy Lowell. I attended the concert festival and loved everything about Ithaca College- Larry Doebler, Janet Galvan, their fine students (winners of the ACDA student chapter award), the town- it was great!

"At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners" (SATB/piano), commissioned by Lexington Catholic HS in Lexington, KY, premiered this spring with Adam Beeken conducting. This is actually a three section piece with the final section using the John Donne-titled text. While I like the Williametta Spencer setting, I chose to take more time in telling Donne's story. I also blogged about the process of writing this piece, which you can see here.

"In the Moonlit Garden" (SATB/cello/piano), commissioned by Elysian Voices and premiered this spring with Paul Laprade directing. This is a very evocative Chinese love poem (set in English). The piece is very lyrical and wistful- there might be a bit of Madame Butterfly in there!

For treble choirs: two "peace pieces" commissioned by the group Spirito under the inspiring direction of Molly Lindberg: "Peace" (easy SA/piano) and "Dona Nobis Pacem" (more challenging SSA and at times SSAA/vibes/orch bells/cymbal). These were premiered to a gigantic soldout house in May.

Some other pieces (generally recent) that have been getting great performances and excellent feedback from singers and audiences:

"Dirge for Love" (SSAATTBB a.c.) premiered by Paul Crabbe's Prometheus (they will sing it at Iowa ACDA in July) and also performed by Kathy Fitzgibbon's fine choir at Lewis and Clark College in Portland (and also including on their recent tour to Egypt-I think that's the first time my music has been sung there!). This is a fun, quasi-madrigal battle of the sexes text by Philip Sydney.

My sometimes gorgeous, sometimes gnarly double choir re-imagining of William Billings round “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 (recent DMA student of Richard Sparks) at University of North Texas was excellent. You can hear a recording here:

"Fishing in the Keep of Silence" (truly great text by Linda Gregg) was performed by the Xavier University Choir directed by Micah Pfundstein (student of Tom Merrill) as well as by Brad Logan at Bemidji State.

I was also pleased that two more choirs performed my setting of gorgeous Antonio Machado texts in the multi-movement piece "El Limonar Florido". Diana Saez' Washington DC group Cantigas did the piece this spring and John Jost's wonderful choir at Bradley University also sang the piece this spring and took it on tour of Spain. I actually went with the choir to Spain and it was truly memorable in so many ways. John's students are great people and great singers, and it was fun to watch the Spanish audiences perk up when all of a sudden the choir was singing to them in Spanish! El Limonar is a piece I am truly proud of- I hope some of you will consider programming it. The texts are quite magical which made my job as the composer fairly easy. You can see more about it and hear sound files from Joel Navarro's Calvin College Kappelle) here.

Ready to talk Christmas/Holiday repertoire (I can hear you groan- haha)? 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.
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 pieces I am composing while not sleepwalking, crashing stock cars, daring my son to try hot sauces, 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!