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Latest news

Looking ahead 

The end of pandemic restrictions and the return to group singing are occupying my thoughts quite a lot lately, as I think they are occupying many folks' thoughts. I got my first vaccine shot a week ago and am planning choral events with medium confidence for late June and with high confidence for mid-October. It feels awfully good to be able to say that.

I'm very lucky to have had time to compose this past year, and to have had a wonderful teacher, Vince Peterson, to guide me in my composing process. I highly encourage anyone interested in his teaching to check out Vince's new project, Greenhouse Music, a venture aiming to reinvent conservatory-level music education for the 21st century. If you want to get serious about leveling up as a musician, but are turned off by the barriers to entry of a typical conservatory, I can think of nobody more passionate, more committed, or more qualified than Vince to help people like you.

In my own news for 2021, I have two new pieces for a cappella SATB choir up on SMP Press, both looking forward to the spring-of-love spirit that I hope will accompany our emergence from social distancing: Invitation to Love and Letabundus rediit. I am also working on a cantata for TTBB choir, soloists, and chamber orchestra, tentatively titled "Hakol Hevel (All Is Mere Breath)," which will serve as both my first "major" work and my definitive emotional statement on the extraordinary and difficult experiences of the past year. It is currently on track for a premiere sometime in the 2022-23 season, most likely in the early spring of 2023. Stay tuned for more details!

New publications of my pieces 

I am delighted to announce that I am officially a published composer! Three of my best and most interesting pieces-- "As kingfishers catch fire," "O Clavis David," and "Songs in Time of Peril"-- are now part of the catalogue of Personage Press, the imprint headed by my longtime teacher and dear friend Vince Peterson. I'm so excited to have these pieces more widely publicized to choirs worldwide.

I've taken the opportunity as well to revamp the rest of my catalogue and produce new editions of additional pieces of mine, which I've then self-published through Sheet Music Plus. Availability through SMP makes the pieces simpler to purchase and more searchable too. You can see all my scores available for purchase, as always, on my scores page.

A new score for our times 

Another new score is up on my scores page, a setting of the Advent antiphon "O Clavis David." I started working on this piece some months before the pandemic hit, but was inspired to push it through to a finished product while cooped up here at home. The setting is in Latin; a rough English translation is:

 

O Key of David, and scepter of the house of Israel,

Who opens, and no one can shut; shuts, and no one can open;

Come and free the captive from the prison house,

who sits in darkness and the shadow of death.

 

I'd initially thought to dedicate it to refugees and immigrants unjustly detained; but now it speaks to all of us who are effectively under house arrest "for the duration." I can only hope that when the Advent season comes this year there will be choral concerts again, and that somewhere people will gather to sing this piece and hear it sung and recall a feeling of confinement that will then be a memory.

Oh my country so beautiful and lost 

Yesterday I recorded a video of myself singing the first tenor part to "Va pensiero" for the Musical Solidarity Project. I'll post again if and when the completed, merged/mastered virtual choir recording is available. In the meantime, if any readers are looking for a way to express our togetherness virtually in musical form, check it out and consider submitting a part-recording yourself. It was a somewhat awkward exercise since I don't usually do at-home self-recordings, but I think it came out well. The quoted line-- "Oh mia Patria si bella e perduta"-- was the most emotionally difficult to sing, as I imagine it must be for many.

On a happier and longer-term note, my "As kingfishers catch fire" has been named a finalist for the 2019-20 American Prize for short choral works. It continues to be one of my favorites and one of my most honored pieces-- do check out the recording on my YouTube channel and consider purchasing the score from my scores page.

 

 

New catalog acceptance, new available score, and looking ahead 

A few updates to share:

1. Several of my works are cross-listed on Project Encore, a catalog of previously performed choral music deemed to be of high quality by a panel of choral conductors. I'm pleased to announce that the most recent set of additions to Project Encore includes my piece Rise up, my love, a Hebrew setting of verses from the Song of Solomon, which IOCSF originally performed in 2012 and has since reprised in its current revised form.

2. In keeping with the spring season, a new piece of mine is available on my scores page: a setting of Horace's ode "Diffugere nives" in a style heavily influenced by Renaissance motets, but given my own spin with a little more harmonic movement and a 7/8 time signature. There has been no public performance of this one, but the skilled readers and singers of the First Readings Project have produced a very fine demo recording. The text reminds us to enjoy the pleasures of spring while remembering that our lives are fleeting and our time of enjoyment limited-- this last message unfortunately has only become more poignant with the present world situation.

3. Speaking of the present world situation, I am sheltering in place with my family like many of you, missing choral singing intensely, and thinking ahead to the time when the present crisis will have passed and we can gather together in person to make music again. I'm working on a couple of pieces whose texts speak to the fears we face now and offer hope for deliverance from those fears. More details hopefully soon.