Of Minds and Hearts and Spirits
TTBB choir, piano - [4'] - 2018
Of Minds and Hearts and Spirits was written for the Epsilon Iota Chapter of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia at Florida State University. Its choral parts are composed specifically to be singable by most mens' choirs, as long as the group has an adept conductor and skilled pianist. The text was excerpted from The President’s Message in Year Book, Sinfonia Fraternity of America; Vol. VII: 1908 (Public Domain), stating:
“What is music without harmony? Verily it is not music. Life without goodwill and fraternity—what is it? Indeed it is not life. He has not truly lived who has not lived for others, in sympathy and in harmony with his fellows. ... What is needed, brothers is a harmony, not alone of music, but of minds and hearts and spirits.”
SATB choir, string orchestra - [15'] - 2016
Starmount Vespers is an oratorio-style composition for SATB choir and string orchestra on the subjects of cyclicity and self-similarity. Cyclical phenomena are widespread in the natural world (day and night, sleeping and waking, seasons, tides, etc.) and occur on many structural levels. Starmount Vespers seeks to exemplify these harmonious relationships in both text and music, drawing influence from other cyclical works (such as Orff's Carmina Burana and Vivaldi's Gloria), the Prouhet-Thue-Morse sequence, and the compositional approaches of Danish composer Per Nørgård. Nørgård's third symphony, in particular, is a mature representation of his melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic self-similar structures and informed much of Starmount Vespers' composition.
The texts were selected from the poetry of Thomas Hardy, H.P. Nichols, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and were adapted by the composer to better fit the narrative. The resulting fourteen-minute composition both delivers a textual narrative on self-similarity and, through fractal patterns embedded in the musical parameters, embodies the text.
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Be Still, and Know
SATB choir (a capella) - [5'] - 2015
Be Still, and Know, winner of the 2018 San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Project, is a challenging and reflective meditation on Psalm 46:10 that contains "...long phrases in slow-moving, contemplative dissonances, to almost hypnotic effect." (Niels Swinkels, San Francisco Classical Voice). The musical form originates from an actual event, where a crowd was repeatedly chanting “Be still, and know that I am God,” while subtracting one word off the end each time. Although the piece’s final structure does not strictly follow such a process, expanding and condensing the text is the primary guide of its form.
Be Still shares several connections with Martin Luther and the Reformation. Luther’s A Mighty Fortress is Our God is one of the most widely recognized hymns associated with the Reformation, and its text, like Be Still, is also largely based on Psalm 46. While Luther’s hymn text doesn’t explicitly reference verse 10, he would certainly have been aware of its context within the surrounding scripture. Today, lectionary calendars often appoint Psalm 46 as the Psalm for Reformation Sunday, meaning that countless worshipers recite and sing the text of Be Still in October of each year.
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voice, piano - [7'30] - 2012
I. The Centipede
II. The Ant
III. The Fly
IV. The Firefly
V. The Wasp
Insect Asides, winner of the 2012 Thelma Thompson Composition Award, is a set of five humorous songs with texts by Ogden Nash. Fear not, entomologists: the composer is very aware that the centipede is not actually an insect. But Arthropod Asides just wouldn't be as catchy.