Vocal Music
  • Tell Me Again How the New Comes into the World (2014)
    Instruments: Piano
    Mezzo Soprano
    Duration: 8 minutes
    Difficulty: Advanced
    Price: $10

    TO BE PREMIERED DECEMBER 2014 — No audio yet.

    The poems, written especially for these songs by my gifted friend Claire Bateman, are a practitioner’s rumination on the creative process itself. The first, set in an innocent waltz, begs to know how a new thing comes into being and why it is chosen from amongst the infinite possibilities. The second, set in a mysterious mist of colorful harmonies, offers vague clues to the answers sought by the first song. This is done in a musical netherworld — in the twilight between singing and speaking — as the proffered clues are elaborate and indirect. The third song is rollicking and assertive, declaring the artist’s resolve to command the stuff of his creation and his passion for the challenge. These songs were written as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Greenville Fine Arts Center in 2014-2015.
  • Museum Pieces (2013)
    Instruments: String Quartet, Alto Sax or Clarinet
    Mezzo Soprano
    Digital image projection (optional)
    Duration: 20 minutes
    Difficulty: Challenging
    Price: $25

    These youth-friendly songs grew out of the larger initiative to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Emrys Foundation, a support group launched in 1982 by writers, for writers, in Greenville, South Carolina. Helen Dupré Moseley (1887-1984) had earned a Masters' degree in History and had been a mother, widow, insurance businesswoman, and postmaster when—without training of any sort—she took up painting at the age of 60. Her style shows some influence from Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse and Hieronymus Bosch, but ultimately her whimsical and largely untitled works are the products of her fertile and uninhibited imagination. Moseley's family made a generous donation of a large number of her works to the GCMA in 2000. In the summer of 2012 sixteen Emrys poets were invited to compose brief poems on selected works of Moseley's from the GCMA collection. These songs set six of those poems; as the paintings in question are untitled, the song titles are my own, derived from the poetry. In addition to the score and parts, a CD for projection of the images is provided. A live performance in which the paintings serve as a backdrop can be viewed here. The complete program notes are here.
  • Pisgah Songs (2012)
    Instruments: Piano
    Mezzo Soprano
    Duration: 20 minutes
    Difficulty: Challenging
    Price: $15

    These poems—save the last—are taken from Climbing Pisgah, an album of poetry and photography of Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina, published in 2007 by Cedar Mountain Books. The four authors included here were part of a small nucleus of writers who launched the Emrys Foundation, a Greenville, SC-based support group for area writers and related artists, in 1982. The organization has been a pillar of support for artists of many stripes and today continues its vital work as part of the arts community in Greenville. The poems explore the relationship between man and the environment, and the last - written specially for this song cycle - frankly ends the set on a dark note. The complete program notes are here.
  • Excerpt
    Imprint (2012)
    Instruments: Mezzo Soprano
    Piano (with a 2nd piano off stage)
    String Quintet
    Duration: 7 minutes
    Difficulty: Moderately Difficult
    Price: $20

    This is my tribute to a treasured colleague - a legendary voice teacher and accompanist - who died in November of 2011. In the piece you can hear snippets of a favorite piece of his and the vocal warm-ups that emanated daily from his classroom. The pianist is leaves the stage after a solo based on those warm-ups. View the premiere performance here. The complete program notes are here.
  • Four Are in the River (2011)
    Instruments: String Quartet
    Duration: 25 minutes
    Difficulty: Professional
    Price: $40

    In these settings of Sarah Blackman's poems I have made a straightforward attempt to underscore the character of each organism of the title and its relationship with her/his/its environment. The River binds them all together dramatically and musically. The complete program notes are here.
  • Voices from the Village (2006/2011)
    Instruments: Piano
    Female Voice
    Duration: 22 minutes
    Difficulty: Professional
    Price: $25

    These texts are paraphrases of anonymous personal ads appearing in the Village Voice (II, III, IV, and V) and the New York Times (I, IV & VI) in 2006. In reading through some hundreds of these, I found that many of the authors tried to present themselves as interesting, mysterious, and alluring with humor, colorful imagery, or poetic turns of phrase. Their sincere longing for a close relationship seemed to me an ideal theme for a set of songs, and the settings are intended to be sympathetic and as sensitive as possible to the shifting moods of the texts. View a live performance (excluding III. Elegance, which was added in 2011) here.
  • Waka Songs (2005)
    Instruments: Soprano and Viola
    Duration: 14 minutes
    Difficulty: Challenging
    Price: $10

    A waka is a traditional 31-syllable Japanese poem, the precursor of the haiku. As befits the concise character of the poems, these songs are brief. The expressive range is deliberately narrow and restrained in hopes of complimenting the understated elegance of the poetry. Modes and pentatonic scales are used extensively as modest references to traditional sounds. Performances of Waka Songs will be most effective in intimate venues. The complete program notes are here.
  • Excerpt
    A Child I Was (1989, rev. 2000)
    Ensemble: SATB madrigal, Full or Soli
    Duration: about 3:10
    Difficulty: Intermediate
    Price: $1.50/copy

    In a gentle 6/8 most of the way, short and sectional, with a text of my own. It is performable by a good high school or community group, preferably not too large. This piece won 2nd Place in the 21st Annual Choral Composition Festival at Ithaca College in November, 2000; the recording is of the Corning West High School Occidentals performing it at the Festival.

    The poem is a reminiscence, in a twilight year, over those experiences and situations that made the speaker feel ever like a child in the struggle to make sense of it all. There is also an acceptance that this struggle was the point, that one is the sum of these experiences. The text proceeds chronologically, but there is a blurring of the speaker's perception of past and present, reflecting the lingering sense of childhood and the vividness of the memories. Published by Imagine Music Publishing: http://stores.imaginemusicpublishing.com/Categories.bok.
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