Music for Soprano Solo and Orchestra – "Blue Hills Over the North Wall"

“Blue Hills Over the North Wall” is an excerpt from my 1996 piece Cycle of Friends for soprano, chorus and chamber orchestra, commissioned by the Music Group of Philadelphia, and premiered by them in conjunction with Orchestra 2001. I was in my twenties when I wrote this piece, but it remains possibly my best work

Cycle of Friends consists of five movements, with settings of texts from various parts of the world and moments in history, each using various combinations of chorus, soprano solo and orchestra.  This movement is only for soprano and orchestra without chorus.  Here it is superbly performed by soprano Janice Fiore and Orchestra 2001, conducted by Music Group Artistic Director Seán Deibler. The text is a poem by Li Po (701-762), translated by Innes Herdan.

More information about Cycle of Friends

You may also wish to view a similar video of the one a cappella movement, “Are Friends Delight or Pain?

Categories: Choral Music, Past Work, VideoTags: , ,

Are Friends Delight or Pain for Double SATB Chorus A Cappella

This setting of Emily Dickinson’s short poem is an excerpt from my 1996 piece Cycle of Friends for soprano solo, chorus and chamber orchestra.  This video perusal score features the premiere performance by the Music Group of Philadelphia, conducted by Seán Deibler in May, 1996.

“Are Friends Delight or Pain” is now available as a stand-alone piece in octavo format from Swirly Music.

Categories: Choral Music, Past Work, Performances, Short Choral Works, VideoTags: , , ,

"Ducks in the Garden" for SATB Chorus

This off-beat little a cappella piece was written many, many years ago (1991, to be exact).  It is an earnest and faithful setting of a very silly poem by my friend Will T. Laughlin.  It happens to be very difficult to learn and perform, with a lot of meter changes, asymmetrical rhythms and odd, modal harmony, so over the years I’ve stopped thinking of it as a piece I ought to be promoting among choruses, and it has never been performed until now.

Among the people I did send it to, all those years ago, was Magen Solomon, conductor of the award-winning and extremely capable San Francisco Choral Artists.  This year, out of the blue, the piece was added to their “Poetry on Musical Wings” program.  Delighted by this unlikely stroke of luck, I quickly revised the piece to make it more suitable for performance, and they gave this wonderful, nuanced  premiere performance.

My approach to this surreal and brilliantly goofy poem was to treat it as if it were Shakespeare and treat the musical setting with utmost, deadpan seriousness.  I hope you enjoy hearing the piece with the appropriately silly video montage above!

Categories: Choral Music, Past Work, Short Choral Works, VideoTags: , ,

"Roll the Tide" for SATB Chorus

“Roll the Tide” is a short, a cappella quasi-spiritual excerpted from the larger work Waiting…, based on poems by Elisabeth T. Eliassen.

In the “video perusal score” above, you can follow the score as you hear its premiere performance by the 2011 Kodály Summer Institute Chorus at Holy Names University, conducted by László Matos.

“Roll the Tide” is available in octavo format from Swirly Music.

Categories: Choral Music, Past Work, Short Choral Works, VideoTags: ,

Raw Dough and Tea: Diabolical Solfège Songs

I recently discovered that an old acquaintance of mine is a fellow musicianship teacher and has been writing and recording diabolically clever songs that illustrate musical ear training concepts in a refreshing and fun way.

David Newman is an accomplished baritone soloist and teacher of voice and musicianship at James Madison University, who apparently knows a thing or two about songwriting as well.  His songs are on YouTube and they speak for themselves. If you are at all concerned with getting students to hear harmonic progressions and intervals, you will be thoroughly entertained by these.Read this post

Categories: Musicianship, Teaching, VideoTags: , , ,

Video: American Standard at Old First

Filmmaker Mark Altenberg did a lovely video interpretation of my clarinet/piano piece American Standard that was displayed live during a recent performance at Old First Concerts in San Francisco. Using footage taken of clarinetist Karla Avila and pianist Regina Schaffer in rehearsal, the video is interesting and evocative.

Now, for posterity, Mark has synchronized the video with the recording of Karla and Regina’s live performance that evening and made it available for sharing.

Categories: Performances, Video

Conrad Susa on "The Blue Hour"

I’m thrilled to have just stumbled across this picture montage and interview excerpt of my former S.F. Conservatory composition teacher Conrad Susa discussing his beautiful orchestral work The Blue Hour. It was prepared by music journalist and long-time Conservatory faculty member Scott Foglesong for this article about a concert of music by Conrad and another beloved former teacher Elinor Armer that took place last year.Read this post

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Video: "American Standard" for Clarinet and Piano

American Standard was premiered in Shrewsbury, England in 1993, but the U.S. premiere was given the following year as part of the New Music Delaware Festival at the University of Delaware.

Last week pianist Julie Nishimura, who participated in that 1994 performance, gave me the honor of including the piece in a concert celebrating her 20 years as faculty accompanist at the university.  This time she was joined by the wonderful clarinetist Marianne Gythfeldt, also of the U. Delaware music faculty.

Here’s a high-definition video of the performance.Read this post

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Let's Start at the End

So I just connected a dusty old hard drive to my shiny new Mac, and found some things I ought to share here.

For starters, here’s my favorite cue from a film score I did a few years ago. This is the very end of Shakespeare’s Merchant. I can’t give you a whole synopsis of The Merchant of Venice here, but for this cue it helps to know that in our version, Antonio is in love with Bassanio. Bassanio has just pledged fidelity to his wife Portia, and that sucks for Antionio. In the second half of the cue, we see Shylock, having been rendered penniless and yarmulke-less due to a court-ordered punishment for his crediting practices. I love the way this cue came together for a lot of reasons.

I will sheepishly mention that this score is an electronic rendering of what is/was hoped to be recorded properly. Also, due to the rather severe letterboxing, I recommend the “full screen” option, which is the square icon to the right of the timeline.

By the way, the this score is available from CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.

Categories: Past Work, VideoTags: , ,