“…exceptionally beautiful on many counts.”

— Chestnut Hill Local, Philadelphia

Completed and premiered in 1996, Cycle of Friends is my first large-scale work and possibly still my favorite. It is a lush, emotional journey through five texts taken from such diverse sources as Tang Dynasty poetry of China, Sappho and Emily Dickinson, each dealing in its own way with the universal theme of friendship.

Cycle of Friends was commissioned and premiered by the Music Group of Philadelphia, Seán Deibler conductor, in Philadelphia in May of 1996.

Instrumentation: Soprano solo; SSAATTBB Chorus (c. 50 members?); Chamber Orchestra (1,1,1,1 1 hn, 1 tpt, hp, perc, strings)

Duration: 5 movements; 25 minutes

When Cycle of Friends turned ten years old in 2006, I wrote this blog post describing the piece and its history in more detail.

The recording above is the 1996 premiere performance by the Music Group of Philadelphia and Orchestra 2001 conducted by Seán Deibler, joined by soprano Janice Fiore.

Project Encore excellence in choral musicProject : Encore™ has found this work to be of exceptional merit. Its panel of internationally known conductors has selected the work for inclusion in its database of recommended choral music.

More information at www.ProjectEncore.org

Praise for Cycle of Friends

“…an all-too-rare combination of beautiful texts and refreshing, invigorating music.”

—Johannes Somary, Conductor

“…exceptionally beautiful on many counts.”

—Michael Caruso, Chestnut Hill Local


—Wes Kenney, Conductor

“…subtle and fragrant – beautifully scored for both orchestra and chorus.”

—John Corigliano, Composer

“…some of the most luminous writing for soprano and orchestra since Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915.”

—Mark Adamo, Composer

“…wonderful musical textures and colors…”

—Morris J. Beachy, Conductor


I. Tell Everyone

Sappho, translated by Mary Bernard

Tell everyone
Now, today, I shall sing beautifully for my friends’ pleasure

II. My Old Friend Prepared a Chicken With Millet

Meng Hao-Jan (AD 689-740), translated by Innes Herdan

My old friend prepared a chicken with millet,
Inviting me to visit his country home,
Where the green of the trees Girdles the village
And beyond the walls the blue hills begin.
We opened your windows to inspect the kitchen-garden,
Took some wine, and spoke of mulberries and flax.
Wait until the Autumn Festival:
I shall come again, to enjoy your chrysanthemums.

III. Are Friends Delight or Pain?

Emily Dickinson

Are Friends Delight or Pain?
Could Bounty but remain Riches were good –

But if they only stay
Ampler to fly away Riches are sad.

IV. Blue Hills Over the North Wall

Li Po (AD 701-762) translated by Innes Herdan

Blue hills over the north wall;
White water swirling to the east of the city:
This is where you must leave me –
A lone puff of thistledown on a thousand mile journey.
Ah the drifting clouds and the thoughts of a wanderer!
The setting sun and emotions of old friends.
A wave of the hand now and you are gone.
Our horses whinnied to each other at parting.

V. Friendship

Aztec (traditional)

Like a quetzal plume, a fragrant flower,
friendship sparkles:
like heron plumes, it weaves itself into finery.
Our song is a bird calling out like a jingle:
how beautiful you make it sound!
Here, among flowers that enclose us,
among flowery boughs you are singing.

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