Sometimes there is a dry spell when there are no performances of my music for an unpleasantly long time, and then there are moments when a cluster of performances congregate within a short period. This coming weekend is one of the latter. Two pieces: one from a few years ago, receiving three performances; and one being performed for the first time. Here are some details.
Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, an organization based in L. A., has included my Oboe Quartet on three concerts set for this weekend in Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Santa Barbara. Find all the details here. I wrote the Quartet at the request of oboist Peggy Pearson who gave the first performances with members of the Apple Hill Quartet back in 2015. I met Peggy through my work with Emmanuel Music, the group with which she has played Bach cantatas for decades as part of the liturgy at Boston’s Emmanuel Church. Winsor Music programmed the piece that season, and there is an interview with me in connection with that performance here. Read more about the piece in this blog post. Theodore Presser Company has posted a perusal score of the piece here, and you can listen to the piece here – scroll down past the videos or use the link at the top of the page to go to the sound clips.
The other piece being done this weekend is a premiere, a short work for SATB chorus called Wind, Carry Me. Here’s my program note on the piece:
When invited to compose a new work for the PMEA District 11 Chorus, I immediately turned to my friend Susan Stewart, a distinguished poet whose words I have set in several pieces. I asked Susan to write a new poem for the project. She responded with a text that speaks of challenges and yearning, but also of capability. While my setting uses conventional chords, these are often juxtaposed in an unconventional manner. Throughout the piece, sections of the choir call to one another, finally coming together in unison at the climax, and ending with determination and strength.
The work will be sung by about 160 high school students selected from a number of schools in the region in a concert at Springfield High School, Montgomery County, not far outside Philadelphia, conducted by Cristian Grases. This is by far the biggest group of people to perform my music! The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia has done my music a number of times, and is a big choir with roughly 80 to 100 singers, but the size of this high school group is something extraordinary.
Here are a few lines from Susan’s beautiful text, ending with what I hear as the climax of the poem:
I said to the moon
turn to me, turn to me
I said to the star
send for me, send for me
I said to the night
Then I said to my love
I’ll come to you, wait for me
The commission for this piece came about through the advocacy of Andrew Puntel, who teaches at Springfield High School. I came to know Andrew through my work as a church musician at St. Genevieve’s in Flourtown, PA, where he directed the music ministry until recently. I’m grateful to Andrew for proposing the piece and finding the funding for the commission.
This is not the first piece I have written specifically for young musicians. My Variations on a Hymn Tune was written for Council Rock South High School (outside Philadelphia) a number of years ago. Completely by coincidence, that piece will be done twice this season, both by the University of Pennsylvania Orchestra and by an all-state ensemble in Delaware – there is more information at the performances page.