Quick report from Carolina and Juilliard

Much to write about and very little time in which to do so – I have been traveling to hear performances of my music and give talks about it.

Just last night was the New York premiere of my Rilke song cycle, From a Book of Hours, given in its chamber version by the New Juilliard Ensemble. (There is also a version for soprano and orchestra.) Read the New York Times review here. The brilliant Juilliard musicians, most notably the soloist, soprano Alexandra Razskazoff, gave a powerful performance. The indefatigable Joel Sachs directed. (Has anyone conducted more new scores than Joel in New York over the years?)

a post-concert shot, with Alexandra, Joel, composer Du Yun, unidentified, myself, Michael Zev Gordon, and Elliott Sharp:

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Last week the Carolina Choir of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led by Susan Klebanow gave a splendid performance of my George Herbert motet, The Call. They had it by heart (!) and their affection for the piece came through in a finely shaped rendition, commanding both powerful and gentle nuances with precision and passion.

Here I am with Susan and composer Allen Anderson (faculty member at UNC) whose touching anthem on a Li Po text was also beautifully performed.

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Will write more about recent events as soon as I can – am off to Tallahassee tomorrow for the Mary Mackenzie & Heidi Williams program featuring a number of my vocal works.

The Call in Carolina

As you know from checking the Performances page, I have several things coming up soon. This week I will be in North Carolina for a performance of The Call by the Carolina Choir at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Susan Klebanow will conduct, and there is music by John Harbison and Allen Anderson on the program as well. I’ll be giving talks at UNC and at Duke during my visit.

Here is the George Herbert text for my piece, as well as a program note.

The Call

Come, My Way, My Truth, my Life:
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
Such a Life, as killeth death.

Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
Such a Light, as shows a feast:
Such a Feast, as mends in length:
Such a Strength, as makes his guest.

Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
Such a Joy, as none can move:
Such a Love, as none can part:
Such a Heart, as joyes in Love.

– George Herbert (1633)

Thirty years after setting George Herbert’s The Call in a folk style for use by the Catholic Campus Ministry at Columbia University, I have returned to the text with a setting for Emmanuel Church that retains some melodic elements of the first version.

While I usually treat a text in a linear manner from beginning to end, in this piece I have broken open Herbert’s tightly bound form by freely repeating and fragmenting the poem in two contrapuntal Fantasias based on musical motifs from the Chorales that frame the motet.

As was the case with seven previous motets, I gratefully offer The Call as a gift to the Emmanuel community. But this piece is dedicated to a particular member of that community, to John Harbison on his 75th birthday: admired composer, generous advocate, dear friend.