She Speaks is a choral song cycle composed by Alice Dryden and Amy Gordon, which sets the text by Sharon Goldstein. It weaves together the experiences and voices of different women, both artistically and literally. The text and the music were a result of a close collaboration among the composers and the poet. The cycle is a progression through generations of strong women. Each woman throughout history has been able to build on the strength and courage of her ancestors.

Movement 1, She Is Silent, represents a past generation that endured hardship and suppression for the sake of the next generation. The thread from the woman’s sewing machine becomes the motivic thread that weaves throughout the other movements, anchoring future generations in her quiet resolve.

In Movement 2, She Dreams, the next generation spends her days trapped, speaking other people’s words and ideas. Yet inside her, she holds dreams of her own stories and her own identity, and being recognized for her own worth.

Movement 3, She Speaks, explores vocal percussion and extended vocal techniques. The women gradually find their voices and speak out, with difficulty and first but with increasing confidence- This. Is. Wrong! This movement honors those who would no longer stay silent in the face of injustice.

Movement 4, She Rages!, is the most specific and direct response to current events. The voices of women, silenced for too long, break free- and they are furious! Each voice demands to be heard as they build on one another. The movement transitions into a triumphant march honoring the women that came before them, referencing each of the previous movements in both text and music.

The ending, co-written by both composers, ties off the thread that wove through each movement. All the voices, men and women, speak together to convey one unified message: It is more important now than ever to find the courage to listen and to speak out.

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We Three Kings is a traditional Christmas Carol telling the story of three Magi who followed a star to Bethlehem, leading them to the infant Jesus. This arrangement, commissioned by Jonathan Bautista and dedicated to Nova Vocal Ensemble, features a modern reharmonization and an original motive (introduced in the tenors’ first three notes) that is woven throughout the entire piece. Each choir part is featured throughout the arrangement, with verses being sung by sopranos, altos, and tenors. The original motive is passed between the parts in a contrapuntal texture, making this a good arrangement for any choir looking for fun interplay and hocket-like textures.

This arrangement would fit well in any holiday-themed concert, Festival of Lessons and Carols, or sacred Christmas and/or Epiphany service.

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NEW SUMMER SHOWS! Here are a few highlights of my upcoming summer performances: Sat July 22nd at 7pm at The Coffee House Gallery in Altadena: The Los Angeles Belles will be performing a few of my pieces, including “Shadows“. More info here.   Sunday July 30th at 4pm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale: The Los … Continue reading July 19th, 2017

My brand-new choral song cycle “In Memoriam“, commissioned by Jonathan Bautista,  is receiving its world premiere by Nova Vocal Ensemble this Sunday 5/21/17 at 7:30pm at Eagle Rock Covenant Church. This has been my biggest and most important piece as of yet, as it reflects on the still very palpable American tragedies that occurred in … Continue reading May 15th, 2017

In Memoriam is a three-movement song cycle, commissioned by Jonathan Bautista and Nova Vocal Ensemble, for SATB choir and featured soprano and baritone soloists. The song cycle, which sets the text written by Sharon Goldstein, is a commentary on 21st-century American Tragedy, focusing especially on the tragedies that occurred in 2016. The cycle begins and ends with the forward-looking refrain: “An ounce of pain must leaven a pound of love”. This refrain brings a sense of hope that love will always overcome hate and pain, and that communities will overwhelmingly choose love in reaction to acts of hate and violence.

The first movement, “The Fallen”, is dedicated to the African-American victims of law-enforcement-involved shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement. It begins with a patriotic fanfare celebrating the 4th of July and freedom. The movement then takes a dark turn on the 5th of July, when Alton Sterling was killed. The choir and featured soloists engage in a call and response discussing the victims who died at the hands of law enforcement. The choir repeats the line “Do not forget them” as the soloists continue to grapple with these tragic deaths. The movement concludes with the soloists and choir begging the listener to not forget these names on the 4th of July.

The second movement, “The Cities”, is dedicated to the victims of the police officer shootings in Dallas, Texas (July, 2016). The movement begins with dissonant chord clusters and the whispering of tragedy- stricken countries and cities. As the text turns to memorializing these victims, the harmonies become more sonorous and rich. The movement ends with the choir imitating muted strings as a featured soprano soloist laments how “nature cries out in pain” when these victims’ lives are tragically ended too early.

The third movement, “Pulse”, is dedicated to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida (June, 2016). A drum beats a steady pulse while the choir members start building the anthemic line “They will not destroy us” word by word. This middle section is a more hymn-like passage setting the line “Our pain will bring forth love”, with harmonies recalling the first movement. The movement ends with the opening anthemic statement built word by word. The movement concludes with a final striking of the drum.

Overall, this song cycle is an attempt to memorialize all victims of violence while trying to find purpose and hope in the face of overwhelming pain and loss.

Opening Refrain
I. The Fallen
II.  The Cities
III. Pulse
Final Refrain

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Bring Me Home is a folk song with darker undertones that tells the story of a narrator who longs to return home, possibly after having witnessed or done something haunting.

This SSA arrangement would work well for a high-school, college, or small chamber ensemble of female voices.

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What Child Is This? is a traditional English Christmas Carol composed in the 1800s. This arrangement, commissioned by Jonathan Bautista and Nova Vocal Ensemble, fuses the melody and lyrics of “What Child is This” with motives and harmonies found in “Carol of the Bells”, a Ukrainian carol. Each voice has a chance to sing the various motives drawn from “Carol of the Bells”, making this a fun choral piece that combines two beloved Christmas carols.

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Lorem Ipsum is an a cappella piece for SATB, with occasional divisi. The text of Lorem Ipsum originates from the non-sense Latin used as filler text in media design, such as newspaper and newsletter templates. The non-sense Latin is a useful way for designers to see how the layout will look with text, without the distraction of real words.

 

“Lorem Ipsum” sets this Latin text in a chant-like fashion, reminiscent of Gregorian chants containing actual Latin text. The voices weave in and out of each other, creating rich and surprising harmonies. This piece plays with the juxtaposition of ancient-sounding Latin combined with modern, tight choral harmonies.

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A Boat Beneath A Sunny Sky is the closing poem of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The first letter of every line of text spells out the name Alice Pleasance Liddell, whom Carroll was (scandalously) very close to and was said to have inspired his book. The musical setting of the poem captures the wonder of childhood but also the dark nostalgia that accompanies the passage of time.

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The Skye Boat Song is a Scottish folk song that tells the story of how Prince Charlie escaped from a defeat in battle by disguising himself as a serving maid and sailing away on a boat. The lyrics describe the aftermath of his defeat in battle and refer to the Claymore, which is a Scottish sword, and Culloden’s Field, the battlefield where Prince Charlie’s defeat occurred in 1746.

Commissioned by Jonathan Bautista and Nova Vocal Ensemble, this arrangement reharmonizes the traditional folk song with a contemporary twist and features an SATB choir and featured Tenor solo. This arrangement would work well for any a cappella high school, college, or community choir looking for modern arrangements of traditional folk songs.

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