Advice from a Kitten in Spring, commissioned by the South Bay Children’s Choir, directed by Julie Corallo, is a playful exploration of a day in the life of a kitten in spring. We would be wise to take some life advice from this lighthearted kitten, especially the piece’s concluding words of wisdom: “love, live, listen”. The melodic content and text were inspired by several composition workshops with the singers in the South Bay Children’s Choir in preparation for this commission.

This piece is suitable for any Treble Choir and would fit well on a concert about animals or nature.

Continue reading Advice from a Kitten in Spring

Alchemy, commissioned by Indianola Presbyterian Church, Christopher Dent, Director of Music, to celebrate the generations of children’s music ministry leadership of Carol Winans, Sharon Renkes, and Mary Rebekah Fortman, sets the powerful poem by Libby Weber. The poem and piece are inspired by a real-life charity called Swords to Plowshares (Northeast USA), which collects firearms from the community, melts them into gardening tools, distributes the tools to community gardens, harvests the food grown, and then donates the food to local food banks. This piece features a repeating refrain that traces each step of the alchemical cycle that transforms guns into sustenance. This poem form is called a circular, in which the last item of each stanza becomes the first item of the next stanza, similar to the famous “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” by Peter, Paul, and Mary.

Visit https://www.s2pnortheast.org/ to find out more about the Swords to Plowshares charity, research ways to get involved, and/or make a donation.

This piece is suitable for any Mixed-Voice ensemble and would fit well in any concert about action-based love.

Continue reading Alchemy

Check out these Spring 2024 performances and composer visits around the United States!

Check out these Holiday 2023 performances and composer visits around the United States!  

The music and lyrics of Songs of Hope in Strange Times: In Times of Rising was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020-onwards and was commissioned by Loyola Marymount University, directed by T.J. Harper. The overall song cycle is five movements long, with each movement reflecting on how to find hope and meaning during strange and unknown times of life. In Times of Rising, the fifth and final movement of the song cycle, celebrates our return to life, being together, and finding joy once again. It explores how the world around us seems so different once we have gone through difficult experiences. This feeling of seeing things in a different light can apply to so many transformative periods in our lives, including relationships, birth, death, and personal journeys. The hope with this movement and the entire Songs of Hope in Strange Times cycle is to provide a framework in which to process powerful experiences, heal from tremendous loss, and arrive at the other side with wiser minds and hearts.

This movement could be performed as a stand-alone piece or as part of the entire Songs of Hope in Strange Times song cycle.

See other movements:

I. In Times of Descent
II. In Times of Hibernation
III. In Times of Stasis
IV. In Times of Re-Emergence

Continue reading In Times of Rising

The music and lyrics of Songs of Hope in Strange Times: In Times of Re-Emergence was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020-onwards and was commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA, directed by Juan Carlos Acosta. The overall song cycle is five movements long, with each movement reflecting on how to find hope and meaning during strange and unknown times of life. In Times of Re-Emergence, the fourth movement of the song cycle, represents a joyful return to one’s life, albeit a cautious return initially, after a prolonged hiatus. The 9/8 meter has a dance-like quality, allowing a lighter mood after the more intense third movement, In Times of Stasis. The overall Strophic form (containing three Verses with the same melody and overall harmonies) allows for the performers and audience alike to relax in the familiarity of the material as it unfolds.

This movement could be performed as a stand-alone piece or as part of the entire Songs of Hope in Strange Times song cycle.

See other movements:

I. In Times of Descent
II. In Times of Hibernation
III. In Times of Stasis
V. In Times of Rising

Continue reading In Times of Re-Emergence

The music and lyrics of Songs of Hope in Strange Times: In Times of Descent was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020-onwards and was commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA, directed by Juan Carlos Acosta. The overall song cycle is five movements long, with each movement reflecting on how to find hope and meaning during strange and unknown times of life. In Times of Descent is the frenzied opening movement of the cycle, representing those first chaotic and terrifying days when COVID-19 appeared in March, 2020 in the United States. The piece portrays this unsettling time through sinking, descending chromatic lines and heavy metal-inspired pulsating strings. This feeling of descending can be applied to those times in life when the world as we know it seems to fall apart and the end is nowhere in sight, such as the first days following a loved one’s passing, the minutes after receiving life-altering news, or other moments immediately following a tragedy. This movement acts as a mirror of the fifth and final movement In Times of Rising: using rising instead of falling lines, referencing the “sky and sea” (which are clouded by the darkness described in In Times of Descent), and other elements of contrast.

This movement could be performed as a stand-alone piece or as part of the entire Songs of Hope in Strange Times song cycle.

See other movements:

II. In Times of Hibernation
III. In Times of Stasis
IV. In Times of Re-Emergence
V. In Times of Rising

Continue reading In Times of Descent

SONGS OF HOPE IN STRANGE TIMES, a five-movement choral song cycle for SATB Choir & String Quartet, was originally written as a narrative of the COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world in 2020-present, but can also speak to other strange times in our lives when things do not seem to make sense or have a clear meaning. Each movement traces a different part of the pandemic, from the Descent (Mvmt. I) into chaos in the beginning days, the periods of Hibernation (Mvmt. II) retreating to safety and distance, the long period of Stasis (Mvmt. III) waiting for things to change, the slow but hopeful Re-Emergence (Mvmt. IV) as things started to improve, and the triumphant Rising (Mvmt. V)  as we returned to life and joy. Each movement presents a way to find hope and meaning in these strange times of our lives, including other situations where normal life doesn’t always make sense.”

MOVEMENTS

I: IN TIMES OF DESCENT (3:30) –  commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA directed by Juan Carlos Acosta
II: IN TIMES OF HIBERNATION (3:30)
–  commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA directed by Juan Carlos Acosta
III: IN TIMES OF STASIS (6:00)
–  commissioned by Westminster High School directed by Kelly Ann Self
IV: IN TIMES OF RE-EMERGENCE (3:30) –  commissioned by SACRA/PROFANA directed by Juan Carlos Acosta
V: IN TIMES OF RISING (5:30) –  commissioned by Loyola Marymount University Consort Singers directed by T.J. Harper

Continue reading Songs of Hope in Strange Times (Choral Song Cycle)

Ruminations & Affirmations was commissioned by Jackson Thomas for a culminating doctoral study at the University of Kansas centered on the pedagogy of minimalist vocal techniques. The piece is inspired by elements of Minimalism, as well as the composer’s personal experiences with anxiety and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). The first half, Ruminations, features an incessant motor and an “obsessive thought” in the piano that keeps restarting, followed by frantic intrusive worries sung by the choir. The Ruminations section climaxes into a slowly building wall of anxiety featuring counting and various obsessive thoughts from which the singers may choose. This gives way to the choir taking a breath, holding it, and slowly exhaling along with the slowing motor in the piano, resting on B Major.

The second half, Affirmations, begins in the calmer Parallel E Major with a slower, more peaceful motor in the Piano. The choir then sings meditative observations based on their senses, which is adapted from the 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Technique, often used to calm an anxious mind (it asks the person to name 5 things they can see, 4 things they can feel, 3 things they can hear, 2 things they can smell, and 1 thing they can taste). The idea is to gently bring one’s consciousness back into the present and immediate physical world. The section concludes with the choir singing repeating affirmations, often used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat anxiety and OCD.

This piece would fit well in any concert, particularly on themes of mental health, awareness, and advocacy.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from anxiety or OCD, know that help is available. Reach out to a licensed professional or one of many resources available, such as the International OCD Foundation (https://iocdf.org/) to be connected to someone who can help.

Continue reading Ruminations & Affirmations

Check out these upcoming Spring 2023 performances around the Southern California region!