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!
Happy to present two brand new additions to my Catalogue & Store! In Times of Stasis | SATB Choir (with featured Treble Choir) & String Quartet | 5:00 This piece is about the deep sense of stasis I experienced (as well as many other people, I imagine) during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in late 2020 … Continue reading August 31st, 2022
We are the Voices, commissioned by Dr. Kyle Weary and dedicated to the South Middleton School District Choirs, is an anthemic text that calls upon both the singer and the listener to sing: for ourselves, for those who have passed, and for the future we would like to create. This piece is full of rhythmic drive in the piano, creating an exciting bed for the singers.
This piece is also designed to use limited pitch and rhythmic materials in order to build singer confidence and solidify learned concepts. The melody only uses Major Pentascale (do-re-mi-fa-sol) and simple rhythms in simple meters (whole, dotted half, half, quarter, & paired eighth Notes, as well as whole, half, and quarter Rests).
A Guitar may accompany the Piano using the provided chord symbols. An optional Bongo Drum part has also been included and may be used or omitted as desired.
This piece is suitable for any Treble Choir looking for an accessible setting and anthemic text.
The music and lyrics of Songs of Hope in Strange Times: In Times of Stasis was written during the COVID-19 global pandemic of 2020-onwards and was commissioned by Westminster High School, directed by Kelly Ann Self. 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 Stasis, the third movement of this song cycle, represents the sense of stasis deep in the waiting period of the pandemic. Without being able to observe the normal markers of time passing, such as birthdays, school years, or holidays, time seemed to stand still as each day blended into the next. This sense of moving neither forward nor backward is reminiscent of walking in the ocean tide, where one wave is crashing on shore and another is receding, creating the sense one is simply standing still. While it can be hard to find meaning in these static times, perhaps just being alive and present in this moment is in itself enough.
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:Continue reading In Times of Stasis
BRAND-NEW MUSIC THEORY ESCAPE GAMES AVAILABLE! I am extremely excited to launch Escape Tone – A Music Theory Escape Game (INTERMEDIATE)! I also recently launched Escape Tone – A Music Theory Escape Game (EASY) for early learners of Music Theory. Check them both out in the store!
Izzy’s Theme for Solo Piano by Amy Gordon is the companion piece for Escape Tone – A Music Theory Escape Game (INTERMEDIATE). This piece can be played as a stand-alone piano piece or as part of the game play. This is aimed at Intermediate Piano players.
Check out the companion Escape Tone – A Music Theory Escape Game (INTERMEDIATE)!Continue reading Izzy’s Theme (from Escape Tone)
This up-tempo arrangement of In Dulci Jubilo, commissioned by the Arlington Master Chorale, directed by Randy Jordan, features a modern reharmonization of this beloved carol. The choir is partnered with a colorfully orchestrated Piano and Solo Cello accompaniment. The melody is passed between the voices so each part has a chance to sing the main theme. The harmonies feature surprising twists, such as the use of modal interchange and pedal tones.
This carol would fit well in any holiday-themed concert, Festival of Lessons and Carols, or sacred Christmas and/or Epiphany service.
The music and lyrics of In the Morning began as an original song that Amy Gordon, the composer, wrote when she was 17 in 2004. It was then arranged for Mezzo-Soprano, Tenor, & Piano for her undergraduate recital at Loyola Marymount University in 2008. In this arrangement, In the Morning has been adapted for SATB Choir & Piano. The hope is that this text about finding strength in the midst of hardship will bring some comfort during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis that has rattled the entire world, including the choral world.
This arrangement would be suitable for any level of SATB Choir and would fit well into a concert about hope and triumph in the midst of trying times.
I Celebrate Life (the second and last movement of the Light Cycle suite), commissioned by Jennifer Gaderlund for the Graham Middle School Choirs, sets the beautiful poem by Rhoda Gordon, the composer’s late grandmother, for SATB (orig. SSA) Choir and Piano. The piece opens with an excited yet hushed ostinato in the Piano. The choir sings the first four lines of the poem by repeating the beginning line and adding the next line until it is complete, utilizing the modern technique of additive processes popular in Minimalism. In the more pensive middle section, the ostinato transforms into a more poignant texture as the Choir “realizes the joy of being through seeing the glorious creation” that they are a part of. The ostinato then speeds up and returns to the hushed excitement heard in the opening. The piece concludes with the Choir building up to the most important line of the text: “The most powerful light to celebrate by is love.”
This piece is suitable for any Mixed-Voice ensemble.