Into Being (2011)  for SATB Chorus a cappella
Text: Sanskrit Mantra – So ham ham sa
Duration: 4 min
Commission: Octarium
Premiere: Octarium, March 2, 2012; Kansas City, MO

Digital Score $1/per singer.
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Program Note:
The Sanskrit Mantra “So ham ham sa” has been called the universal breath mantra. Its vibration resembles the sound of the breath during inhalation (so ham) and exhalation (ham sa). I was drawn to this mantra because it is the breath that connects us all and brings everything into being. Breath is our first act of life as we enter this world, and our last as we depart it. In between, we take on average a staggering 17,000 breaths a day, mostly unaware of our breathing, while a barely audible mantra continuously flows through our bodies as we inhale and exhale. It is the awareness of our breath that lies at the heart of “Into Being.”
“Into Being” was commissioned by Octarium for the Art Local Project .


Light the World (2017) for SATB Chorus a cappella
Text: Robert Bode
Duration: 3:30 minutes
Commission: Te Deum Chamber Choir
Premiere: Te Deum Chamber Choir, Matthew Shepherd, Conductor, November 11, 2017, Kansas City

Digital Score $1/per singer.
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Program Note:
“Light the World” was commissioned by Te Deum, Matthew Christopher Shepard, conductor, for the 10th Anniversary Season in Kansas City, Missouri.  Robert Bode wrote this beautiful poem for the occasion, which made composing this blessing to commemorate Te Deum’s anniversary an even greater honor for me. 

A Prayer for Blessing
(in honor of Te Deum’s 10th anniversary season)

May the Mother in us comfort us
And the Father in us protect us;
May the Daughter in us bring us Hope
And the Son within us increase our Joy.

May the Dancer in us move us
And the Poet inspire our Song.
May the Explorer embolden us
And the Artist honor the Beauty that holds us.

May we all be Creators and Priests and Nurses and Heroes,
And may our Song lift beyond these walls
To light the world.

–Robert Bode, Kansas City, February, 2017


The Best Thing in the World (2015) for SATB Chorus a cappella
Text: Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Duration: 6 min
Commission: Khorikos
Premiere: Khorikos, November 7, 2015; New York, NY

Digital Score $1/per singer.
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Program Notes:
One of the things that immediately drew me to this poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning was the opening line: What’s the best thing in the world? It actively invites the reader to reflect on this question and by answering creates a space of gratitude in which Barrett Browning’s beautiful imagery lives and breathes.

I was impressed with the way Barrett Browning was able to list her “best things” one after another, yet, from a formal perspective, the poem does not read like a list. Each idea flows beautifully to the next, vividly expressing her answers to the question. My goal was a similar one during the composing process.  I wanted to capture musically the uniqueness and emotional expressivity of each individual idea, while creating a sense of belonging together.

“The Best Thing in the World” was commissioned by Khorikos and premiered on November 7, 2015 in New York, NY.

The Best Thing in the World
What’s the best thing in the world?
June-rose, by May-dew impearled;
Sweet south-wind, that means no rain;
Truth, not cruel to a friend;
Pleasure, not in haste to end;
Beauty, not self-decked and curled
Till its pride is over-plain;
Light, that never makes you wink;
Memory, that gives no pain;
Love, when, so, you’re loved again.
What’s the best thing in the world?
 — Something out of it, I think.


The Clef of the Universes (2017) for SATB Chorus and Piano
Text: Walt Whitman
Duration: 5 min     
Commission: Fairmont State University
Premiere: Fairmont State University Choirs, Dr. Sam Spears, conductor March 23, 2018, Fairmont, WV

Digital Score $1/per singer.
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Program Notes: As with much of Whitman’s writing, I was immediately inspired by his poem “On the Beach at Night Alone.” The vivid imagery of the opening stanza drew me into his solitude of being, the sounds of the ocean, the vastness and interconnectedness of all things.  Whitman’s universal message that “a vast similitude” connects us all, seems especially important in today’s world, where so often we place our focus on our differences instead of our sameness. “The Clef of the Universes” was commissioned by the Fairmont State University Department of Music to honor Dr. Robert Mild, Dean of the School of Fine Arts (2015-2018).

ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE

On the beach at night alone,
As the old mother sways her to and fro singing her husky song,
As I watch the bright stars shining, I think a thought of the clef of the
universes and of the future.

A vast similitude interlocks all,
All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets,
All distances of place however wide,
All distances of time, all inanimate forms,
All souls, all living bodies though they be ever so different,
or in different worlds,
All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes, the fishes, the brutes,
All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages,
All identities that have existed or may exist on this globe, or any globe,
All lives and deaths, all of the past, present, future,
This vast similitude spans them, and always has spann’d,
And shall forever span them and compactly hold and enclose them.