City Beautiful (2019) for Orchestra
Duration: 6:30 minutes
Instrumentation: 2,2,2,2 -4,3,3,1, timpani, 2 perc, strings
Percussion details: Glockenspiel, Crash Cymbal, Triangle, Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum, Tam Tam
Commission: Youth Symphony of Kansas City, Steven D. Davis, Conductor
Premiere: Youth Symphony of Kansas City, May 5, 2019; Kansas City, MO
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Program Note: “A city is not beautiful by accident” writes historian William H. Wilson. “City Beautiful” takes its title and inspiration from the architectural movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that gave us the boulevard and parks system in Kansas City. The movement had an impact on many other US cities as well, including Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C. to name a few. One of the principal philosophies underlying the movement and one that inspired me to write this composition, was the belief in the “shaping influence of beauty” on society. Advocates believed that beautification of our physical surroundings would promote a sense of community and increase the quality of life in cities around the country. In many ways, I feel music has a similar power to influence and shape a community. This composition was commissioned as a celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City and I cannot help but ponder the wonderful shaping influence of this organization over sixty years of music making in our community. Commissioned by the Symphony Orchestra and conductor Steven D. Davis of the Youth Symphony of Kansas City, in celebration of its 60th Anniversary Season.
Genius Loci (2009) for Orchestra
Duration: 10:30 min
Orchestration: 2,2,2,2-2,2,0,0-1perc,pno,strings (minimum 6,6,4,4,2)
Percussion details: Vibraphone, bass drum, suspended cymbal, 2 handbells – 1 player
Premiere: East Carolina University Symphony Orchestra, Jorge Richter, conductor
February 28, 2010; Greenville, NC
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The spirit of place is in itself organic to music. As a time-based art, it is the essence, the residue, of the opening that emanates throughout a composition as “place,” as a marker, if you will, for the composer and listener alike. When we talk about music, this place is often referred to as home, sense of place. We talk about the home key, for example, and the journey away from that place and an eventual return home. Similarly, Genius Loci-Spirit of Place, emanates from its opening gesture. What follows, grows organically out of the spirit of that place and informs the remainder of the work. Throughout the piece, the properties of “place” are transformed, developed, internalized, and re-examined. The underlying current that flows throughout the entire composition, however, is the spirit of place.
Into the Blue (2003) for Full Orchestra
Duration: 9 min
Instrumentation: 2,2,2,2 -4,3,3,1, timp, 2 perc, harp, pno, strings
Percussion details: xylophone, Glockenspiel, bass drum, crash cymbals, suspended cymbal, triangle – 2 players
Commission: Youth Symphony of Kansas City
Premiere: Youth Symphony of Kansas City, Glenn Block, conductor, April 27, 2003; Overland Park, KS
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Soul Journey – Three Whitman Songs (2016) for Mezzo-Soprano and Orchestra
Duration: 14 min
Instrumentation: 2,2,2,2 -2,2,1,0 – 1 perc. – strings
Percussion details: Vibraphone, Xylophone, Woodblock and Sus. Cymbal – 1 player
Text: Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass
Commission: Chamber Orchestra of the Springs
Premiere: Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, Thomas Wilson, conductor; Jennifer DeDominici, Mezzo-Soprano; October 15, 2017, Colorado Springs.
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Program Notes: The moment I read Whitman’s poem “Grand is the Seen,” I knew I had to set these beautiful words to music. A soundworld arose immediately and as I was getting deeper into the writing process, the music flowed freely, as if Whitman’s words themselves already had the music embedded in them and all I had to do was tap into the energy of it all. At times it felt truly magical and mysterious!
After finishing the first song and hearing the wonderful premiere at the Abiquiu Chamber MusicFestival in New Mexico, I realized I was not quite ready to let go of Whitman’s words. I discovered two more poems from Leaves of Grass that, although written at different times, seemed to belong
together with Grand is the Seen to form a cycle. For me, these three poems create a beautiful journey, a journey of the soul from awakening to awareness to transcendence.
“Soul Journey – Three Whitman Songs” for Mezzo Soprano and Piano was commissioned by the Abiquiu Chamber Music Festival. The orchestral version was commissioned by the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, Thomas Wilson, conductor.
Soul Journey – Three Whitman Songs from Leaves of Grass
I. Grand Is the Seen
Grand is the seen, the light, to me – grand are the sky and stars,
Grand is the earth, and grand are lasting time and space,
And grand their laws, so multiform, puzzling, evolutionary;
But grander far the unseen soul of me, comprehending, endowing all those,
Lighting the light, the sky and stars, delving the earth, sailing
(What were all those, indeed, without thee, unseen soul? of what
amount without thee?)
More evolutionary, vast, puzzling, O my soul!
More multiform far-more lasting thou than they.
II. I swear I think (from “To Think of Time”)
I swear I think now that every thing without exception has an
The trees have, rooted in the ground! the weeds of the sea have!
I swear I think there is nothing but immortality!
That the exquisite scheme is for it, and the nebulous float is for it,
and the cohering is for it!
And all preparation is for it—and identity is for it—and life and
materials are altogether for it!
III. Darest thou now, O Soul
Darest thou now, O Soul,
Walk out with me toward the Unknown Region,
Where neither ground is for the feet, nor any path to follow?
No map, there, nor guide,
Nor voice sounding, nor touch of human hand,
Nor face with blooming flesh, nor lips, nor eyes, are in that land.
I know it not, O Soul;
Nor dost thou—all is a blank before us;
All waits, undream’d of, in that region—that inaccessible land.
Till, when the ties loosen,
All but the ties eternal, Time and Space,
Nor darkness, gravitation, sense, nor any bounds, bound us.
Then we burst forth—we float,
In Time and Space, O Soul—prepared for them;
Equal, equipt at last—(O joy! O fruit of all!) them to fulfil, O Soul.